A lot of focus this time of year is on what gifts to buy children for the holidays. A consumer watch group warns there are some toys you will want to avoid putting on your shopping list.
World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc (WATCH) released it's annual list of the "10 Worst Toys" of the year that post a range of risks. They include a wide variety of items from Hallmark's "Itty Bittys" Baby Stacking Toy to Hand Fidgetz Spinners. (A full list can be found here.)
Many are surprised to hear these seemingly harmless items pose a threat. The Toy Association has even dismiessed the list as "needlessly frightening" because all of the toys featured on the list meet federal safety regulations.
Still, Sheldon Lyon of the St. Joseph Safety Council said these toys can pose hidden dangers.
"There are probably some toys out there that are going to have a red flag attatched to them immediately when you look at them. Others, maybe an area where it's going to be up to the parent to decide," Lyon said. "Just use good judgement. Know that if there's a small part and you have a small child, they're going to put that in their mouth."
Fidget spinners were the popular toy of 2017 but have recently been under fire for catching fire while charging and breaking into smaller pieces that small children then choked on. Most recently, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund found that two types of popular fidget spinner brands contain toxic levels of lead. (More information on fidget spinner dangers can be found here.)
Louise Cross, an employee at St. Joseph toy store PEB, said a few concerned customers returned fidget spinners to their store. At that point PEB management decided to discontinue selling the product, instead offering safer fidget-friendly alternatives like "Thinking Putty."
"We try to order from the best companies we can possibly order from," Cross said. "Our toys are safe."
Another big issue brought to light by WATCH was that the first toy on their Worst Toys list, the Hallmark "Itty Bittys" Baby Stacking Toy, was recalled back in August. And yet, the toy was still being sold by online retailers.
Cross said that's one of many reasons she reccomends people go to the store to purchase items, especially when buying for children.
"You see the product right then and there. You get to look at it, open it up--some things you can open and look at--I think that is a big benefit," Cross said.
Lyon said whether buying online or buying in store, parents should be cautious and use their best judgement. He also said to take the habits of the child you are buying for into consideration.