Wednesday, December 14, 2011



As soon as you start learning more about toxic chemicals and what they can do to the health of your kids and family, there is always a moment when we as parents look around our chlidren’s toy area (or toy store) and realize that a good percentage of toys are plastics (phthalates you start to wonder?) or brightly colored (lead?) and made in China (among other questionable places).  Many an informed parent can easily break into a sweat (um, at least that is what has happened at various moments in the last 2 years to me!) .

With the Holidays around the corner, I have had a couple of friends ask me how I deal with the  toy issue..... Do i stay away from plastics?  Do i research evey single toy before my son is allowed to play with them?  No.  I do what I can in trying to buy non toxic toys for my son at home, and I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve (which i will share with you!) which makes it easy, but if my Munchkin really wants a plastic race car and if Santa brings a plastic race car play set I still do enjoy seeing my son play with it for hours......  its all about balance, and I understand that as long as most of his toys I have been able to label as non toxic, that in itself is a great start.

Here are a couple of tips to choosing non toxic toys:

1. Research: has a great database that lists toys with “no detected chemicals of concern” and “low detected chemicals of concern”.  You can gather gift ideas and get inspired from this list.   You can even access it from your mobile phone, if you are -say- at a toy store! Just text key words and you’ll receive information immediately regarding any testing that’s been done.

2. Start a database of trusted websites and online stores that sell toxic free toys.  There are many of them, some I like are:

3. Skip plastic toys: when possible avoid plastics and phthalates (for information on just how nasty phthalates are click here), choose cloth (ideally organic) or wooden toys instead. If you do purchase plastic toys, try to stick to hard plastics, since soft plastics (rubber ducky, squeaky toys) often have higher phthalate levels.  ‘Safer’ plastics will be labeled #1, 2, 4, or 5 in the chasing arrows symbol usually found on the bottom of the product. Not labeled? Call the manufacturer.
Not all wooden toys are made the same.  Look for unvarnished wooden toys,  water based sealants and paints, or those that specify non toxic paint.  Toys finished with tung oil or beeswax are good choices too.  Be wary of wooden toys sold in markets if traveling....  more often than not, bright colored paints on toys (especially common on wooden toys) outside of the US contains lead...truth is even in the US lead is still found in brightly colored toys on occasion.

4.  Teething Stage: Pay special attention to the makeup of toys and teethers during your munchkin’s oral stage (teething periods etc).   If your baby is chewing on a toy for hours on end, then its worth making sure that what he/she is chewing on is not delivering toxic chemicals into her/his little munchkin body!!

** DO YOUR BEST, BUT DONT GO CRAZY!  Try to research and be aware of most of the toys in your house, that way you dont have to sweat it if (or when!) you buy a couple of plastic toys ... the reality is that they are probably SUPER fun for your munchkin!  Playtime should not be so may never have ALL safe, green, and non-toxic toys (we sure don’t at my house), but it’s not an all or nothing endeavor. And that’s okay, just do what you can.

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