Product safety FAQ

General information

Are all children's products regulated in Canada?

No. Health Canada's Product Safety Program plays an important role in regulating consumer products, as well as the monitoring of products and reduction of death and injury from product-related hazards. The Product Safety Program is responsible for administering the current Hazardous Products Act. Under this Act, certain products are required to meet specific safety requirements in order to be legally sold in Canada. Many of these regulated products are children's products, including cribs, strollers, baby gates, playpens and toys. Examples of children's products that are not regulated but pose a safety concern are bath seats, trampolines and bunk beds.

Are baby walkers banned in Canada?

Yes. The ban was upheld in 2008. The ban applies to the sale of both new and second-hand baby walkers sold through flea markets, garage sales or thrift stores. Modified baby walkers with the wheels removed are also banned. Parents who own a baby walker should stop using it. Before disposing of the baby walker, cut the seat and remove the wheels.

Are window blind and curtain cords regulated?

See Health Canada's Consumer Product Safety section for the latest on new requirements for roll-up blinds and roman shades. In the meantime, here's what you can do with old blind and curtain cords:

Older window blinds have inside cords (vertical cords that hold blind slats together) that can form a loop if pulled by a young child. If window blinds have inside cords that can form a loop when pulled, they should be thrown out. The pull cords of all blind and curtain cords should be cut short and tied up high where a child cannot reach them. See the Healthy Canadians website for more information on blind cord safety.

Are bunk beds regulated in Canada?

Bunk bedNo. Currently there are no Canadian bunk bed standards. Parents are strongly encouraged to purchase bunk beds that meet the current ASTM standard. An ASTM label will be on the box of the product if it meets the current standard.

Do toys need to meet any safety requirements in Canada?

Yes. Toys sold in Canada must meet specific safety requirements intended to protect children from injuries and deaths. As an example, toys intended for children less than three years of age cannot be sold in Canada if they are small or contain small parts.

Toys with small parts may pose a choking hazard for young children. Toys must also be free from sharp edges or points.

Many products have been recalled due to toxins. Where can I get information about BPA, lead and pesticides?

The federal government has created a Fact Sheet on BPA go to:

The federal government's Lead Risk Reduction Strategy can be found at:

Parent information on lead poisoning prevention can be found at:

Information regarding pesticides can be found on the federal government Web site at:

Magnets

Magnetic puzzleWhat is a magnetic toy?

A magnetic toy is a toy that consists or contains one or more magnetic components that are ingestible in shape and size and are accessible to children. Magnetic building sets and children's jewelry fall into this category.

Why do children swallow non-food objects?

Infants and toddlers often put objects into their mouths as a way to explore their world. If what they put in their mouth is small enough, it can easily be swallowed unintentionally. Of course, if they think the object looks like candy, they'll swallow it on purpose! Because of this, many parents and caregivers are careful about the size of objects that small children play with and what may be left within easy reach. They want to avoid the danger of choking. While parents don't think of older children in terms of this kind of risk, sometimes older children use their teeth to pry things apart and can swallow an object or a piece of it unintentionally. Or they may swallow something on a dare or as an experiment. Most objects, if small enough and smooth enough, will pass through a child's digestive system without causing any health problems.

Why are magnets different?

Magnets pose a unique hazard. An individual magnet may be small enough to pass through the digestive tract, but if a child swallows more than one, or a magnet and another metal object, they can attach to each other across intestinal walls, causing obstructions or perforations or holes. If tissue, like bowel walls, becomes trapped between the magnets or objects, the blood supply to the bowel can be damaged and result in holes in the bowel or even dead sections. Once magnetically attached, these objects aren't likely to come apart without medical help or even surgery. The situation is particularly dangerous because the initial signs and symptoms – vomiting or a painful abdomen, for example – are often thought to be a minor upset stomach or other common illness not likely to need medical intervention. This can then result in delayed diagnosis and a more severe injury.

Mini magnetsWhere are children getting these magnets?

The powerful rare-earth magnets have become less expensive to produce and they're now found in many common household items. They are also found in many children's toys, such as magnetic building sets and magnetic beads or jewelry.

How serious can these injuries be?

Since 2003, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has identified one death caused by swallowed magnets, and 19 children, from ages 10 months to 11 years, who needed surgery to repair the injuries caused by swallowed magnets and other metal objects.

What should parents do to protect their children?

Parents should make every effort to keep magnets and magnetic toys away from children under six. If an older child has access to magnets, parents should explain the unusual risk that can result from swallowing them. Several magnetic toys have been recalled.

Parents should check the Health Canada Product Safety website to find out if any of their children's toys have been recalled. The recalls include instructions for consumers who have the products.

How can health care professionals help?

Health care professionals understand the potential complications faced by children who swallow magnets. When patients have prolonged symptoms of abdominal pain or vomiting, or when swallowed objects are confirmed with medical imaging, the possibility that magnets have been swallowed will likely be considered. Because magnets and other objects do not always pass through the digestive tract readily, surgery is often required to remove them and repair any damage.