Unwrap the Gift of Toy Safety

One of the biggest threats to the health of children older than 1 year is not disease. It's accidental injury. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year thousands of children suffer injuries from toys that are severe enough to be treated in a hospital emergency room.

Your challenge is to find toys that your children will enjoy and that you know are safe.

These simple guidelines can help keep the holiday season safe for your children:

  • Don't buy toys that shoot or have parts that fly off. They can cause serious eye injuries or choking.

  • Choose toys made of durable materials with no sharp edges or points.

  • Don't give young children toys with small parts. Young kids tend to put things in their mouths. This increases the risk of choking.

  • Use extra care with toys that have small batteries (button or lithium coin). And toys with super-strong magnets​. These can get loose and be a risk for young children. They may try to put the batteries and magnets in their noses, mouths, or ears. This can be very dangerous.

  • Choose age-appropriate toys. Age labeling is provided for developmental and safety reasons.

  • Select toys to suit a child's abilities, skill, and interest level.

  • To prevent serious ear injury, don't buy toys that make loud or shrill noise.

  • Choose well-made stuffed animals. The eyes, noses, and other small parts should be fastened securely.

  • Never buy hobby kits, like chemistry sets, for children younger than age 12.

  • Look for the letters ASTM on the toy packaging. This means that a toy or product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials. Electric toys should be "UL approved." Check the label to be sure.

Tips to avoid playtime mishaps

Here are suggestions for safe play:

  • Explain and show children how to use toys.

  • Keep toys for older children away from younger ones.

  • Throw away packaging immediately. Sharp staples and plastic bags can cause injuries and are safety hazards.

  • Make sure children play in safe areas and, if appropriate, under supervision.

  • Make a list of safety rules and share them with your children. If your children are playing with friends, remind everyone of your safety rules.

  • Check older toys for broken or sharp edges, loose parts, and loose strings or ribbons.