Safe Toys for Babies
Before you buy a baby toy you must ensure that it meets all EU safety standards. Look for the CE mark and if your toy is for a baby or young toddler check that it doesn't have the "not suitable for under 3's" emblem which is a red circle with a red line through the 0-3 and baby image. (See below for these images).
This will denote whether the toy is suitable for the under 3's. All toys should carry a statement of age appropriateness on them. Eg. Suitable for 12 months. This means that the toy is suitable for children 1 year old and older.
This age appropriate statement is carried on the packaging of the toy so may be difficult to ascertain when buying toys online. However, all good online toy retailers will highlight the recommended age range for a toy. If a recommended age is not shown then don't buy the toy, better to be safe than sorry.
No Plastic Toys
I personally would not buy plastic toys for babies. Babies, as we all know, put everything they get their little hands on in their mouths. And research has now shown that phthalates, which are used in all plastics including baby toys are poisonous. They do not bind well into the plastics and are easily released. Even low levels of exposure to these toxins can be dangerous to babies. Just putting plastic toys made with the help of phthalates into their mouths can be harmful for babies.
Toxic phthalates are used to soften the rigid PVC in the manufacture of toys. The EU finally banned 6 of the 8 phthalates in some toy manufacturing in September 2004. However, due to the mass production of plastic toys in the Far East and subsequent import of these into the UK it is difficult to monitor whether the toys contain any of these banned substances.
To be totally safe it is best to buy wooden toys in particular wooden toys made from wood from sustainable forests. Another recommendation is that you look out for wooden toys painted specifically with non toxic paint or varnish. Then you know your little one is safe when they put the toy in their mouth.
When buying soft toys for babies it is always good to look for toys that can be washed as babies often dribble and even throw up on their beloved toys.
The basic rules when buying toys that are safe for babies are: Always look for baby toys that have no sharp edges, that have no little pieces or attachments, that are attractive, bright and colourful to stimulate development and hand eye co-ordination, that all soft toys are washable and that all wooden toys are painted with non toxic paint or varnish. And most importantly that they are age appropriate toys marked with the age statement and that they have the CE mark on the label. (see below to see what these look like)
Below is some information on what babies can do and the type of toys they need for development as well as age appropriate safe baby toys:
What your Newborn Baby Can Do
- Your baby can start learning to focus and communicate through their voice
- Movement is attractive to babies, as they find it hard to concentrate on any one thing. Your baby will be listening and trying to see everything.
What You Can Do
- Always try to communicate to your baby whether it is through speaking, singing, touching or tickling.
- The more your communicate the better, as it helps your baby learn and develop.
- Make the time to enjoy one-to-one play
Suitable Games and Activitiies for Newborns
- Sing lullabies or songs to your newborn
- Talk to your baby frequently, even if you are just walking to the shops
- Watch your baby try to copy you as you pull faces
- Tickle your baby, as all babies love to be touched.
- Hold your baby while you dance to music
Suitable Toys for Newborns
- An activity mat will allow your baby to explore colours, sounds and touch
- Mobiles in cots are a focal point for all young babies as they often are brightly coloured and have soothing music
- Toys that make a noise or are brightly coloured such as rattles are a good idea
- Pram beads on a pushchair will attract their attention whilst you are busy pushing the buggy or shopping
- Books with big, bright pictures to gaze at. Babies love faces as they start to be able to make out shapes and colours.
What your Older Baby Can Do
- Babies begin to enjoy playing alone and alongside others
- Your baby will begin to be able to control hand to eye co-ordination and be able to hold a toy or try to shake it.
- At around 6 months, your baby will be able sit and balance, use both hands to explore and will be able to drop objects, much to their delight.
What You Can Do
- Give your baby plenty of time; they are still learning what they are capable of.
- Be sensitive to your baby's body language and expressions.
- Talk to your baby, explain what you are doing. Hearing a parent talk develops your baby's language skills.
- Don't spend too long on any one game or toy as babies tire easily.
Suitable Games and Activities for Older Babies
- Clapping, singing and dancing are all great stimulants for your baby
- Phsyical play can start to be encouraged
- Be outside as often as possible as babies like to watch and hear new sights and sounds such as cars, dogs and trees.
Suitable Toys for Older Babies
- Small balls and cuddly toys can be introduced and used for gentle throwing or tickling.
- Babies like to explore everyday objects such as pots, pans and wooden spoons
- Age-appropriate toys that can be put in the mouth as babies start to be able to coordinate picking a toy up and placing in the mouth
- Toys such as rattles or squeaky animals that are easy to grasp and drop
- Stacking rings that are large enough for your young baby to lift, move and play with.
Toys to You Top Tips for Buying Safe Baby Toys
- Ensure the toy carries the CE mark
- Ensure the toy is age appropriate
- Ensure the toy is not plastic - or if you wish to buy plastic that the toy contains no phthalates or other chemicals
- Ensure the toy has no sharp edges
- Ensure the toy is washable
- Ensure the toy has no little pieces
- Ensure the toy has play value as well as educational value