The number of dangerous toys sold online to unsuspecting families is on the increase – so it’s important to be extra cautious when buying Christmas presents this year.

Worryingly, if you buy from a third party seller via one of the well-known online marketplaces, toys might not meet UK safety standards.

Online marketplaces are simply offering a shop window to sellers around the world and aren’t legally required to check if a toy is safe before allowing it to be sold.

Dangers can include:

  • Magnets so strong they can burn through a child’s gut if swallowed
  • Long cords that can strangle a child
  • Dangerous levels of chemicals
  • Small parts that can choke or suffocate
  • Easy access to button batteries that can get stuck in a child’s food pipe, cause internal bleeding and even death.

Lots of families will be looking for bargains online this year due to shop closures and financial pressures caused by Covid-19, so we’re sharing tips to help you buy toys safely.

If you are able to, then buy direct via the websites of well-known brand names.

If you are buying from an online marketplace, enter a reputable brand name when you search for the toy you want, to be sure it’s safe.

How to spot if a toy could be unsafe:

  • Remember, toys aren’t checked for safety before they’re sold by an online marketplace
  • If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is – it costs manufacturers money to make toys safe. Try to find something you can be more sure about
  • Babies and toddlers put nearly everything in their mouths, which is why toys not designed for this age group need to state ‘not suitable for under 3s’ or have a warning symbol. Under 3s may choke on small parts or loose hair, so be wary of toys which feature small or loose parts and have no age warning.
  • If the listing includes contradictory information about the toy – for example, it’s described as a toddler’s toy, but elsewhere it says it’s not suitable for under 12s – think again
  • Look out for suspicious reviews. If they look like they’re copied from a toy’s leaflet, sound very similar or were written on the same day, they could be fake
  • Find out where the company is based. It’s a legal requirement to have a UK or EU address to sell toys here. If they’re based outside the UK or EU, the toys may not comply with UK safety standards
  • The CE mark or Lion Mark show toys have been made to approved standards. However, some unscrupulous companies can fake them – so if you already have concerns, don’t rely on these alone.
Work with parents? Visit our resources hub for more safety advice to share.

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