As a prominent retailer of children's toys we are obliged to know all about the laws concerning toy safety in the UK. In fact of course it goes without saying that all our toys conform to relevant toy safety directives. We know how confusing it can be sometimes when navigating the various symbols, age-recommendations and laws concerning toy safety. As a parent you want to be informed on such matters and so with that in mind, we have put together the following concise guide to help.
When choosing a toy for your child, it is important that you bear in mind health and safety. Toys can be fun playthings for your girl or boy and they are important to entertain and educate your little one but they can be hazardous and it is crucial that you take this into account when purchasing a new one.
There are various aspects you need to look for when choosing a toy and here is some expert guidance to ensure your child remains safe when playing.
- Condition - is the toy in good condition? Are the buttons loose? Are the eyes missing? Check the toy frequently for breaks
- Material - if something can be easily chewed, or snapped off then steer clear of giving this to young babies. Do not buy toys with small detachable parts for children under three years old. Materials need to be nontoxic and free from chemicals.
- Age - it needs to be age and ability appropriate so they are physically ready to hold and play with the toy. If it is too big and they cannot pick it up, this can be dangerous as they cannot control it properly and injuries could occur. Similarly if the toy is not age appropriate you could end up scaring the child!
- Size - until babies reach around three years-old, they will try to put toys in their mouths so toy parts should be large in size so they cannot fit into the mouth and potentially cause choking. An expert tip is to try and put the gadget inside a toilet paper roll; if it fits inside the cylinder it is probably not safe.
- Development - toys should be suited to a child’s mental ability to improve development.
- Trustworthy - only buy from reputable, trustworthy retailers.
- Instructions - always follow safety instructions and warnings and make sure you remove all packaging before giving the toy to your child.
- Movement - make sure the child’s finger cannot get stuck under moving parts, strings or straps.
- Heat - don’t give toys with heating elements to children under eight years-old.
Toy Safety & The Law
Toys are covered by European law; the European Directive. This is incorporated into UK safety legislation under the Toys (Safety) Regulations 1995, which is part of the Consumer Protection Act 1987. Regulations set out safety requirements and they cover everything from the design and construction of the toy to any potential risks to children. Risks include:
• Chemical properties
• Electrical properties
• Physical and mechanical
Toy Safety Symbols
Sales of toys are governed by strict regulations to protect young children from choking. The most obvious way to make sure your child’s toy complies with safety laws is to look for a toy safety symbol. Here is a guide to toy safety symbols; please note that this is for guidance only and Born Gifted does not accept any liability with regards to the contents of this document.
Some toys come with a CE mark which means the supplier/manufacturer has made a declaration to comply with all EU safety rules. These are amongst the strictest in the world and they indicate that the toy has been made in conformity with the essential requirements of the applicable European health, safety and environmental protection legislation. It must feature a CE mark which stands for “Conformité Européenne" which means "European Conformity and it must appear on the supplier’s name and address on the toy or its packaging in a visible, legible and indelible form. The marking is not a safety marker or quality symbol intended for consumers but to indicate to enforcement authorities that the toys bearing it are intended for sale in the European Community.
It simply enables the inspector to trace the supplier and request the technical file if he/she has a reason to believe a non-compliance with the regulations.
The Lion Mark
Developed in 1988 by the British Toy & Hobby Association (BTHA), this toy safety symbol covers everything not covered by the CE mark. It acts as a recognisable symbol for consumers denoting safety and quality and it can only be displayed by BTHA members. What is means is you can be assured the toy is safe to use. The Lion mark also indicates the supplier’s adherence to the strict BTHA Code of Practice which includes counterfeiting and toy advertisement.
Approved Lion Mark Retailer
This symbol was created in 1991 when the Toy Retailers Association (TRA) amalgamated with BTHA to launch the Approved Lion Mark Retailer scheme. Only members of TRA that follow the Code of Practice can display the sign in their shops and what it means is that all products meet the Toy Safety Standard.
This symbol originates from 1995 and it acts as a warning rather than discretionary guidelines. It states that consumers must not give the toy to children less than three years-old, or allow them to play with it. Remember that toys are supposed to be fun so don’t become too worried or obsessed with the health and safety of your child’s doll, marble or game. There is a fine balance between being cautious and too fanatical so just be wary and always supervise your little ones when they are playing.
Born Gifted sell a large range of quality toys all of which strictly adhere to the relevant toy safety directives.
Updated Sept 2019
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