Written by Stacey Kelleher. Reviewed by Puracy Co-Founder Sean Busch.
Over the past few decades, parents have become more mindful about what we feed our families, as well as the path these foods take to reach to our table. When it comes to safe toys for infants and toddlers, however, we often overlook the possibility of hidden toxins.
Because small children tend to explore the world around them by putting things in their mouths, it makes sense to take a closer look at how safe their playthings are. There are many reasons to choose non-toxic baby toys – and reach for natural cleaning supplies to keep them sanitary.
PhthalatesPhthalates are synthetic chemicals used to make plastic softer and more flexible. They are used in everything from shampoos to household cleaners, cosmetics, and plastic bath toys. In animals, phthalates are suspected to cause organ damage, birth defects, and early onset puberty. These chemicals can become ingested by children who put toys in or near their mouths, especially when plastics are heated up.
CadmiumCadmium is used as a base material, as well as in the paint and plating of certain children’s jewelry and toys. The U.S. Department of Health calls “cadmium a known carcinogen” that also 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 is not currently regulated – in children’s jewelry.
Why Do So Many Toys Include Potentially Harmful Ingredients?If all of these toxic chemicals are shown to pose a risk to young, developing bodies, why are they used in so many toys made for and marketed to children? There are several reasons:
Dollars and CentsSimply said, it often costs less to make toys with lead paint and other chemicals because they are cheaper than organic, naturally-sourced alternatives. That leaves more room for retailers, marketers, and manufacturers to profit.
FunctionalityMost of these chemicals 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 also come with unwanted health risks.
Lax RegulationsAs we said earlier, many toys are produced overseas (where manufacturing guidelines are more lenient). Laws regulating toy materials also vary from state to state.
More Reasons to Choose Non-Toxic Toys
If the word “organic” makes you think about costliness, you’ll be happy to know natural, green baby toys are more affordable than ever. As production processes evolve – and we learn more about innovative ways to utilize natural materials – those savings are passed on to consumers.Want to reduce your baby’s exposure to harmful chemicals and materials? Choose non-toxic toys and products. Also consider asking retailers questions about how and where they’re produced. Here are 5 additional reasons to buy non-toxic toys:
1. They’re Higher Quality
Because babies put everything in their mouths and often launch toys across the room, we’re all for indestructible products that will last for many years. We like Green Toys products for their use of 100% recycled plastic and their high-quality, durable designs.Puracy baby picks: Green Toys Paddle Boat: Certain to be a big hit at bathtime, this adorable boat is also BPA, phthalate, and PVC-free. And for babies and young toddlers, the Green Toys Shape Sorter has been a huge hit for Puracy Co-Founder Paul Tracy’s five children.
2. They’re Award Winners
Kids don’t have to forego creativity and innovation when they play with green baby toys and games. Many of our favorites have won awards, not only because they’re good for kids and the planet, but also because they’re tons of fun!
Puracy toddler pick: Hape Scoot Around Ride On Wooden Bike: Uses non-toxic finishes including water-based paint. The photo below shows one-year-old Lawson Tracy, son of one of Puracy’s co-founders, enjoying the scooter just before bedtime.
3. They’re Produced Ethically
Choosing a new toy is a great time to talk to kids about where their treasured objects come from, what they are made of, and who assembled them. Fair Trade means workers and their communities are valued. Workers receive a fair wage for long-term work and enjoy safe working conditions.Puracy toddler/child pick: Fabric Frisbee Disc: This cloth frisbee is not only fun for kids and pets alike, but it’s also a Fair Trade item hand crocheted by members of the local Mayan community in Guatemala.
4. Simple Designs Encourage Creativity
Do you remember unwrapping an elaborate present as a child only to be more fascinated by the box it came in? Our favorite non-toxic wooden toys are simple in design and function. This encourages kids to tap into their creativity – no bells or whistles needed!
Puracy baby picks: Muyindo Montessori Wood Blocks Puzzle Board: Lead, phthalate, BPA, and PVC-free. Grimm’s Pyramid of Wooden Building Blocks: These beautiful wooden blocks are colored with non-toxic water-based dyes instead of low-quality paint that can chip off and get ingested by your little ones.
5. Sustainability Continues Paying It Forward
Sustainable toys are made from natural renewable materials. They don’t pollute the environment at any stage of development, and they certainly won’t sit in the landfill for centuries.
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Well-made, durable toys are built to go the distance (rather than be tossed in the garbage after a few uses). When your kids have outgrown them, consider swapping or donating your toys so other families can appreciate them.
Puracy baby pick: Hape Pound & Tap Bench with Slide Out Xylophone: This award-winning toy is fun for babies and younger kids, is made to last for years, and is finished with child-safe paint.
Puracy toddler pick: PlanToys Musical Drum Band: This ethically-produced little instrument is not only a great gift for music-loving kids, it’s also made of durable, sustainably harvested wood and colored with organic pigments. As an added bonus, a loud drum set makes for a great gag gift to bring to kids birthday parties, especially those thrown by fussy parents who would prefer some peace and quiet in their lives.
How to Shop for “Green” Toys
While shopping, don’t feel pressured to choose toys that check every single box. Taking active measures to avoid toxic chemicals and materials is a great start. Look for baby and kids toys and products that are:
- Made of safe materials like organic cotton and non-toxic wood.
- Unfinished or finished with non-toxic dyes, paints, and sealants.
- Fair Trade-certified to ensure ethical, living wages for workers.
To make it easier, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite eco-friendly online retailers:EarthHero
North Star Toys
Ten Thousand Villages
Change The World by How You Shop
Keep Your Children’s Toys Clean with Natural, Non-Toxic Puracy Cleaners
Now that you’ve chosen safe, sustainable, non-toxic toys for your baby and toddler, make sure they’re clean and well-cared for.
Puracy cleaning products have been designed especially for the youngest members of your family. Our Natural Baby Multi-Surface Cleaner is free of all of the chemicals, dyes, and synthetic fragrance you’re trying to avoid, but it’s loaded with powerful plant-based ingredients that remove dirt and grime from everything your baby touches (or tries to put in his or her mouth)!
To learn more about how to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals, read these previous posts:
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