Toy Safety

Opportunity to Learn

Play is a natural activity for every young child. Play provides many opportunities for children to learn and grow - physically, mentally and socially. If play is the child’s work then toys are the child’s tools, and appropriate toys can help children do their work well.

Mouthing Could Potentially be Harmful

Young children explore objects in their environment by "mouthing" them. Children can choke to death on such items. These items include toys (such as balloons and small balls), and household food items (such as hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, coins, batteries, etc.). Although toys intended for older children should be free of small parts that could cause choking incident, toys intended for older children may find their way into hands of younger children. Reminder: Be sure to keep all small items out of the hands of children who mouth objects, especially children under the age of three. Remind three and four year old children to keep such items out of their mouths. Instruct older children to keep these items out of reach of younger children.

What Makes a Good Toy?

A parent or friend choosing a toy for a child must consider several things. A good toy should be:

  • safe for that child’s age, well constructed, and durable;
  • appealing and interesting to the child.
  • suited to the child’s physical capabilities; and
  • suited to the child’s mental and social development.

This information provides some guidelines to help in selecting toys that meet these criteria. The suggestions are based on 3 sources:

  • Review of reference works on child development
  • Observations of children at play
  • Product analyses of toys to determine which characteristics are most critical in defining the appropriate ages of the intended user

Toy Lists

Toy list sections give toy suggestions in six major categories with subcategories under each to help in finding a particular toy type. They do suggest general toy types suitable for that age group. This information does not judge the play value or benefits of specific toys. For example, suitable types of projectile toys are described in the toy lists, although the potential safety hazards of these toys lead many in the field to recommend against them.

All Toys

A general category orienting the consumer to special features of toys that are relevant to the particular age group.

Toy Safety

Major areas of consideration for all toys are safety and durability. Toys should be constructed to withstand the uses and abuses of children in the age range for which the toy is appropriate.


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has safety regulations for certain toys. Manufactures must design and manufacture their products to meet these regulations so that hazardous products are not sold. In addition, many toy manufacturers also adhere to the toy industry’s voluntary safety standards.