Toy safety – is it a minefield?

Toy safety – is it a minefield?

Mulberry Bush take the issue of Toy safety very seriously. All the toys we sell come from reputable manufacturers and safety testing certificates are held by them, or by the company that imports them into Europe. The test certificate for any toy – be it a wooden toy, game, doll etc – will show an age for which the toy has been agreed to be suitable, but these are, in effect in bands, dependent on the age test for which the toy has been entered.

As a toy retailer we are fortunate in that, not manufacturing or importing directly, we are not immediately involved in the testing process, but we know that the tests for toys for children over three years old are a little less exhaustive than for those under three. There are good reasons for this – for example, the choking hazard is less of an issue for the slightly older child, and therefore the test process may not be so rigorous for this aspect. This, of course, means the testing is cheaper. It also means that if a manufacturer then badges the product as suitable for a child of three-plus and has a toy certificate to support this, then should there ever be any safety issue they can say they have done all that is required of them.

What this can sometimes mean though is that a toy originally envisaged as suitable for a toddler, and of little interest to an older child, is marked as 3+. Some purchasers will be put off because they can see that the child for whom they are buying will not be sufficiently challenged. But the toy is no less safe than had it been tested and marked for the younger age. You can be sure the paint will be safe, for example, and if there are no small or removable parts then sometimes it’s difficult to see how a toy can be “unsafe” – which of course it is not.

There isn’t a foolproof answer to this conundrum – except perhaps to say that there is no substitute for sensible parental guidance. If you think your child is bright enough to play with a toy marked as appropriate for one a bit older, well give it a try – initially under the supervision of course. Just make sure there are no removable bits, and if the child is prone to suck or chew, well just keep it in reserve for a few months. They’ll soon grow into it – sadly all too fast, and before you know it they’ll be taking their A-levels !

For up to the minute toy safety information visit the British Toy and Hobby Association Website.

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