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The Toy Association

New National Survey Finds Parents Don’t Always Follow Important Toy Safety Guidelines

The Toy Association Advises Parents on Key Toy Safety Best Practices

New York, NY | November 7, 2018 – A new national survey1 of toy-purchasing parents revealed some concerning behaviors involving their approach to toy safety. The survey, conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of The Toy Association, found that 41 percent of parents don’t always read the age label on a toy before purchasing it, and for those who do check, 94 percent admitted they still purchased a toy even when the age label indicated their child was too young to play with it.

The survey found that nearly all parents with multiple children (97 percent) have allowed their youngest child to play with a toy intended for their older sibling, while 41 percent keep all their children’s toys together regardless of age label recommendations. And when asked, “Who is most likely to buy an age-inappropriate toy for your child?” parents surprisingly ranked themselves first, ahead of extended family, grandparents or friends.

“Parents and caregivers should always check the age labels on toy packaging. Toys labeled 3+ are not safe for kids under three, because they may contain small parts, which can be a choking hazard,” says Joan Lawrence, senior vice president of standards and regulatory affairs at The Toy Association. “A toy’s age grading is a crucial message regarding toy safety and is based on a child’s developmental abilities. It has nothing to do with how smart a child is or if the child will be interested in that particular toy.”

The survey revealed several other surprising insights related to toy safety.

Only a little more than half of parents (51 percent) always demonstrate how to use a new toy, an important step to helping your child understand how to properly and safely play with it.

A majority of parents (60 percent) mistakenly believe toy safety depends on the country where the toy was made. In fact, by law all toys sold in the United States, no matter where in the world they are made, must first meet more than 100 rigorous safety tests and standards and be certified as compliant by an independent, federally-approved testing lab.

The survey also found that among parents who purchase toys online, nearly 40 percent do not always check to see that the online seller is verified. For safety reasons, parents should only shop at reputable retailers they know and trust – whether online or in stores – to guarantee they are purchasing a toy that has been tested for safety standard compliance. 

Simple Tips for Toy Safety
Below are several key toy safety tips for parents and caregivers compiled by The Toy Association. For more advice on safe play – including tips for first-time parents, advice on magnet and battery safety, how to ensure safe play outdoors, and much more, visit the Toy Association’s free resource for parents and caregivers –

  1. Always follow the age label on toy packaging. Avoid toys with small parts for kids under 3 (or kids who still mouth toys). Toys with small parts have a warning label on the packaging, so keep a careful eye out as you shop.
  2. Separate toys in homes with multiple children. Keep older children’s toys, which may contain small pieces, out of reach of younger siblings and their friends.
  3. Demonstrate and supervise. Get on the floor and play with your kids! Show them how to use a toy so they understand how to properly and safely enjoy it. And always supervise children while they play.
  4. Shop at a retailer you know and trust. Staff at established businesses will be knowledgeable about age-appropriate toys. Online sellers will include safety information and the toy’s age grading in product descriptions. On the other hand, garage sales, secondhand stores, or temporary retailers may not know the latest safety information or offer certified products – and may not be around should an issue arise later. In addition, garage sales and flea markets may unknowingly offer for sale items which have been recalled for safety reasons.

The Toy Association and its members take toy safety very seriously and are committed year-round to educating parents and caregivers about safe play. Following this simple safety advice can go a long way toward preventing unnecessary accidents and injuries.

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Wakefield Research on behalf of The Toy Association between October 23 – October 30, 2018, among 1,000 U.S. parents who are the primary toy purchaser for their household, using an email invitation and an online survey. The margin of error is +/- 3 percent. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Colleen Imler at

About The Toy Association /  /
Founded in 1916, The Toy Association™, Inc. is the not-for-profit trade association representing all businesses involved in creating and delivering toys and youth entertainment products for kids of all ages. The Toy Association leads the health and growth of the U.S. toy industry, which has an annual U.S. economic impact of $107.5 billion, and its 950+ members drive the annual $27 billion U.S. domestic toy market. The Toy Association serves as the industry’s voice on the developmental benefits of play, and promotes play’s positive impact on childhood development to consumers and media. The organization has a long history of leadership in toy safety going back to the 1930s, helped develop the first comprehensive toy safety standard more than 40 years ago, and remains committed to working with medical experts, government, consumers, and industry on ongoing programs to ensure safe and fun play.

As a global leader, The Toy Association produces the world-renowned North American International Toy Fair and Fall Toy Preview; advocates on behalf of members around the world; sustains the Canadian Toy Association; acts as secretariat for the International Council of Toy Industries and International Toy Industry CEO Roundtable; and chairs the committee that reviews and revises America’s widely emulated ASTM F963 toy safety standard.