Toy Safety: Consider Safety Symbols and Hazards When Buying

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Toy safety

Toy safety is very important to ensure that toys are safe for children to play with. It includes meeting specific safety standards and regulations, including the European Toys Directive and the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

These regulations are applied before toys are placed on the market and include testing and inspection of toys. It's also important for parents and caregivers to be aware of potential hazards, such as small parts, sharp edges and toxic materials.

Safe toys can be recognized by various safety symbols, such as the CE marking symbol. It's important to pay attention to these symbols and accreditations to ensure that the toy is appropriate for the age and development of the child.

In the EU and the US, there are organizations that monitor toy safety and regulatory compliance, such as the European Commission and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Using a toy safety checklist can help ensure that toys meet key safety requirements, such as avoiding small parts and checking for sharp edges.

Some common toy hazards include choking hazards and injury from falls. It's important to reduce these risks by choosing appropriate toys and supervising play.

Storing toys safely in safe toy boxes can also help prevent potential hazards.

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What are the toy safety regulations in the EU and US?

Safety regulations are put in place to protect children from possible dangers when playing with toys. The website of the European Commission states that the Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC is in force in the EU.

This directive lays down safety criteria that toys must meet before they can be placed on the market. It includes general risks such as the health and safety of children, as well as specific risks such as physical, mechanical, flammability, chemical, electrical, hygiene and radioactivity risks.

In the United States (US), toy safety is regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The CPSC has established safety standards for toys under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Among other things, this law establishes guidelines that restrict hazardous substances and prohibit small parts and sharp points in toys.

In the EU it's mandatory to carry the CE mark, which indicates that the toy meets European safety standards. Importers and manufacturers must also obtain other safety symbols for specific situations, and accreditations are symbols of a more voluntary nature.

There's also Safe Toys and Gifts Month, in which attention is paid to safe toys and gifts.

Which toy safety organizations operate under these regulations?

There are several organizations dedicated to the safety of toys and protecting children from harm. Below you'll find the most important toy safety organizations in the US.

  • The Toy Association: A trade association representing the toy industry in the United States. They have initiatives and programs focused on toy safety, including the development of safety standards and guidelines.
  • World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (WATCH): A non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about hazardous children's products and protecting children from harm. They highlight the dangers of many toys and advocate for child safety.
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC): A United States government agency responsible for protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with consumer products, including toys. They set safety standards for toys and perform testing and enforcement to ensure compliance.

Below are the main toy safety organizations in the EU:

  • Toy Industries of Europe: Toy Industries of Europe is the voice of renowned toy manufacturers in Europe. They work with EU policy makers to promote every child's right to play safely and securely.
  • Expert Group on Toy Safety: The Expert Group on Toy Safety is a platform for cooperation between EU countries, stakeholders and the Commission on toy safety. It helps in the consistent implementation of the EU Toy Safety Directive.
  • SGS: SGS is a company that provides testing, inspection and certification services for European toy companies. They provide services related to the EU Toy Safety Directive, including testing and certification to ensure that toys meet the required safety standards.
  • Intertek: Intertek is also a company that provides testing, inspection and certification services. They provide services related to the EU Toy Safety Directive, including comprehensive toy safety assessments, testing, registration, compliance and training solutions to ensure products comply with the obligations and requirements of the Directive.

What is the CE marking on toys?

The CE marking on a toy indicates that it meets EU safety requirements. Only toys with this marking can be sold in the EU. This CE marking is mandatory for manufacturers, importers and distributors to demonstrate that the toy is safe before placing it on the market.

For example, selling handmade toys from home is difficult because of these regulations.

What are the different safety symbols on toys?

Safety symbols on toys are important because they indicate certain risks and help consumers identify suitable toys. Here are some of the main symbols:

  • CE mark: This symbol indicates that the toy meets European safety standards and is suitable for children of a certain age.
  • Kitemark: This symbol is assigned to toys that have been tested and approved by the British Standards Institution.
  • Lion mark: Introduced to promote high safety standards throughout the toy industry, this bright red and yellow symbol helps consumers identify toys that are safe for children to use.
  • Recycling logo: This symbol indicates that the toy meets the requirements for recycling and environmental friendliness.
  • Age warning logo: The red and white symbol first appeared on a toy in 1995 and is used to indicate that the toy is not suitable for children under the age of three.
  • Toyograph Logo: A collaboration between BTHA and Bureau Veritas, Toyograph is a resource to help the toy industry meet chemical requirements from July 2013.
  • Fire Symbol for Fire Safety: The fire symbol for fire safety is used to indicate that a toy has been tested and meets fire safety standards.
  • Age Rating: Age rating symbols are used to indicate the appropriate age range for a toy. These symbols help to ensure that children play with toys that are safe and appropriate for their age and stage of development.
  • Symbols for free from phthalates, PVC and BPA: These symbols indicate that the toy is free from certain chemicals that can be harmful to the health of children.
  • Non-Toxic Symbol: The non-toxic symbol is used to indicate that art materials, such as paint, chalk, and markers, are safe and non-toxic for children to use.
  • Recycling Codes: Recycling codes are used to indicate the type of plastic used in toys. Some recycling codes, such as codes 3, 6, and 7, are associated with chemicals that can be harmful to children's health.

A common misconception is that the “safe play” certificate applies to toys, but this is for tennis.

According to the Toy Association, stuffed animals and dolls still have specific labeling requirements, but they only apply in the states of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Ohio in the US. The uniform label for stuffed toys must include the license number, the name and place of business of the manufacturer or seller and information about the material used. The label must be attached to the plush toy itself.

List of the most important toy safety symbols

Which toy accreditations are there?

Toy accreditations are programs or certifications that recognize toys that meet certain standards or criteria. They differ from regulations in that they are not mandatory.

Below are the best known reputable toy accreditation programs.

  1. STEAM Accreditation Program: The STEAM Accreditation Program is offered by FUNdamentally Children and is open to all toy companies and brands involved in the production, design and marketing of STEAM toys for children.
  2. Intertek Toy Safety Certification Program: Intertek offers a toy certification program that meets corporate goals, consumer interests, and regulatory requirements.
  3. ICTI Ethical Toy Program: The ICTI Ethical Toy Program is a certification program that recognizes ethical practices in toy manufacturing. The program was established by the toy industry to reduce audit duplication and improve operational efficiency.
  4. The Toy Association's STEAM-accredited toy list: The Toy Association's STEAM-accredited toy list features outstanding products that help children build skills in science, technology, engineering, art, and math.

It's important to note that not all toys need to be accredited to be safe or useful for children. However, toy accreditation programs can provide additional assurance and guidance when selecting toys for children.

Who is responsible for toy testing and compliance, importers or manufacturers?

Both importers and manufacturers have a role in toy testing and compliance. Importers are responsible for checking that the toy meets safety standards before placing it on the market. Manufacturers must ensure that their products comply with relevant EU standards.

  • Importers must ensure that the toys they import meet the required safety standards. This includes finding an accredited lab to have the toy tested and verified. Importers must also assess the conformity of the toy and identify which sections of the regulation apply.
  • Manufacturers are responsible for carrying out the necessary tests and obtaining a certificate of conformity before the toy is placed on the market. They must also implement a program to ensure compliance with their respective responsibilities. This includes carrying out the proper testing and making sure the toy meets the relevant safety standards.

It's important to note that there are no regular inspections of toys.

Are there regular toy inspections?

There are no regular toy inspections, but toy manufacturers do carry out different types of inspections.

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, toys intended primarily for children ages 12 and under must be tested by a CPSC-accepted testing laboratory and certified by the manufacturer or importer in a Children's Product Certificate.

Take special care with used toys as they may have flaws and may be so old that different standards were in effect at the time (such as lead paint).

The Action Figure Authority conducts inspections, but this is for classification of collectible value.

It's your responsibility to inspect toys regularly to ensure they are safe, and a checklist can help with that.

What is "safe toys and gifts month" when buying toys?

“Safe toys and gifts month” was created by a US organization Consumer Product Safety Commission to raise awareness about the importance of safe toys and gifts during the month of December.

The aim is to help parents and caregivers select toys that meet safety guidelines and promote experiences that reduce the risk of injury or choking.

It's important not to buy toys with small parts, long cords or sharp points, and to always supervise children during play.

How do you use a safe toy checklist to determine quality?

A toy safety checklist is a useful tool for making sure toys are safe for children. Below is the most comprehensive checklist to ensure you buy quality.

  • Choose toys that are safe for the child's age.
  • Check that the toy has no sharp edges or loose parts.
  • Check the materials the toy is made of and avoid toxic substances.
  • Check that the toy meets safety standards and has a certificate.
  • Avoid toys with long cords or strings to avoid strangulation.
  • Check that the toy is easy to clean.
  • Avoid toys that pose a fire hazard, such as open flame toys.
  • Make sure the toy has a safe noise level.
  • Check that the toy is sturdy and not easily broken.

By following this checklist, parents and caregivers can ensure that the toys they select are quality and safe for their children.

Safe toys checklist

What are the main toy hazards?

The most important hazards in toys can be found in the list below.

  • Choking hazard
  • Sharp edges and points
  • Toxic materials
  • Loud noises
  • Overstimulation
  • Unsupervised play
  • Inappropriate age rating
  • Loose parts
  • Toys with strings or cords
  • Open toys
  • Heavy toys
  • Cleanliness

Choking hazard

Choking hazards are where small objects or parts could be swallowed. This is a problem with toys because children tend to put things in their mouths.

To avoid the risk of suffocation, you can do the following: choose toys that are appropriate for the child's age, check that the toy does not contain small parts and avoid balloons, beans or small bags that can be a choking hazard.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Article 16 CFR 1501.4, “A small part is any object that completely fits into a specially designed test cylinder measuring 2,25 inches (5,7 cm) long by 1,25 inches (3,2 cm) wide, which approximates the size of the fully expanded throat of a child under the age of three.”

Section 16 CFR 1501.2(a) gives general examples of the types of products intended for use by children under age 3: “the age stated on a label; the advertising, promotion and marketing of the product as intended for use by children of a certain age; and whether the product or toy is generally recognized as intended for use by children under 3 years of age.”

Sharp edges and points

Sharp edges and points are a potential hazard in toys. This is a problem because they can cause injury to children. To avoid this, it's important to choose toys with smooth edges and rounded tips.

Building toys should be checked to ensure they are sturdy and have no sharp parts that could break off and create a hazard. Mechanical toys in particular can have wires or other small parts that can be sharp or easily detached.

Toxic materials

Toxic materials are hazardous substances that can be harmful to one's health. They can exist in various materials, such as plastic, and may contain certain chemicals that are harmful to people and the environment.

It's important to know which substances are present in toys before making a purchase. Some examples of toxins in toys are mercury and lead as used in paint. Particularly dangerous in second-hand toys because less strict rules used to apply.

This is a problem with toys because children often come into contact with toys and put them in their mouths.

To minimize the risk of toxins in toys, choose toys that are made from safe materials and comply with applicable safety regulations and standards with clear labels indicating that the toy is free from harmful substances.

Loud noises

Toys can sometimes produce loud noises and this can be a problem. The American Society of Testing and Materials states that toys should not produce more than 85 dB when measured at a distance of 50 cm, or 19,7 inches (approximately the length of an adult's arm).

It's important to consider what noises toys can produce and the potential they have to harm children's hearing.


Overstimulation in children is when they are exposed to an overwhelming amount of sensory stimuli that affects their ability to concentrate and learn. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, fatigue and overstimulation. It can occur when children are exposed to too many toys, a crowded environment, or too many activities in a short period of time.

In addition, toys with bright colors, loud noises and fast movements can overstimulate children's senses, leading to overstimulation and anxiety.

Parents and caregivers can monitor and adjust children's behavior to ensure that the play environment is safe and appropriate for the child's age and development.

Unsupervised play

Unsupervised play is critical for children. It allows them to explore their interests, develop their imagination and promote social interaction. It is important to create a safe environment in which children can play freely.

However, this can pose a problem with toys. Some toy objects may contain small parts that can be swallowed, have sharp edges or be heavy. It's important to remove toys that could be potentially dangerous to children during unsupervised play.

Inappropriate age rating

Age rating is the process of rating toys for suitability for different age groups. This is an important aspect for children, as toys that are not suitable for their age can pose risks.

This poses a problem with toys, as some toy parts can be small and critical to the safety of children.

To address this issue, it's important to never allow children to play alone with toys above their age rating.

By correct age classification and following safety guidelines, we can ensure that children can play safely and that toys do not pose any unnecessary risks.

Loose parts

Loose parts are parts of a toy that can be easily removed. This may expose sharp edges or small parts. These in turn pose a choking hazard or risk of injury.

Toys with strings or cords

Strings or cords are often part of toys. However, this can pose a problem. It can be a strangulation hazard for young children. To minimize this risk, it's important to choose toys that do not have long cords.

If you have toys with cords, always check the length and make sure it is no longer than 7 inches (18 cm).

In particular, toys for cribs and car seats can be unsafe if they do not comply with this guideline.

Open toys

Toys that open easily are not safe for children. This is a problem because children can easily access small parts, batteries or other potential hazards inside the toy.

To avoid accidents and injuries, it's important to choose toys that are completely enclosed and do not allow easy access to the interior. Especially with electrical toys, make sure the battery compartments are securely locked and cannot be easily opened by young children.

Heavy toys

The use of heavy materials in toys can be potentially dangerous during play. It's important to keep this in mind and essential to know how to handle it and how to store it safely to avoid accidents.

Heavy toys can cause injury and it's important to ensure that the toys are appropriate for the age and development of the child.


Cleanliness is important for children. It's therefore important to keep toys clean, as they can harbor dirt and bacteria, especially if they're made of plastic. This can spread and make children sick.

That's why it's important to clean toys regularly and buy toys that are easy to clean.

When are toy boxes safe and what are safety hinges?

Toy boxes can be unsafe because children can bump their heads or get stuck in them. Toy boxes are usually made of plastic and designed with a lid that can be opened and closed. The most important thing is to make sure that the lid is easy to open.

Safety hinges are an extra measure to keep toy boxes safe. They're typically designed to prevent the lid from closing forcibly, which could cause injury to a child's fingers or head.

Holes in large toy boxes are important to ensure adequate ventilation and prevent suffocation.

Always something to do for the holidays or rainy day?

Play Choice now has the ultimate activity book collection, with over 60 pages of fun coloring pages and educational puzzles.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of is a content marketer, father and loves trying out new toys. As a child he came into contact with everything related to games when his mother started the Tinnen Soldaat in Ede. Now he and his team create helpful blog articles to help loyal readers with fun play ideas.