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Healthy Balance

Keep Safety in Mind When Buying Kids Toys This Holiday Season & Year

dad and child playing with blocks with his kid

We originally published this post in 2015. We updated for December 2021 to add more kids' toys safety advice from a UVA Today interview with Liz Horton (interviewed in 2019).

The holiday season is here! We're looking forward to spending time with family and friends, warming up next to the fireplace, and eating lots of good food. For many people, it's also time to shop for gifts. 

With all of the excitement of celebrating the season, it’s important to keep safety in mind when shopping for toys for children.

Injuries from Kids' Toys

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) tracked 256,700 toy-related injuries in the U.S. in 2013 among kids under the age of 15. Bicycles and non-motorized scooters are the most common culprits — these scooters caused 29% of injuries.

However, other toys can have hazards that may not seem so obvious. To help you identify these toys, the World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (W.A.T.C.H) has published their 2021 list of the top 10 worst toys (PDF). They update this list each year before the holidays.


Amanda Simas, Child Life Specialist at UVA Children’s, and Liz Horton, UVA Health’s injury prevention coordinator, give the following advice for keeping your kids safe with their new toys:

Lead poisoning

Horton reminds us that lead poisoning is still something to be aware of, especially when buying gifts from places outside of the U.S., or older, used kids toys. Thrift stores or yard sales could have older items containing lead paint before it was banned.

Contact your child’s primary care office if you’re concerned about your child being exposed to lead. They can test your child’s blood to see if there’s been an exposure, as children don’t normally show symptoms.

The Latest Toy Safety Information

Check the CPSC website for the latest product recalls and information regarding product safety.

Craft Items

Only purchase products with no warnings and a label that states “Conforms to ASTM D-4236.” This label means a board-certified toxicologist has evaluated the art materials for potential hazards to the consumer.

When used in an unintended way, even “non-toxic” products with a label can have harmful effects, Horton notes. An adult should be present during craft time, especially when there are small pieces that children under 6 can put in their mouths, becoming a choking hazard.

We hope all of our readers enjoy a happy, joyous and safe holiday season!

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