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Nowadays a good portion of seemingly quality products from known makers are manufactured in China (as I read see based on reading the labels). There are some info regarding the occassional dangerous materials used in making/painting the toys.

How do you choose a toy? Do you use pure wooden toys, or check for on-market time of the specific product? How about relatively anonymous products?

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Just as an FYI, many woods are naturally toxic or may become so as a result of treatment/processing. So don't use that as a guide in choosing a safe toy. –  Stephen Jan 22 '13 at 20:11
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2 Answers 2

I always check the product safety label of the toy, to give me an assurance that the toy is safe for my child and age-appropriate, as well. I also consider the guidelines set by CPSC in choosing toys, such as:

  1. Toys made of fabric should be labeled flame retardant or flame resistant
  2. Stuffed toys should be washable
  3. Painted toys should be covered with lead-free paint
  4. Art materials should say nontoxic.
  5. Crayons and paints should say ASTM D-4236 on the package, which means that they've been evaluated by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/learning/safe_toys.html

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Many of the chemicals they use to make materials flame retardant/resistant are carcinogens or other baddies. –  Philip Jun 22 at 3:36
    
I've actually seen proposals that the government reduce their regulations requiring furniture/toys/etc be flame resistant because the small percentage of additional people that die in fires would be less than the small percentage of children (adults too, but adults don't go around jumping on furniture and licking everything) that die from diseases caused by flame retardant chemicals. The number of deaths in house fires since they enacted flame retardant regulation has gone down drastically. But so has the number of cigarette smokers and the quality of the average home's wiring.... –  Philip Jun 22 at 3:38
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In the US, the Consumer Product Safety Commission keeps track of toys that have been recalled (or are recommended for recall) based on things like lead in paint, choking hazards, etc. Not sure how useful this would be in your country but I'm betting there is a lot of overlap with childrens' toys between our two countries. :)

We personally choose toys based on (a) how likely it is to be chewed, (b) where it was made and how much information is available about sourcing, and (c) if it's wooden and painted, we usually try to do a scratch test to see how easily the paint comes off.

There are also lead testing products out there that will tell you how much lead is in a particular product. Consumer Reports had an article comparing the accuracy of different lead test kits a few years ago.

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