Updated: Dec 6, 2021
December is the biggest gift-giving month in the world, it’s important to keep safety in mind as you’re shopping for the little ones in your life.
With the festive season in full swing, gifts and particularly children's gifts are being swapped across the nation in earnest. Although we are pretty sure that Santa ensures all presents he delivers are rigorously safety tested and appropriate for use, we all need to make sure we deliver gifts to the same high standards.
Sadly thousands of children are injured every year as a result of playing with unsafe or non age appropriate toys. Here are some pointers to make sure you're getting safe toys for your little one.
When buying toys for a young child, think big. Be particularly careful with toys for children under three years old. The law says that toys can have small parts, as long as they are marked as being not suitable for children under 36 months.
Be wary of younger children playing with older children's toys.
Is the toy too heavy? Could your baby be hurt if it fell on him? If so, don't buy it.
Look for toys that are well made. Check for loose hair and small parts, sharp edges and points. Tails should be securely sewn, seams of stuffed animals should be reinforced, and paint shouldn't peel.
Stuffed animals should also be free of buttons, yarn, ribbons, or anything your child could pull off and put in his mouth .
Buy toys only from outlets and companies you trust. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) recommends that you look for a CE mark. This means the toy has been made to European safety standards which will remain in force until at least January 2022. A lion symbol in a triangle additionally means the British Toy & Hobby Association have passed the toy as safe.
Buy from suppliers with a good reputation for safe and reliable toys. Many will be members of trade associations whose rules call on them to meet high standards.
Find out more about child safety symbols.
Is the toy in good condition? You will probably be given toys for your child, or buy them second hand. Examine used toys for any buttons, batteries, ribbons, eyes, beads, or plastic bits that could easily be chewed or snapped off. Check toys you already have for wear, and throw away damaged ones.
When buying second-hand, be cautious about older toys. For example, an old model of a popular play kitchen has a phone attached with a potentially deadly cord. The latest model of the same kitchen has the more current, and safer, cordless phone.
String or Cords
Is there a string or cord on the toy longer than 30cm? A cord can too easily be wrapped around a young child's neck, risking strangulation. Once your child can climb up on his hands and knees, remove cot gyms or hanging mobiles from his cot.
Check garden swings and slides. Are they robust and safely fixed? Ropes, or any materials that can strangle, should not be used.
As your child gets older, he is likely to have more and more toys that need batteries. If you are replacing worn-out batteries, replace the whole set. For example, it is not safe to replace one out of two batteries because of the risk of overheating and leaking.
Throw away old batteries safely or recycle them. Don't leave them lying around, as your child could choke on them.
For further information on toy safety, check out our 12 Rules of Christmas.