August 18, 2020
Why it’s dangerous?
Small parts of the toy pose a risk of choking by blocking the airway at the back of the child’s mouth and upper throat. This kind of hazard is particularly significant for children under 36 months.
How to define small parts?
If the product (or separate part) fits completely into the small parts cylinder, it will be defined as a small part. Small parts in toys are not suitable for children under 3 years of age. The European Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC also forbids all kinds of removable or detachable small parts in toys that are intended to be put in the mouth, regardless of the age of the child. Any such small parts are more likely to be inhaled from a mouth-actuated toy, with a serious risk of choking for children of all ages.
There are exemptions like paper, fabric, elastics, yarn, strings, fuzz, crayons, and chalk as per certain testing methods.
Toys intended for children over 36 months of age presenting a risk related to small parts shall have a specific warning, such as:
- “Warning. Not suitable for children under 36 months.” or
- “Warning. Not suitable for children under 3 years.” or
- The warning symbol (see image) accompanied by the word “warning” and the statement of the specific hazard, i.e., “Small parts. Choking hazard.”
According to the European Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC, the manufacturer shall mark the warnings in a clearly visible, easily legible, understandable and accurate manner on the toy, on an affixed label or on the packaging and, if appropriate, on the instructions for use which accompany the toy. Small toys that are sold without packaging shall have appropriate warnings affixed to them.
Suggested testing package
To evaluate the choking hazard related to small parts, the European Standard to apply is EN 71–1, Safety of toys — Part 1: Mechanical and physical properties.
To know more download SAFETY OF TOYS — Key learnings from 2019 EU recalls
Overview reports of SAFETY GATE notifications, published free of charge in English on ec.europa.eu/consumers/consumers_safety/safety_products/rapex/alerts/repository/content/pages/rapex/index_en.htm, © European Union, 2005–2020. The official contact points of the Member and EFTA-EEA States provide the information published in these weekly overviews. Under the terms of Annex II.10 to the General Product Safety Directive (2001/95/EC) responsibility for the information provided lies with the notifying party. The Commission does not take any responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided.