Children have a fundamental need for play. It’s as important to their development and well-being as eating and sleeping. Play needs to be fun, it should be child-led, inspire imagination and creativity, and it also must be free from toxic toys. Babies and young children must have the safest, non toxic, natural toy products available. Toys should be made from sustainable, non-toxic wood, organic cotton, or other natural or organic materials. Simple, natural toy products, like wooden blocks, can inspire creativity and imagination, as long as children can be spontaneous and free to build whatever they can imagine in their natural, non toxic play.
Why Do Toxic Toys Even Exist?
It’s baffling to think that manufacturers would even make toxic toys for babies and small children. But they do. Most toys on the market are manufactured using toxic materials because it’s less expensive to add chemicals to cheap materials then to make a non toxic toy from natural materials. When manufacturers need to make toys more durable, rigid, flexible, or flame retardant, they add chemicals to the plastic, paint and fabric. We all know about lead in toys, but a toy can also contain other toxic chemicals, including phthalates, cadmium, chlorine, and arsenic. Bath toys and soft squeeze toys are usually made from PVC with added phthalates. These toxic toys can off-gas into your child’s environment. Babies and toddlers are exposed to these chemicals when they put the toxic toys in their mouths. Exposure can also come from breathing in the air around the toxic toys.
Most of the chemicals used have not been tested for toxicity to babies and small children. Babies are vulnerable to environmental toxins since they have a limited ability to detoxify and their biological systems are still developing. It is crucial to reduce chemical exposure during the critical period of a baby’s brain development so toxic toys should be eliminated from your baby’s environment.
The new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act is an attempt to eliminate lead and phthalates from children’s products and gives the CPSC more resources and authority to conduct recalls and other actions. Although standards are now beginning to change, improvements to products in stores will take some time so it’s still important to be vigilant in checking out new toys and other baby products. Not all toxic phthalates have been banned, and it may take years before all products containing phthalates are off the store shelves. It usually takes some time for government agencies to work out all the issues involved in protecting the public.
How to Choose Non-Toxic Natural Toy Products
Try to find a natural toy made of unfinished, solid, non-toxic wood, preferably made from sustainably-produced hardwood. The wood should be unfinished, or it should be a natural oil finish, such as linseed, beeswax, or walnut oil. Watch out for coatings or paint on metal or wood toys since these finishes could contain lead and other chemicals. Plywood or particleboard can contain formaldehyde and have toxic glues so make sure the wood is solid.
Stuffed animals and fabric teething toys should be made from all natural, untreated fibers, preferably certified organic cotton with non-toxic dyes. Most soft fabric toys or stuffed animals are made with synthetic materials that are treated with various toxic chemicals to make them fire retardant or stain resistant. Plastic baby books, bath toys and many other plastic or rubber-type toys are likely to be made of vinyl (PVC) and not safe for babies and small children.
Healthy Child has done a lot of research and selected safe, organic and natural toys.
More Resources for Natural Toy Products
At HealthyStuff.org, you can search for toys by product name, UPC code, product type, manufacturer, or retailer to easily find products that have No, Low, Medium, or High levels of toxic chemicals. Also available is a personalized holiday wish list that can be sent to family and friends, blog-friendly widgets in English and Spanish, a mobile application, and quick searches for toy rankings via SMS texting in English and Spanish.
U.S. PIRG provides their Trouble in Toyland report, to evaluate which toys are safe — and which aren’t.
Along with this report, US PIRG has also launched a new interactive Web site. It works on your smart phone, so you can check a toy’s safety or report hazardous, toxic toys while you shop. https://www.uspirg.org/action/toy-safety-taf2
Make smart, non toxic toy purchases by visiting www.ToySafety.mobi from your smart phone or home computer to check on toy hazards and report dangerous toys while you shop.
See selected safe, organic and natural toys