From Black Friday to Cyber Monday, the holiday shopping season has officially begun. While wish lists are being made, parents scramble to find toys that their child wants but also toys that are safe. Yes, you can find both with a little savvy shopping. While your kids will certainly try to tell you what toys to get, the experts at WebMD compiled some safe toy shopping tips with what you should avoid:
- Brightly painted toys (wood, plastic, and metal) made in Pacific Rim countries, because of lead paint dangers. Parents may even want to shun brightly colored plastic toys made from molds, which have been a problem in previous years. Children mouthing the toys for extended periods can get lead poisoning, which can cause irreversible neurological damage.
- Ceramic or pottery toys manufactured outside the U.S. and Europe, because of lead dangers. If children drink tea from a ceramic tea set, for example, the lead from the ceramic can leach into the tea.
- Many products from any countries outside the U.S. and Europe. Mexican pottery and candy, for example, have tested for high levels of lead.
- Soft vinyl toys can also contain toxins, including lead.
- Toys with small parts can pose a choking hazard for young children. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age 3 cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
- Pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length, which can be a strangulation hazard for babies.
- Magnetic toys, which can be swallowed by young children.
- All jewelry, especially metal jewelry, for children of all ages. Many jewelry pieces — even some marked “lead-free” — have contained dangerous levels of lead.
- Items that contain “phthalates,” or toxic chemicals, such as xylene, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, and benzene, which can cause health problems in children.
- Toys that are not age-appropriate. Toys intended for older children can harm younger ones. Older children who play with toys intended for younger ones can be injured when, out of boredom, they seek unintended uses for the toys.
Experts also caution that parents should pay attention to warning labels, which mean the toy can be dangerous. At the same time, they shouldn’t be deceived by manufacturers’ labels, which are voluntary and not always factual. This includes labels that say “toxic-free” and “lead-free,” among others.