Read Labels & Register Toys
Past research shows that one of the biggest mistakes parents make is not reading toy labels, thus giving an age-inappropriate toy to a young child. Each year over 180,000 children visit the hospital or ER due to toy related injuries and too many of kids’ injuries are related to children choking on toys, such as marbles, magnets and other small toys meant for older kids. Always read the label to make sure a toy is suitable for your child’s age and abilities. Especially if the toy is a gift – I can’t remember how many times non-parent friends of mine gave my son a toy that was way too old and inappropriate for him. Additionally, be sure to fill out every toy registration card. This may seem like a hassle, but if there’s a recall, and you filled out your card, the company should contact you. Just in case, a company fails to contact you though, this is the perfect time of year to sign up for free toy recall information via email.
Buy Used Toys Carefully
Used toys, consignment shops and thrift stores are awesome because they encourage reuse and green living practices. However, you do need to shop for used toys carefully. A 2003 report showed that as many as 63% of thrift stores, at the time, were selling hazardous items, items that failed current safety standards or recalled items. It’s officially against the law to sell a recalled product, toy or otherwise, but of course, some products slip through the cracks. To combat any unsafe used toys, check with CPSC or the toy manufacturer to make sure a thrift store toy hasn’t been recalled before you give the toy to a child.
Plan a Less Commercial Holiday
If you want an easier time choosing toys then plan for a less commercial, less excessive holiday. First of all, excess stuff is not eco-friendly. Second of all, kids don’t need piles of gifts to make the season merry. In fact, overspending on your kids may be detrimental to their well-being. In this country, we’re very good at excessive holidays. In 2011, consumers spent $816 million online alone on Black Friday, not counting what folks spent in stores, making it the heaviest shopping day of the year. According to ComScore, Cyber Monday 2011 was the biggest online spending day in history, with revenues of $1.25 billion in the U.S. The National Retail Federation says that the average American spent around $700+ on holiday shopping in 2011, and these figures regard individuals, not whole families. Additionally, Consumer Reports points out that about 14.1 million adults are carrying debt from the last holiday season. This is spending madness that needs to end.
This season make it a point to celebrate family time and activity vs. gifts galore. Sure buy your child a few green gifts, but don’t over-do it. It’s better to choose a few very special green gifts vs. a mountain of toys, especially when you’re dealing with eco-friendly toys, which often cost more than conventional toys. Research shows that many parents buy kids excess stuff to make up for time they don’t spend with them. Don’t do that this year. Plan fun winter activities like cookie baking and family game night to round out the season and make it special. Your kids don’t need a commercial holiday to have a good time and you don’t need the stress of all that debt.
Lead image by zerobug via sxc.
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