Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

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:


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.


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.


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

Back To Top

Need more information?

Toy boxes | Product Safety Australia

If using a toy box to pack away your child's toys, follow our tips for buying and using toy boxes safely to prevent serious injury or entrapment.

Read more on Product Safety Australia website

Stuffed toys | Product Safety Australia

While many stuffed toys seem safe, if some parts of a toy are not attached securely, they can pose a choking risk for children.

Read more on Product Safety Australia website

Magnetic toys & novelties | Product Safety Australia

Magnets can be dangerous to children if swallowed. Regularly check that magnets are securely attached or embedded in the toy, and supervise young children when playing with magnetic toys.

Read more on Product Safety Australia website

Inflatable toys, novelties & furniture | Product Safety Australia

There is a permanent ban on the sale of inflatable toys, novelties and furniture that have loose beads or small particles inside the product, due to the risk of choking or suffocation for young children.

Read more on Product Safety Australia website

Push-pull toys | Product Safety Australia

Ensure that push-pull toys do not have long cords or strings that could pose a strangulation risk to young children, and check there are no sharp edges or exposed nails on the handles.

Read more on Product Safety Australia website

Baby toys | Product Safety Australia

Babies and young children can suffer a range of injuries from unsafe toys. Make sure you buy sturdy and well-made toys that can handle vigorous play by children.

Read more on Product Safety Australia website

Water expanding toys & products | Product Safety Australia

Water expanding products can pose a choking hazard, always keep them out of reach of young children.

Read more on Product Safety Australia website

Toys containing lead & other elements | Product Safety Australia

It is vital that toys are free of lead and other dangerous elements that may harm children. [TOC:ul]

Read more on Product Safety Australia website

Projectile toys | Product Safety Australia

Children are at risk of serious eye injuries or from choking when playing with projectile toys. Always make sure children know how to play safely with these toys.

Read more on Product Safety Australia website

Toy & novelty knives | Product Safety Australia

Children risk cuts and lacerations when playing with toy knives. Avoid buying toy knives, even if they're specifically designed for children.

Read more on Product Safety Australia website

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?

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.

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.