Toy & Gift Safety

It's that time of year again! Shopping for gifts can be a lot of fun, especially when the gifts are for kids, but it's important to always keep in mind the age and skill level of the recipient. Young children are at particular risk for injuries when toys are not age-appropriate. For example, toys that are recommended for teenagers are rarely, if ever, safe for toddlers.

Each year, thousands of toy-related injuries cause children to visit emergency rooms, particularly during the holiday season. Of course, many toys are safe for children to use, but even age-appropriate gifts need to be used properly, which often includes adult supervision. Check all toy packaging to ensure that you understand the safety risks involved in using the toy, and be sure to let your child know the correct ways to play with the new gift.

If you buy gifts from thrift stores, be extra careful. Thrift stores sell hand-me-downs that might not have the original packaging to indicate safety standards. Some items might even be so old that they were never safety-tested and could be hazardous to your children and family.

Many hazards can be avoided simply by inspecting each gift your child receives. Look for obvious warning signs, such as sharp edges, loose pieces or poor overall construction. Remember to monitor your child's toys for further damage that can occur over time. If in doubt of a gift's safety, throw it out or replace it. Gifts should be fun and enjoyable, not dangerous or life-threatening. To help ensure toy safety during the holidays and beyond, check out the following list of hazards before buying a gift for a child.

Top Five Toy Dangers to Children:

  1. Sharp edges and points - Avoid toys with edges that can cut, poke or stab someone.
  2. Small parts - Small toys, or even large toys with small parts, can become lodged in children's throats, ears, noses, etc. Swallowing and/or choking are serious risks.
  3. Propelled objects - Watch out for toys such as darts and other projectiles. Eyes are at particular risk for injury.
  4. Electric toys - Young children should only use electric toys under adult supervision. Teach your children the correct way to use electric items, including when they should be turned off or unplugged. Never allow a child to use an electric toy anywhere near water.
  5. Improper equipment - Children who own bikes, roller skates, skateboards, etc., must wear protective gear in order to be safe. A gift that does not include safety gear could turn out to be a dangerous one.

If you're trying to determine whether a toy is safe, take a look at the list below. Any of the following features could present serious dangers:

The toy...

  • Is small enough to be swallowed.
  • Has detachable pieces that can be lodged in the throat, ears, etc.
  • Can break easily and expose jagged edges.
  • Already has sharp edges and/or points exposed.
  • Is constructed with pins, wires, staples, nails, etc., that either are exposed already or can be exposed after some wear and tear.
  • Does not have a clear "non-toxic" disclaimer displayed on its packaging.
  • Can pinch fingers or catch hair.
  • Makes excessively loud noises that can damage hearing.
  • Is inappropriate for the child's age or is given to an older sibling who allows the younger child to play with it.
  • Is poorly constructed. For example, a teddy bear's eyes and nose can pop off, or its seams might not be secure.
  • Has dangling strings, ribbons, or wires that pose strangulation risks.
  • Can trap parts of a child's body. Be wary of toy chests with lids that could close on your child's head or fingers, or chests large enough to fit your child inside. Consider boxes or baskets without lids for toy storage.

Toy Hazard Recalls
Recent Recalls (Categorized)
Tips to Protect Your Family
Toy Safety Shopping Tips
Safe Toys Checklist