Children's products and toys

All children’s products sold in Australia must comply with mandatory safety standards. All suppliers must ensure the goods they import, distribute and sell adhere to these standards.

While there are protections in place to protect you and your family from faulty and harmful goods, it is still important for parents and carers to consider safety when choosing products for children and babies to wear, use and play with.

This page includes information on:

The Product Safety Australia website details the safety requirements for children’s products sold in Australia. It includes a list of current recalls.

Toy safety

Toy safety checklist

The 'Five S’s of toy safety' is a good place to start to select safer, age-appropriate toys:

  1. Size – the smaller the child, the bigger the toy should be (anything smaller than a 20 cent piece or ping pong ball is too small for a child under three).
  2. Shape – be wary of products that, because of their shape, may be easily swallowed or have sharp edges or points.
  3. Surface – make sure all finishes are non-toxic (this should be stated on packaging).
  4. Strings – anything over 30 cm is a strangulation hazard for a small child and should be removed.
  5. Supervision – nothing replaces close supervision.

If you have purchased an unsafe toy, you can return it to the store for a refund or dispose of the toy immediately.

Learn more about choosing safe toys.

Permanent bans

Some baby and children’s products are subject to permanent bans and are not permitted to be sold in Australia. Here are some bans to be aware of.

DEHP in plastic items for children

DEHP is a chemical used to make plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) soft and flexible. DEHP is also known as diethylhexyl phthalate or di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate and bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate.

While the use of DEHP is acceptable in other applications, it is considered unsafe when used in products:

  • intended for use by children up to and including three years of age
  • that contain or have an accessible component containing more than 1 per cent by weight of DEHP
  • that children up to and including three years of age can readily chew and/or suck.

The ban only applies to toys, childcare articles, and eating vessels and utensils that meet each of the above criteria.

Learn more about the DEHP ban in children’s plastic items on the Product Safety Australia website.

Fire footbags and similar goods

It is illegal to sell fire footbags and similar goods in Australia.

The ban applies to balls manufactured from fire resistant material, designed to be doused in flammable liquid and ignited, kicked and thrown for amusement.

The ban does not apply to goods supplied for use by professional entertainers or for theatrical use.

Learn more about the ban on the Product Safety Australia website.

Novelty cigarettes

Novelty cigarettes or ‘puff cigarettes’ are banned in Australia.

Novelty or toy cigarettes that look like real cigarettes and contain hydrated magnesium silicate (the primary ingredient in talcum powder) are included in the ban.

Learn more about the ban on the Product Safety Australia website.

Toys containing beads

There is a ban on the sale of inflatable toys, novelties and furniture containing loose beads, small particles or pellets, due to the risk of choking or suffocation for young children.

Products captured by the ban include:

  • children’s chairs
  • plastic lounges
  • balls
  • inflatable toy hammers.

Learn more about the ban on the Product Safety Australia website.

Yo-yo water balls

It’s illegal to sell yo-yo water balls or similar liquid-filled novelties in Australia.

The ban includes balls or novelty shapes filled with soft synthetic gelatinous liquid, moulded to a soft stretchable cord with a small loop to put a finger through.

These products are banned because the cord may pose a strangulation hazard.

Learn more about the ban on the Product Safety Australia website.

Magnets in children’s toys

A variety of toys and novelties may contain small powerful magnets that are dangerous if they are accidentally swallowed or inhaled.

Toys, games, puzzles, construction or modelling kits, and jewellery worn around the mouth and nose, must not contain any small, high-powered magnets.

Other toys containing magnets must meet mandatory standards.

If you choose toys that contain magnets or magnetic parts, make sure:

  • the toy is well made and will not break easily, allowing the magnets to escape
  • the magnets cannot come loose easily and that they are well concealed within the toy (so small children cannot suck on them).

Many children have suffered serious infections and internal injuries because of accidental ingestion. These injuries may require surgery and ongoing treatment:

"A nine-year-old boy swallowed magnets from his building set and had to undergo four hours of surgery to have the magnets removed after they caused perforation and twisting of his intestines, blockage of his bowel and internal bleeding. He was still having treatment four months later."

In many cases, parents have no idea their child has swallowed a magnet. Children may not remember swallowing magnets, and this can lead to significant delays in getting them to hospital for treatment. Look out for include flu-like symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pain.

If you suspect your child may have swallowed or inhaled a magnet, take them to a hospital immediately.

For more information on toys containing magnets, see the Product Safety Australia website.

Coin and button batteries in toys

Coin and button batteries can be found in many household products including remote controls, kitchen scales, thermometers, book lights, and seasonal novelties (commonly sold at night time events).

"Try to avoid buying toys (and other household items) containing coin or button batteries when you have young children in the home."

If a young child can access and swallow a coin or button battery, they will suffer serious internal burns that can result in their death or permanent injury, even if the battery is too flat to power a product.

If you suspect a young child has swallowed a coin or button battery, contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26. You will be directed to the nearest hospital or emergency service that can manage the injury. Do not let the child eat or drink and do not induce vomiting.

For more information, refer to the button batteries page on the Product Safety Australia website.

Water safety

Swimming pools are not the only water-related risk in the home.  Young children can drown in bathtubs, buckets, eskies, toilets, spas, hot tubs and other containers of water.

Always follow these water safety tips when babies are in or near water:

  • Never leave a baby alone in the bath for any reason. If you must leave for any reason at all, take the baby with you.
  • A baby bath seat or support doesn’t make it okay to leave. It’s a bathing aid, not a safety device. Babies can slip or climb out of the bath seats and drown.
  • Never use a baby bath seat or support in a non-skid, slip-resistant tub because the suction cups won’t stick to the bathtub, or they might detach suddenly.
  • Never leave a bucket or portable swimming pool containing even a small amount of water unattended. When you’re finished using a bucket or portable pool, always empty it immediately.
  • Portable pools that can be filled to a depth of 30 cm or more must be surrounded by a safety barrier separating the swimming pool from any residential building or place adjoining the premises.
  • Store buckets and eskies away from children.
  • Always secure safety covers and barriers to prevent children from gaining access to spas or hot tubs when not in use. Some non-rigid covers, like solar covers, can allow a small child to slip in the water with the cover appearing to still be in place.
  • Keep the toilet lid down to prevent access to the water. Consider using a toilet clip to stop young children from opening lids.
  • Learn CPR. It can be a lifesaver.

Report a safety concern

IMPORTANT: If there is a fire or you require urgent medical assistance, don’t delay - contact your GP or call 000 immediately.

If you become aware of an unsafe situation or item (including incorrect or absent safety labelling), whether or not anyone has been injured:

  1. Alert the supplier about the issue.
  2. You can also report it us by calling 13 32 20 or making a complaint online, or report the matter to Product Safety Australia.

Be a savvy consumer

Common sense rules when buying toys

Here are some common sense rules to follow when buying toys:

  • Check for sharp edges or rough surfaces as they can cause cuts and splinters.
  • Buy washable, non-breakable toys for babies.
  • Toy chests and boxes should be designed not to close on top of children, or better still with a removable lid. Anything big enough to crawl inside must have ventilation holes.
  • Read the age labelling on new toys. 'Not suitable for children under three' means that there are small parts which could be swallowed – it is not an indication of skill level or intelligence.
  • Check that there are no gaps or holes which could entrap a child's fingers.
  • If buying a projectile toy, only choose ones that have soft, one-piece darts or non-removable suction caps.
  • Be wary of toys that make loud noises as they can be harmful to hearing. Particularly toys which are held against the ear, such as walkie talkies and toy mobile phones.
  • Ensure that ride-on toys are appropriate to the age of the child and are stable. Toy bikes should have effective brakes which can be applied by the rider.
  • Make a note of all the toys you have at home that contain magnets and check them regularly to make sure the magnets have not come loose.
  • Don’t leave toys with magnets in the reach of very small children. Remember that rings, inflatable armbands, kick boards and inflatable toys are not safety devices and children in the water must be supervised at all times to prevent drowning. Learn more about water safety.

Toys with small parts

While toys in today's marketplace are generally much safer than a decade ago, each year Fair Trading detects new products which have the potential to cause injury or even death to young children.

Toys with small parts are a particular worry. Anything smaller than a ping pong ball or an Australian 20 cent coin could choke a child under three years.

Download the Choke Check Tool from the Product Safety Australia website to help you identify toys and other products with small parts that a young child could choke on.

Further information

Read the ACCC’s Keeping baby safe for a comprehensive guide to baby product safety.

Browse our Product safety section for more information on a range of product types including food and beverage, therapeutic products, electrical goods, and other consumer items.

The Product Safety Australia website is managed by the ACCC and has information on a range of children’s products, safety standards, tips and national recalls.

Suppliers can find out more about their responsibilities on the selling safe products page.

Contact us

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Call us on 13 32 20 or submit an online enquiry.

 
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