I get a lot of questions about what stuffed animal eyes are safe for babies.
Even though craft eyes are often called safety eyes – they are not recommended for use in toys for children under the age of three.
I’m often asked, “can I use buttons instead”?
In short, the answer is no.
To explain why, let’s talk about why craft eyes aren’t baby safe for stuffed animals. It’s incredibly unlikely that the washer will accidentally come off of the back of the eye. (In fact, it’s pretty difficult to remove the washer from an eye with plastic ridges, as I showed in this blog post on how to remove craft eyes.)
The danger with craft eyes is that a baby (or dog) could chew through the fabric that the eye is attached to, dislodging the eye. A plastic eye securely attached to a scrap of shredded fabric is still a choking hazard.
Now what about buttons? Many people assume that since they’re sewn on, they’re more secure. But it’s not true. A baby can use their set of chompers to chew through the thread attaching it to the piece. It’s actually easier for a abby to chew through the threads holding a button eye in place than it is to chew through the fabric surrounding a craft eye.
Baby-safe stuffed animal eyes
For completely baby-safe stuffed animal eyes you have a few different options.
For crocheted stuffed animals, the easiest solution is to crochet the eye.
And they look fabulous! Just look at that adorable owl. You can get that owl pattern here, and there’s a tutorial here with a pattern for crocheted eyes that you can use with any stuffed animal.
Another option for baby safe stuffed animal eyes is felt.
There’s a post here with instructions to make felt eyes – including adding that little white spark. You can use felt eyes on both crocheted and sewn stuffed animals.
One more option for baby-safe softie eyes is to embroider them! This also works on both crocheted and sewn stuffed animals. On small stuffed animals you can use this stitch, and for larger eyes I recommend satin stitch or split stitch as fill stitch.
So many options- and all baby safe. Choose the one you like the look of best!
I normally make my eyes by needle felting them. Do you think that’s ok?
Needle felting, as long as it is securely fastened to the head, should be fine! It’s a lot like a crocheted eye 🙂
The trick is really in the securing, so you’d want to be sure it can’t be pulled off!
I actually had one of the plastic eyes with ridges pop out of one of my toys. It was my sons favorite teddy bear. He was holding it, and I noticed that the eye wasn’t in the right spot. He tried putting it back on the toy himself after it popped out (aww).
I took the head off the toy to give the bear a new eye. I fished out the old washer, and found the washer had snapped in half!
I always thought it was an issue of kids chewing the eyes out, as you mentioned, but there are plenty of ways those eyes can come out of toys.
Oh, my goodness! Yes, I can see how if the washer breaks, that would happen!
I think your story illustrates that almost anything can happen! We have to be very careful! Thanks for sharing, Ida.
Thank you so much for the advice and information it saved me from making a huge mistake.
I would like to know where I can get a pattern for the owl you show on the blog about craft eyes and why they might be a problem.
Do you think you could email me this information at email@example.com ?
Thank you in advance for your time
You can get that pattern here. https://shop.shinyhappyworld.com/collections/crochet-birds/products/nelson-the-owl-amigurumi-pattern
I saw a video of someone slip stitching yarn through a project to make an eye. Is this method also baby safe? I’m also confused as to why making a yarn eye is safer for a baby. Is it because a baby can pass yarn easier than plastic in the situation that a baby chews through the toy?
There are two things at play here. Yes – if a baby chews off a bit of yarn it will just pass through. They’ll swallow it (with their drool) instead of inhaling it. But they’re also less likely to chew on a yarn/felt/embroidered eye. It doesn’t have the smooth, shiny feel that’s so appealingly gnawable that plastic and button eyes have. 🙂