When it comes to safety, not all toys are created equal, and some toys account for more than their fair share of injuries. Here is a list of some potentially hazardous toys, along with information about what makes them dangerous and how you can mitigate these problems. If an item is listed below it doesn’t mean that you must avoid it altogether; just show a little more precaution in its use.
The most dangerous toys for children
- Toys with magnets are dangerous because if the magnets detach and children swallow them, they can cause serious and life-threatening internal injuries.
The safety fix: Keep from mixing magnetic toys in with other ones whenever possible, since this exposes them towards more abrasive use which could cause the magnets to break off. Instead keep things like magnetic alphabet pieces or magnetic trains in a box or bag that is kept apart from your child’s regular toy collection, and have kids request these items when they want to play with them. Then check them over when returned to ensure all the magnets are still securely attached.
- Toys with button batteries are dangerous because the battery can come loose from its casing and be swallowed by the child. Batteries can also cause serious or even life-threatening problems when ingested.
The safety fix: Throw away electronic books that have frayed to the point where the battery casing could become exposed. Don’t let young children play with musical cards, since these batteries are easy to get to. You should also remind older kids to keep battery powered toys away from little ones, since even AAA or AA batteries can be swallowed by a determined child.
- Toys that involve balloons can be dangerous. Balloons are a nasty choking hazard for 3 deadly reasons: 1) They’re slippery when wet, making them difficult to dislodge, 2) They expand and contract with air, making them difficult for a child to cough up, and 3) Kids routinely put them in their mouth.
The safety fix: Monitor all kids around balloon use, and keep them away from infants and toddlers. If a balloon pops, be sure to pick up every piece and safely dispose of it. Remind older kids that they should never chew on a balloon like bubble gum, and make sure they’re aware of the hazard they pose.
Print a balloon safety coloring sheet for your child
- Nerf balls and similar foam toys can be dangerous, because pieces of the foam can be ripped or bitten off, posing a choking hazard for kids. Like balloons, foam pieces are an especially nasty choking hazard, since they can be squished and then will expand, conforming to a child’s airway to create the perfect plug.
The safety fix: Keep foam balls away from pets and monitor closely to ensure younger children don’t bite pieces off of them. If a baby has a habit of gnawing through things, then foam is not an appropriate toy for them. Older children, too, should be reminded not to put foam pieces in their mouth or chew on them.
- Toys with marbles or small balls can be hazardous because the marbles frequently get lost and are then found by smaller children. The same thing is true for bouncy balls.
The safety fix: If your kids have a Marble Works set or other toys that utilize small balls or round objects, keep the marbles and/or balls separate from the set, and once again, keep them in a safe place where kids can check them out with each use.
Some additional considerations:
- Projectile toys: Toys that shoot projectiles such as rubber band guns can cause serious eye injuries when misused, and may not be appropriate for every child.
- Lawn darts: Lawn darts have been banned in the U.S. for several decades, yet there are still sets lying around. If you have a pair, we would recommend disposing of them.