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Playing it safe: Toy safety issues you need to know

When buying a toy for your kids, there are a lot of factors to consider before making the purchase. How much do you really look into the safety features on your child’s toys?

Safety should always be a primary concern when buying toys for your kids.

Factors such as the paint material used, accessory sizes and prominence of sharp edges are just some of the issues one needs to look at.

Here are some safety information you ought to know about and follow as much as possible.

The European safety standard EN71

First and foremost, make sure the toy is appropriate for your child’s age. Take note and adhere to the Age Warning Symbol as awarded by the European safety standard EN 71-6.

Developed since 1961 by the European Committee for Standardization, the European Safety Standard is a directive that many global economies, including Singapore, follow to ensure quality and safety is accounted for in products. EN71 is the directive that deals with toy safety.

Magnets and choking hazards

Toddlers below 3 years old may have a tendency to constantly touch or even bite the toys as they’re playing with them. The warning symbol is a sign that the toys may contain a notable amount of small parts that are potential choking hazards.

The small parts can come in the form of detachable portions, springs and magnets.

Magnets are especially dangerous if your child swallows them. Two or more swallowed magnets may attract one another while inside your child's digestive system, causing complications such as holes and blocked intestines as well as blood poisoning.

Toys with the age warning symbol could also indicate that the toys come with features that emit sounds loud enough to potentially damage your child’s still-developing hearing.

If the toy comes with a pull string, ensure that the string isn’t too long that it could strangle your child.

A variety of warning labels

Unfortunately, there are no official age warning symbols for products that may be dangerous for children above 3 years old. As each child has their own rate of development, parents are advised to be more diligent and check for the warning labels found in most packaging.

These labels come with specific instructions for the particular toy that should be of note, such as parts that generate intense heat. Despite the wide array of unique functionalities found in toys in today's age, there are no set symbols for manufacturers to follow with the exception of the age warning symbol and a warning label.

While some manufacturers take the initiative to place their own suggested playing age and safety symbols, such as a "no fire" symbol for flammable toys, it is still best to thoroughly check the warning label as an extra precaution.

Getting well-made toys from reputable manufacturers is also advisable. This will reduce potential breakage that exposes smaller inner parts and sharp points. Their products will also most likely adhere to safety standards when it comes to paint.

Poisonous chemicals

A high amount of lead concentration in paint (more than 0.009%) is especially harmful to children and can affect your child's nervous system should your child come into contact with them. It also has a sweet taste that will entice younger children to continue biting the toy.

The mandate to limit and control the amount of lead paint on toys was put in place in 1972, so be wary when picking up an old-school, retro toy out of nostalgia for your kids to play with that was made prior to 1972. Those toys pose a higher risk of having uncontrolled paint materials.

And while we're on the topic of poisonous materials on toys, don't forget about leaking batteries. Take out the batteries in toys if they are not played with often. Batteries left in toys can leak poisonous, tissue-damaging liquids after an extended period of time.

Safety regulations in Singapore

Here in Singapore, we have the Consumer Goods Safety Requirements (CGSR), a regulation set by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and enforced by SPRING Singapore.

The regulation seeks to protect consumers from unsafe toys by removing or banning them from the market.

Suppliers can face a fine of up to S$10,000 should they fail to comply.

SPRING keeps a public record of all the toys they’ve deemed as unsafe, so it is a good idea to check and see if the toy has recently been recalled or banned.

Related: Addressing the E-scooter safety issue


Qadir spends way too much time watching television, reading comic books and rambling on social media than he's willing to admit, for “research purposes”. As an avid action figure and toy collector, his natural enemy is dust. Sometimes he reviews and writes stuff.
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