Updated 7 October 2017
It’s important that babies and children have developmentally appropriate toys to help them with all the 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
Age limits on toys are not based on how smart your child is, or how good they are at a particular skill. Toys for children under 3 have to meet strict safety guidelines. The guidelines cover things like small parts that could be a choking hazard, sharp edges, and toxic materials.
2. Look for small parts
If you’re 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. You can also use the ACCC’s ‘Choke Check’ test.
3. Watch out for cords
Avoid buying toys with cords longer than 22cms, or remove the cords. These can be a strangulation hazard.
4. Choose safe plastics
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.
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.
5. Check that finishes are safe
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.
Wooden toys should have smooth, splinter free edges and no sharp points or sides.
6. Look out for metal parts
Ensure that any metals are nickel free. Nickel is a known allergen, and it can be especially problematic for young children.
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.
7. Check stability
If you’re buying a walker or a ride on toy, make sure that it’s sturdy and stable. Also, make sure that it’s appropriate for your toddler’s age.
Batteries are a particular hazard for small children, especially button batteries. They can get stuck in a child’s oesophagus and burn through soft tissue in less than two hours. Check that any battery enclosures are screwed down.
9. Choose quality toys
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. Toys should be durable, and preferably washable.
10. Periodically check toys
Get into the habit of checking toys as you’re putting them away or getting them out. Look for any damaged or broken parts and remove the toy straight away if you find any.
You can rest assured that all toys here at Hello Charlie follow these important guidelines.