Children love to suck and chew on toys, most especially babies. It's one way they explore the world around them. It's also one of the ways in which toxic chemicals can leach out of the toys and into your little one. You already safeguard your child from toys that are choking hazards but have you ever considered the state of your child's toys from a health and planet perspective? I know…it's enough to make more grey hairs appear but don't let the feeling of overwhelm get you down!
12 ways to choose safer, eco-friendly toys:
1. Think about the long-haul: Choose toys that will last through the ages and stages. Open-ended toys encourage imaginative play, helping your child's creativity grow. Some of my favourite choices are the upcycled Cate and Levi puppets, they can be used for entertaining your baby and later for entertaining you! Also, play silks are a sensory delight for babies and make fantastic fairy wings and capes later on.
2. Skip the batteries: Rather than buy loud battery-operated toys, let your child fire up their imagination abilities by making their own toy-related noises. Batteries use up our natural resources and are a household hazardous waste product that must be disposed of safely. If you must buy a battery-operated toy, choose rechargeable batteries and recycle them via Call2Recycle when they stop charging.
3. Shop from trusted retailers: Spend your money at shops that are transparent about how they select their products. Canadian terra20 is one such shop, their rating system makes it simple to understand the ethics behind your purchase. I like knowing that I can feel good about anything I buy from there! Sign up for terra20's Clean Start program for parents of children 0-5-it's free! They have a few bonuses that will help your wallet, too!
4. Say bye-bye to mold: Bath-time toys are fun but water can settle into the holes of many squeaky toys, which may also contain PVC plastic, creating a breeding ground for toxic mold. Choose organic cotton terry bath toys that washed with your towels and my boys' favourite, the recycled plastic Green Toys tugboat which can be easily cleaned and dried after bath time!
5. Keep it real: Choose unpainted wood toys and avoid harmful chemicals by sticking with organic textile materials like cotton and wool. Check that any painted or treated wooden toys , are using non-toxic, lead-free paint and food-grade finishes. Grimm toys fit this criteria and are designed for creative play.
6. Get crafty: Keep materials out of the trash by upcycling them into new-to-you toys, like this felted horse or alphabet letters. Pinterest can be a source of inspiration or exasperation! If you are a non-DIYer like me, than craft away with eco-friendly crayons and paints made with natural ingredients like fruit and vegetable dyes.
7. Know your plastics: In 2010, the Government of Canada banned the use of six phthalates in children's toys. Phthalates are chemicals that are known hormone disruptors, and can be found in the soft plastics, also know as PVC plastic. If you can't avoid plastic toys, than choose safer by looking for ones labelled PVC-free or with the numbers #1, 2, 4, or 5 in the recycling symbol on the product.
8. Fewer toys: Avoid the consumption trap and buy less toys for your child. Not only will it reduce the clutter in your home, it's better for your wallet and our planet.
9. Repurpose household items: Children love the opportunity to explore real objects, especially ones that are used by mom and dad. Look around your house to see which items your child might play with safely. Perhaps wooden spoons, pots and pans (teflon-free, of course), a whisk, or boxes?!
10. Stay informed: Sign up for Health Canada recall alerts . If any of your child's gear is compromised, stop using it and follow the manufacturer's instructions to fix or replace the product.
11. Swap with a friend: Trading with a trusted friend is a great way to extend a toy's life, especially those commercial toys, hello Dora and Ninja Turtles, that you broke down and bought for your little one because they were obsessed with the character. Set up ground rules with your pal: toys must be in pristine condition, follow the suggestions on this list, and be clean!
12. Shelf the vintage toys: Say sorry to grandma because that metal truck with the peeling paint has got to go or at least, stay on the shelf for decorative purposes. Toys made before 1978 may be coated with lead based paint, keep them away from your little one.
Disclosure:I am a terra20 Clean Start program ambassador, I received compensation to write this post. I only work with companies that align with my eco-friendly standards, all opinions are my own.