With every toy, the question of safety always arises. For those that are homemade (and do not undergo the tests applied to commercial toys) the maker must be particularly careful. Screws can be worked loose and wood chip and splinter. Seams can split, and busy fingers soon work a tiny hole into a wide gap, revealing stuffing and "innards" that should have remained concealed. A toy that may be perfectly safe for one child may be disasterous in the hands of his or her friend. Some children have voracious appetites and will eat anything. Others will poke tiny objects in any small hole they can find — like up their noses or in their ears.
It is in the nature of children that a toy will be used in ways other than expected, and if it is popular it is likely to be loved to bits. I guess scarcely a week passes without the local hospital having to help a child in trouble over a toy! An alternative could be to wrap the child in cotton wool and remove all toys but that is certainly NOT and option! It is up to the adult in charge to make a toy suitable for the child in mind, (and her friends!) to be vigilant if a tiny hole appears and to use common sense in massive doses!
Hints for new toymakers:
- New fabric is stronger than some that has been through the wash many times. Use it double or back it with unbleached calico.
- Pay particular attention to seams and to fastening off. Sew seams twice and oversew the edges to prevent fraying and splitting.
- Sew buttons and all fastenings on very securely. Use button thread.
- Polyester fibre for filling soft toys is sold at craft shops, upholstery departments etc. The bag should be labelled "Suitable for toy making" and have the CE safety mark.
- PVA adhesive is excellent for sticking paper and thin card or fabric and is water solvent.. If you want a stronger bond, use a glue in a tube. Read the directions on the packet to make sure it is non-toxic and suitable for the job.
- Use birch plywood or Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) for wooden toys. Both will sand down well and you can avoid splinters and rough edges.
- All paints and felt pens bearing the CE mark and sold as suitable for school use will be non toxic. Humbrol enamel, sold in small tins for painting models etc. comes in bright colours, dries quickly and is suitable for toys.
- Polyurethane varnish is non toxic when dry. Two or three coats will form a protective covering on a wooden or papier mache toy and will make it wipeable.
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