Journalist | Mom of Two
Realizing that our children’s seemingly harmless toys and products might be dangerous is frightening, and unfortunately, it happens more than we would like to admit. Whether it is moldy sippy cups or toys coated in lead paint, we see this every year as countless children’s products are recalled. However, one area we see repeated problems and health risks is in children’s jewelry.
Surprising Safety Risks Lurking In Children’s Jewelry
When we hear about the dangerous side of jewelry, immediately our minds jump to choking and strangling hazards. Even though those are very real concerns, we need to consider that several studies have unearthed that many of our child’s favorite bling contains alarming levels of toxic heavy metals. Cheap filler metals like lead, cadmium, nickel, and barium are used in the manufacturing of jewelry to keep costs down, even though they are intended for children.
To put this problem into perspective, within the last couple of years more than 180 million pieces of children’s jewelry were subject to recall because of heavy metal content.
If that isn’t bad enough, testing done on children’s jewelry being sold at Wal-mart unearthed that 25 percent of that inventory was found to have elevated lead levels that was at 300 times the recommended amount. That means that a majority of these tested items were one-third lead!
For years, these metals and compounds have been known to cause health problems, developmental delays, and learning disabilities in children. If the toxicity alone isn’t enough cause to be concerned, certain metals can lead to allergic reactions on the skin. Kids who are sensitive to cheaper metals often breakout in rashes or blisters in areas where the metal contacts the skin. Even companies who claim pure gold or silver earrings might use these toxic metals to make the posts or backs.
Alongside the metals, we often find small button batteries, magnetic clasps, and sharp edges. Our kids enjoy the bright, blinking necklaces and rings often sold as souvenirs from the circus, pizza places, or arcades. However, we need to be aware that if the batteries become ingested a child could suffer serious internal burns. Also, those easy to use magnetic clasps can wreak havoc on a child’s organs if swallowed.
10 Safety Tips To Protect Our Children from Jewelry Dangers
Realizing that we have introduced toxic materials and their dangerous health effects to our children can be disheartening. After all, our sons and daughters often wear and layer multiple jewelry pieces like necklaces, rings, and earrings at a time. Far too often, they innocently put these items in their mouth. To further complicate our dilemma, appearances can be deceiving and it is practically impossible to identify children’s jewelry or toys made from toxic materials without a laboratory or advanced equipment.
To protect our boys and girls from hazardous items masquerading as jewelry or toys, we have compiled the following safety guide:
- Get rid of older pieces of jewelry or toys that do not meet safety standards or may have been made when it was common to use materials with higher levels of toxic metals.
- Avoid allowing children to put jewelry or toys in their mouths.
- Try to boycott cheap jewelry and toys that are made in China.
- Only buy jewelry crafted with hypoallergenic materials, stainless steel, or platinum to reduce allergic reactions and limit exposure to dangerous metals.
- Buy earrings with screw on backs to prevent them from falling out to become a choking hazard or from scratching the delicate skin of a child.
- Thoroughly, wash a child’s hands after playing with jewelry or fidget spinners.
- Remember it’s better to have quality over quantity. Instead of purchasing a lot of cheap jewelry, buy a few lasting and well made pieces even if they cost a little more upfront.
- Don’t buy jewelry for young children that contains batteries or magnets.
- Always supervise a child playing with jewelry or fidget spinners, just in case they would happen to choke.
- Periodically check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s site to search for recalled items.
What tips do you have for protecting kids from seemingly harmless toys and jewelry?
About Amy Williams
Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety. Follow Amy on Twitter here.