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On Parenting: Evaluating hazards of children's toys

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Here is an edited excerpt from The Post's On Parenting blog. Read the latest posts at http://voices.washingtonpost.com/parenting.

Pondering how closely to eye toys for tots

The annual "10 Worst Toys" list, which the nonprofit organization World Against Toys Causing Harm published two weeks ago, gives parents 10 more things to worry about during the holidays. Among the items you should be chucking, according to the list: a Batman toy with rigid, pointed ears and a Curious George rattling infant book that is a choking hazard.

It makes perfect sense to think twice about these toys (which, according to the lawyers who compile the list, don't have adequate warnings) and to read the warnings on other toys that end up in your shopping cart. I've caught my kids with cords wrapped around their heads more than once, and we've certainly gone through the break-everything-you-can-into-small-pieces phase and the related put-small-pieces-in-your-mouth phase.

On the flip side, everyone who has watched "A Christmas Story" feels a certain bond with Ralphie, whose dream of having an official Red Ryder, carbine-action, 200-shot range model air rifle is constantly dashed by adults warning, "you'll shoot your eye out." Yes, the worst-toys list includes two gun-type items that can launch projectiles fast enough to -- you guessed it -- shoot an eye out.

Every parent should set a limit to their toy-safety vigilance. Now that we're past the choking-hazard stage, there isn't much that worries me. I'm still concerned about putting an eye out, but I figure it'll be from a stick, not something off the Toys "R" Us shelf. Does that make me cavalier, or just normal?

-- Brian Reid

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