Are Your Toys Safe?

Chewing on toys is a time-honored activity for the baby and toddler set. Airplane wing? Yummy! Wheels of my new car? They roll in my mouth so nicely! Our pediatrician told us that a baby’s mouth is her computer. Instead of Google, she researches what she’s curious about by putting it in her mouth. This is fine if her toys are safe: lead and phthalate free and not full of small chokeable parts. The problem is, many are not. So, let’s talk toy safety!

Get ready for the scary part: A recent Bloomberg article states, “The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission…inspects less than 1 % of imports under its jurisdiction.” 1%!? This is very bad news for babies and toddlers, or anyone who else who likes to chew on stuff.

Dollar tree has the worst rap sheet and owns the most dollar stores in the country. Have you been in a dollar store lately? Besides the fact that they don’t smell very good (plastic everything, anyone?), they are full of toys. Incredibly tempting in their affordability toys. That’s the problem. To get people to buy their toys, big companies like Dollar Tree (and Zulily and Target and ToysRus to name just a few) are importing cheaply and dangerously made toys from China, not properly labeling their packaging and getting away with it.

So what should you do?


  • Get pickier, for one. After our daughter tested high for lead (from non-lead safe construction practices) we went through our toys and got rid of any that had peeling paint, or looked cheaply made, especially cheaply made in china.
  • Check out your pens, especially “mini markers,” because they are writing implements and companies are exempt from writing “choking hazard” on the packaging of writing implements. Mini markers have very chokeable caps.
  • Start reading labels about where your toys are made. In 1978, the United States banned lead from products made for children. Imported toys are often from countries without this ban.
  • Let your antique toy collection stay up high on a shelf. Any toy made before 1978 may contain lead.
  • Familiarize yourself with Melissa and Doug toys. Melissa and Doug have become the queen and king of the wooden, colorful, and cheap toy world. And they take safety very seriously. (I have no affiliation to this company, just appreciation)
  • Buy books! Many are printed here in the US in nice board book chewable format.
  • Go outside and take a deep breath. Playgrounds and parks should be considered safe!

Fear of scary toys has inspired me to go through our collection once again and I might have some empty spaces to fill.

What precautions do you take around toy safety?