Toys happen to be one of the most closely monitored and regulated products on the market. Considering billions of toys are purchased each year, it is natural for parents to be concerned about the toys they provide for their children.
The toy industry and the Federal government work together to ensure that toys are safe for children. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC – www.cpsc.gov) is the organization that has the authority to develop and enforce safety regulations for toys and other children’s products. This Commission has teams of field inspectors to monitor the marketplace for both domestically- and foreign-produced toys which could pose safety hazards.
Additionally, American voluntary manufacturers’ standards are known as the most comprehensive in the world. Most toys go through over a hundred safety tests designated to duplicate the kind of use and abuse it may get in the hands of a child. One of the most important safety tests conducted is that of small parts. Since children under three are likely to put objects in their mouths, it is essential that any toys intended for infants or toddlers be manufactured with large pieces that meet U.S. safety standards.
Now, you may be thinking, but what about the lead I hear so much about? The toy industry, along with many other businesses, have moved much of their American manufacturing to other countries in order to cut costs. Now, despite regulations, laws and voluntary industry efforts, manufacturers are exposed to growing problems in the production of their toys. Public health experts state that foreign manufacturers (in particular, China), repeatedly revert to lead paint regardless of rules or supervision because it is inexpensive and readily available. These violations happen to easily slip through because of regulatory gaps in both nations. Given the absence of more stringent federal legislation, consumers should keep themselves up-to-date on safety recalls. The easiest way to do this is to sign up for CPSC safety email alerts (Click here to sign up).
As surprising as it may seem, a study by the CPSC of hospital emergency room data suggested that the most frequent causes of injury involving toys were actually falling on, tripping over or being hit with toys. Most reported accidents are not due to product flaws, rather, for example, people tripping over toys that are not put away after play!
While careful manufacturing methods and toy selection are important, they are not the only things that are imperative in keeping your kids safe. It is essential to also use, maintain and store toys correctly to ensure that the safety built in the factory continues in your home. There is absolutely no substitute for adult supervision! Parents and other persons responsible for child chare must be safety experts. Your child will learn safe play habits and responsibility from adults. Be sure to read instructions carefully and make sure that both you and your child understand them. Always remove and discard packaging from a toy before giving it to a baby or small child, because, while the toy may be safe for the recommended age, the packaging is generally not.
Always remember, safety is the most important consideration when selecting toys. Encourage your children to pick up after themselves to prevent your child and others from injuring themselves while not playing. Your appropriate selection of toys and encouragement of proper maintenance and storage will help foster a sense of responsibility and teach your child that care must be given to valued belongings.