In this article, the National Consumer Agency gives tips for parents on toy safety and tells us the things to look out for when buying a new toy, what the toy standards are and toy safety tips for after purchase when the toy or play equipment is at home.
A toy is defined by EU toy safety regulations as any product intended, whether or not exclusively, to be used in play by children under the age of 14.
Before You Buy
- Look for the CE mark on the toy, instructions or packaging. If there is none, don’t buy it!
- Check to see that the toy displays the name and address of the manufacturer and importer.
- Read any safety instructions that come with the toy. They should be clear and precise and in a language that you understand.
- Check if the toy has any detachable small parts that could lodge in the ears, nose or throat, and cause an injury to your child. Or does the toy fire bullets or have movable parts that could detach and be dangerous?
- Toys that come with food should be packaged separately.
- Don’t buy food products where the toy is attached and must be eaten first before the toy is available. It is against the law to sell such food products.
- Check if there is a warning about an appropriate age group for the toy and ask yourself if it is suitable for the age of your child. Are there younger children in your household who might be in danger if they play with the toy?
- If you feel there is any potential danger to the safety of your child, don’t buy the toy.
After You Buy
- If you get instructions with the toy, read them carefully and keep them in a safe place.
- Remove all packaging and keep out of reach of children. Plastic packaging can cause suffocation.
- If there are any strong or strange smells from the toy, it could mean that the toy may contain a lot of chemicals. You should go back to the shop where you bought the toy and explain your concerns. The shop should be able to explain why the toy smells and should act if they believe there is a problem. If you are not satisfied with their response, you should contact us.
- Make sure there are no sharp edges, or nails or screws sticking out.
- If the toy uses batteries, make sure the child cannot open the part of the toy where the batteries are stored.
Take care with Electrics
- Always take care when buying toys with electrical parts and read the safety instructions carefully.
- Check that the device is properly insulated and protected to prevent a risk of contact with live wires.
- Never mix old and new or different strength batteries in the toy as this can make the old or weaker batteries very hot.
Tips for Play Equipment and Activity Toys
- Place activity toys and play equipment like swings, trampolines and climbing frames well away from hazards such as overhead power lines or obstacles like hedges, fences or trees.
- Ensure that the play equipment has been installed correctly and properly secured.
- Do not use the equipment in bad weather such as heavy rain or windy conditions.
- Ensure that playing children are supervised by an adult at all times.
For more information, download the NCA’s Guide to Toy Safety (pdf)
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What To Do if You Find an Unsafe Toy
More information from the NCA
The NCA’s consumer help website, www.nca.ie, has loads of information on personal finance, managing your money and money-saving tips to help you stay on top of your budget throughout the school year. You can also find out everything you need to know about your consumer rights.
Have you ever had the experience of finding a toy to be unsafe? Share it with us in the comments below!