Maya loves ducks. I’m really not sure where she acquired her affinity for ducks, but if she sees a duck her pointer finger automatically extends while she reaches her arm out and excitedly declares, “DU!” (meaning, “DUCK!,” of course). She also loves to imitate their quacking. It is adorable, and so of course I have been compelled to buy her all things duck lately - plush toy ducks, books with pictures of ducks, and of course, rubber duckies. I guess I was delusioned by my child’s joy, or perhaps I was playing my ignorance-is-bliss card for a while there because it somehow did not occur to me that those much-adored “rubber” duckies are in fact plastic duckies. And not only are they plastic, but they are soft squishy plastic – a red flag for phthalates (a plastic softener found in polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC or vinyl). Naturally, I feel terrible that I have been thoughtlessly letting my baby Bee play with these toys while I smile and laugh and snap photos with my iPhone. Not only is it bad that I’ve purchased these, I’ve brought them into my home, and I am now letting my 14 month old daughter play with them – but she puts them in her mouth! I mean, that’s what babies do – they chew on their toys. I feel like a major dummie here. I’m so careful in so many aspects of her upbringing, but somehow in the chaos and overflow of toys we received from baby showers, parties, holidays, and hand-me-downs, I’ve managed to overlook the quality of her toys. Looks like it’s time for another nontoxic overhaul in this household! So, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going through her toys item by item and clearing out anything suspicious of toxins. Toxic toys beware! Here’s my checklist for determining which ones stay and which ones go:
- Ditch the squishy plastic toys. These are the PVC and possible phthalate containing toys. Some PVC toys are labeled with a V or #3 on the bottom, but most are not labeled at all. Suspicious toys include Bee’s beloved rubber duckies, soft plastic baby dolls, books or photos albums with clear plastic pages, or toys with clear plastic cut out windows. Luckily, I don’t think we have too many of these things. Just the ducks. Sorry, Bee, the ducks gotta go
- Keep the toys made of solid wood (unfinished or with a non toxic finish). These are my favorites! The wooden toys are built to last, she can safely gnaw on them, and they have such an elegant nostalgia to them. We’ll be seeking more of these to replace the plastic!
- Keep the toys made of organic cotton, hemp, or wool. I’ve been good about washing all of her fabric toys before letting her play with them; hopefully, this gets out some of the chemicals in the non-organic fabrics. I will have a second look at the non-organic and synthetic fabrics toys though and assess if they are worthy of Bee’s affections.
- For the ones I’m not sure about I found an awesome searchable database of toys at HealthyToys.org. Also, MomsRising.org has developed a text messaging system that uses the HealthyToys.org database to message you the toxicity of a particular toy. Parents can simply text “healthytoys” and the name of the toy, type of toy, or toy manufacturer to 41411 and MomsRising will respond instantly with a message. How cool is that?!The list of toxic chemicals that are found in toys sold in the US is quite frightening. It includes lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, bromine, antimony, chromium, tin, xylene, toluene, and bisphenol-A. Yuck!!! I’m certainly bummed it has taken me this long to wake up to this reality and be more proactive, but I also know that it is always better late than never! xxo, Alli & The Bee