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How do you know if toys are safe for your children?

Aesthetics, functionality, fun are all important when buying toys, but arguably the most important question we should be asking? Are they safe?

When selling toys in Australia there are mandatory safety guidelines that the toys must adhere to – these are called the ‘AS/NZS ISO 8124 Australian and New Zealand Standard - Safety of toys’.

This Standard ensures toys are safe and designed appropriately for the age of the child intended to use them. Unfortunately the Standard doesn’t necessarily stop toys being sold which haven’t been through independent safety testing to ensure adherence with the guidelines, which is why it’s so important to know what to look for.

What should we look for when buying toys?

Always check the toy packaging or the website that one of the following certifications has been obtained:
  • AS/NZ ISO 8124 (the Australian Standard)
  • CE EN 71 (the European Standard)
  • ASTM F963 (the USA Standard)

Our understanding is that toys meeting the above European and USA standards will also meet the Australian Standard. 

What does certification mean?

If toys have been safety certified, it means they’ve been through strict safety testing, conducted by an independent test facility.

Our toys are AS/NZ ISO 8124 certified, and there are a couple of interesting parts of the testing process that really highlight what it covers.

  1. Small parts – if toys are intended to be used by children under 3 years, the toys are measured to ensure parts aren’t small enough to pose a choking hazard. There’s also a rigorous testing process to make sure the toys can’t easily be pulled apart, which could result in small parts that could be a choking hazard.

  2. Toxic elements – this one is not well known but we love that this is part of the Standard. Toys are tested to ensure there is no presence of heavy elements, such as lead.

  3. Appropriateness – this is a big one. The age range marked on a toy (eg 2+ for our toys) is there for a couple of reasons. It ensures consumers understand whether a toy is safe for children of that age. But it also means the toy has been assessed to ensure its design is developmentally appropriate for that age. There’s always that temptation to buy toys for children when they’re younger than is stipulated on the packaging, but it most likely means the child won’t be ready to use the toy to its full extent. For example, at 18 months old, our little Finn will try and play with his big brothers’ Reef Express and Reef Rescue Crew. However, as it’s designed for children aged 2 and older, his fine motor skills aren’t developed enough yet to manoeuvre the lid and snap the characters in and out of place. So he tends to get quite frustrated and it’s not the positive play experience we want for him.

We hope you find this useful, especially as we lead into Christmas – the peak toy season of the year!