Monday, April 08, 2013

A Mommy's Journal: Choking Hazards Disguised as Toddler Toys and Clothes

Parents are often the bad guys. Diverting our children from hazards is a full-time job. When children's clothing and toy manufacturers increase the number of things we need to take out of our children's hands, I get mad. I know companies are in business to make money but cutting corners when it comes to kids really rubs me the wrong way.
Gates' Playing in the Kitchen
For her birthday, Gates got a Fisher-Price Learning Kitchen. Gates loves lights and she loves music, so this is her new favorite toy. One of the first things my sister, an early childhood educator, and I noticed about the toy was that Gates was rewarded with music when she touched the play kitchen burner. Luckily I've found a mode where the burner doesn't respond (or that mechanism has already broken). For the moment, I won't have to confuse Gates with an explanation that toy burners can be touched but real ones shouldn't be.
Something I didn't notice immediately, but did pretty quickly, was that some of the shapes were potential choking hazards. (Any object that fits in a 1.25 inch diameter tube is considered a choking hazard.) I was surprised to find the toy labeled appropriate for children younger than Gates.
Learning Kitchen: Potential Choking Hazard
This is important, very important:
Toy and clothing manufacturers can't be trusted
to produce baby-friendly wares.

Before you get a gift for a child, if you're unsure what's unsafe, check with the child's parents. Don't assume businesses are looking out for children. The parents will let you know what's safe for their child.
Some manufacturers print warnings on tags advising you not to leave your child unattended when wearing their outfit. This is kind of laughable. Why make a six month old's outfit that requires constant vigilance? A sleep-deprived parent can easily forget they can't let their child nap in your outfit. (We accidentally put Gates down to nap one day with a bib still on.) Also, if a tag is removed before the outfit is wrapped, the parents will never see that warning.
Why is this even an issue? Because haute couture clothing for girls either has jewels affixed via glue or ribbon flowers attached with safety pins. Gates likes to see how things are attached and, if possible, to separate small sparkly objects from larger non-swallowable items. Thankfully nothing's happened. Before we ever show clothes to Gates, I check for hazards: flowers affixed to dresses with safety pins, glued on patch designs or jewels. These items never reach Gates. They also don't even go to Goodwill, they go into the garbage. If I'm concerned about my daughter choking, I certainly don't want someone else's girl choking.
To avoid Gates getting attached to an unsafe toy we've taken to opening most gifts first and then rewrapping. (Yep. I'm one of those overprotective parents. While we practiced infant CPR in classes before Gates was born, I really don't want to have to try the Heimlich Maneuver on Gates to dislodge a sparkle or a toy.) Some manufacturers, like Fisher-Price, produce items infinitesimally larger than choking size. Gates at twelve months old puts everything in her mouth. If I can slide a shape through a toilet paper roll, I'm pretty sure Gates will figure it out too.
Have you encountered any unsafe toys or clothes?
What steps do you take to avoid them?

Ciao Bella!
Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.