The world of safety regulations for toys can be a bit intimidating. This article will explore how safety regulations shape toy design. There are a lot of rules (as there should be) to make sure products for children are as safe as possible. Toy development should always include a detailed safety review by industry professionals. This may need to be done at multiple phases in the development process depending on the complexity of the product. In our work at D2M, we work with test houses who comb through the rules and help us comply with them.
Safety regulations tend to be the strictest in the baby and toddler age group. Have you ever looked at a teether or rattle and thought the shape was odd or too wide? Baby toys cannot pass through the ‘rattle gauge’ or it is a choking hazard. Ever notice most plush toys for babies have embroidered or printed faces? Plastic eyes or noses are small parts and would be a choking hazard. (The choking hazard issue comes up a lot)
Strings or dangling fabric features must abide by several rules. Long strings can be a choking hazard, so often these features have a play feature at the end, like a teether. Small features or ribbons often must be redundantly held in place so as not to break and become… you guessed it, a choking hazard! There are other areas of concern as well, for example, limits to sizes of openings where children can get their head or arms stuck.
Toy regulations can be intimidating, but you can still create amazing products which follow the rules. It helps to develop your product with designers who are familiar with these rules and can flag issues early. When you know what to expect, you can thoughtfully toy features that are fun and safe.
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