CE Mark certifiing handmade toys are safe for childrenIf you make and sell handmade soft toys for children then you need to know about CE Marking.

Here is the low down from Vicki Gregory who ensures all her own handmade soft toys meet the requirements of CE Marking through self certification.

 

Please note this article is written by a children’s toy maker about CE Marking for Handmade Soft Toys; other handmade products may also require CE Marking.

Here are some useful links for CE marking –

Here is the low down from Vicki Gregory who ensures all her own handmade soft toys meet the requirements of CE Marking through self certification.

CE Marking for Handmade Soft Toys  – what’s it all about?

by Vicki Gregory

Chances are you don’t know what CE marking is, most people don’t, some people have a vague awareness of it being some kind of industry standard but don’t know what that involves. Hopefully by the end of this article you will know what CE marking is.

Firstly the CE mark is not a safety or quality mark, it is an enforcement mark.
It means that the product can move around the EU freely, like a product passport. Similarly it is not an approval mark or some kind of certification.

“CE” originally stood for “Communauté Européenne”, French for “European Community” (quote from Wikipedia)

In order to CE mark your product it has to meet the relevant strict industry safety standards.

I know about CE marking soft toys because that’s what I make as part of my business, but there is a whole range of products requiring the same mark including medical equipment and measuring instruments. Click here for a full list: https://www.gov.uk/ce-marking

A few years ago when I started up Miss Gregory’s Gorgeous Gifts I didn’t know about CE marking.

I’ve met hundreds of people since who have also been surprised and quite frankly, put out, to find out about it.

When I tried to research the subject it was like some kind of closely guarded secret, so so frustrating!!

My local trading standards office tried to point me in the right direction and it soon became clear to me that making toys to sell wasn’t as easy as it first appeared to be.

 

You have two options, either self certify your product or pay a laboratory to do it for you.
It had to be self-certification the labs are pricey!

I eventually found out that you need to put soft toys through a series of safety tests following BS EN71 parts 1, 2 and 3 and there was a whole lot of reading to do!


Here are some links to the reading involved:

https://www.gov.uk/toy-manufacturers-and-their-responsibilities#ec-declaration-of-conformity-and-ce-marking
http://www.conformance.co.uk/adirectives/doku.php?id=handmadetoys
http://www.btha.co.uk/toy-safety/btha-guidance-documents/toy-safety-directive/
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/toys/safety/index_en.htm

It’s quite mind boggling to sift through all that information.   I read, reread and let it all sink in, then things started to make more sense.
I went to the library and ordered in a copy of the British Standards I needed (EN71-1, 2 & 3) and made copious notes about what’s actually involved in self certification testing.

I then found out that a company called Conformance do a pack which takes all the leg work out of the process.

They have a Self-Certification Pack for Handmade Soft Toys for just £25.  This was good news and it made  life a whole lot easier!  I fully recommend this.
The paperwork was all laid out for me to fill in, there’s a checklist and a blank technical file – hurrah!

So what is involved with CE Marking Handmade Soft Toys?

Toy Torture for CE Mark testing

A whole lot of toy torture!

First you check the toy doesn’t fit in the small parts cylinder.  Then you need to twist your toy cruelly and clamp it to hang heavy weights from it to check the seams hold.  This is to make sure no small parts are produced (choking hazard). Then you need to hang heavy weights from any added components. This can be a fiddly process, but the more testing you do the easier it is, after a while it all becomes part of the design process.

Once you’ve done that you put the poor thing in the wash, dry it and do it all over again. If your toy passes it gives you a huge amount of confidence in your product! If it doesn’t then you tweak the design until it does!

Then the scary, sad or fun part, depending on your point of view!

You have to burn your toy under controlled conditions; one in an unwashed state and another after it’s had a wash.
This is to ensure that if a toy were to catch fire the child will have ample time to drop it before being burnt too.

The firs test for handmade toys CE Testing

Then comes the paperwork (technical file), everything is logged.
All the physical tests you’ve done you prove you’ve done by photographing the processes and videoing the flammability tests.
You write up a quality control document to ensure that you make each toy in exactly the same way.

CE Mark Testing certificate

You then need to make sure you have lab test certificates to prove that your materials all pass BS EN71-3 (the chemical migration part of the standards).
This is the part that can be costly but luckily us small craft business types are a sharing caring bunch and we help each other out.

There are a number of fantastic support groups on Facebook you can join.  I help admin a couple of them.
These groups make it affordable for everyone by sharing the costs of testing and sourcing free certificates where we can. Thank goodness for that!


Here’s some links for those groups (and a page):

https://www.facebook.com/cemarkingsupportnetwork

https://www.facebook.com/groups/779808745368557 This is a CE marking soft toy support group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/CEmarkedsocktoyssupportnetwork For sock toys

https://www.facebook.com/groups/125356137672409 This one’s for wooden toys

Last of all you create a Declaration of Conformity which you sign.

When I got to that bit I felt like I’d like someone to tell me what I was doing was right, so I contacted Trading Standards and asked them to come and have a look.
You don’t have to do this by the way! They were impressed, and I was happy!

Why should you bother with CE Marking for handmade soft toys (and other regulated makes) at all?

It’s a legal requirement is the short answer to that.
I haven’t met anyone who regrets putting themselves through the process though; it’s amazing what these toys will withstand.
The knowledge that the toys you produce are robust and made to a high standard does a lot for your business confidence.
When someone asks you if your toys are suitable for young children you can answer ‘yes’ with confidence and go on to explain how you know!


When she isn’t busy helping makers of soft toys for children comply with CE Testing, Vicki Gregory is busy making and running has her own website and folksy shop.

https://folksy.com/shops/VGregory

http://missgregorysgorgeousgifts.co.uk/

Additional advice and information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/toy-manufacturers-and-their-responsibilities

 

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