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Do not buy toys meant for older children for babies and toddlers, as they may pose a choking hazard

Mediatiedote
25.11.2020 8.36 | Published in English on 30.11.2020 at 10.44
Press release

Toys meant for older children should not be bought or given to children under the age of three, because such a toy may be dangerous in the hands of a small child. Small parts coming loose or the shape of the toy may pose a choking hazard for a small child. This year, the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) inspected toys for children under the age of three. Of the tested 23 toys, around half were found defective.

Note the age limits of toys and follow them!

“The safety requirements for toys meant for children under the age of three are stricter than those for toys meant for older children. That is why it is especially important that nobody buys older children’s toys for small children. This is something parents, godparents and grandparents should keep in mind when shopping for toys during the holiday season,” says Anja Merenkivi, a senior officer at Tukes.  

“The most commonly detected hazards in toys for small children are small parts that can come loose and, in the case of toys for babies, the shape of the toy. Both of these issues can pose a choking hazard. Long strings or the material of the packaging may also be a hazard. Easy access to the battery inside a toy or toys with too high content of hazardous chemicals, such as lead, are also dangerous,” Merenkivi says.

Several hazards detected in toys purchased from online stores outside of Finland

In the toy project, Tukes acquired a total of 23 toys for testing. Fifteen of them were purchased from Finnish stores, both in person and online, four from European online stores and four from online stores located outside the EU.  Three samples were acquired on the basis of reports from consumers.  The toys were tested by the Customs Laboratory.

The studied parts of twelve toys proved to be fine. Two toys were withdrawn from the market; in one of these cases, the importer was also obligated to have the toys removed from the possession of consumers.  Request to fix the detected deficiencies was sent to the seller and manufacturer of two toys. In addition, e-commerce platforms from outside of Finland deleted the sales pages of the hazardous products.

The most deficiencies were detected in toys purchased from non-Finnish online stores, but Tukes’ powers do not extend outside the borders of Finland. This means that Tukes cannot issue any sales bans or recalls but only provide information on the detected hazards and report the hazardous products to the e-commerce platform.

“Consumers should be aware of the fact that the authorities do not test products in advance. Instead, the market surveillance is risk based and consists of spot checks. The manufacturer, importer and distributor carry the responsibility for product safety.”

“When purchasing products from online stores located outside the EU, consumers always act at their own risk. The products sold in such stores may not comply with EU legislation,” Merenkivi points out.

The following deficiencies were detected in the tested toys

– Choking/infection hazard, toys containing small parts that may come loose
– Choking hazard due to the shape of the toy or packaging (bag)
– Strangulation hazard, toys containing long strings or electric wiring
– Toys containing hazardous chemicals; lead content exceeding the allowed limit value
– Dangerous marketing: toy marketed to an age group where it may pose a choking hazard.

The following toys were deemed hazardous

– A children’s xylophone from which small parts that pose a choking hazard came loose and which contained too much lead. Withdrawal from the market and recall.
– A play mat/baby gym: the seams of the toy can easily become loose, which would allow the baby to get their hands on cotton wool that could end up in their mouth. Brand name Britton Big Owl. Withdrawal from the market.

 – Children’s musical instruments (Chicken Shake maracas): a toy meant for older children was sold in the baby toy department of a toy store. The shape of the musical instrument can pose a choking hazard for a baby.

Toys purchased from non-Finnish online stores:

– A teddy bear with small parts that can come loose, a long wire that poses a strangulation hazard, a battery compartment that is too easy to open and too much lead in soldered joints.
– A toy camera from which small parts came loose and which included a long string that poses a strangulation hazard.
– A bear game and a fish game which included small parts that pose a choking hazard to a child under the age of three. The toys were marketed, with the help of text and images, as suitable for children under the age of three.
 – Two rattles from which small parts came loose, posing a choking hazard for children. Furthermore, the handles of the toys can pose a hazard if the child pushes the handle deep into their mouth.

The non-Finnish online stores have deleted the sales pages of these products.

Further information: Anja Merenkivi, senior officer, tel. +358 29 5052 192,
email: [email protected]

Link: Most common defects in toys

Appendix: Images of the products

Image 1: The children’s xylophone from which small parts that pose a choking hazard came loose and which contained too much lead.

Image 2: The play mat/baby gym where the seams of the toy can easily become loose, which would allow the baby to get their hands on cotton wool that could end up in their mouth. Brand name Britton Big Owl.

Image 3: The children’s musical instruments (Chicken Shake maracas).v
A musical instrument meant for older children was sold in the baby toy department of a toy store. The toy is fine, as long as it is correctly marked and sold in the correct department

Hazards detected in toys bought from outside of Finland

Image 4: The teddy bear with small parts that can come loose, a long wire that poses a strangulation hazard, a battery compartment that is too easy to open and too much lead in soldered joints.

Image 5: The toy camera from which small parts came loose and which included a long string that poses a strangulation hazard.

Images 6 and 7: The toy game and fish game which included small parts that pose a choking hazard to a child under the age of three. The toys were marketed, with the help of text and images, as suitable for children under the age of three.

Images 8 and 9: The two rattles from which small parts came loose, posing a choking hazard for children. Furthermore, the handles of the toys can pose a hazard if the child pushes the handle deep into their mouth.

For further information, please see the Tukes market surveillance register (in Finnish)