Shopping Guide: Safe Soft Toys And Comforters For Baby

shopping guide baby safe soft toys and comforters

shopping guide baby safe soft toys and comfortersToys serve an important role in child development. Through play, they make children happy, keep them engaged, and teach them about themselves and the world around. Soft toys also serve as comfort objects and sleep buddies.

In a perfect world, all toys would be safe and parents wouldn’t have to worry about toy recalls and toy related injuries. Sadly, that isn’t the world we live in. Many children are hurt each year by dangerous toys. So it’s up to us mums and dads to make sure we’re purchasing safe, age appropriate ones for our children.

If you’re looking for soft toys and comforters for your little one, here are some of the things you need to check.

What to look for when buying soft toys and comforters

  • Well made and sturdy

Look for quality workmanship and thoughtful design. Toys must be able to withstand constant twisting, pulling, and squeezing. All parts must be stitched on, not glued. Seams must be securely sewn. Soft toys and comforters get dragged around and dribbled on, so they must be machine washable, too.

  • No small parts

For babies and preschoolers, avoid toys with eyes and noses made from buttons, small bits of plastic, glass, or wood. Even if these are securely fastened when you buy the toy, constant use can eventually loosen them. Facial features that are embroidered on are safer.

Hair, tails, “jewellery,” and other accessories can also pose a choking hazard if they’re not properly attached to the toy. Always make sure that toys don’t have parts so small they can fit into a toilet paper tube or a 35 mm film canister. The ACCC provides a free DIY “Choke Check” tool that lets you see if a toy or any detachable part is too small for young children.

  • Safe, nontoxic materials

Choose cloth toys made from natural fibres like cotton, hemp, and wool. Organic materials are best as they haven’t been exposed to synthetic pesticides, fertilisers, dyes, and finishes.

Babies love to suck and chew on things, so avoid fake fur or fake hair, which can pose a choking hazard, and flame resistant materials, which contain toxic chemicals.

Avoid toys that are stuffed with tiny beads. Polystyrene beads are especially dangerous as they can be inhaled.

Check for sharp objects like wires, especially in the ears and tails of stuffed animals. Even if these are initially covered in fabric, they can eventually poke through and cause injuries.

safe soft toys and comforters for baby
Safe soft toys for baby should be well made and sturdy, with no small parts, dangly bits, magnets or batteries.
  • No dangly bits

Babies can strangle on ribbons, elastic, and string longer than 22 cm. Either avoid toys with dangly parts or remove them after purchasing. Check toys and comforters for bows or thread that may have unraveled.

  • Safety and quality symbols

The CE mark tells you that a product complies with the strict health, safety, and environmental protection requirements of the European Economic Area. OEKO-TEX means that a textile product has been tested for harmful substances like formaldehyde, heavy metals, and phthalates. In the UK, the Lion Mark symbolises quality and safety, and assures customers that a toy is ethically and sustainably made.

  • No batteries or magnets

Some soft toys produce sounds or vibrate. These may contain button batteries, which are a serious hazard if swallowed. With babies, avoid toys containing batteries or at least make sure that battery cases are secure and can’t be pried open by little fingers. Similarly, avoid toys with small magnets, which can also be swallowed.

  • Not chemically scented

Toys scented with synthetic fragrances are a no-no. “Fragrance” can include nasties like hormone disrupting phthalates, VOCs, and neurotoxicants.

  • No foam

Toys made from foam are not recommended for children under the age of 3. These toys can pose a choking risk if a little one bites off a piece.

  • Not too loud

If a toy seems too loud to you, it’s definitely too loud for baby and may harm her sensitive ears. Soft toys that squeak when pressed are gentler on baby ears than battery operated ones that produce high pitched sounds.

  • Breathable fabric

Choose comforters made from lightweight breathable fabrics like cotton, muslin, or bamboo. Make sure there are no loose ribbons, strings, or thread anywhere on the comforter.

Here at Hello Charlie, we aim to take the guesswork out of toy shopping. Hop on over to the store for our selection of safer, age appropriate, nontoxic and eco friendly toys.

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Benefits Of Baby Gyms (And How To Buy A Good One)

finn and emma baby gym

A baby gym is one of the most versatile and beneficial products you can get for your little one. They help baby’s development, keeps them entertained for hours, gives parents some peace of mind, and will last for ages.

What is a baby gym?

Baby gyms usually have an arch or two with hanging toys: hard or soft toys, baby-safe mirrors, rings, rattles. The arches allow the toys to dangle over the baby, giving your little one something to look at and grasp for. Some baby gyms have extra features like lights and sounds. Others give babies a simple and safe space that doesn’t overstimulate.

Baby gyms will benefit newborns from the day you bring them home. They’ll still be great when babies are crawling.

It’s worth noting that although new babies will be interested in the baby gym from very early, they’ll only begin reaching for and grasping the toys on the baby gym when they are about three months old.

finn and emma baby gym
Finn and Emma Baby Gym

Developmental benefits of using baby gyms

1. Visual tracking and depth perception

Because newborns are pretty much nearsighted, they can only see things that are 20-30 centimetres away from their face. Baby gyms provide the perfect distance for babies to watch the different toys hanging from the arches. These toys usually include ones with brightly contrasting colours. Babies recognise faces first, then they start to recognise colours. So bright colours are important for baby’s development.

2. Hand-eye coordination (grasping, reaching, using both hands)

When babies bat at and try to grasp the objects hanging from the baby gym, they develop hand-eye coordination. This is a “crossing the midline” activity—a skill that is critical in brain development.

When babies try to reach for an object with both hands, they learn to move their hands across the center of their bodies, up and down, left to right, and so forth. The ability to cross the midline indicates that the right and left hemispheres of the brain are able to communicate efficiently.

3. Sensory stimulation

The various colours of the toys on the baby gym help enhance visual awareness. The different textures and sounds help with tactile and auditory development.

4. Tummy time

Baby gyms can help limit the amount of time babies spend on their back. They also help strengthen the muscles on babies’ arms, shoulders, back, neck, and tummy.

finn and emma baby gym sitting baby

What to look for in a baby gym

  • A good baby gym offers a range of positions and heights from which to hang toys. To avoid pressure on the back of the baby’s head during belly-up play, some of the toys should be hanging on the sides – not directly over the baby. This encourages babies to turn their heads as they play.
  • Look for a baby gym that has loops for hanging additional toys.
  • As with everything else that will invariably end up in your baby’s mouth, the baby gym should be made of non-toxic materials. The frame should be sturdy and there should be no choking hazards.
  • Choose a baby gym that is portable and can be cleaned easily.

Baby gyms are great, but you should still take some precautions when using them. Keep in mind that you should always place them on a low, flat surface—never on a bed or on top of a table.

It is possible for babies to be overly stimulated, so try to read their cues and don’t leave them under a baby gym for long periods of time.

Images: Finn and Emma

Hello Charlie has a great range of baby gyms that meet all these requirements! Shop the range here.