It’s important that babies and children have developmentally appropriate toys to help them with all the important skills that they need to develop. It’s equally as important, however, that the toys that you give to your baby or child are safe.
Here’s our top ten tips on how to buy safer baby toys:
1. Follow the age limits on toys – these are not based on developmental appropriateness, but on safety.
2. If you are not sure whether a toy is too small for a child under 3, place the toy into a toilet roll holder. If the toys fits into the toilet roll holder, it’s too small to give to a child under 3.
3. Avoid buying toys with cords longer than 10cms, or remove the cords. These can be a strangulation hazard.
4. If you are buying plastic toys, always check that they are free from Bisphenol-A (BPA) and PVC and phthalates. Children are particularly susceptible to these chemicals, as they are so much more likely to put them in their mouths.
5. Plastic toys should always be labeled with numbers 1, 2, 4, 5 or opaque number 7 plastics such as ABS (the stuff Lego is made from). See our guide to safer plastics, and if there’s no number on the toy, ask the manufacturer or avoid buying that toy.
6. When you are buying wooden toys, make sure that the finishes are all non toxic and that the paint is safe for children to put in their mouths.
7. Wooden toys should have smooth, splinter free edges.
8. Ensure that any metals are nickel free.
9. Always check that the toys you buy are well made, and can withstand twisting, pulling and banging. This is how babies and children play and learn, so the toy must be able to stand up to this.
10. Avoid buying cheap cosmetic jewellery for children and toddlers as these can often contain high lead or cadmium levels. There are good, reputable brands of children’s jewellery made from sustainable and safe materials.