Products are recalled almost daily in the U.S. If you visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website you can read their weekly updates of recalled items. Many of them are products for children.
U.S. toymakers follow the safety rules and regulations laid out in the ASTM F963 Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety. Therefore, if you buy your toys from a reputable place and a reputable toymaker, it is likely that the toy is following these safety guidelines. And because of these guidelines, toys and other baby or child products (including clothes, strollers, etc.) are often preemptively and voluntarily recalled as soon as a potential problem emerges.
However, some toys that may be safe for older children are not safe for younger children. And some toys, especially knock-offs of popular brand-name toys, may not meet safety standards. Dangers can include lead or toxic paint, small pieces that break off, electric or battery malfunctions, and toys that are excessively loud.
Even with all the evidence that exposure to lead can affect a child’s cognitive development, some toys or children’s objects can contain dangerous levels of lead. Even many of the recently-popular fidget spinners had high lead content.
Here are a few precautions to take when buying children’s items:
Avoid choking hazards: Balloons cause more choking deaths than any other single toy. Toys for toddlers should have parts that are too large to fit through a toilet paper roll.
Check if a toy has been recalled: Reputable stores have pulled recalled toys from their shelves, but those toys may still be floating around out there, especially online, at rummage sales, and other less regulated sources. Check the CPSC or the manufacturer’s website to make sure it hasn’t been recalled.
Don’t buy knock-offs of brand names: These are often manufactured in China or other locations with less stringent guidelines. They are less expensive for a reason – they are more cheaply made. Not only could they have lead in them, but they could also break apart easily, or if they have batteries or electronics, they could short and burn.
Look for labels: All toys should have a “non-toxic” label, and all electric toys should say “UL Approved.” Read all warning labels.
Follow the age guidelines: Do not buy hobby kits or chemistry kits for children under age 12, even if you think your child is mature enough. Find an age-appropriate kit.
Examine stuffed toys carefully: Make sure all seams are well-made and secure and that it is machine washable. Avoid toys that have little eyes or noses or other parts that a small child could chew on and dislodge, or those filled with little pellets which could become choking hazards.
Avoid items that shoot into the air or that make loud noises for small children: Loud noise can damage young ears, and projectiles can damage eyes or become choking hazards.
Some examples of reliable manufacturers that recently recalled toys:
- Huffy Corp recalled Blue’s Clues ride-on toy (Model 55061) for children 18 months to 3 years because the little riding toy could tip forward, which had caused facial injuries for several children. The toy was sold exclusively at Walmart.
- MerchSource recalled several of its wooden toys, Robot Buddy and Sensory Board, because they received reports of small pieces falling off. They were sold at FAO Schwartz and Target stores.
- While not a toy, Ikea’s Malm dressers were the cause of the deaths of eight children and the injury of 140 others due to tip-over risk. While Ikea did warn about the tipping danger, most consumers were still unaware of the risk.
What you can do if your child is injured
When children are hurt by consumer products, manufacturers should be held accountable. Manufacturers are responsible for creating safe products, including proper instructions, and providing adequate warnings. There are several types of product defects:
- Design defect – a flaw in the design. The Blue’s Clues ride-on toy and the Ikea dressers are examples of this.
- Manufacturing defect – the manufacturing process or quality is flawed. The MerchSource toys may be an example of manufacturing failures.
- Failure to warn – the Ikea dresser is a clear example of this.
We can see in the case of the Ikea dressers, a flawed product may have more than one defect. If your child has been harmed by a product, be it a toy or another product, you need an experienced personal injury attorney to help you.
As a Florida personal injury attorney, I have a reputation for winning substantial awards for clients, knowing and countering big company lawyers’ arguments before they even make them. I am committed to helping Floridians receive just compensation for damages. Please contact me 24/7 at (954) 448-7288 from anywhere in Florida. Big companies need to be held accountable, especially when their defective products hurt children.