Calcutta 17 March 2004

Toy is a child’s best friend. Be it a Barbie doll, a stuffed animal or a WWF warrior, racing car; children and their playthings are inseparable. But unfortunately toys are not without their hazards. Each year, quite a large number of children get hurt while playing with toys. But such incidents are rarely reported in the newspapers.

CUTS’ request to parents:
If any child has suffered injury by a dangerous or defective toy and parents would like us to evaluate a potential case, they are requested to contact CUTS.

CUTS’ request to doctors:
If any doctor comes across any child patient who has suffered injury while playing with toys, they are requested to contact CUTS.

CUTS while undertaking a research on the issue found that “Choking” is a common hazard for children. There are numerous incidents of babies choking on parts like small balls, marbles or lose parts getting into their noses.

While enquired with parents, complaints about the sharp edges of toys were reported which local merchandisers often overlook. Toys that shoot objects are very dangerous and injury from such toys are very common. A host of such cases are reported regularly to child specialists.

It has also been found that very often toys are attached with long strings or cords, which easily gets wrapped around a small child’s neck and cause strangulation.

Even, it is not safe to play with noise making toys as it can create a noise level that interferes with children’s learning abilities. Because of a child’s shorter arm span, toys are often potentially more dangerous. Children’s ears are more sensitive than adults and their hearing is easily damaged.

Electric toys also pose risk. Toys with heating elements can result in burns in younger children, and these toys are not recommended for small children.

It is often seen that low quality fibres and materials are used to make toys. Since small kids have a tendency of sucking toys, this could lead to stomach disorders and other related ailments. Allergies from toys are quite a common problem with kids now. Carcinogenic colours are used to bring the bright look of the toy. But there is a chance of the paint peeling off and your child swallowing it. Apart from some reputed manufacturers, others do not use food grade colouring material for toys meant for a small child.

It may sound shocking but the fact is that most toys and other baby products in the Indian market are not manufactured following certain safety standards. The Bureau of Indian standards (BIS) has set standards for toy safety related to their mechanical and physical forms as well as toxicity. But the manufacturers are not obliged to adhere to the BIS guidelines unless they are exporting. The enforcement of guidelines is yet to be made mandatory for domestic toy manufacturers.

We are into deeper research on this to come out with recommendations that could become an advocacy tool to pursue BIS in making the standards for the toys mandatory, so that your children can play safely with toys.