Toy recalls are no longer relegated to discount bins and no-name brands. The recent rash of toy recalls have included some A-list celebrities of the children's toy world, including Dora the Explorer, Thomas the Tank Engine, Polly Pocket and Barbie. In the last two weeks alone, Mattel has recalled over 100 types of toys totaling 10 million units.
Since kids love to put their favorite toys in their mouths, parents should confiscate the recalled products as quickly as possible. Still, common sense is key. In other words, avoid letting your child see you throw his valued toy in the garbage. So, how to take those toys away -- without tears? Try these tips:
If he's a baby: You're lucky -- he probably won't notice the missing toy, or he'll forget about it quickly. Just remove the toy while your child is otherwise occupied.
If he's a toddler: Yes, toddlers do sometimes become attached -- violently, passionately -- to favorite toys, but luckily, kids this age are often easily distracted. Try grabbing their attention with a different toy, activity or treat before you make the recalled items disappear.
If he's older: You have a couple of options:
* Make the toy "disappear" while your child is sleeping. If he is distressed about losing his favorite object, you may have to tell a white lie and feign ignorance about the toy's whereabouts. And, if the toy is truly beloved, endure the screaming until you can find a suitable replacement.
* Or, go the direct route and use reason. Kids can understand that some things are dangerous and need to go. Sometimes it helps to create a ritual for disposing of the hazardous toy. Involve your child in the process of packaging up the toy for mailing back to the manufacturer, and bring him with you to the post office. Bonus: if the manufactuer has promised a replacement, your kid will have something to look forward to.
Once you've disposed of the toy, here are the steps you should take:
* Request an X-ray exam if you suspect that your child has swallowed a loose magnet.
* Ask your pediatrician for a lead test -- A standard lead check test requires less than a teaspoon of blood.
If your child has been exposed to one of the recalled toys, don't panic. Lead paint poses a threat only with extensive exposure. "For the typical child, this is probably not going to be an emergency situation, unless the child has swallowed the toy or has been mouthing or chewing on the toy extensively," says Bruce Lanphear, M.D., professor of environmental health at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. And while the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission calls magnets the #1 hidden home hazard
For more help on choosing the right toys for your child and preventing toy-related injuries, The American Academy of Pediatrics offers guidelines for toy safety
Mattel Pulls 9 Million Toys Off Shelves
Snapshot: Photos of Recently Recalled Toys
Detailed reports from the CPSC
Full list of toy names and model numbers
Surprising lead hazards in kids' jewelry
The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for toy safety
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