Archive for the ‘Toys’ Category

As an older mom, I no longer have the immediate concern about the safety of the toys chosen for Christmas gifts.  This Christmas is the very first since 1978 that there haven’t been some kind of toys on one of my children’s Christmas lists which is kind of bittersweet for me in a way.  (Yes, I know, I should be grateful I don’t have to fight for Tickle Me Elmo Extreme or a Star Wars Starfighter or even a Nintendo Wii.)  I don’t know if I’ll even enter the doors of Toys R Us this year, which is a really weird rite of passage!

However, with all of the toy recalls this year and new rumblings of more problems in the toy industry’s oversight and monitoring of overseas manufacturers, there is cause for genuine concern.  On the online board of Kindermusik educators this morning, I read a post from an educator, a concerned mom herself, with these questions: 

I need some help.

I’m a newer mom and I’m confused about all the reporting and recalls that have been happening regarding lead paints in toys.

As I’m building my instrument and toy collection for classes, I feel confident anything purchased from KI has been tested for lead and will meet federal regulations.

But what about the things I’m purchasing outside of KI? How can I test these items for lead?

Or – at what age do I need to be less concerned about lead in toys for children?  I presume I’m most concerned for those babies and children who put toys and instruments in their mouths. 

Do I need to be concerned with plastic, wood and plush instruments/ toys? Or only those where paint can flake off?

Is there any one place to check for recalls on the lead paint?

These are all questions that any concerned mom would ask.  Until yesterday, I would have directed them to the Consumer Products Safety Commission site here.  Yesterday, however, I learned of a new site – Healthy Toys.org

 Healthy Toys Site Header

The subtitle of Healthy Toys says a great deal about what you will find there – The Consumer Action Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Toys.  You can search by name, brand, or type of toy.  You can even nominate a toy from your child’s collection for testing. 

The site will give you specific information on the chemicals found in the toys tested.  I typed in “Elmo” just to get an idea of what I might find.  I got two returns –  “Elmo’s Take-along Card Games” purchased at Dollar General Stores and the “Elmo Flashlight” purchased from Kmart. 

Just out of curiosity, I clicked on the card games, thinking that there really shouldn’t be that much to be worried about. They’re just cards, right?

Well, I was pleased and shocked with what I found. 

Healthytoys.org gives you highly detailed information – type of toy as well as a description of it, retailer it was purchased from, the distributor of the toy, the retailer code, where it was manufactured, and the test date/place as well as the test method which is also hyperlinked with further details about the test process.   To see this kind of information on one single toy was very nice.  However, the shocking part was what they actually found in this one toy.

High levels of lead, arsenic, and mercury were found with troublesome levels of chlorine/PVC and cadmium as well as traces of bromine and antimony.  The cards themselves were relatively harmless with only 3ppm (parts per million) of arsenic found.  The real culprit was the red carrying bag with a whopping 9,997 ppm of lead, 155,111 ppm of chlorine/PVC, and 984 ppm of arsenic. 

Most adults would probably shrug and just toss if off with a thought of, “Well, it’s only the bag it came in.  It won’t be played with.” 

But, as a mom of five as well as a Kindermusik educator that teaches very young children and babies, I can testify to the fact that this bag would, in all likelihood, wind up in some child’s mouth at some point because very young children, especially babies and toddlers, explore their world primarily through their mouth.  Given the fact that it’s red and probably enticing to the eye, it’s almost a sure thing that some child in this world would try it out in their mouth.  Would you want it to be yours?

The whole point of this post is not to rant about any one toy, but, instead, to provide badly needed information to concerned parents as well as extended family and friends.  If you’re wondering about the safety of your child’s toys or gifts planned for Christmas, do yourself a favor and zip over to HealthyToys.org

Be prepared for a possible delay in accessing their website due to extremely heavy traffic.  The site was slammed yesterday when they announced their opening.  I tried all through the day and couldn’t get in until late last night.  But it is well worth your time and effort for some peace of mind.  After all, it’s your child’s safety we’re talking about, right?

 Healthy Toys.org


Read Full Post »

 When will this nightmare end and our children play in safety?

Vinyl Backpack with unsafe, high levels of lead

Just released by Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Curious George doll bought at Toys “R” Us was found to be tainted with 10 times the legally-allowed lead level, and vinyl lunch boxes and backpacks also had high amounts of lead, the nonprofit group Center for Environmental Health said on Wednesday.

The Curious George doll found with high amounts of lead was made by Marvel Entertainment Group Inc, the Oakland, California-based group said in a statement. A Marvel spokesman said he was unaware of the advocacy group’s finding and had no immediate comment.

Millions of toys made in China have been recalled over the last three months due to unsafe levels of lead paint, which is toxic and can pose serious health risks, including brain damage, in children.

The Center for Environmental Health also said it found high lead levels in vinyl lunch boxes and backpacks made by Sassafras Enterprises of Chicago.

The group filed a legal notice accusing privately-owned Sassafras of violating a 1986 California law that prohibits exposing consumers to carcinogens without warning.

A spokeswoman for Sassafras said the company tests its products for lead and that she was unaware of the group’s statement.

The advocacy group also notified 10 retail store chains that they were selling toys with excessive lead in violation of the California law.

The stores were Toys “R” Us, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Kmart, Sears, KB Toys, Target, RC2 Corp, Michael’s Stores Inc, Costco Wholesale Corp and Kids II Inc.

Michael Green, executive director of the center, said the legal notices were the first step in potential lawsuits against the companies.

“We want companies to test for lead before selling these items,” Green said. “The federal government isn’t doing its job.”

Democrats in the U.S. Senate and House this month introduced legislation that would virtually ban lead from toys and other goods used by children younger than six. Lawmakers have criticized the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for not doing enough to protect children from excessive lead.

The Center for Environmental Health took similar action when it found unsafe levels of lead in vinyl bibs at Wal-Mart and Toys “R” Us stores in California, which resulted in both retailers pulling all vinyl bibs from their shelves nationwide, Green said.

Toys “R” Us is owned by a consortium that includes Bain Capital Partners LLC, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and Vornado Realty Trust.

(Reporting by Julie Vorman, editing by Brian Moss)

Original release found here.

Read Full Post »

Mattel Again

Mattel logo

Mattel announces yet another recall of 800,000 more toys due to excessive amounts of lead paint.  This recall includes 675,000 Barbie accessories such as the Barbie Dream Puppy House, which had lead paint on the dog; a Barbie Dream Kitty Condo playset, which had lead paint on the cat; and a Barbie table and chairs kitchen playset, which had lead paint on the dog and dinner plates.

Mattel announced that the Barbie products affected by the recall were produced by Holder Plastic Company, a Mattel contract vendor, which subcontracted the painting of miniature toy pets and small furniture pieces to two smaller companies.  Both companies used uncertified paint and are no longer producing toys for Mattel. 

This recall also includes  90,000 units of Mattel’s GeoTrax locomotive line and about 8,900 Big Big World 6-in-1 Bongo Band toys, both from the company’s Fisher-Price brand. The Big Big World products were sold nationwide from July through August of this year, while the GeoTrax toys were sold from September 2006 through August of this year.

Be sure to check out your child’s toys to ensure their safety.  Not only Mattel toys, but others as well.  From time to time, pick them up and look for missing chips of paint or broken edges.  Be proactive in your child’s behalf.

For more details on this recall, please visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission for specific information. 

For additional information about Tuesday’s recalls, consumers should call Mattel at 888-496-8330 or visit the company’s Web site at http://www.service.mattel.com.

Read Full Post »

With all of the warnings and recalls of toys made in China recently, I, for one, appreciated receiving this from Michael G. Dougherty, chairman and chief executive officer of Kindermusik International.  For your information and peace of mind, at least there’s one company you won’t have to worry about their products and toy safety.


Kindermusik International: A Message About Toy Safety

Recent news reports have highlighted the recall of some toys found to be unsafe.  These reports have understandably raised concerns from parents.  I want to be sure you know that Kindermusik shares this concern.

For years Kindermusik has gone to great lengths to assure the safety of our products. That is why parents have come to trust the Kindermusik brand.  Kindermusik products are engineered to be educational, entertaining and safe before they enter into production.  Production samples of each product are then rigorously tested by an independent testing lab to ensure that our toys meet the highest safety standards.

All Kindermusik products have comfortably passed international safety standards in mechanical and fire hazard tests.  Our products have also been tested for potentially hazardous materials and have easily met safety standards for those materials.

Two of our core values at Kindermusik International are to Always Do What is Best for the Child, and to Be Open, Honest, and Direct.  At all times, and especially at times like these, our core values guide our actions.  That is why we bring this information directly to Kindermusik educators so you are well equipped to answer questions from your parents.

As you have come to expect from Kindermusik, we have taken great care to test that our products are safe, and we will continue safety testing with vigilance.  Please refer any further questions regarding the safety of our toys to Kindermusik International 800-628-5687 or info@kindermusik. com.


Michael G. Dougherty
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Kindermusik International

Read Full Post »

With the recall by Mattel of over 10 million toys made in China, many parents and  grandparents are worried about the toys they give their children and grandchildren as well as the toys their children play with in various venues such as daycares and preschools.  How can you know they are safe?  How can you know if a toy is appropriate for your child?

An article, “Criteria for Selecting Toys,” written by Francis Wardle, PhD,  in 1993 gives some specific guidelines to follow when choosing toys and deciding which old toys to keep.  For example, can your child use the toy without adult supervision?  Toys should not have adult rules or require adult supervision for your child to play with it.  Does the toy strengthen your child’s respect for others?  Does it provide exposure to diversity in a non-stereotypical way?

Will the toy last over time, or is it one of those Christmas “specials” that last usually only about 2 weeks before biting the dust?  Can it be used in many various ways?  Can it stimulate your child’s imagination into pretend uses of his own?  Is it possible for children of different developmental levels to use it, or is it specifically for one developmental age?

For further reading, please visit the Child Care Information Exchange at this link to print out the checklist for yourself.  It is a .pdf file which will require an Adobe Reader.  Most computers come with that already loaded, but if you don’t have it, it is a free download here. 

For additional information on toy safety:

Guidelines on Toy Safety by The American Academy of Pediatrics

The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Complete List of Recalled Toys

Read Full Post »