A study conducted by KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital found that many parents are buying toys that are not age-appropriate for their children. For example, some parents believed that the toys they were purchasing would benefit their child educationally, and thought that their child was old enough to play with the toy safely.
This resulted in a 15% rise in toy-related injuries in children under the age of 5 in 2013, compared to the same period in 2012.
As consumers, you can protect your child from hazards that could be caused by toys, such as choking, falls, cuts and bruises, by making informed purchasing decisions and proper supervision of a toy’s use after it is bought. Follow the good practices below to protect your child:
- Check if the toy is being recalled or banned. Read up on notices or alerts on any safety issues or potential hazards. You may refer here.
- Only buy from reputable brands and sellers.
- Buy toys that are right for your child’s age. Toys for older children should be kept out of reach of younger ones.
- Pay attention to the age-appropriateness of the toy and look out for age labels such as this:
- Follow age recommendations and other instructions that come with the product closely. Do not buy the product if such information is not available.
- Check toys frequently for any breakage which may result in sharp edges or small/loose parts that could cause choking. Do not let your child play with damaged toys.
- Ensure that toys with projectiles do not have sharp edges. Check that the toy cannot launch improvised projectiles such as pencils and other potentially dangerous items.
- Ensure that riding toys are stable and will not topple easily
- Look out for warnings or the safety alert symbol to be informed of the potential hazards e.g. when using product that comes with button/coin batteries.
- Check that compartments with button batteries are properly secured as swallowing such batteries can lead to serious internal injuries or even death. Look out for battery compartments where the fasteners used to secure the cover cannot be removed completely and will remain with the cover. This ensures the fasteners are not lost when replacing the batteries, as this may result in the child being able to access the battery inside easily.
- Remove batteries in electronic toys when not in use. Batteries left in toys for a long period of time may leak poisonous fluid.
- Keep new and used button batteries out of sight and out of reach of young children at all times.
- Ensure that toys are kept properly after play to avoid becoming a tripping hazard.
- Supervise young children carefully whenever toys with detachable small parts or magnets are being used in their vicinity and inspect play areas carefully after play to ensure that no parts or magnets are left where they could be picked up by a young child.
- Seek medical attention immediately if the child swallows any part of the toy or battery.
Don’t buy toys that:
- have any part that can fit into a child’s mouth, nose, or ear;
- have exposed wire(s);
- have parts that can heat up and/or catch fire;
- have toxic material(s);
- have detachable small part(s) with strong magnet(s);
- have sharp edge(s);
- have glass or part(s) that might break easily;
- have spring(s), gear(s), or hinged part(s) that may pinch or trap finger(s);
- have long pull string(s) or cord(s) which might pose a strangulation hazard;
- have part(s) that are secured with straight pin(s) or staple(s);
- produce excessively high audio level that may damage hearing;
- fail to comply with international Safety Standards for toys (e.g. small magnetic balls/water beads)
*do take note of the following points regarding small magnetic balls/water beads:
- Magnetic balls and water beads are unable to comply with toy standards and cannot be supplied or sold if they are marketed as toys for children under 14 years old.
- In addition to containing small parts, magnetic balls have high magnetic flux which may cause serious injury if multiple balls attract and stick together within the intestines. Water beads may expand to many times their original size as they absorb water and may cause obstructions or injuries within the body.
- Caregivers are advised to keep a lookout and ensure that these products are not made accessible to children, and avoid using magnetic balls and water beads as sensory toys for children.