When toy shopping, consider these tips:
—Do the smell test. Toxic softeners in plastic often have that “beach ball” smell. Strong fragrances and perfumes can provoke allergies or asthma.
—Lean toward products that are fair-made from natural materials: organic cotton-stuffed animals and wooden blocks, for example.
—Can you safely buy the product used? Dollhouses and building sets frequently stand the test of time.
—Shop locally: Craft fairs can offer up some wonderful, hand-made toys and the chance to speak with the craftsperson about the materials used.
—Antique toys or imported toys might contain lead in the paint. You can test for lead in toys by purchasing a Lead Check Swabs kit — from Lowe’s, Home Depot or at your local hardware store. However, be aware that none of the at-home testing kits is considered100 percent reliable.
—Give your business to companies that have pledged responsibility, such as Plan Toys, Haba, Brio, Chicco, Discovery Toys and Lego.
—Create a costume box filled with clothes gathered from closets or Goodwill. Just be sure not to include costume jewelry containing lead.
—To keep on top of the latest recalls, visit: www.cpsc.gov