Media Roundup: What Should Parents Do About Recalled Toys?

The toy recalls are still big news and something (the autumnal equinox, perhaps?) triggered an avalanche of “Oh, no! What should parents do?” advice stories from the media. Most, if not all, mentioned,but you can also subscribe to Consumerist’s “recalls” feed.

Here’s a round up of advice:

The New York Times just ran around asking parents, bloggers and toy company owners about the issue:

Ms. Nemeth [who founded Discovery Toys in 1978 and sold the company to Avon a decade ago] said that if she had a toddler,”I’d avoid anything that is painted — I’d just wait until the industry shakes itself out.” Besides, she said, “by bringing home wooden blocks that are unpainted, you’re probably helping your child’s creativity.”

But plain wooden blocks alone probably will not satisfy most toddlers. Danielle Wiley, a 33-year-old publicist in Chicago, recalls a recent tantrum that her 2-year-old son, Max, had in the bathtub.

“I knew a new toy would help,” Ms. Wiley said, but the only one in the house was a Fisher-Price Diego toy that had just been recalled for lead paint. Nevertheless, “I handed him the toy and he stopped,” she said. After the bath, she said, she discarded the toy.

The Chicago Tribune is claiming that FAO Schwartz had a “country of origin” search feature on its website for those parents who feel that xenophobia is the answer to the crisis, though we can find no evidence of the feature actually existing aside from a mention of it on a Customer Service FAQ.

FAO Schwartz supposedly has country of origin labels in-store, but has no stores in Chicago:

If you’re concerned about where toys are made, some retailers are helping customers find the product’s origin. FAO Schwarz has put up signs throughout its stores to designate the country of origin; the retailer’s Web site, http://www.fao .com, allows consumers to shop for toys by country of origin. quotes one mom who is avoiding plastic (that the Thomas & Friends toys were wood seems not to matter):

“Anything that’s plastic, we’re just kind of staying away from,” said Rachael Meza, a Wichita mom.

Forbes has some financial advice from Mattel. They’re saying toy recalls aren’t the biggest issue for their lagging earnings, it’s really just a matter of uncool toys:

It could be that China is beside the point. The real risk in this company is its tired product lineup, says A.G. Edwards analyst Timothy A. Conder. He contends that stagnant sales of Barbie U.S. and American Girl and the difficulty replicating the Cars- and T.M.X. Elmo-related sales pop last year will hurt prospects.

WABC is optimistic:

“I feel this may well wind up being the safest holiday season of all,” Toy Industry Association President Carter Keithley said.

Those are pretty confident words from the president of the Toy Industry Association following the recall of millions of toys from China due to lead paint.

Keithley just testified before a senate subcommittee. He says parents need to keep the 14 recalls from 11 companies in perspective.

“My first piece of advice is don’t not freak out,” he said.

WABC recommends the mythical FAO Shwatrz “country of origin” guides too. Since FAO Shwartz has 2 stores, this is extremely practical advice.

We think you should just buy your infant an XBOX. Ok, not really. You should hand craft all of your toys out of fallen tree branches and delicious organic free-trade coffee.


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