Inspectors may be out and about hunting down unsafe toys, but it is still important that parents understand what to look out for when shopping for the little ones in their lives.
Check toys are age-appropriate
Infants and toddlers are particularly at risk from toys with small parts that can break away because they tend to explore items using their mouths and their gag reflexes are not yet fully developed.
They can also be quite rough with their toys and need toys that can stand up to being banged together or on the floor.
Toys that are suitable for children under three years of age, must comply with the relevant safety standard, but there are also some things you can check.
A good general rule is ‘the smaller the child, the bigger the toy should be’, but a more specific rule to follow is that anything smaller than a ping pong ball is too small.
Choose toys that are well-made
While it may be tempting to buy lots of little stocking stuffers or lean towards quantity over quality for maximum impact, you should always choose toys that are well made, hard wearing and meet mandatory Australian safety standards. Toys that are hard-wearing are safer for little ones as they are unlikely to release small bits that become choking hazards.
Steer clear of products that are decorated with otherwise innocuous-looking items such as ribbons, buttons and beads.
Check the shape
Be wary of products that are a shape that could easily be swallowed and those with sharp edges or points.
Look for toys with safe surfaces
Small children place objects in their mouths, so make sure all materials and finishes are non-toxic.
In the past, some imported toys found at budget stores and markets have been found to be painted with lead paint, so it pays to be wary.
Avoid toys with small magnets
Small magnets can cause serious internal damage if swallowed, so avoid giving toys that contain them to small children.
Beware of toys with long strings
Strings that are over 30 centimetres or can stretch to over 30 centimetres can tangle to form a noose or wrap about a child’s neck, making them a strangulation hazard. You should never give toys with these strings to small children.
Check battery compartments are secure
Always ensure battery-operated toys have child-resistant locking mechanisms to prevent your toddler from accessing and swallowing batteries.
Swallowed or inserted button batteries can cause serious soft tissue burns, resulting in devastating, and sometimes fatal, injuries.
For more information on toy safety, visit the Product Safety Australia website.
Article supplied by Office of Fair Trading.