Children's product testing at CHOICE

17 Aug 11 07:00AM EST
Post by John Ashes
Baby putting toy in mouth

Here at CHOICE we take our work in the Babies and Kids area very seriously. It can be quite difficult to tell whether a product is safe or not and parents and carers need information they can trust. To the untrained eye a product may look safe enough but there may be a variety of hazards you've never thought of.

We test a variety of children’s products, covering the range parents may require to raise a child from babyhood to early school years. Clearly young children and babies are often where new parents have less practical knowledge when selecting products, especially for a first child. Unfortunately, it’s also an age where a number of tragic incidents can occur.

Be reassured that regardless of a product’s looks or performance, if it fails a basic safety test we’ll never recommend it and if it’s of sufficient concern we’ll bring it to the attention of the ACCC who can and will take appropriate action.

You’ll see a lot of the everyday products, such as cotsstrollers and highchairs, in CHOICE publications, but you don’t often see comparative toy tests. This is because it’s very difficult to purchase a good cross-section of similar toys. They are all quite different and therefore difficult to compare in a CHOICE test.

Toy safety

But what we do to assist the community is to offer manufacturers and government authorities access to our staff and labs to evaluate toy safety on a fee-for-service basis, via our Test Research consulting arm. By providing this service we can help raise the standards of toys and identify unsafe products before they’re sold.

By far the greatest failure we see when testing toys continues to be small detachable parts. Small parts are a serious choking hazard for children under three years old. Did you know that all toys sold for children under three are covered by a mandatory safety regulation based on the Australian and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) toy standard? Sadly, not all comply.

A quick guide for parents and carers is that if a small part from a toy can fit inside an old film canister, then it’s likely to be a choking hazard for young children (under three) and should not be given to them under any circumstance.

Another difficult area for parents is older children and their toys. They’re often very attractive to younger ones, so keep those small pieces of Lego well away from them. Also talk to older siblings about the danger to their younger brother or sister if the toy goes in their mouth. Often older siblings will respond to being given the “job” of keeping small toys away from younger children but ultimately it’s the parent or carer’s responsibility.

Expert staff

At CHOICE, we have a lot of experience in the area of baby and children’s products. A number of us sit on a variety of children’s product standard committees, adding our experience to them to ensure good safe products are sold and high quality Australian standards are published. Be assured we have some of the toughest standards in the world in this area.

Antonio Bonacruz, our children’s product tester, has been testing these products for many years and is considered an expert in all aspects of children’s products testing. He represents Australia on the ISO standard committee for toys, so we keep abreast of developments around the world and can make sure these are reflected here.

If there are some children’s products that you’d like to see tested, leave a comment below or add them via Request-a-test and we'll do our best to accommodate them.


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