Most young children learn by using all their senses. They crawl over, yank, taste, roll around in and play with all kinds of stuff. Some of those things are intended for use by children, others aren’t.
These experiences are vital for building a frame-of-reference moving forward in their young lives. Sometimes children unwittingly put themselves in danger when innocently interacting with the world around them.
Products, both those specifically for children and those with which they have incidental access on a daily basis, are a constant source of potential danger. Children suffer many injuries a year as a result of their interactions with products intended for their use as well as those that are just in their way.
Although, lead-based paint was banned from toy manufacturing in the U.S. in 1978, it is sometimes still used in toy and jewelry production overseas.
These items present a problem for children and infants who put them into their mouths, which can result in the ingestion of lead into their bloodstream. Lead poisoning can lead to several health issues—namely developmental issues and potential learning delays.
Sadly, symptoms of lead poisoning are hard to detect until extremely high levels of the toxin has been ingested. The good news is the Consumer Product Safety Act was signed into law in 2008, providing new regulations and guidelines for imported consumer products.
Err on the side of caution and buy toys manufactured after 2012 (when the law was in full-effect and outdated products had been filtered out of retail availability). Be wary of hand-me-down toys or jewelry items or those made overseas.
Drop-side cribs were banned in 2011 but are still available through yard and garage sales (despite it being illegal to buy or sell through these channels).
A newer trend of inclined sleeper cribs has recently been under scrutiny by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which reported around 1,108 incidents with the products between January 2005 through June 2019, including 73 infant deaths.
As a result, the CPSC enacted an independent study to test these sleepers and similar products to ensure safety regulations are being upheld or to see if any products need to be recalled. A list of all recalled products is available on their website.
According to a recent study published in the medical research journal Brain Injury, about 72% of brain injury-related emergency department visits for children are related to consumer products. More specifically, home furnishings and fixtures played a role in 17.2% of these traumatic brain injuries, including the most common form of child-injury—tip-overs.
A tip-over occurs when a large piece of furniture or large electronics, such as big-screen TVs, fall over and injure a child. Children frequently climb onto unanchored TVs, bookshelves and dressers not realizing the risk. The uneven weight of the object causes it and the child to fall, often with the object’s full weight landing on top of the child.
This is such a big problem for parents and children that the CPSC created a separate initiative called Anchor It! This off-shoot of the CPSC was created to generate awareness of home-based accidents involving children and the products that surround them.
The CPSC estimates that 459 children have died as a result of tip-over incidents since 2000. To combat these tip-over incidents, Anchor It! advocates for anchoring pieces of larger furniture and TVs to walls or other surfaces.
Make sure to read through the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recalls (around 400 products are added annually) and consider reviewing the section of their website focused on ideal infant sleeping conditions.
Try to develop a sixth sense as a parent. Identify the risks in your home and do your best to minimize them. When you’re out with your toddler or curious young child, actively try to spot potential tip-over or choking hazards anytime they waddle haphazardly into a new, unfamiliar room.
At the end of the day, there’s only so much parents can do. Thousands of children get injured every year due to no fault of their parent because they were exposed to a product that was marketed and sold as being safe for children.
Even though there are standards and regulations for products, that does not mean these standards are always being upheld. There almost always must be multiple instances of documented injury before a product is officially recalled—and no parent wants their child to become a cautionary statistic.
If you believe your child has been injured as a result of a faulty product, a product that was not properly marked as dangerous or a product that is made of or contains hazardous materials, you could have grounds for a product liability lawsuit.