Over recent years, non-toxic jewellery and nursing aids have become increasingly more popular for fashion conscious mums. This influx of interest is also creating a booming market for small business Mumtrepreneurs to flex their creative muscles to earn money while looking after bubs at home. While this of course is great news in terms of fantastic new products and financial opportunities for families, it may also create problems when beginners are faced with issues such as product safety and commercial regulations. Chief among these issues is the term ‘Teething Necklaces’, and how this name relates to the national mandatory toy safety requirements.
Australian Toy Safety Standard
In Australia, all toys for children up to and including 36 months old are covered by mandatory safety standards. The standard covers factors such as small parts coming off toys during play or after reasonable wear and tear. It also covers details such as toxicity and the overall size/shape of a toy. The objective of these standards is to help prevent choking, suffocation, or other harm caused to young children. It is an offence in Australia to provide a baby toy which is not compliant with the mandatory standards.
But why, you may ask, are we talking about toy safety standards anyway? This brings us to the next section:
What is classified as a ‘baby toy’?
The definition of a baby toy in Australia can cover many different items such as; rattles, cot attachments, dolls, toy trucks, and so much more. One of the key aspects in the definition is the actual marketing and distribution of the product.
Which brings us back to necklaces, or more specifically, ‘teething necklaces’. While this name has grown in use and has become synonymous with the marketing of silicone and/or wood jewellery for mums with young bubs, the use of the word teething is enough to officially classify the item as a baby toy. In statements provided by the ACCC, it has been explicitly clarified that any product which is named or marketed as being a teether or for teething is to be automatically classified as a baby toy, due to the close connections and associations these words have with known products such as teething rings. This is always the case, no mater what other age advice, warnings, or other information is provided. For example if you say in big red bold print writing; “This item is not a toy!”, then the item will still be classified as a baby toy anyway due to the product name.
This classification means that all of the size, shape, durability, and other, requirements in the toy safety standard will apply to the item in question. Given these requirements, most necklaces on the market (upward of 99%) would fail, due to the necklace being able to easily pass through an opening 35mm x 50mm, which presents a choking risk (in addition to several other requirements too).
What’s in a name?
So, does this mean that necklaces intended for nursing babies are prohibited? Certainly not! It all comes down to the correct naming, marketing, and product details/descriptions included with the necklaces when they are sold. Remember the key part of this definition is the use of the words teether/teething, as the product itself is not a problem when used correctly.
To clarify on what correct use is; necklaces should only be worn by a mother (or person over 36 months old) and should never left alone with a baby to use as a toy. They are great for nursing aids or can simply be a non-toxic and more baby friendly alternative to regular fashion jewellery (provided you use quality non-toxic components that is).
You can call a necklace what ever you want- as long as you don’t call it a teether or otherwise describe it as a baby toy. Two examples of acceptable names are; Nursing Necklace and Mothers Jewellery. These names describe the use and connection to a young baby, but do so in a way that there is no foreseeable risk that the items may be misconstrued as a stand-alone baby toy.
So, do other safety standards apply for necklaces?
No, there are no safety standards or other requirements mandated for necklaces worn by persons over the age of 36 months old. This includes necklaces which are intended for a mother to use as a nursing aid. While this seems a bit unfortunate, as there is a big gap where a product safety category could exist (covering details such as toxicity, durability, etc), this is how the law in Australia currently stands.
So have fun and let your creative juices flow, just make sure you keep on top of all the safety and commercial requirements for the products you make along the way!
For certified non-toxic supplies, shop at TeethingBabyAustralia.com.au