What to look for when buying toys

Plastic: Avoid plastic toys!!! If there is something that your child must have, look at the recycling code. Avoid anything with the numbers 3 or 7. Also look for labels that say BPA, phthalate, lead free.
Here’s why:

  • Type 3 Plastics means it was made with PVC. PVC is a strong plastic polymer that can be made flexible through the use of plasticizers. During the PVC life cycle, chemicals are released such as mercury, dioxins, and phthalates, which may pose irreversible life-long health threats. Also, when PVC is produced, burned, or heated it releases dioxins, which can cause cancer and harm the immune and reproductive systems.
  • Type 7 is the “other” class of plastics. Some type 7 plastics, such as epoxy resins and polycarbonate (sometimes identified with the letters “PC” near the recycling symbol) are made from BPA.Type 7 is a unknown mix of plastics so you don’t know what you are getting.

Since BPA, PVC and Phthalates can leach toxins, it’s especially important to pay attention to toys that will go into children’s mouths and bath toys. When these toxic plastics are put in higher temperatures the chance they will leach out is much higher.

Wood: Not all wooden toys are Eco-friendly. Some wooden toys, mainly plywood, are adhered by toxic glue. Look for a label that says, “formaldehyde free” product. Also make sure the paints and stains used on the wood are non-toxic. I’ve read water-based is the next best thing to vegetable based. Rule of thumb, if you can smell the paint, don’t buy it. Also look for the FSC label stating that the wood has been harvested in an eco-friendly manner. Rubberwood is the best choice in wooden toys.

Symbols: Another tip is to look for this symbol:

The CE- European Community symbol means the product meets the European safety standards, which are higher than in the US.

Just because the new Toy Safety Law went into effect this year, doesn’t mean all of the unsafe toys have been taken off the shelves. Look for this label:You want your child’s toy to meet the safety requirements of the ASTM regulations.

Unsafe Toys: In December of 2008, a report was done by a non-profit group, NPR, which showed that infant books and bath toys scored poorly when testing for lead, arsenic, and other chemicals. They also found that 1/3 of the toys tested contained harmful chemicals. If you want to see if your child’s toy has been tested, you can visit http://www.healthytoys.org

Here are a few toys that tested high or medium levels in 2009:
Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway–Gordon
Solid Wood Boards Family Game Center
Singing & Dancing Puppy
Barbie Bike Flair Accessory Kit
Cars Wristbands
Dora the Explorer Activity Tote
Glam Girl Duffle Bag Makeup Kit – Pink/Black
Marvel Hot Rodz
MiJam Stage Mic
MLB Padres Glove & Ball Set
Touch and Feel Cloth Book
“Go Diego Go!” Sunglasses – Green
10 Squirtin’ Sea Buddies
Baby Butterfiles by Anne Geddes Bean Filled Collection – White/Purple
Barbie Princess Syling Head
Matchbox Stocking Vehicles
Plush Monkey – Red
Spongebob Squarepants Tambourine
2009 Mrs. Potato Head
2009 Bubble Ducky Spout Guard
2009 Noah’s Animals
2009 Walking Bratz

2 thoughts on “What to look for when buying toys

  1. What a great article! This is so vital for people to understand. Just because it is wood doesn't make it safe! There are wood toy manufacturers out there who appear to be “safe” but really make no effort to actually be “safe”. Also, don't be afraid to ask the store, they should have information about the products or company or be willing to get it for you. If they aren't then that should tell you something. It is important to understand that even FSC certified wood can be glued with glues that contain formaldehyde. There are also toys made with melamine, which is a material made with formaldehyde. These off gas into your home, and into your babies bodies.
    If you don't know ask, ask, ask. If you don't get the answers you are looking for go somewhere else, spend your dollars with people who are just as dedicated to your child's safety as you are.


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