Buying safe toys for the holidays may be easier this year for parents of "mouthy” babies and older children as manufacturers meet stricter federal standards.
Oklahoma City resident Christy Sughru and her husband, Mike, go online to check for recalls and make sure they are buying safe toys for their 2-year-old girl and 5-month-old boy.
"Because of the age of our children, they’re going to be mouthy with it,” she said. "Safety falls right up at the top. When I think about toys, I think about education and safety.”
That means no tiny parts, no lead, no phthalates, but heavy on the educational aspects.
Federal safety standards should offer parents comfort this year, said Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. Most toys now fall under mandatory federal standards instead of voluntary ones.
Christy Ritchie, who lives with her husband and daughter in Edmond, said the pressure isn’t quite as heavy now that her daughter is 7 years old, but she still feels moderate concern over toy safety.
"I don’t panic about it but I also don’t want to buy something that could possibly cause injury or permanent damage,” she said.
In 2008, 19 toy-related deaths and about 172,700 hospital emergency room visits were somehow related to toys, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported. Some key changes in toys:
• Less lead.
Toys cannot be made or sold with more than 300 parts per million of total lead. Also, lead in paint on toys can’t exceed 90 parts per million. Lead can seriously harm a child’s brain development.
• Less plasticizer.
A federal ban limits phthalates to 0.1 percent of six prohibited phthalates, substances added to increase the flexibility and durability of plastics. The International Journal of Andrology reported this month that the family of chemicals that phthalates belong to appear to make little boys behave more like little girls.
The lead and phthalate standards arose from parents’ fears and Congress’ reaction to the recall of 21 million toys in 2007.
In October, Mattel Inc. and its Fisher-Price subsidiary agreed to settle a consumer lawsuit for tens of millions of dollars over recalled toys made in China that contained high levels of lead.
Know It: Parenting