Choosing Safe Toys

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

If you are a parent or grandparent, you are already thinking about shopping for toys for holiday gifts for young children.  Toys are on display in stores, promoted on television and advertised in newspapers and magazines.

With the increased popularity of second-hand stores and on-line vendors, gift-givers should be especially vigilant to prevent the sale or purchase of hazardous products that have been recalled, banned or do not meet current safety standards.

As you venture out into the toy store world, be sure you're armed with good information. Check out the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) Web site ( for any recently recalled products. Those items should be off store shelves, but it never hurts to be aware

Keep in mind all the safety tips recommended by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

    * Magnets—For children under age six, avoid building sets with small magnets. If swallowed, serious injuries and/or death can occur.
    * Small Parts—For children younger than age three, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking.
    * Ride-on Toys—Riding toys, skateboards and in-line skates go fast and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should be sized to fit.
    * Projectile Toys—Projectile toys such as air rockets, darts and sling shots are for older children. Improper use of these toys can result in serious eye injuries.
    * Chargers and Adapters—Charging batteries should be supervised by adults. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to children.

Toys and playthings need to be appropriate for the ages and abilities of children. Any toy can be unsafe if misused or played with by a child of the wrong age. Read labels for age guidelines and read over directions. Throw away packaging that may have small pieces or thin plastic. Any broken toys that cannot be fixed should be thrown away. Remember, children need to be supervised when they play, even with safe toys.  

Valuable information about toys can be downloaded from Cooperative Extension resources (1) National Network for Childcare—Toy Safety and (2) Virginia Cooperative Extension—Tips on Toys

Have a wonderful holiday season and remember–safety is the most important gift you can give a child!

Eleanor Summers
Extension Agent
Family & Consumer Sciences