It’s important to think about safety as well as fun when buying toys for your children. Making sure toys are appropriate for your child’s age and maturity level can help ensure a safe and happy holiday season.

The holiday season is a prime time for toy purchases in the United States. About half of toy purchases in the U.S. occur during the holiday season, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). But injuries — and even deaths — are possible from toys that are inappropriate for children.

Below, find tips to keep in mind when doing your holiday toy shopping.

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Toy Injury Statistics

According to the CPSC, toy-related Emergency Department visits dropped between 2014 and 2021. But toys still cause hundreds of thousands of injuries each year.

The CPSC reported toy-related injuries resulted in more than 206,000 trips to the Emergency Department in 2021. More than one-third of toy-related injuries were in children 4 and under.

Two children died from toy-related causes in 2021, the CPSC reported.

If you buy secondhand toys or receive hand-me-down toys, visit www.cpsc.gov to make sure the toy hasn’t been recalled for safety reasons. Used toys also should be in good condition with all original parts and packaging, if possible. If a new toy comes with a product registration card, mail it in so the manufacturer can contact you if the item is ever recalled.

Toy Safety Tips

Consider the following safety tips when getting toys for your child.

  • Consider your child’s age when purchasing a toy or game. It’s worth a second to read the instructions and warning labels to make sure it’s right for your child.
  • Think about choking hazards, especially for young children. The CSPC recommends keeping small balls and toys with small parts away from children younger than age 3 and keeping deflated balloons away from children younger than age 8.
  • Once presents are open, discard plastic wrapping and other packaging right away to avoid injury.
  • Keep a special eye on small game pieces that may be a choking hazard for young children. While these kinds of games are great for older kids, they can pose a potential danger for younger, curious siblings.
  • After playtime is over, use a bin or container to store toys for next time. Make sure there are no holes or hinges that could catch little fingers.
  • Keep button battery-controlled devices out of sight and out of reach of children. These include remote controls, singing greeting cards, digital scales, watches, hearing aids, thermometers, children’s toys, calculators, key fobs, tea-light candles, and flashing holiday jewelry or decorations.
  • Buy helmets and other safety equipment for bicycles, scooters, and other riding toys — and make sure your child wears them every time. According to CPSC statistics, non-motorized scooters were associated with the largest number of toy-related injuries in 2021. If you’re getting scooters, bikes, roller skates, skateboards, and other riding toys, buy a helmet and other gear to keep your child safe.
  • Stay informed about harmful products already on the market. Safe Kids Worldwide tracks product recalls and sends monthly email updates about recalls. You can sign up for its newsletter online.
  • Give kids constant supervision around all toys. Even toys that are appropriate for your child’s age and maturity can become dangerous in the wrong circumstances. It’s important to watch your children — especially young children — as they’re playing to make sure they avoid injury.

Above all, the holiday season is supposed to be fun — but it’s just as important to keep your family safe.

At UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, we’re here for your child 365 days a year. For more on the services we offer throughout our communities, visit our website.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About UPMC

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. We are dedicated to providing Life Changing Medicine to our communities.