Choosing Safe Toys

Your children should be able to play happily with the toys, and you should have peace of mind that they are safe. Not only should they be safe but they should also be suitable for the age of your child. We have outlined below some safety guidelines to help ensure your baby’s playtime will be a happy one.

Buying toys
Always buy children’s toys from a reputable toy dealer who you know will stock safe and sensible toys and will be able to give you sensible advice when buying for a specific age. Have a close look at the toy to make sure it is strong and won’t fall apart. Never buy a toy that is too old for a child or baby, toys should be marked with age of suitability and this is for good reason. Small parts on toys are a choking hazard for babies as are toys with fur or hair. These are particularly dangerous for babies under the age of 12 months.
Choosing a toy
Toys are an essential part of a baby’s development and will help them learn as well as play. Check safety guidelines on packaging as well as age warnings as this will help you choose a toy, which is suitable for your baby. Think about what your baby can and can’t do already, buying a toy that is too simple for your baby will not excite them, stimulate or encourage them to learn. Buying a toy that is too advanced may frustrate your baby and deter them from getting involved in learning from new toys.
Safety symbols
There are a number of safety marks or numbers, which are there to indicate you their safety or suitability for a child. BS5665 (British) or EN71 (European) numbers may appear on the packaging or label and indicate that the manufacturer has met either British or European safety standards. The Lion Mark is a symbol of safety used by members of the British Toy and Hobby association. Age warning symbols usually appear in words like ‘not suitable for children under 36 months’ or may appear as a sign, see diagram, which indicates the toy is not suitable for a child under the age of 3 years. The CE mark must appear on all toys in the European Union (EU) and indicates that the toy has met with the EU toy safety law – The Toy Safety Directive
Look after your toys
Once you have bought suitable toys it is just as important to care for them. Try to store toys away when possible as they can cause accidents if left lying around for people to trip over. If you have older children or visit a house with older children, take care that your baby doesn’t get their hands on a toy that is too old for them. Throw away any toys that are old or broken, don’t try to mend them yourself. Never mix old batteries with new ones, as the stronger one will make the weaker ones very hot.
Hazardous Toys
The following toys may be dangerous if not used properly or given to a child of the wrong age:
Fluffy Toys:
long hairs or fur may choke a baby.
Cot Toys:         
Strings should be no longer than 20cm or 8”; longer ones could strangle a baby. Once your baby can sit up or get on their hands and knees they should be removed altogether.
Noisy Toys:
Cap guns can damage hearing; don’t let children hold them close to your ears.
Chemistry sets:
Keep away from children under the age of 10 years. Supervise when older children use this kind of toy.
Supervise children with kites and do not use near overhead power lines.
Garden Toys: 
Choose sturdy garden furniture and check regularly that nuts and bolts aren’t coming loose. Choose a suitable ground cover like grass and not concrete, place items like swings away from areas that are near to where people walk and could be hit.
Paddling Pools:
Always empty pools and buckets and turn them upside down when not in use. A child can drown in 5cm (2”) of water; click here for water safety guidelines.
Second hand toys:
Avoid second hand toys if possible. If you are given one check for broken or loose parts and clean it thoroughly.
If your think a toy you have bought or seen is dangerous then complain to your local Trading Standards Office, or Consumer Safety Office. If the toy is dangerous they will have it removed from the store and may prosecute the manufacturer.
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