Are Your Child's Toys Safe?

Posted on: 11.03.2015.

Author: Ana G



Hanging out with Lightning McQueen. Image courtesy of william rei udarbe on Flickr.


Playtime is one of the most entertaining parts of childhood. There is nothing more exciting and inspiring than seeing a child's face light up at the sight of the new toy. You want to provide your kids with fun, educational toys that will hold their attention and kick-start their imaginations. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the numerous recalls that are issued each year, toys aren't always fun and games. Defects and other issues can pose serious safety hazards.

Are your child's toys safe? How do you ensure you're buying safe toys for your children? By educating yourself about these crucial matters, you can ensure that the toys you buy to entertain your kids don't end up hurting them instead.

The next time you are in the market for a new toy for your child, consider the following.

Do the Research




Toy safety testing in the U.S. Image courtesy of toyassociation.org

When researching toys for your child, the Internet is a great place to start. You can quickly zero in on fun, educational, safe toys that are suitable for your little one. If you're stumped about what kind of toy to get in the first place, get recommendations from friends and relatives. Before making the actual purchase, visit the toy manufacturer's website to find out how the toy is made, and to check the product's safety info.

Read the Labels

You should never disregard labels, packaging and instructions when buying toys for your children. Before giving a new toy to your kid, read the provided materials carefully. What kinds of components is the toy made out of? What's the suggested age range for the toy? Does it contain any potentially hazardous parts? For things like painted toys and art supplies, find out what kinds of chemicals are used during the manufacturing process.

Don't Ignore Age Recommendations

Toy manufacturers prominently display recommended age ranges on their products. Be sure to follow their guidance. If your child is too young for the toy, don't buy it. It could very well be that the toy is hazardous for a child as young as yours. Remember that age recommendations take kids' abilities into consideration as well. If your child is too young for the toy, it's liable to be a frustrating experience. Also, be careful with toys that are associated with movies, TV shows, books and other media. Sometimes, the subject matter isn't age-appropriate and can frighten younger kids.

Avoid Dangerous Toys




How to buy the safest toys? Video by the European Commission.

Watch out for toys with these potentially dangerous features:

  • Small or loose parts. Consider removing dangerous parts or the toy altogether.
  • Magnets that can be easily swallowed.
  • Sharp, pointed edges. Young kids tend to put toys into their mouths or ears.
  • Straps, strings or cords that can get entangled into a loop.
  • Balloons which can be dangerous when they break or deflate.
  • Fragile toys. The safest toys are made out of sturdy, shatter-proof materials.
  • Electrical components, including adapters, chargers and batteries.
  • Excessive noisiness. Toys with volume controls are ideal.
  • Toxic chemicals and components like phthalates, lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic.
  • Video games with violence, offensive language and/or explicit graphics. Refer to a game's rating before buying it for your child.

Be Careful with Secondhand Toys

When buying toys from secondhand shops and garage sales, inspect them carefully for hazardous components before giving them to your child. You can refer to different sites to check for possible recalls. Follow the same process for hand-me-down toys. Just because a particular toy was considered safe years ago doesn't mean that it meets today's standards.

Be on the Lookout for Recalled Toys




Toy recalls statistics. Image courtesy of cpsc.gov

Keep yourself informed by checking the recent toy recalls frequently. U.S. readers can refer to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) site, while those located in the European Union should look for more information at the European Commission Consumer Affairs site. Recall listings typically state where the toy was sold, when it was manufactured, why it was recalled and steps you can take to make it safe, that is, whether you should throw it away or could potentially qualify for a replacement. Also, you can sign up for free email alerts, and check for more toy recall information at Recalls.gov, ToyInfo.org, European Child Safety Alliance website and other.

Ensure the safety of your child after opening the toy by taking the next safety steps.

Remove the Packaging

Before giving a new toy to your child, remove and discard all packaging, including ties, staples, foam, plastic wrap and plastic bags. Don't forget to check for and remove plastic protective film over mirrors and other delicate components.

Inspect the Toy




Child playing with safe toys. Image courtesy of murphey-law.com

Just because a toy is new doesn't mean it's definitely safe. Look it over for loose or sharp parts, or any other components that might be dangerous for your child. Also, make sure it is not easily breakable. You don't want parts of the toy falling off in the middle of child's playtime.

Read the Instructions

Even if it's a fairly straightforward toy, read the instructions carefully. This is especially important when it comes to safe and proper assembling of a toy. After reading instructions on the proper usage of the toy, explain it carefully to your little one, and make sure your child follows your guidance.

Return the Registration Card

It may require some extra time, but it's still wise to fill out and return the registration card that's provided with your child's new toy. This allows the manufacturer to easily contact you in the event of a recall.

Ensure Safe Playtime




Family playtime. Image courtesy of intelligentnest.com

A few additional, general tips to keep your child safe while playing with toys include:

  • Periodically go through your child's toys. Remove broken toys and random pieces and parts.
  • Inspect the floor for small parts that may have fallen off at some point.
  • Store toys in sturdy bins without lids. The only exception is a lid with a spring-loaded mechanical arm, which keeps the lid from falling shut and potentially harming your child.
  • Properly supervise your child during playtime.
  • Keep toys that are meant for older kids away from your child to keep accidents at bay.
  • If you discover a potential safety issue, report the unsafe toy right away. This simple step could help prevent injuries and may result in a recall or fines levied against the manufacturer.

In the End

The power of toys should not be underestimated. They are not only vital tools when it comes to physical, mental, emotional and social growth of children, but also the means for the development of their imagination and creativity.

Toys are such crucial parts of child's playtime that they require some extra care and caution during the buying process. It always pays to perform due diligence, whether it's a brand-new toy or a used one. By keeping these safety tips in mind, you will be able to protect your child more effectively from potentially hazardous toys, and ensure that playtime remains fun and memorable at all times.