Most children's toys are actually very safe. Accidents involving toys usually happen when a young child plays with a toy that is meant for an older child, or when someone trips over toys that have been left out. The reminders below will give you an idea of how to help your children play safely.

Did you know…?

  • Most toys in the UK are safe if you follow the instructions. The law says all toys must have a suggested age range, so they aren’t given to children too young to play with them.
  • One of the main causes of toy accidents is toys with small parts. If a baby is given a toy designed for an older child they can break it and end up swallowing small pieces.

Which toys should I buy?

There are so many great toys on the market it can be hard to choose the right one. If you’re not sure, the tips below will help you choose something safe and fun for your child.

The best place to shop for toys is a specialist toy shop or recognised high street shop. These shops won’t sell toys that don’t meet the right safety standards. They also have sales staff on-hand to give you advice on what to buy, and which toys are best for your child.

It’s best to be careful with second hand toys. If you’re looking to save money, a toy library might be a safer option – they’ll lend you toys that are appropriate and in good condition.

Look for the safety symbols. Toys will have a warning on the packaging if they’re not suitable for children under 36 months. Toys with small parts, for instance, will usually have this warning. Also look out for the lion mark – it shows that the manufacturer claims the toys have been made to higher standards of safety and quality.

Which toys are suitable for my child?

All toys should have a label telling you the age they are designed for. The hints below are just a guide to help you choose a toy your child can enjoy safely.

All children develop at different speeds. But even so, it’s best to stick to the age advice on toy packaging. If a baby plays with a toy that has small parts or long fur, they might choke or swallow bits of the toy. Marbles and magnets can also be choked on or swallowed, and magnets are particularly dangerous as they can cause serious problems if swallowed. Toy manufacturers know what is safe and what isn’t so it’s best to follow their age guides.

Sharing toys teaches children good habits, but be careful if older children are sharing their toys. What’s safe for a 7 year old might not be safe for a toddler.

More risky toys can still be fun, if you’re there to play with your child. Toys like baking kits, baby bath toys or chemistry sets will help your children learn, but you’ll need to be there to make sure your child doesn’t get hurt.

How can I keep my child’s toys safe?

Keeping things tidy can be a real hassle, especially with very young children. But encouraging your child to put toys away helps to keep your home safe. As one of the main risks to children is tripping or falling over toys, putting them away in a toy box can save tears. Tidying up things like balloons is especially important – burst balloons are a choking hazard for young children.

Throwing things away can seem wasteful, but if a toy is broken or damaged, it’s better to throw it away than give it to a charity shop or jumble sale. The broken toy could go on to cause accidents for other children.

Battery-powered toys have usually passed rigorous safety tests. But as the batteries wear out, try to avoid mixing old and new batteries - the older batteries could overheat in the toy.

Batteries in children’s toys are covered by safety regulations. They should either be enclosed by a screw and a secure compartment or need two independent or simultaneous movements to open the battery compartment. But remember that older children may still be able to open secure battery compartments.

Toys bought online or from markets, discount stores or temporary shops may not follow the appropriate safety regulations. For example, trading standards officers have issued warnings about light-up fidget spinners where the battery is easily accessible to children.

Read more about the dangers posed by button batteries