Here are some Tips for Safer Toy Giving this season. Don’t forget to check out our list of Toy Boutiques and Stores to Trust and our 12 Days of Gift Giveaways for more ideas for safer toy shopping and giving.
- Buy American (or European or Canadian): Western nations have stricter oversight, which is one of the reasons toys made in these countries are more expensive. Consider purchasing fewer toys and looking for higher quality items that are not only healthier, but are built to last.
- Know Your Brands: Buying from certain countries is not a guarantee of the toy’s safety and there are some brands, like Melissa and Doug, who manufacture affordable quality toys in China but are committed to proper oversight and high standards. Even HABA (available at Oompa Toys), a well-respected German brand, manufactures many of its toys outside of Europe and even uses some factories in China. Each parent has to make his or her own decision, but I believe that responsible companies ()that use their own factories and/or U.S. inspectors can make safe toys in China. If you want to know about a brand’s safety record, search recalls at CPSC to make sure the brand has not had any recalls for lead paint or other hazardous materials.
- Shop Smart: We have a list of retailers of toys to trust who have done a lot of the homework for you. They have sections with toys manufactured in North America or Europe, carry toys that are made from natural and non-toxic materials, and some have handmade selections. Many perform their own checks on their stock.
- Follow Age Guidelines: Toys must meet standards for specific age groups to be certified as safe. While lead paint and dangerous chemicals have no place in toys for any age group, toys designed for older children may pose a choking hazard for babies and toddlers.
- Use Common Sense: Ultimately, it is up to you to protect your child. If the toy is made entirely of fabric, obviously lead paint and plastic are not concerns. Check seams and joints to make sure the toy will not come apart in young hands. Look for small pieces that might break off and become choking hazards. Always trust your instincts, if it seems unsafe or inappropriate, do not give it to your child.