How to Avoid Unsafe Toys

Also, when buying toys for children under the age of 3, try to avoid toys with small parts that they could choke on or with parts that could easily break off. "Even though my son is 3, I take away any toy with small parts," said Weintraub. "He just received a firetruck with little firemen and I confiscated them."

For kids who spend a lot of time mouthing toys, she recommends using the inside of a toilet-paper tube as a measure of size. Products with parts smaller in diameter should be avoided.

When at home, it's important to segregate toys between children of different ages, said Annicelli. "You do whatever you can to keep toys age-rated for an 8-year-old away from the 3-year-old kid."

When a parent discovers that a toy contains lead paint or has been recalled, "get it out of their hands immediately," said Weintraub. "Take a damp cloth to wipe down any toys that came into contact with the toy."

Most hardware stores sell inexpensive home kits which can be easily applied to toys and change color in the presence of lead paint. Also, it's important to report toys with defective parts or problems to the CSPC and the manufacturer.

Some parents have accepted the fact that it's impossible to guarantee safe toys for their children. "You'll never be able to protect your kids 100 percent, otherwise, you'd live in a saran-wrapped house," said Carlson. "It's a trade-off of modern living — at least we don't have scarlet fever and a wolf coming to eat them."

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