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Choosing toys

3-minute read

Play is important in the physical and mental development of your child, and toys are a great way to get children playing. It is important to choose toys wisely and to remember that the most expensive toy is not necessarily the best toy.

When finding toys for your child, here are some of the things that make a good toy:

  • are attractive, well-designed, and have many uses
  • encourage children to talk and use their imagination
  • help children express their feelings
  • develop physical skills
  • help children understand the world around them
  • encourage children to be creative
  • last because they are well made

Ask yourself these questions before you buy toys for your child:

  • Would it be fun to play with?
  • Is it value for money?
  • Could I make it myself?
  • Does it do what it is supposed to?
  • Is it suited to the age of my child?
  • Is it safe (such as non-toxic paint, no button batteries that could be swallowed and no sharp edges)?

Beware of toys that could break into dangerous pieces or are made of materials that burn easily.

Toy safety

Toys with small parts are dangerous for babies and young children. Toys can cut, choke, poison or strangle if they are not safe, or not used safely. All toys should meet the Australian Safety Standard AS/NZS 8124.

Young babies explore their world by putting things in their mouths, noses and ears. Children under 3 years old do not have a well-developed coughing reflex and can choke easily on small items.

When you are choosing toys, consider these points:

Size

The smaller the child, the bigger the toy should be. Remember that children under 3 can't cough things up. So if a toy is as small as a ping-pong ball, or can easily break into parts the size of a ping-pong ball (or smaller), then a child under 3 should not be playing with it. Don’t forget to make sure that any eyes, noses or buttons on soft toys are securely attached, and check them regularly.

Surface material and fillings

Check that paints and fillings used on or inside toys aren't toxic, because children could be poisoned if they lick or swallow them. Also, check that soft toys are fire resistant, and that the fillings can't come out easily and cause a child to choke.

Ensure any batteries, particularly small ‘button’ or ‘coin’ batteries, are secure within their compartment, and cannot come out easily - batteries should not be handled by children and are toxic if they swallow them.

Strings

Check that strings or tails on toys are not long enough to form a loop that might constrict a finger, a limb, or even the neck - this might cut off a child's circulation or cause strangulation. Also check that any strings or tails are firmly attached to the toy.

Supervision

Small children need close supervision with toys to help prevent accidents from happening.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2021


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Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.