High chairs, drop side cribs, tricycles, drawstring sweatshirts, toys and even dress up jewelry—the list of recalled products continues to grow.
Even the most trusted brands let us down from time to time. The most recent Fisher-Price recall sent me yet again searching through my kids' toys and equipment for the recalled items. It also left me feeling the same way I did in 2007, when lead paint-tainted toys sent me into a panic over my holiday purchases. Keeping my children safe is my top priority, so how can I be sure my products are safe?
Here are a few tips:
1. Sign up for recall updates: Go to www.recalls.gov, and sign up for consumer product updates, specifically, child products. You'll get an email every time a product related to children is recalled. This will keep you up to date on current recalls, and allow you to get repair kits or replacement products as quickly as possible.
2. Use caution when purchasing used or discount toys: Check the recall lists to ensure that purchases have not been recalled for safety measures. Also, check to make sure the toy is secure, the paint is not chipping and it can be cleaned. Be especially careful when purchasing soft or cloth toys that are difficult to wash and clean. You don't always know where those toys have been, and if your child is likely to them in his or her mouth, you want to be especially vigilant.
3. Avoid choking hazards: Always select age-appropriate toys. Ensure that toys with small pieces are kept away from kids that are too young to play with them. Using the cardboard tube from a standard roll of toilet paper, you can test whether small parts are indeed too tiny for a child under the age of three. If it fits inside, save it until he or she is older.
I'm fairly safety conscious, but I admit how difficult it is to keep toys with small pieces away from my crawling, curious 8-month-old. My 3-year-old and I have developed a system to try to remove many of the small pieces and keep them in a bucket. He can play with the small pieces when the baby is napping or in another room, but it is by no means a perfect system. It's still a difficult task keeping a preschooler and a baby content and safe in the same room.
The best piece of advice is to use your common sense. Keep a close eye on your children as they play and understand how they play with toys. Are they prone to putting things in their mouths? Then you have the responsibility to know what they are playing with and use your best judgment when purchasing new items.
Being overly paranoid about product recalls isn't necessary, but making smart decisions, using common sense and employing basic safety precautions can make a big difference in the well being of your children.