Making safe choices when buying toys.
Play is not risk-free - and nor should it be - but we can control most of the hazard's children are exposed to. Toys must be safe by law, but how they are used, and the age of the child are important factors in preventing accidents.
Although toys are involved in more than 40,000 accidents each year, their safety is only part of the problem. Many accidents involving toys occur when people trip over them and when babies play with toys intended for older child.
Online marketplaces don’t do safety checks of toys they sell. And reports show increasing numbers of dangerous toys available on online marketplaces from third party sellers. Financial pressures and the promise of bargains mean unsafe toys may well be bought by unsuspecting parents.
Top 10 toy safety tips
- Buy toys only from reputable outlets - look for the CE symbol
- Make sure the toy is suitable for the child – check the age range
- Be particularly careful with toys for children under three
- Be wary of young children playing with older children's toys
- Check for loose hair and small parts, sharp edges and points
- Ensure that garden swings and slides are robust and are not a strangulation hazard
- Check toys regularly for wear and repair or dispose of them where necessary
- Keep play areas tidy
- Follow the instructions and warnings provided with toys
- Supervise young children at play
Make sure the toys are suitable. Some children, particularly those under three, are more vulnerable, especially to choking, and less able to cope with some toys than older children. It should also be remembered there will be significant differences in the abilities of those in the same age group, and those children with special needs.
Avoid the following:
- Toys with loose pile fabric or hair which sheds easily, presenting a choking hazard
- Toys with small components or parts which detach
- Toys with sharp points and edges or finger traps
- Loose ribbons on toys and long neck ties on children's costumes
- Small toys sold with items of food
- Check toys periodically to see that they have not become dangerously worn, revealing sharp points and edges or filling materials. Throw them away if they are no longer safe, or if they are a particular favourite with your child have them properly repaired
- Children under three should never be allowed to play with toys which are marked as being unsuitable for them. With some toys it is important to supervise children during play, e.g. chemistry sets. The instructions must be observed and should warn you about all the hazards and how to avoid or control them
- Encourage children to play with one toy at a time, to be tidy and put toys away after play. This applies whether at home or at school or playgroup. Many accidents are caused by people tripping over toys left lying around, particularly on staircases.
Links to safety posters to display in your setting:
While toys sold by well-known, reputable stores are generally safe, toys, novelty items and dressing-up clothes that you can buy in online marketplaces, markets or discount stores may not be. Battery-powered toys have usually passed rigorous safety tests. But as the batteries wear out, try to avoid mixing old and new batteries - the older batteries could overheat in the toy.
Batteries in children’s toys are covered by safety regulations. They should either be enclosed by a screw and a secure compartment or need two independent or simultaneous movements to open the battery compartment. But remember that older children may still be able to open secure battery compartments.
Toys bought online or from markets, discount stores or temporary shops may not follow the appropriate safety regulations. For example, trading standards officers have issued warnings about light-up fidget spinners where the battery is easily accessible to children.
https://www.capt.org.uk for resources and guidance
https://www.rospa.com for resources and guidance
The CE mark or Lion Mark show toys have been made to approved standards. However, some unscrupulous companies can fake them - so if you already have concerns, don’t rely on these alone.
DfE Daily update is below, which contains an update from Ofsted on inspections from January.
Head of Early Years, Childcare and Children’s Centres
Early Years and Childcare Service
Education and Skills Directorate
Birmingham City Council