Cincinnati Children's Blog

Holiday toy safety – the age recommendations really do mean something

New toys are soon to be the highlight of holidays for children all over the world.

But our experts caution that parents need to choose toys carefully to reduce the risk of serious injury to children.

Are the toys under your tree safe for your children?

First, it’s important to read toy labeling carefully to make sure the toys are appropriate for your child’s age and skill level.

Once you’ve confirmed that the toy is age appropriate, these additional tips can help make sure you (and Santa, if he comes to your house) are leaving the safest possible presents under the tree:

  • Pick toys with sturdy construction. Avoid toys with sharp edges and points that could cause injury.
  • If your children are under age 3, reduce the risk of choking by choosing toys that are at least an inch in diameter and two inches so they can’t lodge in the child’s throat or mouth.
  • Choking is a leading cause of toy-related death, and toy balls, latex balloons and small magnets are the most common culprits.
  • Don’t buy toy jewelry that may contain lead or cadmium – both are poisonous metals that can cause serious harm to children.
  • Toys with pull strings longer than 12 inches could pose a strangulation risk for babies.
  • Children under age 10 should get battery-operated toys, not toys that need to be plugged into an electrical outlet.
  • But, be careful with toys that require button batteries. If swallowed, these batteries can become lodged in the esophagus, resulting in serious injury or death.
  • Keep older kids’ toys away from younger children.
  • Watch out for toys that contain high-powered magnets that are small enough to be swallowed. If a child swallows one or more of those little magnets, they can attract each other within the body and cause serious internal injury or even death.

And just when you think you’ve found the safest, most amazing toy on earth, you should probably make sure it hasn’t been recalled. Every year, dozens of consumer products are recalled because of safety concerns. Check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Web site,, for a full list of recalled toys to make sure your child’s “must have” toy is safe.

At this point, you’re probably wondering if you will ever find anything that meets all of these criteria, and we promise, you will. And at the end of the day, you will be able to relax and sip your indulgent beverage of choice while your kids merrily entertain themselves with their new, safe, toys!


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