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Standard fact sheet.
Large print fact sheet.

Magnets in toys 

Warning for parents

A wide variety of toys contain small powerful magnets that can pose a real danger to children if they are accidentally swallowed or inhaled.

Many children have suffered serious infections and internal injuries as a result. Swallowing more than one magnet can cause perforations or obstructions of the bowel as the magnets can stick together across the lining of the stomach and intestines. Surgery is needed as well as long-term on-going treatment.

The mandatory safety standard for Children’s Toys Containing Magnets covers warning labels required for packaging, and instructions to prevent serious illness that can result if children swallow hazardous magnets.

Case study

The NSW Products Safety Inquiry heard from many parents including a Sydney couple whose nine-year-old son swallowed magnets from his building set.

The boy underwent 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 4 months later.

Easy to overlook

During the Safety Inquiry it became clear from parents that in many cases, they had no idea their child had swallowed the magnets. Children themselves often do not recall swallowing magnets and this can lead to significant delays in getting children to hospital.

The signs parents should look out for include flu-like symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pain. Parents who suspect their child may have swallowed or inhaled a magnet/s, should take them to a hospital immediately.

Choose toys with care

Buy toys from a reputable retail store. 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 are well concealed within the toy (so small children cannot suck on them)
  • the magnets cannot come loose easily.

Safety tips

Safety tips for toys containing magnets:

  • make a note of all the toys you have at home that contain magnets
  • check these toys regularly to make sure the magnets have not come loose
  • don’t leave toys with magnets in the reach of very small children
  • check the toy box regularly and remove any stray magnets that may have fallen out of the toys
  • watch out for children sucking on toys that contain magnets.