Toy Safety: Infants (0 to 18 months)

Children need few toys during infancy. Parents' love and attention is more important for infants' healthy development and well-being. In fact, newborns are more attracted to human faces than inanimate playthings, and infants continue to prefer people over toys. Being gently and playfully cuddled, touched, and talked to contribute to children's earliest impressions that the world is wonderful and safe and can be explored without fear.

Infants need very close, almost constant, supervision. They are engaged in the process of self-discovery, and are getting to know their new world by looking, listening, tasting, smelling, and grasping. Most of their learning comes through play. They need safe toys that appeal to all of their senses and stimulate their interest and curiosity. Talk with other parents who have infants and small children. They may be able to suggest safe toys and let you know of any recalls. Read the label on the toy. Always buy toys that are age appropriate.

Toy Safety Checklist

  • The toy is sanitary.
  • The toy is washable.
  • The toy is not too heavy for your child's strength.
  • The toy is well-constructed. (A poorly made toy can break or come apart, easily exposing hazards like wires or springs.)
  • The toy does not have sharp edges that can cut or scratch.
  • There are no small parts or decorations that can get loose and be swallowed, inhaled, or stuffed into an ear. (Examples include the eyes on a stuffed animal or the squeaker in a squeak toy.)
  • The toy itself is big enough so it cannot be put into your child's nose, mouth, or ears. (Marbles and beads are examples of toys that are too small.) Check the size of handles and ends of rattles, squeeze toys, and teethers to be sure they aren't too small. A good way to check if the toy is too small if it will fit inside of a cardboard toilet paper tube.
  • No part of the toy, including print and decoration, is poisonous. Make sure the toy is labeled non-toxic.
  • The inside of the toy is not filled with a potentially harmful substance like small pellets.
  • Old baby furniture and toys have not been painted or repainted with lead-based paint.
  • There are no slots or holes that can pinch your child's fingers.
  • The toy cannot break and leave a sharp, jagged edge.
  • There are no pointed objects your child can fall on.
  • No part of the toy, such as a doll's hair bow, is attached with a straight pin or staple.
  • All moving parts are securely attached.
  • No string or cord on the toy is longer than 6 inches. Longer cords can strangle a baby.
  • A broken toy is repaired or thrown away.
  • The toy is not stored in a plastic bag.
  • The windup mechanism in a mechanical toy is enclosed to avoid catching hair, fingers, and clothing.
  • Toys made with cloth carry the labels "flame resistant", "flame retardant", or "nonflammable".
  • Keep uninflated balloons out of reach and throw away all broken balloons. More children have suffocated on uninflated balloons and pieces of broken balloons than on any other type of toy.

Suggested Play Materials

  • Interesting objects hung within view
  • Brightly colored mobile
  • Colorful wall posters
  • Sturdy rattle
  • Large plastic rings
  • Soft toys for throwing
  • Colorful balls
  • Light plastic blocks
  • Washable cloth cubes
  • Music box to listen to
  • Teething toys
  • Floating animals for the bathtub
  • Washable squeak toys
  • Washable, unbreakable doll
  • Washable cuddly toy
  • Books:
    • Rough-smooth touching books
    • Washable cloth picture books
    • Sturdy, colorful picture books

Look for toy recalls posted on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) homepage,; toll free number 1-800-638-2772. You can search by toy description and manufacturer. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) provides good information on toy safety at

Written by Donna Warner Manczak, PhD, MPH.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2010-08-09
Last reviewed: 2010-08-09
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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