Over the past week I have done several dozen news interviews about the toy recalls and how to choose safe toys for this holiday season. As a child safety expert, reporters are hoping that I have answers for moms who are confused, frustrated and angry. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. It started with lead paint and then progressed to chemicals in arts and crafts toys. Most recently, it’s a recall on the slipcovers of nursing pillows due to excessive levels of lead. Yes, we can take precautions and make some smart choices when shopping. But ultimately how can we really know if a product is safe? It’s virtually impossible to look at a product and know. Until now, we assumed that manufacturers and our government were safeguarding our children against dangerous toys.
Just like we wouldn’t expect someone to look at a piece of meat and know whether it’s contaminated with E-Coli or salmonella, it’s now unrealistic to assume moms can look at a toy and know whether it’s going to injure or kill their child. Sure, we can check for removeable parts, sharp objects or magnets, but it’s the hidden dangers that have us worried. And it’s specifically these dangers that we expect and demand that the government and manufacturers protect us from. What we need is the FDA equivalent for children’s products. The Consumer Products Safety Commission’s mission is too broad. We need a government agency that is exclusively overseeing children’s products and holding manufacturers to task. Right now, until we have that reassurance, we are saying no to products made in China and no to retailers and manufacturers who are not protecting our children. It’s time for moms to take a stand and send a message that we will not allow our children’s safety to be compromised.