Killer asparagus? As if we didn’t have enough things to worry about!
The above felt and wool asparagus, from Land of Nod toys, was recently recalled because of a tendency of the inner wire to poke through the veggie skin and pose a choking and laceration hazard.
Warnings like these are quite commonplace in magazines, newspapers, Websites and the airwaves in between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, representing the bulk of the holiday shopping season. But the information is just as relevant — or perhaps even more so right now — as we let our guard down as our kids settle into their new toys and develop new routines.
Nothing is more tragic than hearing that an item meant to spread joy has become an inadvertent weapon to harm children — as was the case with this toy workbench from Little Tykes:
More than 3.3 million Little Tykes workbenches and trucks that were made between 1990 and 2004 contain these nails, which officials warn can get lodged in a toddler’s throat. I personally just found one of these workbenches in my basement, where it sits because my four-year-old daughter has lost interest. But nonetheless, it’s time for the dump.
When you take on the responsibility of a nanny, you are the substitute eyes and ears of the parents. Quite frankly, any item can pose a choking hazard if a child is brazen enough. We can’t recall everything they might potentially put in their mouths (though play food is a very logical thing for a kid to munch on).
If you’re searching for a nanny, finding one who’ll treat your children as if they are her own is no easy task. Our Safe Nanny Success Kit is a great place to start, offering advice on how to meticulously approach the process using the same proven screening methods as a professional nanny agency.
Regardless if you are a parent or a nanny, it’s a great idea to get on a few year-round mailing lists to stay up to date on which toys are bad news. One of my most frequent check-ins is with World Against Toys Causing Harm, or WATCH, which issues toy safety report cards and for the past 39 years, an annual “10 Worst Toys” list.
I encourage you to digest the 2011 nominees and see if any match up with what’s in your family playrooms.
Prominent on the WATCH list is a Pirates of the Caribbean action figure which has a stiff plastic sword rivaling those red plastic cocktail toothpicks you can sometimes get at theme restaurants. I used to play with those toothpick swords as a kid and still have two intact eyes, so as always, it comes down to knowing your children and how responsible they are around various potential hazards.
While you’re beefing up your toy safety knowledge, also put yourself on the email list for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG), which issues a yearly “Trouble in Toyland” report. Most problematic in this year’s findings are revelations that numerous toys still contain high levels of phthalates, plastic chemicals believed to be linked to childhood development delays. And astoundingly, after years of crusading about the dangers of lead poisoning, there are still a few toys tainted with lead.
Lastly, there’s the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which maintains perhaps the most comprehensive toy recall list available. The sheer number of toys which pose a potential health hazard will STUN you.
Which makes your job as a nanny all the more important. Taking an alertness break is never an option!