Toys are a source of fun and joy for children, and can significantly help their learning and development – but some toys come with serious safety risks. That's why safety is one of the most important things parents and carers should bear in mind when it comes to choosing toys for children under 5.
Young, adventurous children are care-free and inquisitive, and that's the beauty of childhood! The problem is that they cannot identify risks and tend to be quite accident-prone.
In the UK and many other countries, all toy manufacturers have a responsibility to comply with strict regulations surrounding child safety, including:
- carrying out a comprehensive safety assessment
- bearing the 'CE' mark on the toy or packaging
- providing instructions for use and appropriate safety warnings
Despite these regulations, it's still important for parents and carers to think carefully about the toys they buy and any potential risks they carry. Bear in mind that the level of risk varies for children of different ages.
What Makes a Toy Safe for Children Under 5?
When buying toys for a child, you should consider the following safety features.
Toys for children under 5 should always be flame resistant – this means that the material they are made from does not catch alight. Watch out for labelling that indicates the toy is flame resistant or flame retardant.
Free of Choking Hazards
Small children love to put toys in their mouths, but this creates a very dangerous choking hazard, particularly if a toy contains small pieces that could restrict a child's breathing.
Toys featuring items such as balls, marbles, coins, and batteries should be avoided, as should poorly made toys that are prone to breaking. If a toy breaks and a small piece comes loose, this could present a choking hazard.
Many toys in the past were painted with paint that contained lead. Lead is a toxic substance and can be extremely harmful when ingested by humans.
Although the use of lead in children's toys is now banned, you should still double-check that toys are produced with lead-free paint. Bear this in mind when accepting toys that have been handed down – older toys might not be safe.
Washable Stuffed Toys
Stuffed toys are often the most loved toys for children under 5. A child will take their favourite teddy bear everywhere; they'll put it down wherever they feel like and then pick it up again and give it a big hug. This means that your child's stuffed toys – and your child – can easily be exposed to germs.
Stuffed toys can also gather dust and can act as a prime breeding ground for lice and mites. For these reasons, it's very important that you are able to wash toys regularly.
Tips to Ensure Safe Play
Here are some tips you can follow to help ensure your child's toys don't pose any risk.
Opt for Wooden Toys
High-quality wooden toys are the safest choice for many reasons.
They are much more durable than plastic toys and less likely to break, and broken toys can lead to sharp edges and choking hazards for inquisitive toddlers. Their smooth, non-porous surfaces are also very easy to keep clean.
We decorate our premium quality traditional wooden toys using a safe and environmentally friendly thermal transfer printing method, so no toxic chemicals go into our toys.
Check Toys Regularly for Breakage
Ensure that you check toys regularly for any breakage that has occurred. Watch out for loose attachments, such as googly eyes and noses, jagged edges and peeling or chipped paint.
If you think your child's toy has become dangerous, you will need to throw it away.
Buy Toys that are Suitable for Your Child's Age
You should always try to buy toys that are suitable for your child's age group. Not only does this help to guarantee that your child will get maximum enjoyment and stimulation from a toy, but it also helps you rest assured that your child is playing safely.
Many toys, particularly those that feature small parts, are dangerous for children under 5. Remember to check the packaging or online listing for warnings and advice.
As a parent or carer, there are lots of safety considerations you need to bear in mind when buying toys for children under 5. For a new parent, it might seem a little daunting and a big responsibility. By following our simple advice and opting for traditional wooden toys, you can easily ensure playtime is safe for your child.