Inside: Are you getting ready to purchase toys for your kids for the holidays? Here is a list of 14 things to be on the lookout for to avoid buying dangerous toys for kids.
Dangerous Toys for Kids
When I was 5 years old, I got a baking set from Santa Claus complete with kitchen tools and a miniature boxed muffin, cake, and cookie mixes. I loved watching my grandmother bake in the kitchen so you can imagine how excited I was to get my very own baking set.
On Christmas Day, I decided to make a little cake. I cut open the wrapper and out popped the powdery mix along with some crawly creatures…worms. I opened the other mixes…more worms.
All of my “yummy” mixes were dumped in the trash and my dreams of becoming a chef went up in smoke (or rather—down the drain).
However, it gets better. Fast forward 27 years…
For my son, Ryan’s fourth birthday party, a friend gave him a bow & arrow set (and the arrows were not rubber-tipped). My first instinct was to throw it away after the guests left (when raising kids, always follow your instincts!), but I made a serious mistake…I gave Ryan several rules about what he could and couldn’t do with his newfound toy. Unfortunately, he decided to test the waters.
The next day when I was reading a book to his younger brother…ZING! An arrow came whizzing by piercing Brandon’s eyeball. Luckily, it was not quite a “bulls-eye.” An emergency trip to the eye doctor was the immediate course of action. Arriving back home, I followed my initial instincts and dumped the bow & arrows in the trash.
Dangerous Toys for Kids: Safety Precautions in the 21st Century
Today, cooking mixes for kids contain plenty of preservatives to kill anything that moves and smart parents don’t allow bow & arrow sets in their homes. (what was I thinking???!!)
However, there are still safety precautions that parents, even in the 21st century need to be aware of. A child’s safety is a parent’s priority. Yet, every year thousands of children get hurt from potentially dangerous toys despite stringent toy regulations in the United States.
Did you hear about the 4-year old boy from Appleton, Wisconsin who received a gift of Imden Magnetic Blocks? The toy broke, he ingested some of the magnets and was rushed to the hospital. The toy was purchased on Amazon from a third party seller.
Accidents do happen. But many of them can be avoided. And when purchasing toys for your children from Amazon, there are some facts you need to know and understand.
Here are some tips when buying toys in general AND when purchasing toys from Amazon.
2 Valuable Tips When Purchasing Toys
There are two very important points to consider when purchasing toys for your children of varying ages:
- Is the toy age-appropriate?
- Do you know what country the toy is coming from and do they have the same strict toy standards as the United States?
Dangerous Toys for Kids: 7 Important Tips to Know
Research and educate yourself on toy safety standards. It’s impossible to list by name all the potentially dangerous toys for kids on the market, but here are some points to consider:
#1: Read the Labels and the Instructions
When buying a toy, READ THE LABEL! Most labels give valuable information about the toy such as age-appropriate range, choking hazards, dangerous materials (think chemistry sets), and written instructions or pictures illustrating how to use the toy.
#2: Choose Age-Appropriate Toys
Almost all toys have an age-range sticker included on the box. Yes, I know all of our children are precocious, but that age range is not just for a child’s intellectual ability to play with the toy, etc., it’s also there for safety reasons. Some toys, because of small or moving parts are not appropriate for certain ages. Always look at the age range and buy accordingly.
#3: Choking Hazards
Think about possible choking hazards when you purchase a toy. Ask yourself, does this toy have small parts that my child could possibly swallow? Are there tiny pieces on this toy that my child could pull off and swallow?
If the toys and games sold on Amazon present a choking hazard, there is a box on the page; shaded in yellow with black print that says, “Warning: Choking Hazard.” Small parts. Not for children under ______ of age.”
Most toys that have small parts will have this label on the box as well. It’s put there to protect your child.
Rule of thumb: purchase toys for young children that are TOO LARGE to swallow. For instance, all children love Legos, but you would not buy one of the Lego sets with tiny parts for an 18-month-old. Those are appropriate for older children and say so on the boxes. However, you can purchase the Duplo Lego sets for a younger child where the pieces are too large to swallow.
Check the labels on all toys and make certain they say, “nontoxic.” This is especially important for stuffed animals. If a toy breaks apart you do not want toxic materials coming out.
Like anything, there are exceptions. If you’re purchasing chemistry sets for a teen, there may be toxic materials included in the set. If so, assist your teen when they are using the set to avoid any accidents and purchase a pair of goggles to protect their eyes at all times.
#5: Sturdy Plastic Toys
You’ve all heard the maxim, “you get what you pay for.” Yes, there are plastic toys that only cost $1 but they are made with flimsy plastic that easily breaks and you’ll end up with sharp edges that pose a threat to your child’s safety. Opt for plastic toys made from tough plastic to withstand rough kids.
#6: Electric Toys are UL Approved
UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories. If you go on their website you can read the following description: “UL is a world leader in product safety testing and certification.” Stick with electric toys that are UL approved.
#7: Well-made Stuffed Toys
When purchasing stuffed toys for your children, make certain they are machine washable; have secure seams and all the parts (especially the eyes) are securely fastened or embroidered on. Children are little Houdini’s when taking tiny parts (like eyes) off a stuffed animal. Avoid these—they can be a choking hazard.
Stick with stuffed toys made in the United States or ones that comply with U.S. toy safety standards.
Toy and Game Purchases on Amazon
Some parents and grandparents who purchase toys from Amazon erroneously assume they are “safe.” That’s not a guarantee. Many toys sold at Amazon are purchased from 3rd party vendors such as China or other countries where the safety standards of the United States do not apply. It becomes a matter of, “buyer beware!”
Here are some interesting things to think about if you purchase toys and games on Amazon.
- The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) found 157 items for sale on Amazon that they supposedly had banned, but were still available for sale including sleeping mats the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had warned can suffocate infants
- The WSJ had 10 children’s products tested and based on federal safety standards, four (or 40%) failed the test. One had lead levels that exceeded federal limits. Ingesting lead can cause brain damage in children. At one time, the paint on baby cribs contained lead. When kids chewed on their cribs, many got lead poisoning
- The Journal found over 4,000 items for sale on Amazon that were declared unsafe by U.S. standards and were deceptively labeled. SOURCE
Stick with Toy Brands You Know and Trust
One of the challenges facing Amazon is that 40% of the toy sellers are based in China and share either insufficient information or misleading information about the toys they sell on the site. Oftentimes, toys sold from these vendors have reviews that are rather “shady,” and do not give the full story.
As mentioned earlier, last December, Jennifer White’s 4-year old son swallowed some of the magnets from a company called, “Imden Magnetic blocks.” When the toy broke, he ingested some of the magnets and was rushed to the hospital. The magnetic blocks were purchased on Amazon (which they immediately removed from the site) and the owner of Imden refused to comment.
If your children have ever played with magnetic tiles or blocks from companies such as Magformers, Picasso tiles or Magna-Tiles, you know that kids love them and will play with them for hours. The toys from these companies meet U.S. safety standards. Yes, they cost more—but isn’t keeping our kids safe more important than haggling over a few dollars?
Unless you are a careful shopper on Amazon and read the fine print, it will be difficult to always determine what is a safe toy from one that is not. Stick with brands you trust and have a reputation for manufacturing safe toys.
Today, many parents find it easier and more efficient to just order their children’s toys online. But, occasionally go to stores (Target, Buy Buy Baby) where you can actually hold the toy, scrutinize it; read the label, check for suitable ages, and just get a “feel” for the toy. Plus, children love to go to toy stores!
Toys from Amazon: 5 Tips to Avoid Purchasing Dangerous Toys for Kids
If you are purchasing toys from Amazon you can tell a lot about the safety of the toy by knowing how it’s being shipped to you. To avoid purchasing dangerous toys, you need to understand the following about how toys are shipped: SOURCE
#1: Toys Shipped Directly by Amazon.com
To be on the safe side, try to purchase toys and other items for children that are shipped directly from Amazon.com. The reason? Amazon acts as the retailer and purchases directly from the toy manufacturer at wholesale costs. Amazon requires the toy manufacturers to carry insurance on their toys and you can rest assured these companies follow every safety standard for toys required by law. If something happens, toy manufacturers are held responsible.
When finding a toy on Amazon, read all the fine print on the page to make certain it is from Amazon.com.
#2: Third-Party Seller & Fulfilled by Amazon
If a toy is sold by a third party and fulfilled by Amazon, it means that Amazon ships the product from their warehouses but only act as fulfillment, shipping and returns service for the seller. As mentioned above, many of these third parties are from countries that do NOT have strict standards for toy production.
#3: Third-Party Seller Ships Directly to Customer
If a toy you are purchasing ships directly from a third party and is never touched by Amazon, it may not be a toy that is manufactured under strict U. S. toy requirements and standards.
The options are easy: choose another toy on Amazon from a reputable toy manufacturer that complies with U.S. toy safety standards. Don’t risk your child’s safety. SOURCE
#4: Sold By
On the left side of an item sold on Amazon, there is a section where it says, “Sold by.” A name is given and you can click on that name to find out information about the company that makes the product. If you’ve never heard of the company—google them, go to their website, and become informed.
#5: Warranty and Support
If you scroll down from the toy or game you are purchasing, there is a section on the right-hand side that says, “Warranty Support.” It states: “Manufacturer’s warranty can be requested from customer service. Click here to make a request to customer service.” When you are making a request, ask customer support if the toy is sold and shipped directly by Amazon.com.
If you are just starting your holiday shopping—err on the side of safety. Children and grandchildren are our most precious possessions—HANDLE WITH CARE!
What experiences have you had purchasing toys for your children and teens from various stores, Amazon, the Internet, etc.? What are your favorite places to go toy shopping? Please comment in the section below.
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