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Toy slings, for role play. All children want to mimic the things they see their parents do and it looks so cute!
A lot of us are suckers for pretty things and at this time of year the search for doll slings is pretty pressing. There are a lot of manufacturers and work at home mams (WAHM’s is a phrase you see a lot) happy to run up a doll sling for someone but the perception generally is that CE testing is expensive and complicated and it doesn’t apply to them.
It does apply to them. It applies to anyone manufacturing a toy for sale. The directive defines a toy “as a product designed or intended, whether or not exclusively, for use in play by children under 14 years of age.” (source here) which a toy sling definitely is. I believe people are free to make their own choices about what they buy but I also believe these should be informed choices so I thought I’d explain as far as I could what CE testing was for toy slings and why it exists.
What about us as customers? As a customer this is what you should know before deciding whether to buy an untested toy or a tested toy: CE marked soft toys must contain no hazardous materials. Some fabrics are processed using heavy metals, among other things. Heavy metals can be ingested or even absorbed through the skin and might be harmful to you or your little one . CE marked soft toys must contain minimal or safe levels of hazardous materials. Non marked soft toys may or may not use fabrics that don’t conform, even if you do decide to buy a non tested soft toy it might be a good idea to check with the seller for your own peace of mind.
Soft toys that carry the CE mark also have to have been tested for choking hazards so should have no small parts that are easily removed and small enough to fit in a childs mouth. Again your seller may have checked this themselves even if they don’t CE mark, it’s probably a good idea to check with them before they buy.
Lastly, all materials used in a CE marked soft toy must be tested for flammability, the toy itself must have been shown to burn slowly or even self extinguish. If the toy burns too quickly it will not pass CE testing and cannot carry the CE mark.
Ok, it wasn’t quite lastly but it’s an important point for sellers and buyers both. Insurance: What if, god forbid, something goes wrong? No one wants that, no one at all, it’s a horrible thought but someone has to think about it. An untested soft toy, if something went wrong, some kind of poisoning, choking, strangulation or burn a seller of untested soft toys almost certainly will not be covered under their liability insurance.
What about me as a Seller?
CE testing sounds like a long and scary process and it sounds expensive but it really need not be any of those things. You can even buy for a small sum a step by step checklist with everything set out in little tick boxes. It even comes with email and phone support. There are facebook groups to talk you through it and help you find your way. I’m happy to also point people in the right direction so please get in touch if you make doll slings and want support through CE testing, I’m not an expert and I did find it mindboggling at first but by writing this I’m hoping to save other WAHM’s the trouble of finding this all out. It’s good for your business, it’s good for the industry and it’s good for your customers.
Yes, it might push your prices up a little and that’s something a business person is conscious of but how much would a fine of up to £5000 pounds and up to 6 months imprisonment put your prices up?
Some useful sites for information:
I’ve been a sling addict for about 2 and a half years and I only discovered the wonder of a pod when I bought a stunning Simply Mei Tai pod preloved. It was a revelation in sling form, rock solid, super versatile and very very pretty. There began a love story…
Pod is short for Podaegi (handy to know if you’re googling). It’s usually roughly rectangular in shape with two long straps at the top. Those straps are used to secure the sling and also to adjust the height and the width of the carrier as you tie it. They have the versatility of a woven wrap but with the ease of use of a mei tai and one size actually really does fit everyone.
As a sling librarian and consultant I play with lots of slings and lots of parents. In situations where people just want to buy one carrier that will see them through or where they have an older child and a baby on the way or where someone is learning to back carry in a wrap a pod is fantastic! Ok, so no sling is the perfect sling for everybody but this sling is just so simple and so underutilised. I’m going to leave the many uses and the joys of podding to my testers for now.