Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category
23 Sep

Safety Tips: Ride-on Toys

The truth is that any toy can be dangerous... Here are some tips on how to keep ride-on toys as safe as possible: (provided by and As they embrace their growing sense of mobility, it is only natural for children to want their own bicycle, tricycle, or scooter. Parents should be supportive to this stage of their development and ensure safety when children are playing on ride toys. Experts recommend buying outdoor toys according to the manufacturer’s age and weight recommendation. There ride-on toys that can be used by children as young as 18 months. Here are other factors to consider when choosing a ride-on kid toy: 1. The child’s physical abilities 2. Toy Size 3. Potential hazards Parents should also buy protective gear like helmets, kneepads, or elbow pads. Toy tricycles should also have tall flags attached to them so motorists can easily spot them. Teach the child to properly wear his or her helmet. Demonstrate to them the correct way of wearing the helmet. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission urges parents to remind children to: 1. Always wear protective gear like helmets, kneepads, and elbow pads. 2. Always ride your scooter during daytime. 3. Always ride your scooter on sidewalks or paved off roads and never where there are cars and other vehicles. 4. Keep your scooter on smooth surfaces and away from sand, gravel, water, and dirt. Never allow more than one child to ride at a time Never allow your child to be pushed while riding Should always be drove in child safe areas Do not forget driveway safety Good luck and beeeee safe. What other rules or guidelines should we be aware of as our kids enjoy ride-on toys?
15 Sep

Playful Factory Tips: Turn your junk drawer into a fun toy!

It is time to dump out your junk drawer and make some chain reaction toys. Our Design Department would like to share some tips to help you start designing your own chain reaction toy.

Tips from our Design Department

(inspired by 1. Decide on a goal for your machine. The goal should be the last step of your machine. The goal could be something useful, funny, or surprising. 2. Gather a few things from around the house, in your toy box, junk drawer, or garage. Balls, marbles, dominoes, string, toy cars, magnets, cardboard or tubes, etc. Don't worry, you can collect more later. Avoid dangerous objects and chemicals. 3. Now play with the things! What can the car bump into or knock down? Can the string pull something up? What can push the ball down the cardboard ramp? Try it out! 4. Get a piece of paper and start writing down any idea that pops into your head. This is called brainstorming. No matter how crazy the idea seems, just write it down for later. Even if you don't use it, it may help you think of more things. 5. Once you get a few good ideas for your machine, make a list, in order, of the steps, or draw a simple picture of the steps. 6. Plan on making quite a few changes to your machine as you build it. It may look different from your original drawing. Try not to get frustrated, this is part of learning what works best. 7. If you get stuck at a certain step of your machine, why not try to work your way backwards? Start at the last step, and connect the part to it that triggers it. Or take a break away from the machine. Sometimes you'll come back with a fresh solution to the problem. 8. WACKINESS! GO CRAZY! A true Rube Golberg machine would be boring without some commom household items (old toys, toilet plunger, egg beater, typewriter...) 10. Setup and test your machine in stages. Once they are working, put each of the stages together. 11. If you have the ability to, it would be fun to video tape your chain reaction toy.

List of Action Words

Sometimes even just words can spark ideas... Here is a list of some action words to get your brain churning. (Churning... that is an action word). aim, bake, balance, barbecue (not recommended), barge, bat, billow, bite, blow, bob, bounce, break,brew, bulge, burst, catch, chase, chirp, clear, clutch, cook, crawl, crouch, dangle, drip, droop, dump, empty, erupt, explode, fish, float, flutter, fly, follow, gather, hang, jump, kick, lean, light, melt, mix, paddle, paint, pop, pour, pull, push, raise, rest, rock, roll, sail, scoot, shake, shoot, skate, slide, spew, spin, spray, stretch, swing, teeter-totter, throw, twirl, whistle, yank, zap... Good luck with your designs!
01 Sep

Playful Factory: Are Cardboard Toys Safe???

Cardboard would seem to be a rather low-risk material for making toys. The truth is, it is a relatively safe material for making toys. Even though it is a lower risk material there are still some pretty serious precautions that need to be taken. Many of these tips come from

Age Range

We suggest 3-7 years old. This could probably be lower because there is not much of a choking hazard, but it seems the younger kids struggle to grasp that the cardboard is unstable. Frequently they trust the cardboard to support them like a solid wall would. This can cause minor to serious injury

Development Level

Cardboard is perfect for kids starting to explore with imaginative play. With a marker you can quickly and inexpensively help them turn a box into just about anything. As a reference lists under the imagination milestones for a 3 year old, that they start to:
  • Use one object to represent another
  • Use symbolic toys (barn) in pretend play
  • Use a doll/puppet to participate in play
  • Sounds like the perfect stage of development for some cardboard boxes!

    Product Weight

    Cardboard is very lightweight and so there should not be to large of an issue if your fort happens to tip over. However, if multiple people are playing with the fort it likely that it could tip over onto one child with the other child's weight on top of it. Just be aware that tipping over does happen.


    There are a lot of companies that make and sell cardboard toys. There are even more folks out there making their own cardboard toys. Use good materials. We recommend double walled corrugated cardboard, because it is durable yet flexible. We would also recommend reinforcing all joints with tape.


    Falling - Kids like to climb and may try to get on top of cardboard. The good thing is that most cardboard will simply collapse, but it can hurt trying. Just be aware of this and do not make it easy for your kid to climb, like placing cardboard stairs in your fort. Paper cuts - The nature of working with anything paper is that you might rub the paper the wrong way and get sliced. With cardboard you can help prevent this by always folding over the exposed edges. Hazards - when using recycled cardboard we recommend you clean the cardboard by removing all existing staples, tape, etc. A lot of cardboard has some hidden extras that could really hurt if not removed. Also beware... cardboard is very flammable.
    Most importantly, as the parent you get to make a judgment call of, is my child ready for this toy. Get some cardboard out and experiment with it before you make hand it over to your kid to play with. Try scoring, cutting, folding, gluing, just to see how the material reacts. This way you can also be the pro that teaches you kid(s) best practices. And please please have fun!

    Design Tips

    Cutting - An exacto knife and cutting board is probably the easiest way to cut cardboard. There are professional services that will do the cutting for you if you have a CAD file. Ponoko does this and has some design you can purchase or use as inspiration on their site. Here is some cool stuff people have made using Ponoko's services. Joints - For the joints, we recommend notching and reinforcing with tape. If you must glue, remember to use a non-toxic glue. Folding - Folding cardboard is much easier to do along the "grain" of the corrugation. It is also helpful to depress cardboard along the line you want to fold with a solid object (sharpie cap works great). We hope these tips are helpful. What tips do you have? What are some of your experiences working with cardboard?
    25 Aug

    Playful Factory: Safety Tips for Wooden Toys

    Wood is a great material to build toys out of for many reasons; durable, low cost, accessible, repairable, and I could go on. With this being said, there are also some safety concerns that must be addressed in order to maximize enjoyment and minimize disappointment. To design the best possible toy, you must ask the best possible questions. Here are some questions that might help you design your own pull-along toy:

    Who is this toy for?

    Pull-along toys are made for boys and girls, ages 19 months and up. Interest for this toy will peak once children are able to control their walking and start experimenting with running. Clearly it is not limited to this age group. Crawling babies like them just as much as older kids do.

    What is the main purpose/function of this toy?

    To be pulled around and to motivate toddlers to learn to walk. There is often other functions such as movement, stacking, transporting, etc…

    What is not working well with existing pull-along toys?

    • Some pull-along toys have a narrow base and tend to get a little top heavy, causing the toy to fall over. At which point the toy gets dragged around on its side.
    • Some pull-along toys have multiple connecting parts, like a train with multiple cars. The attachment points between the pieces is not secure enough and parts get left behind.
    • Some wheels do not get enough grip on smooth surfaces to spin.

    What is working well with existing pull-along toys?

    • As mentioned before, some pull-along toys have secondary functionality. These seem to keep kids interested in the toy even after they are exhausted from pulling the toy around.
    • The pull-along toys that take advantage of the mechanical movement provided by the child moving the toy across the floor seem to really excel!

    What is something fun and unique that would improve pull-along toys?

    Being able to customize the pull-along toy would be fun… Having interchangeable parts or an ability to decorate your own.

    What should my pull-along toy look like?

    Whatever you would like!

    What safety concerns should be taken into consideration?

    Small Pieces: Beware of small pieces, especially with homemade toys. This includes the pull string. This is a real choke and strangle hazard. I would suggest a thicker pull string, about bungee cord thickness. Also, in areas that you have a material change ensure they are fastened together securely. Wood Finish: Ensure the surface is smooth and the corners are rounded. Treating wood products is important because their finishes often wear out over time. Treating them with a natural oil helps to prevent splintering. Even painted finishes will wear out over time. In addition to this, keep in mind that some finishes, even natural ones, may be toxic if toddlers ingest them, so pick a finish that you feel comfortable with. Make Baby Stuff shares some very valuable information about the best natural oils to use as a finish for your wood toys. "Normal use and cleaning can dry out surfaces on wooden toys. This can allow bacterial growth in the cracks and pits that are a natural part of wood construction. Periodic oiling of wooden toys fills the cracks and pits and helps to prevent the growth of bacteria." Oils: Beeswax, tung oil, almond oil, walnut oil, linseed oil, orange oil, and lemon oil are all great natural oil finishes. Paints: Acrylic (AP non-toxic seal), milk paint, water colors, food coloring Please comment with any design or safety tips you may have. What do you like or dislike about certain pull-along toys? What wood finishes do you prefer? What other questions will help us design better wooden pull-along toys?