Consumer Watchdog

5 tips for buying safe toys this holiday season

Staff | TPIN
NCPIRG Education Fund releases the 37th annual Trouble in Toyland report

As the holidays quickly approach, many of us will soon be buying toys and other items to gift to the children in our lives. Whether shopping for your own kid, a grandkid, a niece or nephew, or friends, it’s important to make sure you are gifting safe toys this holiday season.

That’s why NCPIRG Education Fund held an event this week along with speakers from Marbles Kids Museum and WakeMed Hospital, to release their 37th annual Trouble in Toyland report. This report aims to remind parents and families about a variety of toy safety hazards to look out for this holiday season from recalled toys, to small batteries and more. 


Don’t have time to read the full report? Check out our 5 key takeaways here:

  • Always read warning labels and inspect toys. Especially for children under age 3, it is important for parents and caregivers to read warning labels and inspect toys. General rule of thumb- if a toy or piece on a toy can fit through a toilet paper role, it may pose a choking hazard.
  • We need online sellers to stop selling toys that have been recalled. NCPIRG Education Fund conducted an investigation last month, attempting buy 16 toys that had been recalled this year. In total, we were able to purchase half of them, as well as several recalled in the last couple of years, from U.S.-based online sellers including Facebook Marketplace and eBay. We need retailers to crack down on recalls, and in the meantime parents and shoppers should check for recalled products before they buy things, especially from an online marketplace.
  • Shoppers should also keep an eye on counterfeit toys, which often don’t meet U.S. safety standards. If a sold out item is suddenly available online or if you find an item much cheaper than expected, it may warrant taking a closer look into whether that toy might be a counterfeit item. 
  • Parents should periodically check toys for wear and tear.  As kids play with toys, it’s important to reinspect them to make sure small pieces like screws aren’t coming loose. Additionally, its important to check that a piece can’t break off and to make sure battery compartments are still secure.
  • Families need to use care with those little round batteries known as button batteries or coin batteries. Safety standards around these batteries has increased, but the harm of swallowing such an item is still great. It’s important parents use caution with toys that may contain such batteries and also keep an eye on other items that kids may get a hold of that could include these batteries, such as car keys.

In short, toys should be about fun and learning without putting our kids at risk. By following these consumer tips during this years holiday shopping, you can make sure to have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season.

Katie Craig

State Director, NCPIRG Education Fund

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