Safe Toys
Health & Safety

Safe Toys

by Martha Scully

Christmas is the most popular time to give or receive toys...  

As you may already know, most toys sold in Canada are made overseas while a small percentage are made locally.  In either case ALL toys sold in Canada must meet specific safety requirements, and toy stores are regularly checked for unsafe toys by Health Canada's Product Safety Officers.  Parents and caregivers should still be cautious, because sometimes unsafe toys do make their way into our homes. Also, over time due to wear and tear some toys we thought were safe in the past may not meet current standards.

Here is a Toy Safety Checklist:

  • Toys designed for older children may not be safe for infants and toddlers. Look for an age label on the toy package and follow all safety warnings.
  • Be especially careful when buying for kids younger than 3 years of age. Don't give them small toys, small balls or marbles, or toys with loose parts such as removable wheels on toy cars and trucks. Infant toys such as tethers and rattles should be large enough that they won't lodge in the throat.
  • When buying stuffed toys, make sure the eyes, nose and other decorations can't be pulled off and swallowed or choked on.
  • Stuffed toys that are filled with beans or other small objects could choke your child if the toy develops a rip or hole.
  • Take a pass on any toys that are very loud, not only because they'll drive parents crazy, but because the noise level can damage a child's sensitive hearing. 
  • Electronically operated toys must bear the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) label, which shows that they've been tested for shock and fire hazards.
  • Apply the same scrutiny to home-made and hand-made toys as you would store-bought ones.
  • Strings, or cords on toys can get tangled around small necks. Either cut these pieces off pull toys, or put the toys away until your child is older.
  • Check your child's toys regularly, and repair or discard worn or damaged items.
  • For ride-on toys and bicycles, make sure the product is appropriate for the child's age and ability level. Teach kids to use them safely (riding away from traffic, etc.). When riding a bike, in-line skating, or skateboarding, children should wear a properly fitted helmet. For in-line skating or skateboarding, consider additional safety gear such as elbow and kneepads, gloves, and wrist guards, which can help minimize injuries when kids fall.

If you have questions about toys or a toy recall, please contact Health Canada's Product Safety Office at 1-866-662-0666. 

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About the Author
Martha Scully
Martha is the founder of Martha has been featured as a Child Care Expert in hundreds of publications across Canada including The Globe and Mail, CBC, Today's Parent and The National Post, She lives in British Columbia with her husband and two daughters.