How to Buy Safe Toys For the Holidays

This holiday season, don’t grant your kids’ wishes for the newest, coolest toys until you know they’re safe. With new product recalls almost daily, choosing safe and healthy toys can be a daunting task. Before you buy, double check that the toy you’re considering meets our safe shopping guidelines.

Is it safe? Check!

Is the toy age-appropriate?

It’s essential to adhere to the age guidelines indicated on toy packaging—because even a toy for a 3-year-old could have parts too small for a 2-year-old to handle properly.

Are there any small, loose parts that your child can swallow?

If you’re not sure, consider the toilet paper tube test—anything that can pass through the tube is too small to be given to a child under 3 years old. Marbles, coins and balls are common culprits. Also, make sure that any buttons, eyes and noses are tightly secured.

Could any part of the toy be bitten off and swallowed?

Little kids love to chew their toys, so avoid any toys that have small pieces that can be easily gnawed off.

Does the toy have a string, ribbon, straps or cord longer than 7 inches?

For young children, avoid these toys or remove the strings to prevent strangulation.

Is your toy non-toxic?

Check to make sure the toy has a non-toxic, durable finish and check art supplies for the ACMI (Art and Creative Material Institute, Inc.) seal—this means its non-toxic.

Could any part cut small hands or fingers?

Look for points, edges or breakable parts that could be sharp and avoid those toys for kids under eight. If you’re considering a ride-on, is it sturdy and stable, and does the recipient have all the proper safety equipment (helmet, kneepads, etc.) required to use it?

Does the toy include magnets?

Building sets, action figures, puzzles or dolls containing small, powerful magnets can be fatal is swallowed by children.

Could the toy be a fire hazard?

Fabric toys should be labeled as flame retardant or flame resistant. And electrical toys with batteries or electric plugs pose a burn hazard so they should be avoided for kids under eight.

If you’re considering a ride-on, is it sturdy and stable?

And, does the recipient have all the proper safety equipment (helmet, kneepads, etc.) required to use it?

Does the toy include any throwing or shooting projectiles?

It’s best to avoid these toys because they can cause injuries, especially to the eyes.

Could the toy contain questionable chemicals?

Phthalates have been banned in children’s toys and children’s care articles since February 2009 and stricter standards are in place for lead and other potentially toxic chemicals, too. But if you want to know about any trace amounts of these types of chemicals, look up levels for specific toys on

Has the product been recalled?

In 2008 toys were the largest category of recalled children’s products. Always double check product recalls online at the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission before you wrap, especially if you purchased a toy months before the holiday.

Toy Safety at Home

Remember that toy safety, doesn’t end when you leave the store. Follow these tips to ensure kids stay safe from the moment they receive a toy to the day they’re ready to give it up.

Remove and dispose of all unnecessary toy packaging and gift-wrap as soon as possible.

Piles of discarded gift-wrap can conceal sharp objects like scissors and the edges of hard plastic packaging that can cut small fingers.

Someone should always supervise children as they play.

Be a good role model and set rules and guidelines for safe play.

Keep toys organized.

Have easily accessible toy storage and keep a separate toy chest for older children whose toys may contain small parts not suitable for younger siblings.

Want more toy safety tips? Visit


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