Between choosing healthy foods, supervising bath time, and driving to doctor appointments, parents have a lot going on. But we often overlook potentially dangerous chemicals in baby toys.
Since small children tend to explore their environment by putting things in their mouths, it makes sense to take a closer look at their playthings. Learn more about finding non toxic baby toys – and how natural cleaning products will help keep them safe and sanitary.
What Chemicals Should I Avoid in Children's Toys?
There are plenty of suspicious chemicals lurking in baby toys, but the major offenders are cadmium and phthalates. Learn more about these chemicals below.
Where Is Cadmium Found?
Cadmium is often used in the paint and plating of certain children’s jewelry and toys. The US Department of Health refers to cadmium as “a known carcinogen” that hinders brain growth in infants and young children.
While federal law limits cadmium levels in toys intended for kids under 14, it may be present at low levels – and isn't currently regulated – in children’s jewelry.
What Are Phthalates?
Phthalates are synthetic endocrine-disrupting chemicals used to make plastic softer and more flexible. They can become ingested by children who put toys in or near their mouths – especially when these plastics are heated up.
Multiple human studies suspect a link between phthalates and a wide variety of health issues, including fertility issues, birth defects, early onset puberty, childhood obesity. Most recently, a major study outlined a link between phthalates and all-cause morbidity in adults.
Note: You can also find phthalates in a wide variety of personal care and cleaning products as preservatives.
Allergens Commonly Found in Toys
Aside from chemicals, toys can also often contain allergens that may affect your baby or toddler, which can be especially dangerous to those with asthma or other respiratory issues. Here are a few to consider when toy shopping or accepting new gifts.
When it comes to stuffed animals or cloth toys, especially if it's second hand, dust mites can often find their way into the fabric. You can place the soft toy in the freezer for 1-2 days, followed by a thorough cleaning of the toy.
Pollen is another allergen that can commonly get trapped in soft toys. You can get rid of the pollen by holding a small, handheld vacuum about one centimeter from the toy. Alternatively, you can also place tape directly on the fabric to directly remove it.
Another benefit of non toxic toys is you avoid the risk of chemicals such as formaldehyde, which can be found in plastic toys. This can expose children to airborne irritants, most risky to little ones with asthma, respiratory problems, and high allergies. If you’re looking to further make your home a safe place for your baby, check out our guide to harmful chemicals to avoid in your household.
Why Do So Many Kids' Toys Include Potentially Harmful Ingredients?
If harmful chemicals are shown to pose a risk to young, developing bodies, why are toxic toys still produced for – and marketed to – children? There are several reasons:
It often costs less to make toys with lead paint and other chemicals because they're cheaper than eco friendly baby toys. This leaves more room for retailers, marketers, and manufacturers to profit.
Chemicals like phthalates were developed to make materials stronger, sturdier, more flexible, and even heat-resistant. No one can deny they work as they’re intended to – but they obviously come with unwanted health risks.
3. Lax Regulations
Many toys are produced overseas where manufacturing guidelines might be more lenient. Laws regulating toy materials also vary from state to state.
Where to Find Eco Friendly Baby Toys
Don’t feel pressured to choose children’s toys that check every single box: As you get started, look for great baby products that are:
- Made of safe materials like organic cotton and non-toxic wood.
- Unfinished or finished with non-toxic dyes, water-based paints, and sealants.
- Fair Trade-certified to ensure ethical, living wages for workers.
Research Reputable Brands Online
Luckily, there are more and more brands making a commitment to manufacture safe, non toxic toys. If you’re looking for adorable dolls and stuffed animals, Apple Park sells plush toys made from 100% certified organic cotton and non toxic dyes. For a brand that focuses specifically on baby and toddler toys, Bannor Toys crafts fun, Montessori wooden toys featuring VOC-free paints. Camden Rose is another brand that makes natural toys (and home goods), such as teething toys with natural ingredients like a finish made of beeswax and jojoba.
Sustainable Toy Stores
If you want to test out non toxic baby and toddler toys in person rather than shop online, you can seek out toy stores in your area that sell safe, sustainable playthings. Meer Guide has an extensive list of brick and mortar toy stores around the United States, where you can bring along your little one and test out these toys for yourself.
Online Groups for Local Parents
Second-hand is always best, especially when it comes to making sustainable choices and reducing plastic waste. If you don’t have family or friends to offer their hand-me-down non toxic toys, look online for an alternative. Social media sites such as Facebook or Nextdoor often have groups for local parents where they often give away gently used toys or organize clothing and toy swaps. Even better, you can join and organize one for your local community.
The Biggest Reasons to Consider Eco Friendly Baby Toys
If you’re serious about reducing your baby’s exposure to harmful chemicals and materials (and what parent isn’t?), start by researching how retailers source and produce their toys.
“Sustainable” and “organic” don't always mean exorbitant prices: Green baby toys are more affordable than they've ever been. As production processes evolve – manufacturers discover more innovative ways to utilize high-quality materials – those savings will continue to be passed on to consumers.
Here are 5 more reasons to consider buying nontoxic baby toys:
1. They’re Higher Quality
Because babies launch toys across the room with surprising strength, we’re all for indestructible products. We love Green Toys’ durable designs and their use of 100% recycled, high-quality plastic.
Puracy Pick: Certain to be a hit at bath time, Green Toys’ Paddle Boat is BPA-, phthalate-, and PVC-free. One of our favorite eco friendly toddler toys is their Shape Sorter, too.
2. They’re Award Winners
Green baby toys and games don’t have to forego creativity and innovation: Many of our favorites have won awards for their environmental impact – but also because they’re tons of fun!
Puracy Pick: The durable Hape Scoot Around Ride On Wooden Bike uses non-toxic finishes like water-based paint.
3. They’re Ethically Produced
It’s a thing to tell children where their treasured objects come from, what they’re made of, and who assembled them. Fair Trade Certification means that workers receive fair wages for long-term work, communities are valued, and working conditions are safe.
Puracy Pick: This Fabric Frisbee Disc isn't just fun for kids – it’s also hand crocheted by a local Mayan community in Guatemala.
4. Simple Designs Encourage Creativity
How many times do children unwrap an elaborate present only to be more fascinated by the box it came in? This is a major reason we love non-toxic wooden toys that are simple in design and function: They encourage kids to tap into their creativity!
Puracy Pick: Some of our favorite non toxic toys for young toddlers are the Muyindo Montessori Wood Blocks Puzzle Board and the Grimm’s Rainbow Colored Stacker (which are colored with non-toxic water-based dyes).
5. Sustainability Pays It Forward
Sustainable toys are made from natural, renewable materials. They don’t pollute the environment during any stage of development – and they certainly won’t sit in the landfill for centuries.
Well-made, ecofriendly baby toys are built to go the distance. So when your kids have outgrown them, consider donating them to other families to keep the appreciation going.
Puracy Pick: The Hape Pound & Tap Bench is an award-winning toy that encourages the love of music, improves hand-eye motor skills, and is made to last for years.
Keep Your Children’s Toys Clean with Plant-Based Products
Whichever toys you choose, make sure they’re clean and well-cared for.
For washable fabrics, choose products that were designed for sensitive skin. After using the Natural Stain Remover to break down hundreds of stains and odors, throw clothes and toys in the washing machine with our Natural Laundry Detergent.
Note: Our baby laundry tips will help you remove any and all stains with natural products.
Free of harsh chemicals, dyes, and synthetic fragrances, our 99.51% Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner is loaded with powerful, plant-based ingredients that quickly remove dirt and grime from everything your baby touches (and puts in their mouth).
Safe Disinfectants That Really Work
Our Disinfecting Surface Cleaner uses hydrogen peroxide to kill 99.99+% of germs (with a 10-minute dwell time). Because it also cleans gunk and grime off of non-porous surfaces, the biodegradable formula is perfect for deep-cleaning play areas.
Choose Natural Cleaning Products You Can Trust
Our company was founded on creating safe, effective products for the entire family. That’s why you’ll never find any of these ingredients in Puracy products:
At Puracy, it’s our mission to provide effective, natural baby products and plant-based home cleaners, as well as moving towards more sustainable packaging. Our ingredient lists are transparent, and we work with PhD chemists and pediatricians to develop formulas that are safe for every member of your family.