Toys help a child learn new skills and develop an active imagination, but if used inappropriately they can also be dangerous.

Selecting Toys

  • Choose toys that are appropriate for the age and developmental level of the children who will use them.
  • Choose toys that can be easily cleaned.
  • Follow the age recommendations of the manufacturers.  If, for example, a toy is labeled “Not for children under 3 years of age,” do not allow a younger child to play with it.
  • Look for the flame retardant label on cloth toys.
  • Look for the nontoxic label on all painted toys and play equipment.

Special advice for group care settings:

  • Pick hard surface toys that can be washed in a dishwasher or hand washed and sanitized many times without damage.
  • Select cloth toys that can go through the laundry without falling apart.
  • Have some safe disposable toys for children to use when they are ill.

Rules for Safe Play

  • Teach children how to play safely.
  • Comment positively on children’s safe play behavior.  Tell those who are using a toy in a way that could lead to injury how to play with it, rather than how not to use it.
  • Teach children to put toys away immediately after playing.
  • Teach children how to use toys appropriately, and don’t allow children to misuse toys.  Balls are for throwing and kicking, blocks are not.
  • Be extra careful when using toys for water play.  Only plastic or metal toys are suitable.  Do not allow water toys on the walking surface; they can trip a child or make the surface slippery.
  • Remove toys hung across cribs as soon as the child can either sit up or get to hands and knees.

Check Toys Regularly

  • Carefully examine toys for sharp, splintered, or jagged edges and small pieces that can be easily broken off.  Repair or reject all dangerous toys.
  • Tug at different parts to test for strength.  Pull on the heads and limbs of dolls to make sure they won’t come off and expose sharp wires.  Repair or reject any with such hazards.
  • Cover hinges and joints of toys to prevent fingers from being pinched or caught.
  • Destroy projectile toys, such as darts, because they are not appropriate for children.
  • Cut off or shorten toy pull strings that are long enough to wrap around a child’s neck.
  • Bend plastic toys to test for brittleness.  Cheap, hard plastic breaks easily, leaving sharp edges.
  • Keep wooden toys smooth and free of splinters.
  • Regularly check the seams of cloth toys for tearing and weak threads.