A Parent’s Holiday Shopping Guide for Healthy Toys

With Fall in full swing we are heading into the infamous Holiday shopping season. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are key shopping dates where parents and other family members are planning to purchase gifts for the children in their lives for the upcoming holidays. Before you shop, however, make sure to know what to look for so you don’t end up buying any harmful toys for your kids. Get educated on what to steer clear of in order to purchase healthy toys for your children this year.


PVC (polyvinyl chloride). PVC and vinyl plastics are widely used in toys and often contain harmful chemicals, including such known carcinogens as vinyl chloride, dioxin, and phthalates. Such chemicals have been linked to asthma, allergies, and reproductive problems. It’s best to avoid plastics altogether, if you can. Vinyl plastic toys are the worst plastic toys for your child’s health and for the environment as well. PVC-free playthings are usually labeled, so if the toy isn’t sporting a “PVC-free” label or it has a #3 or the letters “PVC” on the bottom, stay away (a #1, #2, or #4 is fine, though).


BPA (bisphenol A). This chemical is also found in many plastic products including plastic toys and some sippy cups. It can cause harmful developmental effects in infants and is linked to attention disorders, cancer-cell growth, early onset puberty, and obesity. If you see a #7 on a plaything, it probably contains BPA and is not a safe baby toy. Move on, Mom.


Choose natural materials. Instead of plastics, choose toys with unpainted wood, bamboo, cloth or plush fabrics. Watch out for painted wood toys unless it is certified that the paint is non-toxic and lead-free. Wooden playthings typically don’t contain any chemical-filled plastics. Bonus points if the wood is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which means it came from a sustainably managed forest. Toys made from bamboo also don’t contribute to deforestation. Plus, their harvesting process creates little to no emissions, making them healthy toys for your baby and the planet. While these playthings aren’t plentiful in the big stores, specialty shops carry them, and they’re pretty easy to find online.


Organic cotton or hemp material. Conventional cotton is the most heavily sprayed crop in the world (and not what you want next to baby’s skin or mouth). Your little one’s lovey (and any other cloth critters) is a much safer baby toy if it’s made from organic or insecticide-free fibers.


Opt for an Experience over a Toy.  If you’re anything like me, the thought of adding more toys to your playroom is a bit overwhelming. Well, the thought of cleaning them up at least. So instead, depending on the age of your kids, maybe opt to go on a family vacation, a Broadway show, or trip to the zoo instead of adding another toy to the toy shelf this year. Sometimes making memories like these are better than just adding more ‘stuff’ no one really needs.


Happy Shopping!


About the Author

Becca Greenwald 

Health-conscientious (and tired) mama to two adorable little boys, writing from my own experiences. @beccababybrody

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