Kids Health Info

Safety: Toys

  • Toys can provide children with hours of fun and developmental stimulation. Most toys serve some purpose, for example to entertain, educate, comfort, develop skills or provide exercise. Children benefit from toys that challenge, comfort and excite them.

    Providing your child with good quality toys will ensure that they get the most benefit from their toys and that the toys will last for years to come. However, some toys can be dangerous or poorly constructed, which can result in serious injuries, including choking and strangulation.

    Selecting safe toys for your child

    Toys sold in Australia need to meet safety standards (AS/NZS ISO 8124); however, you should not assume all toys for sale are safe. Be aware that toys sold in cheap variety stores or in markets are less likely to meet safety standards than those sold in large toy shops and department stores.

    When buying toys: 

    • Check that the toy meets the Australian safety standard.
    • Choose toys appropriate for the age of your child. Some toys are not suitable for young children because they have small parts that provide a choking hazard. Follow the age recommendations on toy packaging – these recommendations relate to the toys’ safety and not to the intelligence or capability of the child using the toy.
    • Inspect the toys to see if they look well designed and well made. They should have no sharp edges, as these can cause injuries. 
    • Check for choking hazards, especially small parts that might break off and can easily be put into the mouth, nose or ears.  
    • Avoid toys that shoot off projectiles, as these can cause serious injuries to eyes and other parts of the body.
    • Look for toys that are non-toxic and non-flammable. 
    • Don’t buy foam toys (such as bath blocks) for children under three years old as they may pose a choking hazard if children bite pieces off them. 

    Be especially careful when buying second-hand toys. They may be old and worn and likely to break, and they probably won't have the packaging, which gives important safety information. Steer clear of second-hand toys with flaking paint – older toys in particular may even have lead in the paint, which is toxic. 

    Using toys safely

    Christmas holidays or birthdays are peak times for toy-related injuries, as children receive and try out new toys. Supervise young children while they are learning how to use their new toys, until they are confident and capable. 

    Other tips to ensure that your child’s toys don’t lead to injury: 

    • Avoid mixing and storing toys meant for children of different age ranges together – it can be dangerous if younger children play with toys meant for much older children.
    • Regularly clear out your child’s toy box – check for toys with loose fur, ripped seams, broken parts with sharp edges or loose pieces. If you find broken toys or toys that are damaged, don’t pass them onto others. Instead, dispose of them appropriately, keeping in mind that plastic can be recycled and e-waste may be banned from landfill.
    • Tidy up and teach children to put things away when they finish with them – having a messy floor can be a trip hazard.
    • Remove string toys such as mobiles from above the cot when your baby reaches about five months old to avoid strangulation. 
    • Keep soft toys away from sleeping babies under 12 months, as they may cover your baby’s nose and mouth and interfere with breathing.
    • Always change the batteries in a toy all at once – new batteries can cause old batteries to get dangerously hot if all batteries are not changed together.
    • Be aware of toys containing button batteries – make sure the battery compartment is tightly secured. Serious injury or death can result if a child swallows a button battery. For more information see our fact sheet Safety: Button batteries.

    Key points to remember

    • Only purchase toys that meet the Australian standards.
    • Do not assume all toys for sale are safe – check them before buying them. Be especially careful buying second-hand toys.
    • Always buy toys that are age-appropriate for your child.
    • Supervise children when they are using new toys for the first time.

    For more information

    Common questions our doctors are asked

    What sort of toys are likely to have button batteries?

    When checking toys, anything that lights up, has moving parts or makes sounds is likely to contain a button battery. Check that the battery is properly secure, and if in doubt, dispose of the toy appropriately.

    How can I find out which toys have been recalled due to safety concerns?

    You may find product recall notices in newspapers, or displayed in the shops that sold the product, and some companies use social media to let customers know about product recalls. However, these recall notices can be easy to miss. All product recalls in Australia are listed on the ACCC’s Product Safety Australia website, on the Recalls page - look under ‘Babies and kids’.

    My child loves ‘squishy’ toys. Are they safe?

    Squishy toys were recently banned in Denmark, after the Danish Environmental Protection Agency found 12 types of squishy toys sold in their country contained harmful levels of chemicals. To date, no problems have been found in squishy toys for sale in Australia. If you are concerned, visit Product Safety Australia’s Recalls page. If you want to purchase squishy toys, avoid buying squishy toys from markets or cheap variety stores, and check on the packaging that the toy meets Australian Standards. Do not give squishy toys to young children, and do not allow your child to place them in their mouth.


    Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Safety Centre. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.

    Reviewed October 2018.

    Kids Health Info is supported by The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. To donate, visit www.rchfoundation.org.au.

Kids Health Info app

The app will enable you to search and browse more than three hundred medical fact sheets and work offline.

Apple store Google play


Disclaimer
This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.