Finding safe toys this holiday season

Toys might top your kids' holiday lists this year, but finding safe toys for them might be a little difficult. This roundup offers resources for determining whether your prospective purchase is a safe toy.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read

With the holiday shopping season creeping up, you may have a child on your shopping list who longs for a special toy. However, you may worry that the toy you are considering is unsafe for your child and perhaps the environment. Thankfully, there are resources online that offer advice on which products may be unsafe to your child.

If you're a parent, this set of resources is definitely worth checking out.

Keep Kids Safe

Consumer Product Safety Commission There is probably no better place to go first when looking for safe children's toys than the U.S. government's Consumer Product Safety Commission page.

When you get to the CPSC site, you'll be able to search for all the recalls and issues that have arisen with toys. You can also see some of the most recent recalls by simply clicking on the appropriate month above the search box. In either case, the site lists all the recalls during the specified period, why it was recalled, and information on how to return the item. The site also features images of the products to help you determine if the toy you've purchased is of concern. Even better, you can follow the CPSC on Twitter or Facebook to receive updates on new recalls as they are announced. The CPSC Web site, while poorly designed, is a must-see for any parent.

The CPSC Web site has all kinds of recalled products. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

GoodGuide If you're looking for data on what you should be providing your kids with, GoodGuide is the place to be.

GoodGuide offers a listing of healthy foods, household products, and toys that are suitable for children. GoodGuide's Toy section lists the level of lead, mercury, chlorine, and other harmful chemicals in the toy. Green means the toy doesn't have contain the respective harmful chemical, while red means that there are high levels of a chemical in a toy. You can also dig down into each listing to determine if the company that created the product has a good reputation. I was impressed by the number of toys GoodGuide offered. I think any parent will like GoodGuide.

Find out how healthy a toy really is with GoodGuide. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

GreenToys If the toys' environmental friendliness is a concern, check out GreenToys.

Whether you want to buy your kids a fire truck or cooking sets, the site lists it. And you'll be able to see just how a respective toy meets the company's green guidelines. If you're looking to make environmental friendliness a staple in your child's life, GreenToys is the place to start.

Green Toys
Green Toys has all the child favorites. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

HealthyStuff HealthyStuff provides one of the best resources for anyone that wants to find healthy products for their children.

HealthyStuff tests toys and issues a health rating on everything from Barbie to board games. The site lists the amount of harmful chemicals in the product, including where the harmful chemicals are located in each product.

HealthyStuff's design is easily one of the best. You can search for products by name, brand, or category. I was impressed by the size of HealthyStuff's library and was also happy with the quality of its reviews. Before you go out to pick your kids that toy they want, you might want to check out HealthyStuff.

HealthyStuff tells you if a product you're buying is safe. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Moms Rising Moms Rising is one of the more useful services.

Moms Rising provides parents with information on the safety of a toy while they're at the store shopping. Simply text Moms Rising with the name of the toy and it will return a message providing details on the toy's safety. All the results are based on the work performed by the aforementioned HealthyStuff. It's a nice service that costs nothing, other than standard text-messaging rates. Check it out.

Moms Rising
Moms Rising lets you find the toxicity of toys at the store. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

My top 3

1. HealthyToys: With some of the best testing in the space, HealthyToys is a must see.

2. CPSC: It's best to be informed, and the CPSC will do just that.

3. GoodGuide: Another great review site, you'll find a lot of helpful material on GoodGuide.