People always ask me what toys are safest for little ones, what we play with and what brands I buy. With the holidays approaching and everyone feverishly shopping for presents, this is the ideal time to help you get cleaner and greener options into the hands (and inevitably the mouths) of the babes on your list!
Majority of these items we already have, and others are on our holiday/year-round wish list but come from brands we already know and trust. Having an easily shared list at the ready, filled with less toxic brands I allow into our home, makes it super easy for friends and family to give presents to my girl but also know they have passed this cleaner, greener mama’s test! Amazon has an incredibly easy to create and share wishlist feature.
It’s important to realize that children WILL have exposure to toxins no matter what we do – in our homes, at other people’s homes, at school, in the air they breathe and food they drink. Much the same way we as adults are exposed to things outside of our control as well. BUT, I can’t reiterate enough that the key for me is moderation and trying to minimize exposures where I can for BOTH of us.
One way I try to make an impact is by providing some well-made, non-toxic/less toxic options for her most frequently used toys the same way I am conscious about the things I come into contact with most. This ain’t all or nothin’!
Baby toys are notorious for being made of plastic (containing PVC, BPA and phthalates) and coated with paints (containing heavy metals and VOCs). I try to reuse plastic items from other parents whenever I can using Mama/Parent Swap groups and Facebook marketplace (thankfully kids don’t want their play kitchens, sand boxes, and water tables forever – even though plastic does have have the ability to last that long!) I try to let in mostly hard plastics (made with safer chemmies like non-leaching polyethylene) or some toys from the brands below.
We play with these toys and brands constantly in my home
- My First Green Toys – Made from 100% food grade recycled plastic, these are a feel-good way to have some plastic toys in the house made without PVC, phthalates and BPA. Something I have always stressed about is the waste created by new toys, but these repurposed plastic toys from GreenToys (made out of recycled milk cartons and yogurt cups) are all fun and zero guilt! In our house we have dozens of Green Toys but here are some favorites:
- Pure Rubber Bath Toy – Made without holes so it won’t get moldy, these toys are a bathtime favorite that I can feel totally fine about my baby chewing on…because everything is getting chewed on these days. Best part, no PVC. We have the whale ($15) and the yellow fish ($13). 2 years in and they are still going strong!
- IKEA sets such an incredible standard for their products across the board. They score an A- as a retailer – 4th out of 43 retailers evaluated by the Mind the Store Campaign – for their track record and transparency for how their products are sourced and made. So it’s no wonder my daughter’s stuffed animals, paints, easel, and train set come from here. Quality, non toxic, affordable stuff – the consumer trifecta.
- HAPE Solid Maple Building Blocks ($25), alphabet letters ($20), and drum ($21)- We love some Hape wood toys at our house. This German brand sources sustainable wood then finishes it with solvent, lead, mercury-free paints. No chipping, super durable.
- Eco-kids modeling dough (small kit $9) and crayons ($8) – Having greener art supplies is a must with all the hand to mouth action happening around here. Made in the USA. Feels good to know there aren’t artificial colors and fragrances being licked because that is what is going on with all toys and art supplies right now. GreenToys also makes a really good dough ($14) too!
- KidKraft – Finding a dollhouse ($90) with less formaldehyde-containing particle board and off-gassing paints can be a challenge. If I wanted to be super green about it, the options looked like some tiny 2×4’s hammered together for a really bare bones, natural look. Not what I was going for. I realized I needed to meet this one in the middle. The kitchens ($129) and dollhouses are made mostly of wood with a small amount of particle board (but at least CARB II Compliant) and finished in a kid-safe paint.
- Battat/B. Toys – Another less toxic, affordable option we have a LOT of around the house. They are made of plastic and made in China but sometimes we all just need some play food ($15) and accessories ($20) for our second-hand polyethylene play kitchens. Or we need bath toys ($14) or pull-back car sets ($16). This is where the -er comes in for the cleaner and greener. Sometimes I need plastic toys. And Battat makes me feel better knowing they are BPA, phthalate and lead-free. The squishy toys do have non-phthalate PVC in them. They are softened with a food-safe citroflex. Here are some of our faves:
- Indoor play tent ($40)
- Water Doodle Drawing Pad ($21)
- Take apart car and airplane ($15 each)
- Big Red Barn & Animal Farm Set ($25)
- 60 piece Miniature animal sets (THAT ARE PHTHALATE FREE! A Rarity for these things!) Wild Animals, Farm Animals, Sea Animals ($11 each)
- Kid Made Modern – Though I love IKEA arts and craft materials, you really can’t beat Kid Made Modern for the price (and accessibility – read: no road trip) because they are available at Target, Kohl’s and Amazon. There are cleaner brands out there, including Eco-kids mentioned above, but this KMM is accessible, affordable and avoids the main toxins I try to navigate around. And that’s really what I come back to time and again. This whole “about a balance” life I live, is where I have to consider my child’s health and safety and my pocketbook.
While you’re planning for the holidays, want some suggestions for detoxing your Christmas decor? Check out my recent post to see what festive, but still kid-safe decorations we have around our this house this year!