How much do you know about safety testing?
Can you recognise the mark products in the UK have to carry to show they are safe for babies and children?
Do you know what has most likely been undertaken in the testing process?
Do you look out for this information before you buy?
Do you assume all brands and products have done this due diligence, because after all they are the ones selling to you?
Here's the lowdown
The mark you need to look out for in the UK is the UKCA stamp/logo. This means the product it is attached to has undergone safety testing to the standards set out by the government for the age in which it is targeted at. e.g for our products that means it will have been safety tested from birth.
Before Brexit, all products sold in the UK carried the European mark of safety testing which is the more familiar CE mark.
To be honest the UK testing standards and the European standards are exactly the same. But if you buy a product in the UK it needs to carry the UKCA mark as a minimum and you may see, like on our black and white sensory flash cards, that it actually carries both.
Why it matters
I feel like this is stating the obvious...but here we go. It matters because we want to keep babies and children as safe as possible. This is usually in two main areas; the toxicity of the materials and if any parts are a choking hazard.
The latter is especially important when you look at age because as children get older they tend not to put as many things in their mouth and they are simply just a bit bigger than they were as a baby and toddler.
That's why you'll often see products labelled as suitable for 3+ years.
Toxicity should be important for any age but it is especially important when products are tested for suitability from birth.
This is because babies tend to explore and learn via their mouths. Whether they're teething and are looking for relief or it's just an instinctive way to interact with what's around them.
So you want to make sure that whatever they are playing with or even is within their reach, has been tested for any parts that could be a choking hazard as well as what inks and materials have been used in the manufacturing process.
But I can make sure my baby doesn't put it in their mouth
Yes you can, most of the time. But can you confidently say that there will never be a time when your baby independently picks up one of their toys or learning resources when you're not in arms reach?
I mean we want to encourage independent play and let them have as much freedom to learn and explore as possible.
It'd be a pretty exhausting job if you never let your baby touch anything, not to mention frustrating for them and is stopping them having vital experiences that fuel their development.
Top tips to look out for when choosing play resources
• Has it got the UKCA and possibly the CE mark on it?
• What age is stated on the box? Is it 3+? If so, it is definitely not suitable for a baby.
• Will it easily tear or break apart when wet or soggy? Aka can it be licked and chewed?
• Does it have any sharp corners or pointy bits?
A product that has been correctly safety tested will have passed all of the above as well as more in-depth testing to make it age appropriate from birth onwards.
A gentle word of warning
Not all brands are diligent. Not all manufacturers follow the guidelines. Some will try and persuade you that they are not 'to be played with' merely to be looked at or for an adult to handle.
This may be true in some instances but the defining factor when deciding if something needs to be safety tested or not is if it has play value.
If it designed for babies and children it has play value so it should be tested to the relevant standards for the age it is aimed at.
It's just not worth the risk to our little ones to choose products that do not meet the required safety standards. We hope you agree!
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