Just what is a ‘Safe Doll?’



Everybody who buys dolls wants to make sure they’re safe. That’s a given.

But what does ‘safe’ mean?

Today’s post is about what we do to try and make the dolls we sell as safe as is possible for your children.

In the US we have the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSIA) safety standards, but since most of our dolls are also sold in Europe, they also comply with Europe’s EN71 regulations. (About 10% of our dolls come from Spain.)

After manufacturing, the dolls have to be tested in three main areas: Soft Toy Testing, Plastic Toys Testing and Electrical Toy Testing.  Many dolls have to be tested in multiple categories, like this animated lamb that tells nursery rhymes.

Nurserytime animated and talking lamb by GUND

Nurserytime animated and talking lamb by GUND

And then there’s all the things they test for. Here’s just a partial list:

  • That the materials they use are safe, including flame retardants and dyes, and contain no poisons like Lead, Chromium, Formaldehyde, Nickle, Benzene.
  • That the filling materials are clean and new.
  • Paints and Dyes: Poisonous? Will they flake, or dissolve in the mouth if a child sucks on them?
  • Physical Strength: basically, can your child, pull, twist, squeeze, bend or bite pieces off of the doll that they can then choke on or swallow?
  • Also drop tests. If this doll is dropped, will it break into sharp and dangerous pieces?
  • Are there magnets, eyeballs, ribbons, buttons or other parts to the doll that can come loose or be broken off?
  • and many, many more.

It is practically impossible for a new doll to get made and into your hands without all this safety testing. It costs the manufacturers a small fortune.

Even so, we want your kids to be safe, so we’ll warn you of four big ways you could get an unsafe doll:

  1. Buy an old doll on ebay or at an antique store or at a used goods store like Goodwill that was manufactured before the CPSIA regulations.
  2. Buy a handmade craft doll at a craft fair or off of Etsy.
  3. Leave an older child’s doll around where a toddler can get at it. For example, American Girl® dolls are recommended for ages 8 years or older because many of the smaller accessories are choking hazards for a three year old.
  4. A doll you have that was safe when you bought it, could over time become unsafe… loose parts, rough play etc.

You know, for all the talk and worries of toy safety, the one thing you actually can control you probably don’t do anyway…

All the dolls and toys in your house are supposed to be inspected regularly, to see if they’re still safe to play with, but almost no one I know of does it!