Trouble In Toyland

33rd Annual Toy Safety Report

Over the past 30 years, our annual reports have led to more than 150 recalls of unsafe toys and other regulatory actions. This year we continued to find dangers among some of the most popular toys in the country.

2018 TOY SAFETY SURVEY: WHAT WE FOUND

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High boron levels in toy slime

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We found slimes with boron concentrations that are as much as 15 times the European Union’s limit. Ingesting boron or borax can cause nausea, vomiting and long-term reproductive health issues. Jordan, Canada and other countries have taken action to limit or ban slimes with high boron content.

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Choking hazards without warnings online

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Children, especially those under age three, can choke on small parts. Our researchers identified toys that contain small parts, but do not have necessary warning labels when sold on Amazon—including some Hatchimals and L.O.L. Surprise toys.

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Balloons widely mislabeled

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Balloons are easily inhaled in attempts to inflate them and can become stuck in children’s throats, making them the #1 cause of choking deaths from children’s products. Our survey found 87 percent of balloons marketed to very young children on Amazon lacked any choking hazard warning online.

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Privacy-invasive "connected" toys

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The rapidly expanding number of so-called “connected toys” may disclose private data and expose children to other risks—even violating children’s privacy laws. This year we highlight the

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Attention online shoppers

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Age ratings and safety labels shown on websites may not match the labels on the toys. Make sure to examine the actual packaging when the products arrive.

We need to do more to protect the health and wellbeing of children

This year’s investigation uncovered slime products with toxic levels of boron, and a failure by Amazon to appropriately label choking hazards. We also found a toy that could cause hearing damage and highlighted smart toys that have cyber-security issues.

The continued presence of hazards in toys highlights the need for constant vigilance on the part of government agencies and the public to ensure that children are not harmed by unsafe toys.

We need to make our recalls more effective

Parents should watch out for recalled toys that could still be in their homes. Over the past 12 months, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in cooperation with manufacturers and distributors, has announced more than 40 recalls of toys and children’s products totaling over 2.7 million units.

Researchers also examined toys recalled by the CPSC between October 2016 and October 2017, and looked at whether they appeared to still be available for sale online. Researchers did not find any recalled toys for sale online, but caution parents to make sure previously recalled toys are not in their homes.

Standards for toy safety are enforced by the CPSC. Safety standards include limits on toxic substances in children’s products, size requirements for toys for small children, warning labels about choking hazards, measures to keep magnets and batteries inaccessible, and noise limits.

Toy Safety Tips

When you go shopping for toys for your favorite kids, use this guide to help find safe toys and avoid safety hazards.

Toys with sound

What to watch for 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.

Slime

What to watch for 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.

Fidget spinners and toys marketed to adults

What to watch for Some things, such as fidget spinners or kids’ makeup, are not classified as toys, avoiding safety standards. These products could have higher levels of lead, choking hazards and other hidden dangers. Avoid these “toys,” or at a minimum watch your kid closely when playing with them.

Toys with small parts

What to watch for 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

What to watch for 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.

Balloons

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

Smart Toys

What to watch for 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.

Makeup

What to watch for We found asbestos in Claire's makeup last year. As makeup lacks necessary safety standards, we recommend you avoid makeup for children, or at a minimum avoid any makeup with talc in it, which can be a source of asbestos.

Toys with small magnets

What to watch for 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.

Used and older toys

What to watch for Check to ensure the toy wasn’t recalled due to potential toxics or other hazards.

ATTENTION ONLINE SHOPPERS

Age ratings and safety labels shown on websites may not match the labels on the toys. Make sure to examine the actual packaging when the products arrive.

 

MORE RESOURCES

  • Subscribe to email recall updates from the CPSC and other U.S. government safety agencies available at
  • Report unsafe toys or toy-related injuries to the CPSC at
  • Be aware that toys connected to the Internet, as well as apps and websites, may be collecting information about children inappropriately. Download the free guide published by the non-profit privacy watchdog, the Center for Digital Democracy.
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Read the full report

Photo credits—Top Image: Fam Veld / Shutterstock.com. Highlight boxes (clockwise): Dragon Images / Shutterstock.com; Barbara Rayman via WikiMedia, Androvuhs / Foap.com; CC0 Public Domain; staff; Dragon Images via Shutterstock. Toy Safety Tip (top to bottom): Tatiana Popova / Shutterstock.com; somsak nitimongkolchai / Shutterstock.com; Ink Drop / Shutterstock.com; Anna Mente / Shutterstock.com; Public Domain CC0; Public Domain CC0; staff; Photo Spirit / Shutterstock.com; Oakozhan / Shutterstock.com; Billion Photos / Shutterstock.com