It always amazes me how little people seem to know about the safety aspect of the toys their children play with.
Do you look for the CE mark on toys? Do you know what it means? Can you tell if something will be safe or not?
I make soft toys, mostly from socks but also from plush fabrics. Before I began making anything back in 2011, I researched the rules about selling, the trading standards I would need to comply with and what terms and conditions I would need to follow. Those rules have changed over the years and so keeping up to date has become as much a part of my business as making the toys.
The European Toy Safety Standards set out a number of guidelines that should be followed when making soft toys by hand. Yet I continually see toys for sale at craft fairs and markets that do not comply. It’s not just toys as you may consider them either, anything with play value should also follow the guidelines. A cushion shaped like a cloud, a doorstop like a duck or a taggie blanket.
So before I make a toy what do I need to have done? Firstly, I need a certificate from the supplier of any materials used to show that they have been tested for toxicity etc. This means certificates for the main fabrics, stuffing, threads, felt, ribbons, buttons, tags and any other embellishments.
Whilst making the toy I need to count in and out any pins and needles I use.
Once the toy has been completed it needs to be tested as a completed piece as the materials may react differently to when they were individual pieces.
Tests include washing, strength of sewn joins and burning. Yes burning. A burn test is needed to ensure that any flame either extinguishes itself or burns slow enough to enable a child to be removed from harm.
A record of compliance is kept for each model of toy which can then be cross referenced to any new make of the same design. All these tests and gathering of certificates goes towards being able to add the CE mark to a toy or item which is appealing to a child.
A label showing the CE symbol, washing instructions, a contact address and a unique batch number must also be attached. Even this label needs all the above testing.
A new design can mean repeating all the certificate gathering and testing.
So next time you see a handmade toy for sale check if it conforms to the EU toy safety standards and carries the CE mark. Also, understand why that toy may cost a little more than you had expected. Crafters rarely get paid for the time they spend preparing and making their items but we appreciate it when people understand why our items cost a little more than those that could end up harming a child.
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