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Child Development – Consumer Reports Issues Safe Baby and Child Toy Shopping Guidelines

Posted Dec 17 2009 9:09pm
Taste new toyBy Colleen Hurley, RD, Certified Kid’s Nutrition Specialist

 Toy safety has come a long way since last year, particularly the passing of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) which shifted safety standards from voluntary to mandatory.   In addition to the CPSIA, other laws and regulations cracked down on the harmful chemicals once rampant in children’s toys: lead and phthalates. Ingestion of either or both chemicals can be toxic, and since babies put everything in their mouth ingestion was pretty likely.

 Although great strides have made to make toys safer for children, parents should still remain alert when toy shopping this holiday season.  Just in time, consumer product expert issued toy shopping strategy guidelines today:

• Read labels: Label reading isn’t only for food shopping. When you’re looking at a toy, check the package to make sure the toy fits the child’s age and stage of development. That’s more than just a way to gauge whether the kid will have fun with the toy; it also indicates whether the item might be a potential choking hazard because it contains small parts, for example.

-Beware of any toy that has small magnetic pieces. If two or more magnets get swallowed, they can damage a child’s intestines. Magnet toys can be harmful for pets, too, and they made up a lot of the recalled toys list in 2008.

-Look for “no phthalates” on the label.  Note: toys made in the U.S. have a better track record than many imports. Be especially wary of the “made in China” label; many toys recalled in recent years came from China.

• Check for recalls: You can find a current list of recalled toys and other products on the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recalled product search. Retailers are required to remove recalled toys from their shelves, but some may fall through the cracks.

 Don’t buy toys at the dollar store: When Consumer Reports went dollar-store shopping recently, their safety expert found some cheaply made toys that could pose a variety of hazards. An easy test for small parts: If it fits through a toilet-tissue tube, it might be a choking risk for a child younger than 3.

-Also watch out for sharp edges or small parts that could break off and beware of dangerous look-alikes; at the dollar store safety experts found lighters that looked like a toy drill and a baseball bat.

Finally, shop carefully on eBay or at thrift stores and check to make sure products you find there haven’t     been recalled. Don’t give your child any toy with missing or broken parts.  See the Consumer Reports toy shopping posts and toy buying guide for more information.

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