When caught up in the holiday shopping frenzy, the first thing on many minds is finding the hottest new toy at the lowest possible price. In all the chaos, though, it can be easy to forget what should be one of the most important considerations – a toy’s safety.
Age appropriateness (to avoid choking hazards, etc.), the quality of the toy (a better-made toy is a safer toy) and potential toxic chemical levels ought to all be in the back of your mind as you shop for the perfect gifts in southeast Michigan this holiday season – whether at small indie toy shops or malls and downtown shopping districts.
Perhaps the best way to avoid toy danger is to be aware of the suggested age range for the toys you’re purchasing. Family Education urges shoppers to be “label readers,” using recommendations as a guide when looking for gifts.
Obvious no-nos can be forgotten when you have a long shopping list. Most importantly, avoid toys with small parts when getting gifts for infants, toddlers and all children who still like putting toys in their mouths.
A Healthy Living article provides a guide for buying gifts for different age groups. Babies and toddlers are fascinated by simpler toys that stimulate their minds, while older kids may want gifts for physical play like bikes – all of which have safety concerns to be aware of before you buy.
Don’t toy with quality
In general, try to buy toys that are well-constructed, with well-secured small parts that won’t pose a potential choking risk. Cheap manufacturing fails to keep the toy in one piece.
Items with poor construction, flaws or harmful risks are often recalled, so it’s a good idea to check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website for toys and items that may have slipped past retailers (and, while you’re at it, to check out the stash of toys your kids already own).
Some toys may not have loose parts but pose a different, hidden risk. Toxic chemicals including lead, BPAs and phthalates, that can harm reproductive development in boys unfortunately can make their way into toys you may buy this holiday.
HealthyStuff.org, a research site that focuses on toxic chemicals in products, found that lead was present in one out of every three children’s toys. Many of these toys also had noticeable amounts of arsenic and harmful flame-retardant chemicals whose permitted levels may not be regulated by the government.
The site recommends being a conscious consumer when it comes to chemicals, checking out its lists of toys that have been found to be toxic.
This post was originally published in 2012 and has been updated for 2016.