2018 A1 UPDATE: please see updates to en71-1 – cords with potential to tangle
We’ve seen these charity octopus posts lately and its all rather safety vague, So I thought a clear guide on making them safe may be helpful. I know its all rather boring and we don’t mean to sound a killjoy at all, but teeny people depend on your safe work. And we want to help you, as the little octopus is rather cute and clearly in demand!
I had my good crochet experienced sister run me up a little octopus from the instructions available on the internet exactly, to see exactly how well it would hold up when compared to CE marking rules, and there is good news, and possibly not good news…
Do the octopus need the CE mark?
According to the toy manufacturers and their responsibilities site ‘Individuals producing toys on an occasional basis to give to charities to sell are also likely to be exempt.’ So that sounds promising on the legal front if you just wanted to make a few, though ideally you may want to double check with your local trading standards.
If you are making to sell, then you must take the CE marking route.
What about safety?
There is very little on the safety of these toys ‘out there’, and although they fall into a strange loop hole, they are made for teeny babies, which still count as children and they are also smaller than the average ‘from birth’ toy category. So we thought we’d put you together a few guidelines on how you can ensure that the babies who receive the love you put into these toys remain safe. Although the toys are fairly low risk, there is always good reason to check they fall within the guidelines.
Its likely these babies are hooked up to machine where anything that could go wrong would be picked up, at some point these babies will go home, no longer on machines, stronger and yet still be smaller than average babies, parents and babies will get attached to the little octopus and may want to continue the use as a lovey toy and its for that reason that they need to be safe. Even if they were labelled not to be used outside of hospital, it falls into the same rules of ‘is it a toy’ and at the end of it, it very much is a toy and if you were selling it, it would need marking.
Many of these safety points are very obvious, but if you’re new to toy making you may not realise.
Choose your materials carefully, use brand new yarn and stuffing. We would recommend you use yarn which is tested for toymaking, both Stylecraft and Thomas B Ramsden have already tested some of their yarns, and hold a certificate, so they are ideal, otherwise using a good quality brand of yarn is important, and cotton is recommended by hospitals as it creates less fuzz to get caught on babies hands,tubes, etc.
When searching for stuffing, choose a new poly-fill stuffing with the CE mark on it, or states it complies to ‘EN71-3’
By choosing these wisely, you can be safe in knowing the materials contain nothing nasty, and are clean.
-When putting the octopus together, we suggest no 3D sewn on additions such as bows,hats etc as they add an extra hazard such as possible choking should they work their way off later on – if you think this might make them boring, think about how you can jazz them up with coloured variegated yarn instead.
-When adding your tentacles, follow with the colour you are working with and avoid switching yarns and sewing them on separately as this alters the strength.
-Make sure your crochet is tight tight tight, no stuffing/filling should be able to be removed…ever. so bear that in mind. Your octopus is going to be washed, therefore it also needs to withstand that washing without stretching.
Eyes – Embroidery should be tight and flat to the head with no chance of fingers being caught in it. if adding eyes on crochet eyes on they should be totally flat with no chance of sliding anything beneath (check with a credit card)
The general consensus is that the octopus should not have tentacles longer than 22 cms, due to strangulation hazards of cords that could form a tangle or noose. Now unfortunately the regulations isn’t very clear on whether more than one length when bundled together, causes a higher risk, and whether it should be counted as the whole length including the toy it is fixed to. This would actually mean, that the total length of any two tentacles pulled outwards is actually double+ of the 22 cms regulation length (which is dangerous if you think of that around a neck) Edit to add: I could actually tie those two tentacles around my neck, yep I tried it 😉
With the tentacles being curly, with 3 stitches rather than two when crocheting, it gives them an easier way to tangle around each other to form a loop which then is bigger than the regulation length of 38 cms.
Something else that became pretty obvious with a couple of minutes of ‘play’ with the octopus, is that where cotton tends to stretch naturally when pulled, given a few tugs(I didn’t even need weights to test this) even a tight stretched 22 cms could soon stretch out to 25 cm, and stay that way, which completely alters the length to make it unsafe by CE standards.
Again that is just the 22cm regulation length – the reality is that these are being made for tiny babies smaller than the average newborn, and their necks are also smaller, ideally shorter would be safer. I would honestly consider halving the tentacle length, or at minimal reducing the length by at least 4cms to allow for natural stretching of the yarn.
I’m fairly confident with a few adjustments to the length of the tentacles mostly, the little octopus would pass testing, but these few changes can make a huge difference in the safety of your octopus, and help them be enjoyed and loved for a long time as a special keepsake of a baby’s first few weeks or months in hospital. Whether that be in a keepsake box or not.
Its down to the onus of the maker to ensure that they comply with relevant standards, if you’re unsure, contact us or contact your local trading standards, found on your council website 🙂