Find reputable resources for toy ratings.
Whenever parents plan to buy new toys for their children, they should review updated toy ratings to ensure that the toys that are safe and free from toxic materials. According to the United States Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG), in 2007 more than 45 million toys were recalled -- a shocking reminder to Americans that there is no government agency that tests toys before they are put on store shelves. Fortunately for parents, several organizations provide comprehensive, detailed toy ratings on all types of toys.
The U.S. PIRG works diligently on behalf of the American public to address and reform issues such as product safety, political corruption and voting rights. The group also releases an annual survey of toy safety. Members of the group visit toy stores and retailers to see the types of toys on the market and provide parents with safety guidelines for purchasing toys for young children. In 2008, U.S. PIRG also produced a shopping guide for parents containing helpful safety tips, guidelines and warnings.
World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (W.A.T.C.H.) compiles an annual list of the Top 10 Worst Toys of the Year. The toys on this list have the potential to cause injury or even death. The list includes detailed explanations of the dangers associated with each toy and why parents should avoid purchasing it. W.A.T.C.H. was founded as a nonprofit organization by Edward M. Schwartz, a former attorney with extensive experience investigating the toy industry for Congress. W.A.T.C.H.'s warnings have led toy manufacturers to change the design of their toys to make them safer.
Consumer Reports is an expert nonprofit organization that strives to bring reliable information to consumers on a variety of products through research, product testing and consumer surveying.
The organization was founded in 1936 and works diligently to create a fair, just and safe marketplace for consumers, empowering them to make educated purchasing decisions. In order to remain unbiased in its research and testing, Consumer Reports accepts no outside advertising or free product samples. The organization regularly releases toy ratings categorized by age (baby and toddler, preschooler or school age) and toy type (educational, ride-on, electronic, board games or video games). Consumer Reports also regularly allows kids to use and rate specific products to aid parents in selecting toys that children will like and use.
The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio is an independent consumer review of children's media founded in 1989 by leading parenting and children's author Joanne Oppenheim and child development expert Stephanie Oppenheim. The organization works with families to determine toy ratings.
Toy manufacturers submit their products to the Oppenheims year-round for review. After an initial review, products deemed safe and reliable are sent to kids and parents around the country for further testing. The Oppenheims evaluate toys on their safety, design, educational value and product labeling. The reviews are then broken down into groups by target age (ranging from infant to later elementary school-age children) and toy type (ranging from action figures and wheel toys to art supplies and make-believe toys). The Oppenheims are regular, monthly contributors on NBC's "Today Show."
Parenting magazines are an excellent place to find toy ratings, safety guidelines and information about the dangers associated with certain toys. Magazines such as Family Fun and Parenting compile an annual list of the best toys of the year.
Typically, these toys are staff-tested (and sometimes parent- or kid-tested) and are rated on educational merit, safety guidelines, fun and overall value. These lists often focus on toys that were released during the previous year or toys that are considered trendy, and they help keep readers updated on modifications in toy design and new types and styles of toys. In addition to an annual ranking of the best toys, these magazines are great resources for updated information on toy recalls or dangers.