Recent baby toys help teach basic reading, counting and problem solving.
China infant toy manufacturers are incorporating intelligence-enhancing features to differentiate models.
|Shantou Chenghai Xiuhong's model 8108 baby rattle and bell toy set is made of ABS and housed in a character-shaped container.|
Many companies are now tapping into cognitive learning because most releases already develop hand-and-eye coordination, grip, crawling and walking, and stimulate the sense of sight, hearing and smell.
Recently launched wooden blocks are inlayed with numbers and letters to initiate basic counting and reading. Simple jigsaw or matching-type puzzles encourage problem solving.
Meanwhile, Shantou Chenglee Plastic Co. Ltd’s 20-piece free-form building set aids in strengthening the creativity of babies up to 24 months old.
To enhance the educational aspect further, more makers are incorporating electronic functions. Books in this category are fitted with audio ICs that boost recognition of different animals and objects.
The range of infant toys from China includes soft toys, mobiles, rattles, and bath and developmental releases. The first represents the largest subcategory.
Soft playthings are generally 5 to 12in. Models come in cotton or polyester velour, microfiber, velvet, flannel or terry. They are priced between $1 and $8, with midrange items at $3.50 to $5.
Environment-friendly materials such as bamboo rayon and organic cotton are available in the high end. But since the fibers are 30 to 50 percent costlier than regular variants, finished products can be 30 percent more expensive.
Mobiles consist of two to four bar frames in plastic, solid wood or bamboo. Fabric attachments may be offered. The toys are available in nonmotorized and battery-powered versions, with the first including wind-up configurations.
Nonelectronic variants are quoted at $2 to $5, while their counterparts are $4 to $10. Prices of the latter are dependent on the number of hanging components and additional functions such as music playing, voice recording, volume control and lighting.
Infant toy quotes are anticipated to increase in coming months as suppliers conform to the recently implemented 2009/48/EC. Manufacturers must invest particularly in costlier compliant materials and extra testing fees.
Currently, very few mainland China providers are capable of turning out certified inputs, forcing companies to source abroad. As it is, factories are procuring 50 percent of their requirement from Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Germany, with share expected to increase during the year. Expenses are also projected to climb 30 to 50 percent.
As for product inspection, suppliers are spending more for re-examinations given the number of restricted heavy metals increased from eight to 19. Small and midsize infant toy makers are struggling to keep operating costs to a minimum, but price augmentations may be unavoidable