Seven tips for choosing safe toys this holiday season


If you’re shopping for children this holiday, chances are there will be plenty of toys on your list. While play is important for developing dexterity, imagination and strength, unsafe toys are a real hazard. In 2015, emergency room doctors in the United States treated more than 254,000 toy-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Before you shop for the kids on your list, take a look at these seven tips for choosing safe toys.

  1. Check the age. Toymakers recommend age ranges for their toys and games, alerting you to products that might be dangerous to younger kids. Think twice before buying big-kid toys for a toddler.
  2.  Read labels. In addition to suggested age ranges, product labels can give you important details such as whether a product is flame retardant. Read the instructions, too, to make sure toys are assembled correctly.
  3.  Avoid choking hazards. Toys with tiny pieces are a no-no for kids younger than 3, who can’t always resist putting things in their mouths. Plastic wraps and films can also pose a choking hazard to children, so be sure to remove and discard them as soon as the presents are opened.
  4. Beware batteries. Small batteries are common in all kinds of toys, games and electronics. If swallowed, the batteries can block airways and severely damage internal tissues, causing severe injury or even death. Make sure battery compartments are securely closed, and supervise young children playing with battery-operated toys.
  5. Protect their heads. If you’re buying a ride-on toy like a scooter or bike, make sure you pick up an appropriately-sized helmet to go along with it.
  6. Stay informed. Some toys are recalled for safety reasons. When toys and games come with a registration form, fill it out so you can be notified of any recall. To stay current on recalls of children’s products, visit
  7. Make a cleanup rule. As parents know too well, it’s no fun to step on a plastic building brick. Help children get into the habit of picking up their toys when they’re done playing with them. Clearing hazards will help prevent trips and falls – and help parents avoid the chaos of clutter.

Want to pick up some extra toys for children in need while shopping this season? Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA accepts new, unwrapped toy donations for their young patients. Learn more about giving to Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA.

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