New York State Department of Health Recognizes National Safe Toys and Gifts Month

Department Urges Public to Check for Age-Appropriate Toys This Holiday Season

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 13, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health recognizes December as National Safe Toys and Gifts Month and urges people to check toys for safety and age-appropriateness before giving them to children.

"The holidays are time for gathering with loved ones and gift giving, but all too often, accidents happen when a child receives a toy that isn't right for them," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "Keep your child safe by following simple safety precautions and checking to make sure the toy is age appropriate."

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries report found there were 11 deaths, and an estimated 145,500 emergency department-treated injuries in 2022 associated with toys for children 12 years and younger. The majority of the 11 deaths reported were attributed to choking or asphyxiation associated with small parts, balls, or balloons. Among the emergency department-treated injuries, non-motorized scooters accounted for the largest share of injuries across all age groups – 35,400. Non-motorized scooters accounted for one in every five toy-related injuries to children aged 14 and younger.

"As this shopping season is upon us, we need to make sure the toys we are buying for our children are safe and age appropriate so they can have fun and not be at risk," Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said. "During the National Safe Toy and Gift Month, we urge New Yorkers to keep their family and children safe by buying toys with enhanced safeguards to avoid hazards and to best have an enjoyable holiday season."

The Department encourages people to practice the following safety tips when it comes to holiday gift giving for children:

  • Follow age guidance and other safety information on toy packaging and choose toys that match each child's interests and abilities. Most toys have a "recommended age" sticker, which should be taken as a starting point in the selection process.
  • Get safety gear, including helmets, for scooters and other riding toys–and make sure that children use them every time.
  • For children under age 3, avoid small balls and toys with small parts. Toy parts should be bigger than their mouth to avoid the possibility of choking. Ensure that products designed for older children in the home, such as jewelry and cosmetics, are not available to children under 3. Keep deflated balloons away from children younger than age 8. Visit the Department's web page on Choking Prevention for Children, here.
  • Once the gifts are open, immediately discard plastic wrappings or other packaging on toys before they become dangerous.
  • Although lead from paint is the leading source of lead poisoning in children under 6 years old, toys containing lead are also a source of lead poisoning in children, who are more likely to put toys in their mouth. Learn more about product recalls including toys containing lead and wash your child's toys often, especially teething toys. Learn more about childhood lead poisoning prevention, here.

    The Department continues to inform the public about the importance of toy safety through educational videos and social media content.