Buying Guide and Toy Safety
All toys that we sell at Smart-Start Toys comply with the appropriate toy safety standards. We make sure that not only are the safety requirements met, but also that the toys we sell are suitable for the age and developmental needs of your child. The following tips and suggestions should help to make your child's play time safe, secure and above all, great fun.
The Lion Mark
The Lion Mark is a symbol of safety and quality, backed by a Code of Practice and developed by the British Toy & Hobby Association (BTHA) in 1988. It is used only by members of this association. Many of our suppliers are members of the BTHA and their toys will usually bear this mark. All toys with the Lion Mark have been made to the highest standards and follow standards and rules that are in force in Britain and the European Community (BS 5665/BS EN 71). It is a symbol of toy safety and of quality for the consumer.
The CE Mark
Since 1993, the CE Mark (with the "CE" originally standing for "Conformite Europeanne") is a conformity mark (as opposed to a sign of quality of safety) that is used by toy manufacturers to show that their products meet all the relevant consumer safety, health or environmental requirements of the European Directive. Toys is one of the more than twenty product groups to which the CE mark must be displayed by the manufacturer. The CE is popularly thought to mean that the toy is safe by UK standards, however this is not necessarily the case. The CE Mark was established to ensure a free movement of products throughout the European Economic Area (EEA) and must appear on the toy (or its packaging) alongside the original supplier's name and address. The British Toy & Hobby Association refer to the CE logo as a 'passport for toys' - although you may more commonly hear it referred to as the "Trade Passport to Europe" thanks to the fact that the CE symbol is used on an estimated 70% of products sold within the European Union.
Small Parts Symbol
When buying toys, it is important to buy with the child's age in mind and to make sure that the toy is suitable for this age. Little children can easily choke on small objects . All toys that have small parts will have either the safety symbol above or a message reading ‘Not suitable for children under 3 years due to small parts’, or similar. The under-3s are especially at risk because they put everything into their mouths especially if the toy is colourful. It is not possible to watch a child all the time but a small child will need to be closely monitored.
Age Appropriate Toys
Messages such as 'recommended for children aged 3 – 4 years' or 'play age five and over’ are only a guideline. Age guidelines are useful for helping you to decide on a toy that your child will enjoy and will be stimulating. However, all children develop at different rates so it is necessary to think of the needs of the individual child. For example, if a 10-piece jigsaw is easy for your child to finish then try one with 20 or 25 pieces.
It is also important that toys do not get into the wrong hands. A toy that is safe for an older child can be lethal for a younger child. A building brick that is safe, stimulating and educational for an older child can be a choking hazard for baby. Likewise, a toddler who can only sit up, will not manage a ride on toy or backless swing without supervision. Think about your children and what they can do before you buy a toy. Toys intended for older siblings need to be kept out of reach of younger children.
Store toys safely and keep rooms and stairs tidy - this could prevent trips and falls. Above all, ensure that your child is adequately supervised at ALL times.
Check the toys
When your toys arrive , check that they are sturdy and well made. It's especially important to check toys for a baby or toddler to ensure there are no small parts that come loose or string that is too long. Furthermore, if a toy is not tough enough to withstand robust play it will be a disappointment to an older child.
Packaging is not part of the toy and should be placed out of reach in a safe place or disposed of before before the toy is given to your child to play with.
Toy features that may be dangerous:
- Toys with cords could be dangerous for children as they could become entangled.
- Cot toys on any length of cord should not be used for babies that can sit as again they could become entangled
- Mobiles are not classified as toys and should not be played with. They should be hung well out of reach and not directly above the child’s bed or cot
- Water toys and bath toys are for monitored play only. Children should never be left alone to play with water.
Regularly look over your child’s toys to check the condition and discard toys if they become broken during play.
Good Toy Guide
Our Toy Safety Guide has been compiled with the help of our team of helpers of all ages, including teachers and child minders, and also from the following sources:
- The National Association of Toy and Leisure Libraries "Good Toy Guide"
- The British Association of Toy Retailers (BATR)
- The 'British Toy & Hobby Association (BTHA)
- Trading Standards Institute