Toy Safety Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics

How to buy and choose age-appropriate, safe toys for preschoolers

toy safety
Before you hand over a toy to your preschooler, make sure it is safe and age-appropriate.. Zero Creatives

Buying toys for kids can be one of the most fun things to do ever. You walk into a toy store and it's a menagerie of lights, sounds, and colors! From stuffed friends to cuddle, to playsets and video games, there is definitely something for everyone, no matter what your age. The problem is, that not every toy is appropriate for every child, whether it's because it isn't age appropriate or maybe there is some other hazard you haven't thought of.


Every year, U.S. PIRG Education Fund puts together an annual Trouble in Toyland report, which details hazardous toys currently on shelves. This year, for the 30th edition of the report, researchers found toys that contain toxic chemicals, toys that are choking hazards, very loud toys, and toy magnets that if swallowed, could be very dangerous. 

"For 30 years, the U.S. PIRG Trouble in Toyland report has offered safety guidelines for purchasing toys for small children, and provided examples of toys currently on store shelves that pose potential safety hazards. Over the years, our reports have led to over 150 recalls and other enforcement actions," the organization said in a statement.

So it's great you know what toys specifically to avoid, but what happens when you get to the magical toy store? How do you know what to choose from a safety perspective? 

“We should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe.

However, until that’s the case, toy buyers need to watch out for common hazards when shopping for toys,” said Mike Litt, Consumer Advocate with U.S. PIRG.

To that end, the American Academy of Pediatrics has put together a list of toy safety tips for parents and caregivers of young children (or for anyone who might give a toy for a child).

Keep these in mind as you shop for toys for your preschooler as well as when you give a toy to a child (whether new or previously played with):

  • Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards for younger children.
  • Before buying a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy that he has received as a gift, read the instructions carefully.
  • To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, do not give young children (under age 10) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.
  • Young children can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age three cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
  • Children can have serious stomach and intestinal problems – including death – after swallowing button batteries or magnets. In addition to toys, button batteries are often found in musical greeting cards, remote controls, hearing aids, and other small electronics. Small, powerful magnets are present in many homes as part of building toy sets. Keep button batteries and magnets away from young children and call your health care provider immediately if your child swallows one. 
  • Children can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons; do not allow children under age 8 to play with them.  
  • Remove tags, strings, and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children. 
  • Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies. 
  • Parents should store toys in a designated location, such as on a shelf or in a toy box, and keep older kids' toys away from young children. Use a toy box with no lid or a lightweight, non-locking lid and ventilation holes. 

SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, "2015 Holiday Safety Tips and Mental Health Tips," published November 17, 2015

Continue Reading