With the holiday shopping season getting underway, New Jersey parents are being warned about potentially dangerous toys.

The nonprofit New Jersey Public Interest Research Group is out with its 34th annual Trouble in Toyland report.

Dylan Robb, NJPIRG’s consumer watchdog, said a major danger parents must watch out for is a toy that has smaller parts that could present a choking hazard. A simple home test can be performed to determine if the toy is safe.

“Essentially what you will do is drop piece of the toy through a toilet paper roll and if it falls all the way through, then it would be considered a choking hazard and should be kept away from children under 3," he said.

Uninflated or broken balloons are the primary cause of suffocation deaths from toys. He said keep those away from children under 8.

Another type of hazard is a toy that makes a loud noise.

“Sometimes toy guns or action figures are really fun for children to play with, but if it’s too loud it can probably be harmful to a child’s developing hearing," he said.

“A good rule to go by is to simulate playing with the toy in a way that your child would and turn the sound on. If it’s too loud for you, then it’s probably too loud for your child to be playing with.”

He said to reduce the noise level you can remove the batteries or put tape over the speaker.

He also said toys with small magnets should also be kept away from younger kids because they can be swallowed and cause serious injury.

Parents should also make sure to not buy toys marketed to adults and teens if they have younger children because these items may cause injuries.

Another potential hazard would be slime toys that contain boron. Moderate to high doses of boron can cause nausea, vomiting and other types of sickness if ingested.

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The Trouble in Toyland report also warns parents that children’s jewelry may contain cadmium, a substance that can cause cancer and other health problems.

He said the bottom line is parents must use common sense.

“In much the same way you would child-proof your home, you can also pretty easily child-proof the toys that your children play with by doing choking hazard tests and learning a little bit more about the product that you’re buying before you actually bring it into your home.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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