As toys get more sophisticated, parents must make complicated choices when considering holiday presents for their children.
Shoddily made toys can pose unacceptable hazards to children, while other toys may be inappropriate for a child’s age or stage of development.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that children younger than 15 experienced 188,400 toy-related injuries in 2013, down from 192,000 in 2012. Meanwhile, the American Academy of Pediatrics finds that the average child spends seven hours a day on entertainment media, but that excessive screen time can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders and obesity.
Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises consumers to look for toy labels that show what age the toy is intended for. Consider choking hazards from small or stretchy parts and risks from sharp edges or paint chips. If you’re ordering toys online, make sure the website is secure by looking for https:// in the URL. Look for a site’s BBB accreditation seal, and click to see if it’s valid. It should link to the company’s BBB Business Review.
BBB tips on toy shopping are:
- Find out which toys have been recalled. Read the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s list of toy recalls. If the toy or product has been recalled, check the guidelines for what to do next.
- Make sure the toy is age-appropriate. Toy safety isn’t only about avoiding recalled products. You also need to make sure you’re buying appropriate toys for the age of each child. Read and follow the age recommendation listed on the package or toy.
- Read labels. Look for age recommendations, such as “Not recommended for children under 3” and for other safety labels including “flame retardant” or “flame resistant” on fabric products.
- Be cautious of older toys or hand-me-downs. While buying a gently used toy might be cost-effective, such toys may not meet current safety standards and could be so worn from play that they break and become hazardous.
- Be careful shopping online. Internet toy vendors may not be as vigilant as brick-and-mortar stores about pulling recalled products off the shelf or flagging bar codes.
- In addition to buying safe toys, consumers should be aware of potential safety hazards once a toy has been removed from its packaging. BBB recommends that you:
- Immediately discard plastic wrapping or other toy packaging before it becomes a dangerous plaything.
- Keep older children’s toys away from younger siblings if they have small parts, sharp edges or other hazards for small children.
- Supervise all battery charging. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to young children. Pay attention to instructions and warnings on battery chargers. Some chargers lack a mechanism to prevent overcharging.
Consumers can learn how to protect themselves or find BBB Business Reviews and BBB Charity Reviews by calling (314) 645-3300 or by going online to www.bbb.org.