Safety First: How to Tell If Your Child's Gift Is Safe
As a parent, you are constantly on the lookout for your children's safety. When she falls, you are there with a bandage and some antiseptic. When he taunts a snake that may or may not be poisonous, you are there to save him from his poor judgment. To be a parent is to be constantly vigilant, so when it comes to selecting gifts that your child comes into contact with every day, there is simply no way around it-you have to make sure everything from clothes to food to toys is as free of chemicals and germs as possible. This means finding items with a clean production record, quality plastic packaging, safe materials, and good reviews. Because, let's be honest, it won't be long before the gift is mangled and covered with dirt, so the least you can do in the meantime is make sure that it was clean, and enshrined in secure packaging plastic to start out with.
Clean Production Record
Find out where the product was made. Different countries have different standards when it comes to factory safety, so it is important to make sure that any product you purchase for your child was made in a country with a clean bill of health. Examine the packaging design as well, as some international plastic packaging companies don't have the same standards as the U.S. when it comes to hazardous plastic components and byproducts like dioxins. Additionally, because some companies are so committed to customer safety that they will form their own standards above and beyond those of their base country, do your research before you purchase the product. If the company has a history of distributing unsafe items, or if it doesn't treat its workers well, don't do business with them. Even if they offer the best prices, you can't put a price on your child's safety.
Quality Plastic Packaging
If you aren't examining the product in person, determining the quality of the plastic packaging may not be the easiest task, but it is a worthwhile one. Make sure the packaging design has been completely sealed around the edges. Thermoformed plastic packaging is your best bet, as it has been sealed by heat rather than closure tabs that can allow for airflow and possible contamination. Items stored in cardboard and other packaging can also be safe, but packaging plastic provides the best seal and is your best bet when it comes to the safety of your child.
Use common sense-or a parent's intuition-in determining how safe a certain product is for your child. There has been a rush lately to purchase only wooden toys, but we all know your child is going to want electronics like video games and iPods at some point, so you can't go the organic route forever. The production of electronics can involve heavy metals, acids, and other hazardous substances, so you'll need to make sure none of those components made it to the outside of the product. Choosing companies with a clear or advancing environmental record will help. You should also consult with your pediatrician to identify potential allergens and harmful products.
Nobody said that having a child was cheap, and if you want to stretch those funds to their full capacity, you'll want to make every purchase count. Before you buy any product, always check the product reviews. This will help you to determine the relative likability of a product as well as gauging its safety. If a wooden toy gave another child splinters, it is not right for your child. If the popular Bucky Balls would be simple for your younger children to find and swallow, wait a few years before you buy them.