While I consider myself a pretty cautious parent and a genuine safety expert when it comes to baby proofing, car seats, and best sleep practices, toy safety is not always so obvious. After all, they’re designed with our children in mind, right?
Although in the United States all toys are regulated to make sure they are safe for use by children, unsafe toys can nonetheless make their way onto store shelves and into our homes. And children can be exposed to hazards by the ways toys are used.
For instance, toys meant for older kids may have small parts that are choking hazards for younger kids. Even a toy’s packaging could pose a choking or swallowing hazard.
I watch my kids like a hawk and follow recommended guidelines on just about everything. Still, sometimes things happen. Injuries and accidents can occur despite our best efforts to choose safe toys. Also, toys may endure wear and tear over time, and our kids could be exposed to potential hazards. It is often the least expected that can be the most dangerous toys.
These are the risks
Choking, suffocation, and strangulation are the leading causes of unintentional injury deaths in infants and toddlers. In the U.S., there were 13 deaths associated with toys in 2017 and about 251,700 injuries, the Consumer Products Safety Commission wrote in its most recent report on the topic.
What poses the biggest risks? Let’s start with non-motorized scooters
Scooters are popular toys, and every year we may be giving them to our kids under the tree, but according to the U.S. Consumer Product Commission more than any other type of toy scooters without a motor are most likely to send kids to the emergency room.
Last year, nationwide, 240,000 kids had to make a trip to the E.R., and ride-on toys made up 27% of those times. And 70% of the time it was because of scooters. Ride-on toys without motors make up most of the injuries. However, on the flip side, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says that over the last five years those numbers have been slowly declining.
The danger with non-motorized toys isn’t so much the toys as the potential for the children riding them to fall off or roll into dangerous situations.
According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, of the thirteen U.S. child deaths associated with toys in 2017, three involved ride-on toys. All three cases involved tricycles. In two of the cases, the kids were either in a road or driveway and were struck by a motor vehicle. In the third case, the child drowned when accidentally falling into a swimming pool while riding the tricycle near it.
Ride-on toys can tip. Kids on ride-on toys can move rapidly, running into objects or falling down stairs. When kids use ride-on toys in dangerous areas, catastrophic injuries and deaths can occur.
Make sure kids don’t use ride-on toys near swimming pools, stairs, or other dangerous areas, including hazards like cords, lamps, decorations or appliances that could be knocked or pulled down.
And toy balls
The Consumer Products Safety Commission strictly regulates what size toys can be marketed for children under age three because babies and toddlers are notorious for putting anything within reach into their mouth. Toys with parts smaller than 1.5-inches in diameter is a no-go. Small rubber balls and marbles are particularly dangerous, as a child can pop them in his mouth, causing choking or asphyxiation. You can check whether a toy is too small to be safe by measuring it in a choking-hazard cylinder, available for about $10.
Definitely stuffed toys
Stuffed toys like cuddly dolls and teddy bears may seem harmless, but their eyes, nose, hair, buttons, and jewelry can pose a choking risk for children if not attached properly. Children under three years old can suffer serious injuries or illness when playing with stuffed toys if they choke on small parts or filling that they have placed in their mouths or inhaled or swallow small pieces or filling.
What if my child gets hurt by a toy?
Of course, the first thing we need to do as parents is to make a trip to the child’s pediatrician or to the nearest emergency room to have him checked out.
Later, you can choose to contact a product liability attorney to help you bring a case against the toy manufacturer if warranted. According to The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary, which is a Florida-based firm that has a Miami product liability attorney, each year, corporations pay millions in settlements to consumers who have experienced defective children’s toys. Sean M. Cleary states that it’s important to seek representation from experienced attorneys in these cases because, “…many toys are made by big companies with large resources at their disposal, including corporate lawyers who will do everything within their power to minimize or deny your claim altogether.”
The bottom line
Yes, there are plenty of safety concerns to consider with toys. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of safe ways for our children to play.
We can be vigilant before and after buying toys, only buy toys appropriate for the child’s age, replace or repair any broken items, be aware of potential choking and strangulation hazards, always check for wear and tear and lose parts, and because this isn’t even an exhaustive list, always check the toys for safety before allowing our children to play with them. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is in charge of making toy recalls, and we can check the status of a toy on the CPSC recall page.
It’s better to keep our children from playing with dangerous toys that might injure them. If an injury does happen, we should get our children medical care, and seek the help of experienced attorneys.