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Keep Toy Safety in Mind This Holiday Season

Make this holiday season a joyful one by keeping safety in mind when shopping for children’s toys and overseeing their use. While the majority of toys are safe, toys can become dangerous if misused or if they fall into the hands of kids who are too young to play with them. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports there were an estimated 240,000 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments, and the commission received 7 reports of toy-related deaths in 2016.

CPSC summarizes its toy safety recommendations succinctly as follows: Play safe, keep safe, put away safe. When selecting toys, safety experts stress the need to choose age-appropriate toys to reduce the risk of potential hazards and remind caregivers, including grandparents, of play-related safety concerns.

Listed below are some tips to prevent toy-related injuries:

  • Before shopping for toys, consider the child's age, interest, and skill level. Read instructions and warning labels and follow the age and safety information provided.
  • Carefully read and follow instructions for the assembly and use of toys.
  • Make sure the toy is sturdy and that no small parts (such as eyes, noses, buttons, or other parts) can break off the toy.
  • Keep toys with small parts away from children under age 3 to prevent choking. Small, rounded, and oval objects (like balls and marbles) can easily fit into a child’s mouth. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age 3 cannot have parts less than 1.25 inches in diameter and 2.25 inches long. Choking and aspiration of toy parts are leading causes of toy-related fatalities.
  • Always remove and discard all packaging before giving a present to a baby or small child.
  • Separate and store toys by age levels. Teach children to put toys away after playing. Safe storage prevents falls and other injuries.
  • If a toy box has a hinged lid, be sure it has lid support that holds the lid open at any angle to which the lid is opened. Make sure bins or other toy storage containers have no hinges that could catch little fingers. Toy boxes should have rounded or padded edges.
  • Do not leave products with accessible batteries within reach of children. A child can swallow a button battery and suffer dangerous chemical burns in as little as 2 hours.
  • Be aware that high-powered magnets are a safety risk to children. Injuries are serious if magnets are swallowed.
  • Check old and new toys regularly for damages such as sharp edges or small parts.
  • Make repairs immediately or throw away damaged toys.
  • For all children under 8, avoid toys that have sharp edges and points.
  • Keep un-inflated balloons and broken balloon pieces away from children.
  • Include a CPSC-certified helmet if giving a bicycle, skateboard, scooter, or any other riding equipment.

Some suggestions for suitable toys for children by age:

  • 0 to 1: Newborns to 1-year-olds explore with their hands, mouths, and eyes, and enjoy toys they can touch or squeeze. Crib gyms, floor activity centers, activity quilts, squeaky toys, soft dolls, or stuffed animals
  • 1 to 3: One- to 3-year olds climb, jump, walk, throw, and play rough-and-tumble games. Soft blocks, large blocks, push and pull toys, pounding and shaping toys, books
  • 3 to 5: Three- to 5-year-olds like to experiment with imaginary situations and have toys that are close companions. Non-toxic art supplies, pretend toys (such as play money, telephones), teddy bears or dolls, outdoor toys such as tricycles with approved helmets
  • 5 to 9: Five- to 9-year-olds like to be challenged with complex games that teach specific skills and concepts. Arts and crafts kits, puppets, jump ropes, non-toxic art supplies, miniature dolls, and action figures
  • 9 to 14: Nine- to 14-year-olds develop lifelong skills, hobbies, and enjoy team sports. Electronic games, board games, sports equipment, model kits, musical instruments

Safety Education Resources

Toy manufacturers must design and manufacture their products to meet regulations to prevent hazardous products from being sold. If a product causes a safety risk to children, however, a recall can be issued. Check the CPSC website for the latest information about toy recalls and please call the hotline number toll free at 800-638-CPSC (800-638-2772) to report a toy you believe is unsafe. Visit www.cpsc.gov to search toys under the recall list.

For more information, go to https://www.cpsc.gov/safety-education/safety-guides/toys#alerts.

Scott Harris, M.D.
State Health Officer

(December 2019)

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Page last updated: December 2, 2019