Toy Industry Association (TIA) Statement on Toy Safety, Age Grading and Small Parts

October 29, 2013

U.S. toy safety standards are among the toughest in the world and U.S. toymakers are committed to assuring the safety of the toys they produce. In addition, there are important steps that parents and caregivers can take to ensure safe and fun play. 

When selecting toys this holiday season and throughout the year, shoppers are encouraged to keep the following safety tips top of mind:

At the store:

  • Check and follow age guidance and other safety information on packaging (age grading is based mostly on safety and not on how smart a child may be).
  • Avoid toys with small parts for children under age three (3) and those who mouth objects.
  • Inspect toys at the store, looking for sturdy parts and tightly secured joints. Make sure that battery-locking mechanisms are in place and that batteries are firmly enclosed.
  • For children under 18 months of age, avoid toys with strings, straps or cords longer than twelve (12) inches.
  • Check to see that stuffed toys have age-appropriate features such as embroidered or secured eyes and noses for younger children, and seams that are reinforced to withstand an older child’s play.
  • Avoid toys with sharp points or rough edges, especially for younger children.
  • Ideally, you should always shop at a reputable retailer you know and trust – but if you’re purchasing second-hand toys, inspect their condition and make sure you have the original packaging and instructions.
  • Listen to toys with noises before purchasing them to make sure they are appropriate for your child.

Once the packages are opened:

  • Read instructions carefully; save directions, warranties and assembly hardware.
  • Demonstrate the right way to use the toy or game and explain to your child the importance of proper use.
  • Dispose of all unnecessary toy packaging and gift wrap as soon as possible (piles of discarded gift wrap can conceal sharp objects and/or the edges of hard plastic packaging that can cut small fingers).
  • Store toys safely in an easily accessible storage bin; lidded toy storage should be non-locking and have special safety features such as air holes, spring-loaded hinges and clearances at the hinges to make sure little fingers won’t get caught.
  • Warn children of all ages to never put magnets in or near their mouths or noses.
  • Toys that contain batteries must have a locking mechanism to prevent a child’s access to them. When inserting or replacing batteries, remember to re-engage the locking mechanism and be careful to never leave batteries out where they are accessible to children.
  • Keep a separate toy chest for older children whose toys may contain small parts; enlist their help in keeping their toys out of reach of younger siblings.

Throughout the year:

  • Engage grandparents and caregivers in a discussion about toys and safe play; help them become familiar with these toy safety tips and the importance of age- and interest-appropriate toys.
  • Be a good role model for the safe use of toys and stay engaged in active adult supervision of children at play. 
  • Keep stuffed toys out of the cribs of infants and younger children.
  • Keep toys organized and off stairs or out of high-traffic areas in your home.
  • Keep toys away from unsupervised areas (pools, bathtubs, driveways or streets with traffic) so they don’t lure a child into a dangerous situation.
  • Instruct older children to keep their toys away from younger siblings.
  • Inspect toys regularly and repair (or replace) damaged or broken parts immediately.

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) and its members want parents, children and families to make informed choices about the toys, games and other products they bring into the home. To help consumers sort through all of the information related to toys and play, TIA provides a dedicated website for parents and other consumers.

ToyInfo.org contains up-to-date information on toy safety, recalls and frequently asked questions, as well as tips on how to shop for toys year round.

This statement was originally published in September 2012 and reaffirmed by the Toy Industry Association in October 2013.