Toy Safety

Dear New Yorker:

As the holiday season fast approaches, many of you will be hunting for the perfect toy for a beloved child. Although, no doubt, concerns such as the toy's desirability are always foremost on your mind, it is important that you consider safety when making your selection

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that in 1998 alone, at least 14 deaths occurred due to the use of children's toys and nursery equipment. Also, 1998 experienced more than 153,400 injuries requiring hospital visits for injuries due to these children's products. Moreover, 81% percent of the 362 corrective actions taken by CPSC in 1997 involved children's toys and products, involving to 8 million product units.

Remember, just because a toy or any other consumer product is being sold in a reputable store does not necessarily indicate that the product itself is safe or even in compliance with government regulations

All too often, a toy is on the market for months, even years, before problems are identified. Unfortunately, by this time, lives have been put at risk and injuries probably have occurred.

For this reason, our office is eager to provide you these tips to keep in mind when giving gifts of toys to children. Although manufacturers oftentimes provide labeling guidelines for assistance, it is important to keep in mind the developmental level of the child and to consider the home environment that might include younger children for whom a certain toy might not be safe.

If you would like more information about ways to protect your personal privacy, if you would like to report a telemarketer that has violated their Do Not Call List, or if you would like tips on protecting yourself from telemarketing fraud, call our consumer helpline at (800) 771-7755 or visit our web site at

Important Contacts:

Attorney General's Office 

Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection
28 Liberty Street
New York, NY 10005
(800) 771-7755 
For Hearing Impaired: (800) 788-9898

Consumer Product Safety Commission

Washington, D.C. 20207
(800) 638-2772 
For Hearing Impaired: (800) 638-8270

The American Toy Institute, Inc./Toy Manufacturers of America

200 Fifth Avenue, Suite 740 
New York, New York 10010 (877)

4TOY-SAFETY Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association

236 Route 38 West 
Suite 100 
P.O. Box 955 
Moorestown, New Jersey 08057

Read Labels: All toys for children under three should be properly labeled for recommended age usage. Manufacturers age recommendations on four criteria: the ability of a child to physically manipulate and play with the features of a toy; the ability of a child to understand how to use a toy; the child's play needs and interest at different developmental levels; and safety considerations.

Material Importance: Detachable clothing on toys generally is not recommended for children under three years of age. Likewise, look for such information as "flame retardant" or "flame resistant" on any fabric products and be sure stuffed toys are filled with soft, pure stuffing

It's the Little Things In Life! Because children generally three years of age and younger have a tendency to put objects in their mouths, it is especially important to examine toys for small parts. The general rule is this: if an object or part can fit into the cardboard roll of bathroom tissue, it is too small. All toys made for children between 3-6 years old are required to provide warnings about any choking hazards.

Watch Those Cords! Toys with long strings and cords can pose choking and strangulation hazards to small children and infants. This is especially true of objects meant to be hung near, on or above baby cribs and playpens. Remove crib gyms when a child is 5 months old or has the ability to pull up on hands and knees.

Flying Object Warning: Toys meant for flying or that include propelled objects are easily turned into weapons and can injure an eye: be sure to check for protective tips, such as soft cork tips and rubber suction cups and ensure that tips to these objects are securely installed.

Paint Labeling: Make sure all painted toys and those that include art objects use non-toxic paint. If the label fails to give this information, think twice about buying it!

Sharp Warning: Toys with sharp edges or points are not advisable for children under the age 8. Be careful of stuffed toys with wires inside that could poke through and cut a child.

Electric Fun: Look for the "Underwriters Laboratory" approval label on all toys with electric components. As a general rule, electric toys with heating elements are not recommended for children under eight years of age.

Quality Counts: Look for sturdy construction, including tightly sewn seams and attached eyes and noses on all toys, especially stuffed animals. Durable products made of strong material also better withstand any chewing by children.

Toy Chests: storage chests should have removable lids or a spring-loaded support in order to keep the lid securely open. They should also have ventilation holes.

Baby Walkers: must meet one of the following standards to protect against a child's falling down stairs: (1) it must be too wide to fit through a standard doorway; or (2) it must have features, such as a gripping mechanism, to stop the walker at the edge of a step. A great alternative is a stationary activity center that does not have wheels.

Remember, precaution in picking out proper toys can never replace appropriate adult supervision!