Every year around November, retailers release lists of what they expect to be the popular toys for the upcoming December holidays.  Although it’s early, some retailers have already released a few hints about what they expect to be popular based on recent trends and popular culture.  Some items that are expected to be in high-demand include Hatchimals (interactive animals that hatch from eggs and learn to walk and talk when played with), lip gloss trucks (craft kits for children to create custom, flavored lip gloss), interactive snuggle puppies, “PJ Masks” play sets (toys based off of a popular Disney cartoon), toy drones, buildable headphones, full size Stormtroopers, and the timeless Power Wheels.

Many parents start their Christmas shopping weeks or even months in advance, when most of the hot new toys hit the stores and are still in high supply for the holiday season. While the general public sees these toys as being released far in advance, the timing of the toys’ release does not provide much time for toy safety experts to evaluate the items for potential hazards to our children.  Parents may think that they have found the perfect holiday gift, only later to find out that the toy that they purchased came with inherent and unsuspected safety flaws.  Since there’s not always time for extensive testing from consumer experts, parents should keep a few safety guidelines in mind when shopping for newer toys.

  1. Pay careful attention to the age recommendations and safety recommendations on toy packaging. Although this should be common sense, too often parents ignore these recommendations.  The age recommendations are there for a reason.  If the label says “Do not give to children under five years of age because of the danger of swallowing small pieces”, do not assume that your three year old is smart enough to know better – wait until your child is older.
  1. Be leery of toys that shoot projectiles. Even very simple versions of projectile toys can cause serious eye injuries.
  1. Do not buy any toys or games for babies or toddlers that have parts that are smaller than 1.75 inches in diameter. In general, anything that can fit into an empty toilet paper roll is a choking hazard and should be kept out of reach.  Toys that are stuffed with beans or other small objects should also be avoided, because it’s common for those toys to break open and the small objects to end up in your child’s mouth.
  1. Any toys with loose strings, ribbons, or cords should be avoided for infants or toddlers, particularly if the cord is longer than 12 inches. They can easily become tangled around a child’s neck.  They should never be placed into cribs or playpens.
  1. If you decide to purchase a riding toy for your child, make sure that you have a helmet to go along with it. If you purchase an awesome scooter for your child to open on Christmas morning but you do not have a helmet, the odds are that your child will end up riding the toy without a helmet, which sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of the year.
  1. Don’t buy heavy toys. If a toy is so heavy that your child could be harmed if the toy fell on him or her, do not purchase it.
  1. Toys should not have sharp parts, toxic paint, and electric toys should be “UL Approved”.

Ultimately, parents need to use common sense when purchasing toys.  Although many parents may be tempted to rely on safety experts who can recall a toy if it is determined to be unsafe, it’s better to be proactive.  Even today, with all of the safety measures and standards in place in the U.S., many unsafe toys end up on store shelves every holiday season.

If your child has been injured by unsafe toy, call Liberty Law, a San Francisco product liability law firm.  They can help.  You can reach them at 510-645-1000.  Your child may be entitled to compensation for their injuries.  Call today to schedule a free consultation.

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