Just in time for your Black Friday shopping, the 27th annual “Trouble in Toyland” report is out and filled with scary information for moms hoping to find safe toys for their children this holiday season. While the quality of toys in general has been on the rise since new legislation came out in 2008, there’s still plenty of dangerous toys out there that no parent wants to see under the tree.
Among the more worrisome offerings are plastic play food sold at Walmart and Toys R Us that could cause choking hazards, balloons that claim to be appropriate for 1-year-olds (and obviously aren’t), and an action figure on toy shelves that exceeded legal limits of lead.
Unlike official recalls, reports like these don’t give all of the toy specifics because they aren’t able to force the companies to take the products off the shelves themselves. The Consumer Product Safety Commission issues recalls, though they take the “Trouble in Toyland” report into account. The annual reports have lead to over 150 product recalls for safety violations. Unfortunately, the response isn’t immediate, so plenty of people could be buying unsafe toys for Christmas, only to get a recall alert in January.
One of the more surprising hazards monitored by the report concerned noise levels. A Dora The Explorer guitar sold at Target is said to have dangerous levels of noise that could actually impact a child’s hearing. The study warns that one in five U.S. children will have some degree of hearing loss by the time they reach age 12. So apparently, those overly loud toys aren’t just obnoxious, they’re health hazards.
Another key focus on this year’s report was on the dangers of high-powered magnets in children’s toys. While some products weren’t technically illegal, they still present a threat to young kids and parents should be wary. The report explains:
We found ellipsoid toy magnets that nearly fit in the small parts cylinder, and are classified as a novelty “finger-fidget” toy. These magnets are smooth and shiny and sold in pairs; striking them together causes them to vibrate and produce a singing sound, making them appealing to children. CPSC has reported gastroenterological injuries associated with ellipsoid magnets.3 If the magnet had fit in the small parts test cylinder, it would be banned for sale to children under 14. These, instead, were labeled “4 and up.”
Overall, the “Trouble in Toyland” report showed a vast improvement over years past. Companies are apparently getting tired of losing massive amounts of money to recall products. They might just be attempting to clean up their act.
However, that doesn’t mean that parents can stop paying attention. There are still plenty of toys that don’t pass standards, or that just eek by. The sad truth is that parents can’t trust everything they see in a store. They can’t assume that Walmart or Target or Toys R Us are running the tests and guaranteeing that they’re products are safe. Reports like this one prove that’s not happening. Parents have to be responsible for keeping their kids safe, even in the toy aisle.