Watch Out for These Toy Hazards When Holiday Shopping for Kids

As the holiday season approaches, it’s important to think about the safety of the toys you may be purchasing for children. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that in 2018, there were 226,000 toy-related injuries, including 37 percent that involved children five and under. Toys that caused the most injuries included non-motorized scooters, building sets, and toy vehicles.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) recently released their 35th annual Trouble in Toyland safety report, highlighting those toys that you may want to be wary of this year.

Beware of Recalled Toys

The PIRG begins by alerting consumers to those toys that have been recalled in 2020 because of safety hazards. These include water guns labeled with lead-laden stickers, children’s grocery carts that can break into sharp pieces, and magic wands with detachable choking hazards. To make sure you don’t already have one of these toys in your home, simply check the CPSC’s recall list.

Then make sure when shopping for new toys—especially at garage sales and second-hand stores or sites—make sure any toys you’re considering purchasing haven’t already been recalled. You can also sign up with CPSC for email notifications of future recalls that may affect young children.

Check Toys for High Noise Levels

Many toys have sound effects these days, which can be fun for children and potentially irritating for parents! Some toys, however, are louder than they should be for children’s ears. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sounds with decibel levels over 80 can potentially cause hearing damage in children if they’re exposed long enough.

The PIRG tested a toy fire truck purchased on Amazon and found the sounds reached 84.1 dB at their highest point after three tests. You can always take the batteries out, but children may be disappointed, so it’s often best to choose silent toys when shopping.

Watch for Choking Hazards

Among the biggest dangers associated with toys are small items that can lead to choking. Items that contain small parts, pieces, or other items are not safe for children under the age of three. Most toys are labeled if they aren’t safe for toddlers, but some aren’t labeled correctly, and other toys may have small parts that can break off.

Parents should be particularly careful when shopping online. Look past any warning labels to be sure that the toy doesn’t have small parts that could be dangerous.

Look for Plastic Coverings

A recent concern from the CPSC is that small children may get ahold of those plastic film coverings that protect mirrors and other surfaces from being scratched during packaging or shipping. Make sure you check the toy over carefully before giving it to your child and make sure all of these coverings are removed.

Be Aware of Potential Security Issues with Bluetooth-Connected Toys

Toy manufacturers may install Bluetooth devices in toys like watches or teddy bears to make them more interactive. Unfortunately, these can be vulnerable to data security issues if they aren’t properly secured. In some cases, strangers can connect to the toys and talk to children, or use voice control options for security systems or shopping.

The PIRG shares the example of the My Friend Cayla doll that had Bluetooth capability—as part of the toy’s business model, it shared information with the company unbeknownst to the parents.

If you get a Bluetooth-enabled toy, make sure it has a two-step authentication process that makes it more secure.