What is a toy?
Tips before you buy
Tips after you buy
Are any toys excluded from toy safety legislation?
Second hand toys
What do I do if I find an unsafe toy?

What is a toy?

A toy is a product under EU Toy Safety Regulations that is clearly designed for or intended to be played with by children under the age of 14.

Toy manufacturers must ensure that:

  • Toys are made of non-toxic materials that don’t burn easily
  • Toys that fold up or have hinges should be designed in a way that they cannot trap a child’s fingers
  • Toys should be strong and sturdy
  • Tricycles and cars have a safety brake
  • Any part of a toy that can come loose should be too large for a child to swallow
  • Electrical toys are properly insulated and protected from live wires
Did you know?
A product which has a dual purpose, such as a keyring with a cuddly toy attached, must meet toy safety regulations.

Tips before you buy

All toys must carry the CE mark. The CE mark is a manufacturer’s declaration that the product complies with safety regulations and safety standards in the EU which are in place to protect consumers. The CE mark should appear on the product, in the instruction manual or on the packaging and be easy to read.

  • Look for the CE mark on the toy, instructions or packaging. If there is no CE mark, don’t buy it.
  • Always buy toys from reputable retailers as they have systems in place to ensure their products comply with the legislation. Rogue traders may ignore health and safety standards and sell unsafe toys that don’t comply with EU safety regulations or safety standards. Carefully check toys you buy online, from street traders, at pop-up stands and toys bought second-hand.
  • Check to see that the name and address of the manufacturer and importer is clearly displayed on the toy or the packaging.
  • Read any safety instructions that come with the toy. They should be clear and in a language that you understand.
  • Check if the toy has any detachable small parts that a child could lodge in their ears, nose or throat, and cause serious harm. If the toy fires bullets or has movable parts that could detach, they could be dangerous to a child.
  • Check if there is a warning about an appropriate age group for the toy to see if it is suitable for your child’s age. Are there younger children at home who might be in danger if they play with the toy? This symbol indicates that a toy is not suitable for a child under three years of age:

Tips after you buy

  • Read the instructions and safety information for the toy carefully and keep them in a safe place so you can find them again if you need to.
  • Remove all packaging and keep out of reach of children. Plastic packaging and bags can cause suffocation.
  • Make sure there are no sharp edges, nails or screws sticking out of the toy.
  • If the toy needs batteries, make sure younger children cannot open the part of the toy where the batteries are stored. Never mix old and new, or different strength batteries in the toy as this can make the old or weaker batteries very hot and they can leak dangerous chemicals. Children can also choke on batteries.
  • Always take care when buying toys with electrical parts and read the safety instructions carefully. Check that the toy is properly insulated and protected so your child can’t touch any live wires.
Top Tip
Always buy a good quality charger for electronic equipment. Buy chargers from a reputable retailer and check they have the CE mark. Poor quality chargers can cause electrocution or fire and can damage the equipment. Don’t buy a charger if:

  • it feels very light
  • the USB port is upside down
  • there are no contact details or incomplete contact details for the manufacturer
  • there are spelling mistakes on the charger or the packaging.

Are any toys excluded from toy safety legislation?

Not all products designed for children under 14 years of age are toys. Some examples include:

  • Sports equipment
  • Aquatic equipment such as swimming aids
  • Darts with metallic points
  • Games consoles and games software
  • Baby soothers

A business that sells products that are not covered by toy safety regulations, should make sure that the products are safe and in line with the General Product Safety Regulations. Get more information about safety standards at

Top Tips
  • Place activity toys and play equipment like swings, trampolines and climbing frames well away from dangers such as overhead power lines or obstacles like hedges, fences or trees.
  • Install and secure play equipment correctly.
  • Avoid using the equipment in bad weather such as heavy rain or windy conditions.

Second-hand toys

If you buy used toys from a car boot sale or from another consumer, for example, on a website, there are things to watch out for:

  • Safety laws – There are laws in place to protect children from unsafe toys. If you buy used toys, they could be too old to comply with these laws and be unsafe for children.
  • Electronic toys – Avoid buying any electronic toys second hand – especially at a car boot sale. Used electronic toys could be old and worn, and at worst you could find that they don’t meet current toy safety regulations and standards. These toys could turn out to be a waste of money and dangerous.
  • Fake toys and games – There is a thriving market in fake toys, video games and DVDs, so be aware that the bargain you pick up at a market might not be genuine. Fake goods are likely to be bad quality and might even be dangerous. They could have fake CE marks. If a stall at a car boot sale or market has lots of branded toys for sale at very low prices, it could be a sign that they are fake and you should not buy these.

What do I do if I find an unsafe toy?

If you come across a toy that seems unsafe or if it doesn’t have a CE mark, don’t buy it. Contact us or call our consumer helpline on 01 402 5555 the details of the toy and where you saw it for sale.

Last updated on 9 November 2021