If there's one thing we're all extremely careful about, it’s what reaches our children. We make sure to regulate ‘potty language,’ junk food, inappropriate behavior, bullying ~ the list goes on. But what about during playtime? Are you sure that your youngsters’ toys are safe?
Unfortunately, toys today can be made from an array of threatening toxins and synthetic materials. For instance, chemicals and heavy metals like toluene, phthalates, BPA, lead and cadmium are dangerous in any product, let alone in kids’ toys. Here are a few simple guidelines to follow to make shopping for toys and kids’ items worry-free:
Natural Woods and Fibers Are Best
This means avoiding plastics, metals, synthetic fibers, and most traditionally manufactured paints. These substances are hot spots for toxic chemicals. Paints often chip and can contain amounts of lead well above the FDA’s standard limit. Young children especially put everything in their mouths, and rest assured these are not substances you want them ingesting.
The alternative? Select toys made of wood and organic cotton/wool, and vegetable based paints and art supplies. Look for organic textiles with natural/non-toxic dyes. Organic cotton stuffed animals are perfect for naptime, and wood is my top choice when it comes to playtime. Safely finished or unfinished wood toys are simple, natural options that fulfill the same playful purposes as the plastic alternatives.
Some of my favorite naturally sourced and produced options for playtime include wooden block sets and games from Larsen Toy Lab, handmade wooden toys and rattles from Bannor Toys, a stainless steel and silicone teether from Toofeze, natural soy crayon rocks for art time, and non-toxic playmats and loungers from Nook Sleep Systems.
Cheap Isn’t a Better Deal (In the Long Run)
Finding inexpensive jewelry for your kids to play dress up in might seem like a good idea, but many of these products have been found to have lead and other toxic heavy metals, plastics, and chemicals in them. Lead is associated with a number of health concerns including bladder, kidney and lung issues as well as neurodevelopmental toxicity and behavioral disorders. Consider purchasing used jewelry from thrift shops, which can be reasonably priced yet genuinely produced and free from plastics and toxic paints.
Initially, spending more on toys and playthings may not seem reasonable or economical. However, you end up getting more for your buck in the long term. For instance, well made toys last much longer than cheap ones, often surviving generations and being passed down as heirlooms to younger children. They also retain their resale value much better, and are safer for the environment from both a manufacturing and disposal perspective. Read more about these and other benefits of investing in safe products in my post Economics of Health ~ Just Makes Good ‘Cents.’
To learn more about the toys you already own and to stay updated on the toy industry, you can sign up for recall alerts from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The commission provides tips to be safe using your current toys as well as reminds us to check our children’s toys frequently for damages and missing parts to prevent any mishaps. They will also send you alerts if there have been any company recalls of products you might own, giving you a heads up as soon as possible.
Health and hugs,