Crocheting is a marvelous craft for making wonderful, imaginative toys for children of all ages, but there is a serious side to this hobby. Basic safety rules are very important to remember, since you want your crocheted toys to provide the most pleasure to the precious little ones in your life. The rules are simple and require just a little common-sense planning on your part.
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Follow good safe steps and use an ounce of prevention when making toys for children. Choose your materials carefully and use a simple easy crochet pattern. If you’re making a toy for a baby, be sure the yarn is soft and cuddly and won’t irritate a baby’s sensitive skin. Avoid adding any detail that might scratch an infant or that a baby could easily pull off. As we all know, the first response of most babies and toddlers to anything new is to pop it into their mouths. Sew ribbons, bows, and any other special features firmly in place so there is no chance for a child to pull them off.
Be especially cautious for children under age 3. Avoid buttons, wiggle eyes, and other sewn-on three-dimensional features on dolls and toys. A small child can pull these off and choke on them so easily. Embroidering facial details is a smart alternative, or you can add felt features in a snap by sewing them on to the project before you stuff it.
Another prevention to remember is to avoid long strings or cords. These may be very dangerous for infants and very young children. The cords may become wrapped around an infant’s neck, causing strangulation. Never hang toys with long strings, cords, loops, or ribbons in cribs or playpens where little ones can become entangled.
Most toys and dolls need to be stuffed. Polyester fiberfill is probably the best stuffing material available. Although you can stuff your dolls and toys with any number of materials, fiberfill launders and wears well and is least likely to irritate a baby’s tender skin. When you are stuffing a toy, remember that fiberfill settles with age, so be sure to make the initial stuffing very firm. Your stuffing should be so full that you have to pull the edges of your project together in order to crochet or sew it closed. Stuff the hands and feet first by pushing small amounts of fiberfill very firmly into the ends, then fill up the arms and legs, using larger bits of fiberfill as you move into larger cavities.
The age and interest of the child for whom you are creating toys made from a simple easy crochet pattern are important considerations. Why put all that time and effort into something that is demolished in a few days or ends up stored away rather than being played with regularly? An elaborate doll dress made with fine thread and accented with pearls would delight any little girl old enough to own a fashion doll, for example, but pre-schoolers may be a little too rough on all those tiny, delicate pearls and the intricate stitches. A better choice might be a big fuzzy teddy bear made with worsted weight yarn.
When purchasing or making something for children, here are nine toy dangers to consider:
Long cords and strings
Propelled objects like darts
Toys inappropriate to a child’s age
Electric toys improperly used or maintained
Infant toys that pose a danger of the infant choking
Have fun while making a cute little stuffed toy for a grandchild or something for charity.
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