Avoid Dangerous and Defective Toys During the Holiday Season

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa or Boxing Day, December is likely to bring many new toys and gifts into your home. As a parent, it is important that you not only know how to shop for safe toys yourself, but also how to identify potentially dangerous and defective toys received as holiday gifts from others. You should also double check for defective products currently around the house.

The holidays are meant to be a time of joy and wonder for your little ones–not a time for pain and recovery. However, in 2007 there were 18 toy-related wrongful deaths and over 170,000 emergency-room personal injuries due to toy product liability.

One of the best things you can do as a parent, in addition to keeping a close watch on how your children play with new toys, is to sign up for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s email alerts at www.CPSC.gov.

The following list includes the most common safety hazards related to children’s products:

Lead Poisoning 

Babies tend to put things in their mouths–it’s a fact we have to deal with. A surprisingly high percentage of recalls result when lead levels in paint or other parts of a product are higher than the federal lead paint standard. When lead is ingested–at any age–it can cause adverse health effects, but for children the risks are even greater. Due to their smaller body sizes and developmental stages, children are more susceptible to neurological damages. In extreme cases, lead poisoning can cause kidney failure, convulsions, coma, or even death.

If you visit www.CPSC.gov, you’ll find a long list of recalls for toys that contain high levels of lead. One of the largest November recalls is from the trendy jewelry and accessory store Claire’s Boutiques Inc., which is especially popular with the pre-teen crowd. The store voluntarily recalled about 67,000 Best Friends Yin Yang Necklace Sets due to their high levels of lead. Additionally, the Disney Store recalled 8,000 Tinker Bell Wands, which were found to violate the federal lead paint standard.

Choking/ Small Parts

Many toys contain parts small enough to swallow, which can cause choking. These products should state plainly on the package, “Contains Small Parts.” It is important to choose age-appropriate toys for babies and children to avoid choking hazards. Younger children must be carefully monitored if older children’s toys are in the vicinity. In addition to small parts included in larger toy sets, parents should watch out for small figurines, balls, and magnets, which can be especially harmful is swallowed.

The death of two toddlers, ages 19 and 24 months, prompted Playskool to voluntarily recall all 225,000 of its Toy Tool Benches. Both children suffocated when oversized, plastic toy nails that come with the tool bench toy became lodged in their throats. While the parts are not considered “small parts,” the toy is recommended for ages three and up. However, the company chose to recall the product to prevent an additional injuries or deaths.


Burns can result from overheated toys,
flames, or chemicals. One of the most common causes of burns in children is from battery chargers and adapters. An adult should always supervise the use of these products.

Just last month, an accessory for the popular Wii system called the Rage Wireless Guitar was recalled after a report of a chemical burn. A circuit board defect was found to cause burns when AA batteries leaked due to incorrect installation by the consumer. The company recalled about 57,000 products.


Any product that can cover an infant or child’s mouth and nose securely can cause suffocation. This is especially a risk for very young infants who have limited mobility.
Parents must be aware not only of products and toys that can cause suffocation,
but also of packaging. Plastic bags and plastic wrap are common culprits as are deflated balloons and pieces of popped balloons.

Because guardians are generally not present when infants sleep,
faulty cribs and bedding are some of the most difficult suffocation cases to prevent. Last year a recall of approximately one millions cribs was announced by Simplicity, Inc. after two infants died, seven were trapped in between the drop-side and the bed, and 55 other incidents were reported.


When a child receives his or her first bicycle, scooter or set of roller blades, it is an exciting and memorable time–but also a dangerous one. Help protect against serious injury by having your child wear protective gear such as pads and a helmet.

What should you do with defective toys or other defective products.

Generally, recalled items should be returned to the store where purchased for a full refund.

Knowing what potential hazards to look for in new toys is half the battle, so keep these common risks in mind this holiday season as your child experiences his or her many new toys.

it is a simple fact that children do become injured from toys. If your child’s toy results in an injury, contact the personal injury law firm of Breakstone, White & Gluck, P.C. for help. We’ve dealt with many cases of product liability including those involving childrens’ products. We would be happy to discuss your case with you.