How to Choose Safe Toys, and Avoid Dangerous Ones, This Holiday Season

When you think of defective products, you probably think of faulty medical devices, dangerous medications or even the recent rash of car recalls. But toys can also be dangerous and defective, putting children in peril.

While there are laws and regulations in place meant to safeguard children from dangerous toys, some unsafe toys still make it to market and injure children. The latest annual toy safety survey from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Trouble in Toyland, found several choking hazard toys and five toys with levels of toxic chemicals exceeding federal standards.

The survey found several choking hazards in toys marketed for young children, including a set of Edushape textured blocks. Toys with unacceptable levels of toxins include lead in a badge playset, phthalates in a Dora the Explorer backpack and chromium in a Jake and the Neverland Pirates tambourine set.

While reports like this one and others help government regulators find bad toys and make new regulations, there are things you can also do at home to keep playtime safe, especially as you choose holiday gifts for the children in your life.

How To Choose Safe Toys

The U.S. PIRG Education Fund offers a number of tips for finding safe toys during this holiday season, as well as for the toys you already own, including:

  • Examine all toys for any safety hazards. Don’t assume a toy is safe just because it is on the store shelf.
  • Avoid small parts. Although small parts are banned for toys for ages 3 and under, the survey found several toys being sold to this age group with small parts. Don’t buy toys with parts that can fit in a toilet paper tube, or if it has small parts that can fall off the toy. For toys you already own, put small or broken toys out of reach.
  • Make sure batteries are inaccessible. Swallowing batteries can lead to chemical burns inside the body. Toys for small children should not have accessible battery compartments. If you have a toy that concerns you, remove the batteries from the toy.
  • Avoid toys with strong magnets. Many toys with strong magnets have been recalled because they pose a serious danger if swallowed.
  • Pay attention to volume. Check the noise level on toys to make sure they won’t be harmful to a child’s hearing. If you already have a toy that is too loud, remove batteries or put tape over the speakers.
  • Avoid balloon toys for children under 8. Balloons are easily inhaled by children and are a serious choking hazard. The survey found several balloon toys marketed to young children.

Additional safety tips can be found at toysafetytips.org. Parents can also fund recall information at www.recalls.org.

If your child has been injured by a defective toy, contact an experienced defective products lawyer as soon as possible.