Fisher Price, Slings and Gates Oh My!

Recalls, recalls, recalls.

Three recalls related to children’s gear over two days has to have parents’ heads spinning over what is actually safe for their kids.

Health Canada announced a recall of thousands of Evenflo baby gates on Wednesday, after the baby product manufacturer reported that several children had been injured when the gates failed.
The recall involves Evenflo models 10502 and 10512 Top-of-Stair Plus Wood Gates.
Read more.

Parents and caregivers should immediately go through their children’s toy boxes and throw out all the old Fisher-Price “Little People” figures because a baby recently choked to death when the toy became lodged in the infant’s throat, Health Canada said yesterday.
Read more.

Thousands of infant slings that have been linked to the suffocation deaths of three babies in the United States were recalled by Health Canada yesterday. Canada’s health agency and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warned consumers that the Infantino “SlingRider” and “Wendy Bellissimo” infant sling should not be used for infants younger than four months of age due to a risk of suffocation.
Read more.

The one I find perplexing is the Fisher Price Little People warning. It comes on the news that a 10 month old child choked and died on one of the toys. A heartbreaking tragic story to be true, but the toys are 20 years old. The recall warning comes only for the Little People manufactured prior to 1991.

I grew up with these Little People. My parents have saved all of our Fisher Price gear from when I was a kid (that means it’s 35+ years old). We didn’t choke. And yet now, in 2010, these toys are finally deemed dangerous? Is this the only child in nearly 40 years that has had a tragedy associated with the toys? Is that enough to pronounce them dangerous?

Perhaps its a little bit of Lenore Skenazy coming out in me. I’m a fan of her Free Range Kids blog and she tackled the recall issue with a rebuttal to the warning over slings from the past week.

It is really hard to write “death” in any story about children without sounding cavalier when adding, “Does that really mean a product is risky?” But still, that’s what I have to write. The odds are so overwhelmingly good for babies in slings — fewer than one death a year — that to label a product like this “dangerous” is to label doing almost anything on earth dangerous. In 1999, 624 people died falling off of furniture. So is sitting on furniture risky?

Yes, we need to protect our kids and we need to keep society safe. But at what point is a recall an over reaction to an isolated incident?

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