26 August 2008

Wooden toys to the rescue!!

Our first baby shower was indeed a hit and I received loads of wonderfully organic gifts from my friends. I will have to post photos as soon as I get them all downloaded. In addition to having a fabulous baby shower, Marcus and I managed to finish up the nursery this past weekend (the results of which will be another blog post soon!). Good thing as I have now been put on bed rest due to high blood pressure....no fun at all!

Due to previous complications with Fiona's birth (overdue, didn't dilate, not coming down the birth canal, you name it), I am having to give birth to our 2nd child via c-section. It's not ideal and conflicts with my "natural" lifestyle; however, the baby's safety and well being is of utmost importance and so, we have scheduled the date - September 12th!! Unfortunately I don't think I will be able to hold off until then especially with the latest complications. So I thought I would get in one blog before I am possibly whisked off to the hospital...

In my quest to raise bring up this baby in the "green way", I have been researching baby toys lately. You can't stroll down a baby aisle these days without seeing "BPA - free" plastered on the sides of baby bottles and sippy cups. Concerned parents and advocates everywhere have been instrumental in demanding the removal of the toxic plastic, Bishphenol A. Fortunately, the battle is being won and even mothers and fathers who wouldn't consider themselves "green" are steering away from bottles which leach toxins into their baby's milk.

But not so "mainstream" or as well known is another toxin lurking around our children -


According to the Enviroblog Phthalates "Cheat Sheet" - Phthalates are a common industrial chemical used in pvc plastic, solvents and fragrances. In children's toys, pvc is most commonly found in the "squishy toys" - those little bath books, chewy toys and teethers. Yes, toys your baby repeatedly puts in their mouth and chews on! When pvc breaks down it releases dioxins, a group of the most potent synthetic chemicals ever tested, which can cause cancer and harm the immune and reproductive systems. Definitely something every concerned parent wants to avoid giving to their child! (To read more about the "poison plastic", check out this very informative website.) Other great resources include Greenpeace's 2003 toy report card which includes a list of safe toys and US PIRG'S report on toy safety.

Kudos for the efforts of leading toy retailers such as Toys 'R Us, Target and even Wal*Mart who recently called for a reduction in the use of phthalates and lead in toys. Toys 'R Us are going even farther by stating that any manufacturer that wants their products to be carried in Toys 'R Us or Babies 'R Us must be produced without the addition of phthalates. (read more here.)

Great strides are being made but what can you do to protect your child now? What are the alternatives? Go back to the basics! Wooden and organic cotton cloth toys are a very good solutions! In my search, I came across some excellent websites that offer natural alternatives:

* The Soft Landing - offers great bpa and pvc toys and teethers including items made with natural rubber

* Nova Natural Toys & Crafts - I love this site! Loads of toys including baby play toys, riding toys, and dolls

* Peapods Natural Toys and Baby Care - beautiful natural cherry wood rattles!

* Holgate Toys - This company has been producing high quality wooden toys since 1789

* Oompa Toys - most products are manufactured in Europe where they are more progressive in their safety standards!

These sites offer great products but are often more expensive. I was delighted to come across Sassy's brand of toys that can be found in the Babies 'R Us chain and are much more affordable. Sassy has produced "Sassy Earth Brights" line of toys which are "inspired by nature". The line includes an adorable cherry tree rattle, mushroom rattle, and nice cloth picture album. Sassy has been a leader in eliminating pvc in their toys and their products have been recommended by Greenpeace, Dr. Greene, and other concerned watchdog groups. We have received some of their toys already off our baby registry and I think our little one will just love them!

One last word on the topic, when purchasing wooden toys, remember to choose sustainable wood options and that toys do not have toxic finishes including non-toxic paints. Beeswax, linseed and walnut oils are safest. With cloth toys, choose natural hemp. wool, and organic cotton that has not been dyed with toxic dyes.
Happy, informed, shopping!


lu-n-am said...

i'm sad to have missed the shower, but it sounds like it went really well! i can't believe you will be giving birth so soon! good luck with everything and i hope everything goes smoothly.

Anonymous said...

Great, informative post and well-written breakdown on the science of phthalates. Though I'm already aware of them, it will be great to have your links too, to gain a deeper understanding.

We are currently finding that baby's favorite wooden toy is a kitchen spoon! What a great, sustainable option to reduce consumption while keeping baby safe!

Another option for avoiding all plastics (not just PVC and bisphenol) is rubber toys, such as the adorable Sophie la Girafe and the Natursutten pacifier (which actually makes a great teether if your baby doesn't use it for sucking!) Sophie is actually a great early toy as it's quite light and easy for younger babies to handle.

I actually mention these and other natural alternatives for teething toys on a recent blog post detailing the 10 most popular recommendations for natural teething remedies.

It's great that you're investigating your options early. Sounds like you're having fun, too! Thanks for stopping by and look forward to reading more of your posts!

Oh and happy birthing!