In Toy Story 4 the new character joining Woody and Buzz is named “Forky”. Throughout the movie, Forky says repeatedly that he is not a toy. Apparently, Disney disagrees. Read on for a perspective from a birth injury attorney on the embarrassing recall of the plush toy that is a choking hazard for young children. Don’t worry. There are no spoilers ahead.
Birth Injury Attorney Baffled by Almost Inevitable Choking Hazard
At Birth Injury Guide, we aim to keep our readers informed on products that could harm their loved ones. Our birth injury attorney finds it somewhat baffling that Disney that did not predict the dangers of marketing Forky. The plot and much of the comedy of the Toy Story 4 movie are built around Forky’s disposable, slapdash nature and his repeated insistence that he is not, in fact, something a child should play with.
As can be seen in a how-to video published by US Today, Forky is a simple construction of broken popsicle sticks, a plastic spork, a pipe cleaner, bits of Play-Doh, and googly eyes glued into a rudimentary face shape. Disney did not actually market a plastic spork as a toy, but they did manufacture tens of thousands of plush versions of Forky complete with googly eyes that can detach and choke a small child.
A Spork-Shaped Peg into a Round Hole
To mimic the craft-time creation of a little child, the plush Forky toy has embroidered eyebrows and mouth, poseable arms, and googly eyes. The eyes have three parts: the white plastic base, a clear plastic dome, and a small black plastic disc inside the dome to represent a pupil. The multi-part design makes it easy for the parts to detach and pose a choking risk to a child. In general, craft time googly eyes are very dangerous for small children.
It is easy to see why Disney has received a considerable amount of criticism for attempting to sell a toy based on a character that was not meant to be played with in the first place.
Details of the Recall
Disney sold 80,000 of the 11-inch toys at Disney stores, shopping malls, theme parks, and online. All the plush Forky toys of this design are subject to the recall and can be recognized by their tracking codes. These codes are on the label sewn on to the base of each toy.
The tracking numbers are:
There have been no reported injuries or incidents in connection with the toy yet, but Disney is taking full responsibility for the dangerous design and offering refunds for all the Forky toys of this description.
Though Disney has not received complaints, that does not mean that children have not pulled the toy apart. If your child has choked on this or any other defective toy, contact Birth Injury Guide to speak with our birth injury attorney. Defective products designed for infants and children are simply unacceptable.
Minimizing Choking Hazards for Small Children
If anything, Disney’s recall of the Forky toy is an important reminder of the ever-present need to be vigilant for choking hazards around small children. As soon as babies are old enough to crawl, it’s time to start evaluating their environment for potential choking hazards. Infants and young children explore the world by putting things in their mouth, and they are voraciously curious about everything in their environment. Anything they can reach and fit in their mouth is a potential choking hazard.
When a child first begins to crawl, physically get down on the floor and look at the room from the child’s eye level. This perspective will allow you to more easily identify tempting small objects that pose a risk. Look for and remove any objects such as:
- Toys with small parts
- Defective toys with unintentionally detachable parts
- Soft toys that can be compressed small enough to fit entirely in the mouth
- Pens or markers with detachable caps
- Hair barrettes and accessories
- Latex balloons
Many toys with small parts are labeled “not for children under 3 years.” If you have babies or toddlers at home, it is very important to keep in mind that toys with this label present a choking hazard to small kids.
It is definitely tempting to buy more advanced toys and give them to your child because toys with small parts are objectively more interesting than safe toys for infants. But it is simply not worth the risk. Too many American children will die this year from choking on the small part of a toy that was either defective or not age appropriate.
A Particular Warning about Latex Balloons
Latex balloons are one of the most frequent causes of choking deaths among children under the age of eight. While trying to inflate them, children can inhale a balloon or they can choke on the broken pieces. As a toy, latex is particularly dangerous because its smooth material can conform to the throat and block the airway making it impossible to breathe.
The latex can also form a seal over the airway which will render the Heimlich maneuver useless for attempting to remove the blockage. Attempting to fish out something caught in a child’s throat with the fingers is never advisable no matter what is caught because it is possible to push the object in further. Latex balloons are simply not a good toy for small children.
Choking Prevention Tips from Our Birth Injury Attorney
Not all choking accidents require the attention of a birth injury attorney. Generally speaking, the responsibility to prevent choking rests with the child’s caregivers. However, parents can only do so much to prevent a child from choking, especially when it comes to products that are manufactured outside of their control.
Parents can take caution and help prevent choking by doing the following:
- Cut food into small pieces. Cutting or tearing food into pieces no larger than a half-inch will ensure that it will not get stuck in the throat even if the child swallows it whole.
- Do not allow a child to walk around while eating. Insist that small children eat while seated. Both distraction and reclined posture increase the risks of choking. Sitting at a table is the safest way to eat.
- Do not feed kids while you are driving. If the child starts to choke while you are focused on the road, you may not notice in time to intervene.
- Store toys for young kids separately from those for older children. Always make sure toys with small parts are safely put away from children three and under.
- Observe age appropriate labels for toys.
- Use a small parts tester. Sometimes called a choke tube, this tool is designed to show parents which objects are small enough to pose a choking hazard to children. If the object is small enough to fit in the tester, it is too small for a child under the age of four.
Be Prepared for a Choking Emergency
The best plan is a preventative plan that removes all choking hazards from a child’s environment. But children are curious and have lightning quick reflexes. Even the most conscientious parents can experience a choking scare when their child gets their hands on a small object.
In a choking emergency, call 911 before anything else. Next, apply age appropriate methods to clear the airway. Infants, children, and adults each require a different method of the Heimlich maneuver and CPR. Taking a CPR class is the best way to make sure you are prepared to handle a choking emergency in the appropriate way.
Talk to a Birth Injury Attorney
Has your child experienced injury after choking on a toy with small parts? It is a tragically common occurrence. Toy manufacturers have a responsibility to parents and to children to offer toys for sale that do not pose an obvious hazard. Toys that are a possible risk should be properly labeled for age-appropriateness. Toys that are found to be defective should be recalled immediately, with proper warning to consumers.
By manufacturing this toy based on a character that announces repeatedly that it is not, in fact a toy, Disney has exposed itself to liability for any harm that occurs to children. If you would like more information about this toy recall, contact Birth Injury Guide. You deserve to know what your legal rights are as a consumer, especially if your child has been harmed.