Child Safety week (18-24 June) is an important reminder that the home environment can be full of potential hazards for your little ones.
Here are some top tips on making sure that the toys you give them are not only fun and educational, but free from any risks.
Every year, thousands of babies are hospitalised following an accident with a toy. Some of these accidents could be avoided by removing toys that contain small parts, sharp edges and points, magnets, strings or cords.
Any toy that is given to your baby, whether it is brand new, or second-hand, must not contain small parts that could present a serious choking hazard. As a general rule, if the item fits through a kitchen roll cylinder then it is not safe.
Here are some general safety guidelines to keep in mind when purchasing toys:
- Does the toy meet the requirements of the Toys (Safety) Regulations 1995?
- Is it securely made?
- Is it non-breakable?
- Does it have sharp edges?
- Does it have small or loose parts such as glass eyes, wheels, buttons, magnets or batteries, which could be dangerous if swallowed?
- Does it have parts that could pinch or trap little fingers?
- Does it have strings or cords longer than 7 inches (18cms) that could increase the risk of strangulation?
- Is it safe for mouthing?
- Will it withstand excessive chewing?
- Is the toy too loud so if held too close to your baby’s ears, it could damage hearing?
In 2005, restrictions were imposed on the use of phthalates in products designed for babies. However, they may still be present in toys designed for older children. Because they remain freely mobile in plastic, phthalates may leech when babies squeeze, chew and mouth them. Babies are particularly susceptible to chemicals because their brains and organs are still growing so it is best to buy toys that are phthalate-free.
Although most toys are safe, there are a few that slip through the regulatory loopholes, only to be recalled when a problem is discovered. If you have doubts about the safety of a toy, carry out an online search to ensure that it is not a recalled product.
Extra safety measures
- Check that the toy bears the European Toy Safety Directive CE mark, or the British Toy and Hobby Association Lion mark.
- Look for phthalate-free or ‘PVC-free’ labels on plastic toys.
- Avoid plastics with the number 3 (#3) in the recycling triangle.
- Avoid polystyrene (#6) and polycarbonate (#7) products which are made from bisphenol A (BPA).
- Avoid giving your baby soft plastic toys designed for older children: they are more likely to contain phthalates.
- Contact the manufacturers directly to find out if a product is chemical-free.
Toys left on pathways, halls and stairs can lead to trips and falls. It is best to store them away safely when not in use. Putting too many toys in your baby’s cot can also lead to a fall, as your baby may use them to climb out of the cot. A cot full of soft toys can cause overheating or accidental smothering. To avoid this, toys should always be removed from your baby’s cot during daytime naps and at night time.
By keeping your child’s environment safe, you can ensure that they can live life to the full without unnecessary hazards.
By Dr Lin Day, founder of www.babysensory.com
About Baby Sensory – www.babysensory.com - Baby Sensory is the only provider of baby development classes designed specifically for babies from birth to 13 months. The classes are run in over 200 locations throughout the UK and in 12 countries including the US, Australia and Spain and has most recently launched in China. The Baby Sensory programmes have been developed in the UK by Dr. Lin Day (PhD Dip. Ed. BSc. PGCE.M. Phil), who has worked with babies and young children throughout her career. All activities are excellent for developing physical, social and emotional, and language skills, co-ordination, awareness of the world, a love of music and the concentration needed for further development. The programme is also suitable for babies with physical or learning impairments. Currently one in 45 babies born in the UK attends Baby Sensory classes.