Free Safety Advice: A Guide to Toy Shopping for Young Children

Playtime should be a safe, fun and enriching experience for kids of all ages. Buying age-appropriate toys is one way to minimize injury and protect your young child’s health and wellbeing.

Below is an age-by-age guideline to buying toys for your young child:

Toy Safety Tips for All Ages 

Some guidelines apply, regardless of a child’s age or development. 

  • Visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website on a frequent basis to check for toy recalls or other safety warnings.
  • Ensure painted toys are lead-free.
  • Look for the ASTM D-4236 label on the side of art supplies. This designator means the American Society for Testing and Materials has inspected the product. Also avoid toxic materials.
  • Fabric toys, such as dolls and stuffed animals, should be made of non-flammable materials. Look for a label that specifies the toy as flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Use caution when buying used toys or accepting hand-me-downs from friends or family members. It is all too easy to encounter toys that have been recalled or those that weren’t made with the latest safety standards. Your safest option is to purchase only new toys.
  • Inspect toys that include an electrical element (battery-operated) to ensure there are no shock risks or danger of overheating.
  • Follow a toy’s age guidelines and do not give children a toy that is specified for an older age group.


Toy Safety Tips for Infants and Toddlers (Younger than 3 Years Old)

When purchasing toys for a baby or toddler, bear in mind they are likely to put toys into their mouths – be wary of choking hazards.

  • Avoid all small toys or toys with small components. Before giving your baby or toddler a new toy, thoroughly examine it for choking hazards.
  • Ensure there are no adornments, such as buttons or ribbons, on stuffed animals or soft toys. These may detach and pose a choking hazard.
  • Frequently check toys for damage or excessive wear. Discard toys with broken components.
  • Skip baby “walkers” and opt instead for stationary activity centers.
  • Avoid toys with strings, cords or magnets, as well as those with marbles or small bouncy balls. 


Toy Safety Tips for Preschoolers 

Preschoolers are developing more independence and mobility, and their toys may reflect that.

  • Riding toys, such as wagons, small bikes and rocking horses, should include safety harnesses and/or straps. The toys also should be stable enough to prevent a child from tipping over or falling off.
  • Children should not be able to access batteries included in battery-operated toys.


Toy Safety Tips for Grade School-Aged Kids

  • An approved helmet and other safety gear should be included with any gift of a skateboard, skates, bicycle or other wheeled toy.
  • Avoid toys with sharp edges or points.


Looking for more free parenting and child safety tips? Visit the Parents’ Corner on our blog.