Holiday Toy Safety

A toddler checks holiday gifts.

This time of year is a great time to give gifts to children, so shop with holiday toy safety in mind. The following tips will have you giving gifts that are both fun and safe.

China-free Shopping

Consumers are starting a trend that is called China-Free shopping, where consumers look at toy packages to see where they were manufactured. If the toys were made in China, the customer will not buy them. Instead, consumers are opting for toys that are made in the United States, Canada or other countries that follow strict guidelines regarding the manufacturing of toys.

This is in response to the massive toy recalls that occurred in 2007 due to lead paint found on many toddler and baby toys. Numerous toys that were manufactured in China were found to have toxic lead levels in the paint above those allowed by the U.S. federal Lead Paint Standard. Many toy companies were affected, though Mattel suffered the most losses. While lead cannot be absorbed through the skin, it can be ingested when children put toys in their mouths.

Another popular toy, Aqua Dots, was recalled because rohypnol or the date rape drug was found on the plastic beads. When children put them in their mouths they succumbed to the drug's effects. Two children were reported as becoming comatose after ingesting the beads. The Chinese subcontractor is being investigated as to why they replaced the glue component of the beads with this drug.

Toy Recalls

Many retail stores post toy recalls in their stores. These recalls are often posted in the customer service areas, though many stores also post them in toy departments as well. If you would like to check out toy recalls on gifts you may have already purchased, these Web sites will provide you with recall information:

Holiday Toy Safety Tips

It can be difficult to say no to children who are clamoring for toys that may end up on a recall list. However, you can shop for toys for children using the following holiday toy safety tips:

  • Purchase toys that are age appropriate. Don't buy toys that toddlers can put in their mouth unless it was specifically made for toddlers. Remember, babies and toddlers always explore toys by putting them in their mouths.
  • Be careful of purchasing toys that have small parts -- they can pose a choking hazard. If you have babies and toddlers in your home, always be aware that a small child can put anything and everything in their mouth.
  • Shop for toys that are made of colored plastic instead of painted plastic. The majority of recent recalls are for toys that have been painted over plastic.
  • While many wooden toys are generally considered safe for kids, several recalled toys were painted. Check to make sure the toys were made in the United States so that they meet the federal Lead Paint Standard.

It may be difficult to find toys your children want this holiday season, but luckily there are still many toy manufacturers that are located within the United States or in surrounding countries that haven't violated federal standards. Check the recall lists before you shop and read packages carefully before you buy any toys. Careful shopping now will help you avoid buying toys on the growing list of recalls this holiday season.

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