Stuffed toys

While many stuffed toys seem safe, if some parts of a toy are not attached securely, they can pose a choking risk for children.

About stuff toys

A stuffed toy is a toy sewn from a textile and stuffed with a soft material, and is used as a comfort object by children of all ages.

Risks and injuries

Stuffed toys like teddy bears and cuddly dolls may seem harmless but their eyes, nose, hair, buttons and jewellery can pose a choking risk for children if not attached properly.

Children under three years old can suffer serious injuries or illness when playing with stuffed toys if they:

  • choke on small parts or filling that they have placed in their mouths or inhaled
  • swallow small parts or filling.

Buying tips

  • Ensure there are no small parts that can come off easily and become trapped in a child’s throat or windpipe.
  • Feel the toy for any sharp objects. A stuffed toy’s filling should be clean and free of objects or substances that may be harmful to a child.
  • Check seams are securely sewn. If synthetic material like nylon thread has been used, check that the ends of the threads are secure and will not come loose. Long and loose pieces of thread on a stuffed toy can cause strangulation and choking.
  • Only buy bean-bag style toys if you are sure the seams or material will not tear to allow the beans to escape. Polystyrene beads are particularly hazardous, as young children might inhale them.
  • Be aware that toys made from foam, such as bath blocks, may pose a choking risk if a child bites pieces off it. Foam toys are not recommended for children under three years of age.

Safe use

  • Check toys regularly to make sure any accessories or small parts remain securely attached so that children are safe from choking hazards.
  • If seams split, resew them straight away or dispose of the toy.
  • Never let a child under three years old play with toys that have small parts that could separate and cause choking.
  • Never use foam toys with children under three years old.