A warning has gone out about toy safety as shoppers make last-minute Christmas purchases this week.

Nottingham City Council’s Trading Standards department is urging people to be vigilant as they shop for late gifts ahead of the weekend, especially from online retailers.

In the past year, the team has received intelligence on sensory toys with inadequate labelling, dolls that weren’t safety-marked, and a fidget toy which caused an allergic reaction.

Some key things to look out for when buying toys include:

  • Know who you’re buying from: Remember that reputation matters. Consider if the seller is widely recognised for safe and reliable toys? Get as much information on the seller as possible, especially in the online marketplace as not everything is supplied directly. Risk may be increased if the vendor is based abroad.
  • Always read the warnings and instructions: Toys must be clearly marked with age restrictions, which are based on risks such as choking hazards. Always follow the age recommendations.
  • Consider special needs: Children with special needs might be more vulnerable, so keep this in mind when shopping.
  • Avoid toys with small parts and loose ribbons: They can be a choking or strangulation hazard for young children.
  • Check the toys are for children: Magnets and festive decorations can look like toys, but should be kept away from youngsters.
  • Compare the sellers: Check a toy’s price and if it’s a fraction of the cost, it’s likely to be counterfeit.
  • Check for button batteries: Ensure these are safely behind a screwed-down cover.

Councillor Neghat Khan, Portfolio for Neighbourhoods, Safety and Inclusion at Nottingham City Council, said: “Christmas is an exciting time of the year and we want everyone to enjoy it safely. There will be plenty of people over the coming days doing some last-minute shopping and many will be on the lookout for children’s toys.

“We all like to save money where we can – but remember, if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

“Please make sure that you take a moment to check the relevant safety information, and particularly if you’re buying online. Use reputable retailers and make sure items are compliant with the relevant safety information, which will often take the form of a CE or UKCA mark.

“Toys without this accreditation will likely not have been subject to any form of testing or quality control, and could pose a risk to children. Similarly, please ensure that products are definitely toys, not decorations, and are age-suitable for youngsters.

“I hope that everyone has a safe and wonderful Christmas.”

Anyone who has already bought toys and is now unsure whether they’re safe or suitable for children, can get advice on the Citizens Advice website at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/.

If an item is faulty or not as described, there is a legal right to a refund, repair or replacement. If someone has changed their mind or received a present they don’t want, many shops offer a return policy – check their website or ask in-store for details. For advice or to report the trading practices of a business, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/get-more-help/if-you-need-more-help-about-a-consumer-issue/.