They just keep getting stranger! Read this NY Times article on the Aqua Dots recall.
The toy recalls make me want to box up every toy in the house and start from scratch. Heck, the kids can play with leaves and sticks, right? They don't need toys!
Admittedly, the Aqua Dots one is more disturbing than the more-common lead scares. That a child's toy has an industrial chemical, used deliberately (and yes, used for its intended purpose, which is to prevent water-soluble adhesives from adhering prematurely) that can metabolize into a date-rape drug? That is enough to scare any parent into using only homemade natural toys. Many blogs are tackling this issue, including Parent Bloggers.
The real question is, what to do about the whole phenomenon? Should we all stop purchasing mass-produced toys? What about avoiding toys that are manufactured in certain countries? The problem there is that it's simply hard to find toys that aren't made in China. And that isn't even enough to keep your kids safe. The recent Mattel recalls were for design issues, that is, things that Mattel had control over. It's one thing for a factory to substitute a cheaper, but potentially unsafe for children paint. But when a toy has a design flaw that can lead to an injury? How do we protect ourselves? Information of course is key. Be sure to check the Consumers Union for details of the recent (and, I fear, upcoming) toy recalls.
My answer: keep it simple. Keep the amount of toys in your home to a minimum. Ask for gifts other than toys for holidays and birthdays. Books, gifts of experiences (such as a zoo trip or membership), and clothing are safer choices. Also, consider sticking with the classics: Lego and Playmobil are made in Europe and have been for decades. Both lines have options for multiple ages, and are toys that can jump-start the imagination.
What do you think? What choices will you make this holiday season?