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Baby Toy Safety

By Robin Darch

Buying toys for your baby is about more than just what will entertain them. You have to make sure that you buy toys for your baby that are safe. There are a lot of toys out there that are unsafe for babies. This article will explore some of the things you need to look for when buying baby toys.

Balloons are a definite no. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warns parents and guardians of young children about the suffocation hazard presented by uninflated toy balloons and pieces of broken balloons.

Of all children's products, balloons are the leading cause of suffocation death, according to CPSC injury data. Since 1973, more than 110 children have died as a result of suffocation involving uninflated balloons or pieces of balloons. Most of the victims were under six years of age, but the CPSC does know of several older children who have suffocated on balloons.

"Toy Basketball Nets" (11 million) can strangle children on loops or openings in nets that come unhooked from the rim or have knots that slide. CPSC is aware of more than 20 reports of children under 5 years old whose head or neck caught in the net of a toy basketball set, and an 18-month-old child died after becoming entangled in a partly unhooked net. People should remove and throw away nets that can unhook or have knots that slide. Call the manufacturer to get new nets that securely attach to the rim and do not have sliding knots.

"Swimming Pool Dive Sticks" (19 million) can cause rectal or vaginal impalement if children fall or land on the dive stick. CPSC knows of nine impalement injuries and three non-impalement injuries to children 5 to 11 years old. People should stop using the hard plastic dive sticks and throw them out. Depending on the dive sticks owned, consumers can receive a refund, replacement or repair.

"Flammable Spray String" (1 million) can cause burn injuries if sprayed around flame sources such as birthday candles. CPSC is aware of three reports of burns resulting from the use of flammable spray string. Flammable products intended for use by children are banned by federal law. Return the flammable spray string to the retailer for a refund.

"Star Wars Lightsabers" (618,000) without a battery protector could have a dislodged spring in the battery compartment, causing the batteries to overheat or rupture. CPSC and the company know of 38 reports of Lightsaber batteries overheating, including 6 reports of batteries rupturing, 3 reports of minor burns to consumers, and 1 report of eye irritation. Call Hasbro toll-free on (888) 690-6141 to get a free repair kit. Lightsabers currently being sold with the sticker "Now with battery protector" are not part of this recall.

"Pooh Poppin' Piano" (202,000) has a carrot-shaped microphone with a green leafy top that could break off, posing a choking hazard to young children. CPSC knows of three broken parts from this toy piano. Call Tiger Electronics toll-free at (888) 748-2860 to get a replacement. Only pianos with serial numbers starting with "WT" or "CO15D" are part of this recall.

"Blue's Clues Toy Notebooks" (3.8 million) that are recalled have red plastic coils with flexible plastic end caps covering sharply bent coil ends. The bent coil ends can break off, presenting a small parts choking hazard to children. CPSC is aware of four incidents where the end piece of the coil broke off. People should call Colorbok toll-free at (877) 677-4725 to obtain a free replacement coil. Blue's Clues Toy Notebooks currently being sold with "Version 2" on the back cover or lower edge of the packaging are not part of this recall.

"Precious Moments Tender Tails Stuffed Toys" (472,000) have pompoms that can detach, posing a choking hazard to young children. CPSC is aware of three reports of pompoms detaching. People should cut off the pompoms and return them to Enesco to receive a different, free Tender Tails toy.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Council, more than 120,000 children were treated in hospital emergency rooms for toy-related injuries during 1998. To prevent eye injuries, the Academy offers these tips for choosing safe toys:

Tips on buying baby toys that are safe;

Select only toys and gifts that are appropriate for the child's age and maturity level.

Avoid toys with sharp, protruding or projectile parts.

Check labels for American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) approval, to be sure toys meet national safety standards.

Consider carefully before giving BB, paint or pellet guns or air-powered rifles as gifts. They are classified as firearms and should not be considered toys. Darts, as well as bows and arrows, can also be dangerous.

Don't forget that participating in sports such as basketball, baseball, football and hockey can cause serious eye injuries. If giving sports equipment, make sure to include the appropriate protective headgear such as helmets, facemasks or goggles with polycarbonate lenses.

The seriousness of an eye injury may not be immediately obvious. When an injury does occur, it's best to have an ophthalmologist -- an Eye M.D. -- examine the eye as soon as possible. For more information about eye health and safety, visit the Academy's website at For more information about toy safety, visit the Consumer Product Safety Council's website at

Dangerous baby toys that were recalled;

We hope the Tips on buying Safe Baby Toys gave you plenty of ideas for what to get baby.


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