Is Any Baby Product Safe Enough?
Filed under: Opinions
Grab your babies out of their Gracos! The Consumer Product Safety Commission has just declared Graco's Harmony high chair a hideous hazard to humanity. How hideous?
Of the 1.2 million units sold, the Commission has received -- sit down (and try not to fall): "24 reports of injuries, including bumps and bruises to the head, a hairline fracture to the arm, and cuts, bumps, bruises and scratches to the body."
That's right. Apparently a screw can come loose, the chair can tip over, and in one out of every 50,000 chairs sold, someone ends up with a bump or once, a hairline fracture. And that's enough for the Commission to warn parents to "stop using product immediately."
Now, look -- no one wants baby to get a bump. But when I hear "kiddie product recall," I used to think we were talking about exploding rattles. Spontaneous Combustion Barbie. My First Toyota. But thumb through the Commission's list of recalls and it starts to feel like they sent an intern into Babies R Us with an empty notepad and a tab of LSD: "Tell us if anything looks scary."
That would explain -- perhaps -- this product alert from December: "Timberland Recalls Children's Boots Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard."
Boots covered with tasty peeling paint chips? No, these boots were recalled because "the logo stamped onto the children's boot's insoles contains excessive levels of lead."
Insole? "Has anyone ever licked the insole of an ankle-high boot ... and chewed off the yummy logo?" asks Rick Woldenburg, chairman of Alliance for Children's Product Safety, in his blog. "If you have, can you please send me a diagram of how you did it?"
Here's another product the Commission recently recalled: The nails that come with the LittleTykes Workbench -- and have since 1994. We're talking cartoonish-looking plastic nails the size of salt shakers.The size of a Ho Ho. The size of half a banana. But since a kid almost choked on one once -- in the 15 years the play set was on the market -- it's now officially dangerous and parents are supposed to run screaming from the rec room.
The craziest thing is that, in between hallucinating horrors, the Commission issues a ton of recalls that actually make sense! Barbeques with shooting flames. ATVs that steer like bucking broncos. Log splitters that keep splitting whatever's nearby, be it a cord of wood or the arms of the guys trying to turn them off. Personally, I'd like those items swept off the shelf (and into my ex-boss's bed).
But there's a difference between an unstoppable arm-chopping death machine and a plastic plaything the size of a salt shaker. And when the Commission keeps telling parents that, no, there isn't -- they're both equally, crazily dangerous. The Commission also give us this choice: Be scared of absolutely every baby thing, from the chairs to the toys to the shoes. Or, figure the Commission got its brain addled in a log-splitting accident and use our own common sense.
Related: New Study: Parents Stink
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