How to choose safe, non-toxic toys for your kids
Play is a fundamental childhood experience.
As well as being an important part of our children’s development, it’s also fun and many of us have fond memories of childhood toys.
Toys are something our kids will come into contact with nearly every day and they love exploring them with their mouths! So, it’s incredibly important to make sure toys you provide them with are safe and non-toxic.
“The World Health Organisation has emphasised that infants and young children are more vulnerable to gene-damaging chemicals than adults” Dr Peter Dingle
What do we need to watch out for?
There can be many toxins in cheap toys including things like PVC, BPA, BPS, phalates, polyethylene terephthalate, fire retardants and heavy metals. They can be ingested, inhaled or transferred through the skin. These toxins are linked to a range of health problems, including cancer, endocrine disruption, developmental delays, and reproductive system damage. Scary stuff!
As well as being toxic, cheaper toys tend to be very poor quality and can break easily. Be wary of anything that has small pieces that can break off and become a choking hazard. Anything smaller than a ping pong ball can get trapped in airways.
Cheap toys are not designed for longevity. It’s a vicious cycle of consumerism where plastic toys are bought cheaply, broken and then discarded to landfill. Every bit of plastic ever made is still in existence.
There are also issue of fair-trade and ethical practices to consider. Denying a worker in a third world country a decent wage and safe working conditions so kids can have all the latest toys for Christmas is pretty messed up, no matter which way you look at it.
What to you need to look for?
♥ Choose a reputable store where you know the owners are eco-conscious and ethical.
♥ Choose natural and untreated materials such as wood, bamboo, metal and natural fibres like cotton, wool or felt. These materials are also an environmentally friendly option.
♥ Check that soft toys are not stuffed with toxic fillers. Natural fillers like bamboo or GMO free corn starch are preferable.
♥ Check that the paints, dyes and treatments used are natural and non-toxic.
♥ Check that wooden toys are not made from MDF or plywood or use toxic glues.
♥ Look beyond the labelling. Just because something says it’s non-toxic or wooden doesn’t mean it’s safe.
♥ Personally, I also look at who makes the toys and where they are from. Is the company ethical and are they looking after their workers? It’s just good karma!
Some of my top picks:
Hevea make rubber toys that don’t contain holes so there is no chance of mould build up. The safe rubber ducky! See more here.
EverEarth make beautiful wooden toys from sustainable wood and water based non-toxic paints. Find the whole range here.
I am so in love with Maud n Lil soft toys. You will see them featured often on Natural New Age Mum. They are beautiful quality and certified organic with corn starch filling and no small buttons. Find them here.
What about family and friends?
I hear you. A new child in the family gets everyone excited and they want to buy all the baby things!
I find it’s best to nip this in the bud early and explain your stance on toxins, plastics and cheap toys. You might instigate a ‘books only please’ policy or something else that works for your family.
If you need some help navigating those conversations, have a read of my article, What to do when your family and friends don’t support your lifestyle choices.
Good quality, eco-friendly toys should last a lifetime and may even become family heirlooms. You will be able to pass them on to siblings, other families or sell them when you are finished.
It’s also worth remembering that kids (and babies in particular) don’t need a lot of toys for stimulation – that’s what we are here for! There is something to be said for providing less to encourage more imaginative play. Simple toys without all the bells and whistles (or flashing lights and sounds!) are often best.
Choosing quality over quantity is a safe bet for your kids and the environment. Good quality, ethical toys do cost more than cheap plastic junk from the discount stores but I think our kids are worth it.
What do you think? Do you actively search for safe, non-toxic toys?
Further Reading and sources: