Check your Christmas list twice for unsafe toys


When shopping for a child’s wish list this Christmas, and during the sales period, it is important to consider toys that may pose a threat or hazard to them.

A small child can swallow part of a toy or become entangled in something, which is why toys for young children must meet strict standards.

The ‘Five S’s of Toy Safety’ is a good place to start to select safer, age-appropriate toys:

  • Size - the smaller the child, the bigger the toy should be (anything smaller than a 20 cent piece or ping pong ball is too small for a child under 3).
  • Shape - be wary of products that, because of their shape, may be easily swallowed or have sharp edges or points.
  • Surface - make sure all finishes are non-toxic (this should be stated on packaging).
  • Strings - anything over 30cm is a strangulation hazard for a small child and should be removed.
  • Supervision - nothing replaces close supervision.

If you have purchased an unsafe toy, you can return the toy to the store for a refund or dispose of the toy immediately.

Here are some common sense rules to follow when buying toys:

  • Check for sharp edges or rough surfaces as they can cause cuts and splinters.
  • Buy washable, non-breakable toys for babies. Anything smaller than a 20 cent piece can choke a child under three years old.
  • Toy chests and boxes should be designed not to close on top of children, or better still with a removable lid. Anything big enough to crawl inside must have ventilation holes.
  • Read the age labelling on new toys. ‘Not suitable for children under three’ means that there are small parts which could be swallowed; it is not an indication of skill level or intelligence.
  • Check toys regularly for loose parts which may be choking dangers.
  • Check that there are no gaps or holes which could entrap a child’s fingers.
  • If buying a projectile toy, only choose ones that have soft, one-piece darts or non-removable suction caps.
  • Be wary of toys that make loud noises as they can be harmful to hearing. Particularly toys which are held against the ear, such as walkie talkies and toy mobile phones.
  • Check for ventilation before buying tents, masks, helmets etc.
  • Ensure that ride-on toys are appropriate to the age of the child and are stable. Toy bikes should have effective brakes which can be applied by the rider.
  • Check toys that contain magnets to ensure that they have not come loose. Remove loose magnets from the toy box.