During the holiday season, as during the rest of the year, it's important to put safety first when buying toys. To keep your holidays safe and happy, take time to choose the safest toys and gifts.
- Check Recalls.gov. Make sure that recalled toys or children’s products are not given as gifts.
- Read labels. Look for the letters “ASTM.” This means the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
- Choose washable toys. Many stuffed toys can trigger asthma and allergy attacks as they are a common source of dust mites and other substances. To find asthma-friendly toys, look for the Asthma & Allergy Friendly™ certification logo. Wash toys before use. Small children often put toys in their mouths. If you are not able to get a toy clean, don’t buy it or toss it.
- Select appropriate toys. This includes considering the age, abilities, skills, and interest level of the intended child. Look for sturdy construction, such as tightly secured eyes, noses, and other potential small parts.
- Avoid toys with sharp edges and points (for children under 8 years of age).
- Check the battery compartment. Only buy toys with battery compartments that need a screwdriver to open or have a child-resistant locking mechanism. Batteries can be toxic if swallowed.
Things to avoid
- Magnets – If magnets are swallowed, serious injuries and/or death can occur. For children under 6, avoid building sets with small magnets.
- Small parts – Young children tend to put toys in their mouths, which can cause choking. For children under 3, avoid toys with small parts.
- Ride-on toys – If you are giving riding toys, skateboards, or in-line skates, you should provide properly sized helmets and other safety gear.
- Projectile toys – Projectile toys, such as air rockets, darts, and slingshots are for older children. Improper use of these toys can result in serious eye injuries. Use your best judgment to decide if your child is mature enough to safely play with projectile toys.
- Imported toys – Think carefully before giving toys imported from countries with less strict manufacturing standards. Many have been found to contain lead, which can harm children.
- Chargers and adapters – Charging batteries should be supervised by adults. Battery chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to children.
- BB guns - BB guns should not be considered toys. As with other guns, children are required to receive proper safety lessons before using BB guns.
After opening gifts
- Clean up after unwrapping gifts. Promptly and properly dispose of plastic wrappings and other gift wrapping to avoid choking and suffocation.
- Secure toys meant for older children. Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger siblings. Have older children share in the responsibility of storing toys safely.
- Read labels. Pay attention to instructions and warnings on toys and batteries.
- Repair or throw away damaged toys. Throw away or repair wooden toys that have splinters, chipped plastic toys, or toys with exposed metal pieces or screws that could be swallowed. Throw away toys that have bite marks or cracked or peeling paint. Inspect electrical toys to ensure that wiring is not exposed.
- Discuss safety rules. Make a list of safety rules with your child, and be sure to share them with all children playing with your child.
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services: Lead safety
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services: Guidance for child care providers, P-02105
- Nationwide Children’s blog: “Give the Gift of Safety”
- Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection: Protection Fact Sheet
- US Consumer Product Safety Commission