Anyone who has ever entered the toy section of a department store has likely seen the plethora of small parts and warning labels that accompany many items. Toys with small parts are an obvious danger to small children, but there are other dangers lurking behind the colorful packaging and alluring advertising. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), one of the biggest dangers is infant toy and magnet defects.
The CPSC has warned consumers of the particular dangers of toys containing high-power magnets, along with defective products. Between 2009 and 2013, there were approximately 2,900 emergency room visits related to injuries caused by toy magnets. There has been at least one toddler death, as well. It is also noted that the dangerous toys are not always “infant” toys, but are toys that may be within the grasp of tiny, curious hands. Some of the most common dangerous magnetic toys include:
- Buckyballs: Danger of swallowing the tiny round magnets, along with numerous injury reports, led to the prohibition of this product in 2014.
- Zen Magnets: This product was recalled, but allegedly, the manufacturer continued to sell the high-power magnets after the recall, resulting in a preliminary injunction.
- Magnetix: Magnetix, a popular children’s building toy, was recalled in 2008 after it was discovered that the pieces could come apart, leading to the risk of ingestion by small children.
Infant Toy and Magnet Defects Contribute to Startling Rate of Toy-Related Injuries
In December 2014, a study report was released concerning toy-related injuries to children. According to the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the study indicated that a toy-related injury occurs every three minutes in the U.S. What’s more, these injuries among infants and children less than five years old were largely caused by choking or ingesting foreign bodies, such as small parts or magnets.
Research also suggests that numerous injuries occur every year due to defective toys. In 2007, 104 different varieties of toys were recalled, accounting for 30 million units. Because toy recalls often are underreported, or consumers are unaware, many of these products remain in consumer households. The research report also highlights the startling number of overall toy-related injuries. With 20 years of data analyzed, the results indicated more than three million injuries from 1990 to 2011.
How to Prevent Infant Toy and Magnet Injuries
Recalls are not always successful at eliminating the risks of dangerous or defective toys to infants and children. Parents can take some measures to reduce risks, however, such as:
- Examine all toys for small parts, magnets, or defects before allowing children to play.
- Always follow manufacturer guidelines and age recommendations.
- Closely supervise children playing with toys that could be dangerous (riding toys, building toys, toys with small/moving parts), especially children under five.
- Check recalls.gov for an updated list of recalled toys.