Toy Safety

Toys are fun and help children learn to solve problems, such as how to get toys upright if they fall over. Children can learn about colors, numbers, shapes, balance, and what happens when they move or open the toy. However, thousands of children are treated in the emergency department every year because they were injured by toys.

You need to think about safety when researching, buying, and playing with toys. Supervise your child’s play to teach your child how to play safely while having fun. Here are some ideas to help you choose safe toys for your child.


You will want to make sure that:

  • The toy’s label says that it is made for children the same age as your child.
  • The toy is big enough so it cannot be put into your child’s nose, mouth, or ears. Marbles and beads are examples of toys that are too small for young children. Avoid toys with small batteries or magnets. Also, make sure there are no small parts or decorations that can get loose and be swallowed, inhaled, or put into an ear. Examples include the eyes on a stuffed animal or the squeaker in a squeak toy.
  • The toy is not too heavy or too big for your child’s strength and size.
  • The toy is not so loud that it could damage your child’s hearing.
  • The toy is washable.
  • There are no slots, hinges, snaps, or holes that can pinch your child’s fingers.
  • No part of the toy, including print and decoration, is poisonous. Make sure the toy is labeled non-toxic and does not contain lead.
  • No part of the toy, such as a doll’s hair bow, is attached with a straight pin or staple.
  • No string or cord on the toy is long enough to form a noose, twist around a finger or toe, or choke or strangle a baby or toddler.
  • All moving parts are securely attached and can’t catch hair, fingers, or clothing.
  • Stuffed toys are made with strong material and thread and not filled with small, loose pellets.
  • Toys made with cloth carry the labels “flame resistant”, “flame retardant”, or “nonflammable”.
  • All riding toys are well-made and well-balanced.
  • Electrical toys for older children are “UL Approved” and do not have frayed wires or other broken parts.
  • Toys do not have splinters, rust, or brittle parts that can snap or break easily.
  • The toy cannot break and leave sharp edges that can cut or scratch. Broken toys should be fixed right away or thrown away.
  • Toy chests do not have a heavy, free-falling lid. Make sure toy chests or storage boxes can’t trap a child who falls or climbs into them.
  • The toy is not stored in a plastic bag.
  • Toys meant for older children are kept out of reach of babies, toddlers and preschoolers who could be harmed by playing with them.

Keep uninflated balloons out of reach and throw away all broken balloons. More children have choked or suffocated on uninflated or broken balloons than on any other type of toy.

Suggested toys for infants (0 to 18 months)

  • Brightly colored mobile or pictures on the wall that your baby can see. To prevent strangulation, make sure any strings or ribbons that hang objects over the crib are no longer than 7 inches. Remove all crib mobiles and other handing objects once your baby can push up onto her hands and legs to reach them (around 5 months of age).
  • Sturdy rattles
  • Large plastic rings and teething toys
  • Washable soft dolls or stuffed animals without button noses or eyes
  • Colorful balls
  • Washable cloth or soft plastic cubes
  • Floating toys for the bathtub
  • Washable squeak toys
  • Sturdy, washable picture books that your child can touch

Suggested toys for toddlers (18 months to 3 years)

  • Large and small colored blocks or simple 2- to 3-piece puzzles
  • Washable cuddly animals and sock puppets
  • Large, soft balls
  • Washable, unbreakable dolls or toy trucks, trains, or cars
  • Push-pull toys with rounded handles
  • Simple musical instruments such as drums
  • Objects to imitate adults: toy garden tools that don’t have sharp edges, telephones, dishes, or pots and pans
  • Sturdy, colorful picture books

Suggested toys for preschoolers (3 to 6 Years)

  • Large boxes to play in
  • Crawl-through play equipment
  • Toy cars, trucks, and trains
  • Washable stuffed animals and unbreakable dolls or action figures
  • Simple musical instruments such as drums and tambourines
  • Sets for farm and zoo animals, the circus, hospital, or fire station
  • Simple construction sets and board games
  • Large balls
  • Art supplies: paints, modeling clay, paste, colored paper, and blunt scissors. Make sure crayons and paints are non-toxic.
  • Hand puppets
  • Wagon to ride in
  • Tricycles or bikes that are the right size for your child
  • Toy telephones, garden tools without sharp edges, a simple doll house, plastic dishes
  • Books

Suggested toys for children (6 to 9 years)

  • Construction sets
  • Art materials: crayons, chalk, paint, modeling clay, simple weaving materials
  • Chalkboard, dry-erase board, or flannel board
  • Bikes that are the right size for your child. Make sure your child wears a fitted helmet for all bicycle, skating, and skateboard activity. Provide protective knee and elbow pads and wrist guards, and make sure your child wears them. This helps to minimize injuries. Set clear rules for skating, bicycle and skateboard riding, such as not playing in the street.
  • Jump rope
  • Simple board games and puzzles
  • Paper doll sets
  • Puppets
  • Playhouse
  • Kites
  • Science toys such as a magnifying glass, aquarium, or terrarium. Avoid chemistry sets for children under 12 years of age.
  • Books

Suggested toys for children (10 to 14 years)

  • Computer games
  • Construction sets
  • Weather kits, telescopes and microscopes
  • Board games
  • Sports equipment
  • Musical instruments
  • Hobby related items, such as model planes or needlework
  • 3-D puzzles

For more information, contact:

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-10-07
Last reviewed: 2014-10-07
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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