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Natural Toy Shopping: How to Avoid Toxic Toys

Posted on 04 December 2012

Toxic toys should be eliminated from children’s environments. Babies and young children must have the safest, most non-toxic, natural toy products available. Many chemicals used in toys have not been tested for safety in children. Children are exposed to the chemicals when they put the toys in their mouths or from breathing the air around the toys for child safety.

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Babies are more vulnerable since their brains and immune systems are still developing and it’s difficult for them to detoxify. It is critical to reduce exposure to toxic toys and provide natural toy products as much as possible during the critical period of a baby’s development.

How do you Recognize a Toxic Toy?

There are a lot of plastic toys on the market and unfortunately, many of these can contain toxic substances. Some plastics have more chemical additives than others. PVC or polyvinyl chloride is a plastic that should be avoided, especially when it’s soft and pliable. Chemical plasticizers, such as phthalates, are added to PVC to make it more flexible. These chemicals can leach out of the plastic and have been shown to cause harm to babies and small children. Certain plasticizers have been linked to liver and kidney damage, cancer, reproductive harm, and premature breast development in girls. Breathing the air around these chemicals can also worsen asthma. Lead and cadmium are other toxic additives that can be found in PVC. Teethers, soft squeeze toys, dolls, balls and bath toys are usually made from PVC with chemical plasticizers.

Toys made from plywood or particle board usually contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Plywood or particle board can also contain toxic glues. Paints and finishes can contain lead or other harmful chemicals. Stuffed animals or dolls can have fabrics treated with chemicals. In addition, it’s important to stay away from materials that are fire retardant since chemicals used to fire-proof a toy can also be very toxic.

What is a Safe, Non-Toxic Natural Toy?

Try to find a natural toy made from solid, sustainable hardwood instead. Blocks, trucks, cars, dollhouses, puppet theatres, and easels made of unfinished hardwoods are available now to safety-conscious parents. You can also find safer natural oil finishes, such as beeswax, linseed, or walnut oil. Look for organic cotton natural toy products that are not treated with harmful substances.

Fortunately, manufacturers are beginning to make natural toy products that are designed for the health and well-being of babies and children and also our planet. You can choose the safest, least toxic toys for your children and keep them safe and happy.

Jane Sheppard began researching the toxicity of children’s products in 1997 and founded Healthy Child at so parents can avoid products such as toxic toys and find safe, non-toxic natural toy products. Jane is a child health advocate and parent educator with a passion to help empower parents to make informed choices to protect the health and well-being of their children.

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