June 02, 2021

By Adam J. Langino 

What do Pokémon, G.I. Joe, and Transformers all have in common? Mediocre movie adaptations? Sure. But, if you are a parent, you may also have noticed something else. Here’s a hint: Small parts have caused choking-relating deaths in more than 90 children between 2001 and 2012.1 The answer? Pokémon, G.I Joe, and Transformers toys often share a similar warning:

“WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD – Small parts not for children under 3 years or any individuals who have a tendency to place inedible objects in their mouths.”

But where did it come from? This article explains the federal reg­ulation relating to choking hazards, discusses whether the regu­lation is current, highlights the most prominent 2020 choking related recalls, and provides some helpful advice if you encounter a choking infant.

16 C.F.R. 1500.18(a)(9) Banned toys and other banned articles in­tended for use by children bans as hazardous any toy or other article intended for use by children under 3 years of age that presents a choking, aspiration, or ingestion hazard because of small parts. 16 C.F.R Part 1501 Method for identifying toys and other articles intended for use by children under 3 years of age which present chok­ing, aspiration, or ingestion hazards because of small parts contains the regulations providing the testing method for determining whether a toy or any other article is hazardous to children un­der 3 because it, or one of its components that can be detached or broken off during normal or reasonable foreseeable use, is too small.2

The types of “articles” covered by Part 1501 are wide-ranging, including, but not limited to, squeeze toys; teethers; crib toys; pull and push toys; blocks and stacking sets; bathtub, pool, and sand toys; chime and musical balls and carousels; stuffed, plush, and flocked animals and other figures; preschool toys, games and puzzles; riding toys; cribs, playpens, baby bouncers, and walkers; strollers and carriages; baby dolls, rag dolls, and bean bag dolls; and toy cars and trucks. However, Part 1501 is not all encompass­ing. In fact, several items are specifically exempt from its require­ments, including, “balloons; books; crayons, chalk, pencils, and pens; children’s clothing; rattles; and pacifiers.”3

The complete article can be accessed here.