Consumers buying soft toys for young children are urged to follow advice from The Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service (DSTTSS) after some failed safety tests.

The advice includes checking the toy for small parts, sharp edges and accessories like jewellery and checking the age range of the toy before giving to small children.

If you are concerned safety advice can be found at

The warning comes after 40 per cent of toys tested by trading standards failed seam tension tests. Tension tests ensure that a soft toy is strong enough to endure regular use by a child without coming apart.

In total samples of 15 soft toys, selected at random from a mixture of high street, online and market retailers were seam tension tested under laboratory conditions. Six of the 15 failed indicating that they may not be safe for use by young children.

The retailers and manufacturers have withdrawn them from sale. The test purchasing was part of the service's routine market surveillance.

Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service recommends that when buying a soft toy, consumers should check the age warning on the packaging. Toys not suitable for children under 36 months must display a warning because they may contain parts which could cause significant harm.

Always ensure a CE mark is on the toy or packaging before you buy. All toys, including ‘free’ toys that come with magazines or food purchases must display this and it shows that the toy meets legal requirements.

‘Homemade’ toys available online or from market stalls must conform to the same safety regulations. Even if a product is marked ‘this is not a toy’ it may still have to satisfy the safety tests if it is ‘child appealing.’

Be wary of bargains, as some popular branded toys are counterfeited. While they might look the same, they are unlikely to have undergone the same rigorous safety tests a genuine toy will have been subjected to. Take extra care when buying second hand toys that no longer have the packaging or instructions.

Attachments like hair, eyes and noses should be securely fastened, and seams tightly stitched. Give these a quick test by pulling on them yourself before giving them to a child and check all toys regularly to ensure they remain safe for play.

Diamanté decorations and personalised gems or ‘bling’ can look pretty, but are subject to strict controls. Filling materials and hair on toys can be potential choking hazards; check for any long cords, ribbons or ties and be wary of sharp edges, points or loose components which can appear over time or if the toy is broken or damaged. If in doubt, stop using it.

Make sure the toy is suitable for the child and check the label or box for the age range, particularly with toys for children under three.
Remove any and all packaging and plastic bags before you give a child the toy and always supervise young children at play.

Paul Thomas, the Head of The Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service, said:

“Ensuring the safety of consumers is one of our key priorities and we use intelligence led projects like test purchasing to cultivate safer, stronger and well informed communities.

“Safety requirements for toys are strict for good reason, but this shouldn’t deter those who make and sell their own toys from being innovative and creating new products.

“We work with businesses from the start of their invention to ensure that only safe products are put on the market.”

Child safety information and tips can also be found at, a website brought to you in partnership with Trading Standards South West.

News archive