Toy safety tips: How to pick the right toy

Toy makers must make sure that they produce safe toys that meet the safety standards set by Health Canada. Sometimes unsafe toys do make their way onto store shelves and into homes. Here's how to pick the right toy!

You may also have older toys that are no longer safe, or the way the toys are being used may expose children to hazards. Here are some tips to help you choose and use toys safely.

When Buying Toys - New or Used
  • Read and follow the age label, warnings, safety messages and assembly instructions.
  • Look for sturdy, well-made toys.
  • Look for toys that come with contact information for the manufacturer or importer.
  • Purchase age-appropriate toys. Toys for older children may contain small parts or present other hazards that make them unsafe for younger children.
Note: Check homemade and artisan toys for all the same hazards listed on this sheet.
Choking Hazards
  • Young children, especially those under three years of age, frequently mouth objects. Small toys, balls or loose or broken toy parts are choking hazards. Keep them out of reach.
  • Know how your child plays. Small toys can be dangerous for older children if they still tend to put non-food items in their mouths.
  • Check squeeze toys to make sure that small squeakers or reeds are not removable.
  • Check toy cars and trucks to make sure that wheels, tires or other small parts are not loose or removable.
  • Check stuffed and plush toys to make sure that the eyes, nose and other small items are firmly attached and cannot be pulled off.
Other Hazards
  • Check that infant toys like rattles and teethers are large enough that they will not get stuck in an infant's throat.
  • Avoid toys with cords that are long enough to wrap around a child's neck, especially stretchy or sticky cords. The cords could strangle a child.
  • Check that the toy does not have sharp points or edges. These could cut a child.
After Buying Toys
  • Always supervise children and teach them how to use toys safely.
  • Promptly remove and discard all toy packaging like plastic bags, plastic wrap, foam, staples, and ties. A child can suffocate or choke on these items.
  • Keep all toys, especially plush and soft toys, away from heat sources like stoves, fireplaces, and heaters. The toys could catch fire and burn a child.
  • Check toys often for hazards like loose parts, broken pieces or sharp edges, and repair or discard any weak or damaged toys.
  • Make sure that toys attached to child care items such as cribs, playpens, and strollers are installed properly and check regularly that they are still securely attached.
  • Remove mobiles and toy bars from the crib as soon as a baby begins to push up on hands and knees.
Toy Storage
  • Store toys and games for older children separate from those for younger children.
  • Use a toy box without a lid or one with a lightweight lid that will not fall on a child.

Not all storage boxes are good for toys if the box has a lid remove it or check to make sure:

  • the box has air holes for breathing, in case a child climbs inside;
  • the lid has a hinge that will hold it open in any position and it will stay open even if a child pushes down on it; and
  • there is no latch or other device that could lock the lid and trap a child inside.
  • Children should not have access to airtight storage bins or old trunks with lids. If a child climbs into one, they could suffocate.

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