In their 33rd annual “Trouble in Toyland” report — issued last week before all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales commenced — the nonprofit U.S. Public Interest Research Group acknowledged success in efforts to make children’s toys safer, even though more work is needed:

Toys are safer than ever before, thanks to decades of work by product safety advocates, parents, the leadership of Congress, state legislatures, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Despite this progress, our survey of 40 toys this year found 15 toys with issues including toys with high concentrations of unsafe chemicals and with potential choking hazards.


As in years past, concerns with exposure to potentially toxic chemicals persist. Last year it was lead found in two models of fidget spinners, and this year it is boron in slime:

Some slimes contain high levels of toxic boron. Consider making safe alternatives without borax, or monitor kids at all times and call Poison Control if any is ingested.


Poison Control Center



Choking on small toy parts is a persistent worry for pediatricians:

Toys marketed to 6 and above may contain small parts that pose choking hazards for younger children. Look for age guidelines. Before your child plays with a toy for the first time, see if smaller parts fit through a toilet paper roll—indicating they pose a choking hazard.



“Hatching” toys and balloons also pose threats to young children’s airways:

Toys with break-apart packaging can result in choking hazards for small children. Monitor when the packaging is being broken and dispose of the pieces.

Never let a child under three play with balloons, and monitor any child under 8, as balloons are the #1 choking hazard for children.




Be on the lookout for small button batteries and magnets, both of which are extremely dangerous if swallowed:

Swallowed magnets can cause serious internal damage by bunching together. Keep away from young children and monitor older children when they are playing with toys containing magnets.


Online privacy considerations may be necessary with certain internet-connected products and smart toys:

Sites, apps, games and smart toys might be collecting private data from your child, and some could be hacked, posing a safety risk. Consider running these without connections to the internet, evaluate privacy policies when you first start them, and monitor use.


Toys that make a lot of noise got U.S. PIRG’s attention this year. The Haktoys ATS Battery Operated Bump & Go Action F-182 Fighter Jet 8-inch Plane produced “continuous sound in excess of 85 decibels in repeated tests”:

If a toy is too loud for you, it could be loud enough to damage your child’s hearing. Turn off the sound, remove batteries or return the toy.


U.S. PIRG also advises parents to check their house for older toys that have been recalled by toy manufacturers, distributors/retail stores, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). You can read more from “Trouble in Toyland” before buying gifts for children here.


(Google Images/ U.S. PIRG)