Product Hazards – Toys

Toys are meant to provide joy and entertainment, yet they are linked to all-too-many injuries. Toys consistently represent the largest category of children’s products recalled by the CPSC each year. In 2006, there were 62 toy recalls involving over 17 million recalled units. Children ages 4 and under are at especially high risk. While falls and choking account for the majority of these deaths and injuries, children also suffer from strangulation, burns, drowning and poisoning while playing with toys.

Recent large recalls highlight the danger of toys sold before they are tested for safety. Lead on toys made in China, along with other hazards, have parents and caregivers worried about keeping their children safe. Check your toys often for recalls and have your child tested at least once a year for lead poisoning.

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Toy Tips to Keep Kids Safe

Read and follow the age label, warnings, safety messages and assembly instructions for the toy. Age guidelines are given for safety reasons and should not be ignored even if your child seems advanced for her age.

  • Check toys often for hazards like loose parts, broken pieces or sharp edges, and repair or discard any weak or broken toys. Report any hazards to the manufacturer and the CPSC.
  • Avoid cheap metal or painted jewelry for children who may still mouth objects-it may contain lead, and ingesting even small amounts of lead can be harmful to a child’s health and development.

Magnets emerged as a serious issue in 2006, after the death of a 20-month-old boy prompted major recalls. Toys with magnetic parts, like the Magnetix building set pictured below, have become very popular toys. However, the tiny magnets can fall out and be ingested. When more than one is swallowed, they can attract, causing intestinal perforation, infection, and potentially fatal injuries.

Buckyballs, another popular magnet toy, pose the same threat that Magnetix does, and have since been recalled. Find out more here.

20-month-old Kenny Sweet died in 2005 after swallowing two magnets that came loose from a Magnetix building set. MMWR, a weekly publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shed light on the danger posed by magnetic toys in a comprehensive article detailing three case studies and summarizing 20 cases of magnet ingestion.

More Information on Toy Safety is a project of the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs). The information contained on this site was researched and compiled by state PIRG staff across the country and published in the state PIRG’s annual Trouble in Toyland Report.