Play time is important for children to develop skills, to learn how to share and to use their imaginations. One way that young children explore the world is by sucking and chewing on those toys. Unfortunately, many toys have hidden hazards within them. Choosing the right toys that are fun but also safe is an important part of parenting your children.
Just grabbing the cutest or most fun looking toy is easy. However, it’s important to take a minute to see what the toy is made of and where it comes from. Look for toxic-free options that are labeled as PVC-free, BPA-free, phthalate-free, and paraben-free.
Although a few years since publication, the blog “Safe Mama” has a helpful cheat sheet to help you choose a company who produce safe toys for children. See HERE.
Disposable batteries are known to be harmful to the environment and health. Batteries, especially the lithium button ones, can be swallowed or leak, resulting in life-threatening injuries to your child. These batteries are commonly found in musical toys and cards, remote control cars and other gadgets. To be safe, stick with toys that don’t use batteries.
Something you already have on hand may make a perfect toy. Look around your home and see if you have wooden spoons, teflon-free pots and pans, a whisk, empty boxes, fabric scraps, or stainless steel bowls. These items provide hours upon hours of open-ended fun for children of all ages.
Long Lasting Toys
Look for multipurpose toys that encourage creativity. High-quality toys cost more up front but generally last longer. Your grandchildren may even be able to play with them. Think classics like wooden doll houses or kitchen sets.
Avoid Plastic Toys
Plastic toys are durable, inexpensive and easy to clean, but they may also contain high levels of lead, phthalates and other harmful chemicals. Seek out toys that are BPA-free and PVC-free. When plastic is the only option, remember that not all plastics are equal, and some are safer than others. look for safer plastics like those labeled with the number 2 AKA High-density polyethylene (HDPE), number 4 AKA Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) or number 5 AKA Polypropylene (PP). You can find these numbers inside the recycling symbol on the product.
Avoid bath toys that have openings, as water can settle into them and grow mold. These toys commonly contain PVC, which is hazardous. Instead, choose organic cotton bath toys that can be washed.
Opt for locally made toys that are eco-friendly. Seek out local artisan shops for safe one-of-a-kind toys. You’ll conserve energy and resources while supporting a small business. Avoid toys made in China, India, and Taiwan and other countries with lax toy regulations.
Buy from Trusted Brands
Consider where and how the toy is made. Focus your dollars on brands that are responsible and transparent about how they select or produce their products. Choose shops that are known for offering fun, unique and safe toys.
Buying fewer toys is much more eco-friendly and wallet-friendly. Fewer toys means less to clean up. Ultimately, your child’s favorite item to play with is you. Time spent with your child is more treasured than any toy.
Look for safe toys made of natural materials like solid woods with a non-toxic finish. For fabric toys, seek out organic materials like cotton and wool. Any finishes should be lead-free, food-grade and non-toxic. These toys boost the imagination, mental health and physical development.
The challenge in buying toys for your children is finding products that are safe. When you go green, you can’t be wrong. Your child will have fun and you won’t have to worry about issues that can result from playing with unsafe toys. Continue keeping an eye on your children as they play. Consider other fun activities too, such as crafts and games.
Patricia Dimick is a wife, mom, advocate to her child. She is also a writer, passionate coffee drinker, table tennis player, big fan of nature and DIY jobs.
You can reach her @patricia_dimick.