Injury Research and Policy Toy Safety Research :: Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio

Toy Safety Fact Sheet

Toy-related injuries are no small problem. Every year in the United States, an average of 165,000 children are treated in hospital emergency departments for injuries associated with toys. Many of these injuries come from children choking on small parts or swallowing harmful pieces. If you are unsure what kinds of toys are okay for your child, ask your child’s doctor for advice. Parents can help prevent injuries from toys by following the safety tips below.

Magnetic Toys

  • Magnetic building sets, jewelry and other magnetic toys are of special concern.
  • The powerful magnets contained in these toys can be extremely dangerous if they are swallowed or breathed in. If more than one magnet is swallowed, they can attract each other, leading to very serious complications.
  • Parents should seek immediate medical assistance if they suspect their child has swallowed a magnet.

Lead in Toys

  • Be aware of the dangers associated with lead in toys.
  • Check recall lists carefully to see if your child’s toys have been recalled.
  • Also be aware that most exposures to lead occur as a result of lead in the home. Lead in the home can be in the form of paint or dust. Lead can also be found in the soil surrounding the home.
  • If you are concerned about your child’s lead exposure, talk with your child’s pediatrician to see if a blood test is necessary.

Toy Safety Tips

  • Avoid toys for young children that include small parts, which may cause choking.
  • Small parts test devices are available at many toy stores and baby specialty stores. If the part can fit in the tube, it is too small for a young child.
  • Avoid marbles and games with small balls or ball-shaped pieces that have a diameter of less than 1.75 inches.
  • Look for toys that young children cannot pull or twist parts off.
  • Avoid toys with sharp edges and points.
  • Read the age recommendations on toy labels to help determine if a toy is appropriate for your child’s age and abilities.
  • Don’t forget that riding toys such as bicycles and skates need proper protective gear, including a well-fitting helmet.
  • Keep magnetic toys away from children younger than 6 years old.
  • Avoid toys with long strings or cords.
  • Keep up-to-date with recalls of toys that you may give and receive by checking online at www.recalls.gov.
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