Ah, the holidays. We’re checking the list twice—and we want those to be non-toxic holiday toys, right? Sadly, sometimes it seems like that’s easier said than done. In 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act was passed to regulate lead and phthalates in toys and infant products after a public scare related to those made primarily in China. But each year another batch of tainted imported holiday toys is discovered here in the United States—including toxic chemicals linked to obesity, asthma and even cancer. Here’s a quick guide to buying non-toxic holiday toys, plus my favorite picks of the season!
How To Buy Non-Toxic Holiday Toys
1. First, check out the Parents magazine’s list of this year’s toy recalls to make sure that nothing on your list is also on theirs.
2. Try to find made-in-America holiday toys in natural materials like unvarnished wood and cloth, especially for babies who will spend a lot of time sucking on them. (If you can find FSC certified wood and organic cloth, that’s even better!)
3. If plastic items are on your list, look for a “chasing arrow” symbol on the bottom of the toy, avoid the numbers 1 (PET) and 3 (PVC) and choose those marked “BPA-free.” PET and PVC (also known as vinyl) are softened with phthalates, which even at low levels have been linked to obesity and asthma. And BPA, used to harden plastics, is a hormone disruptor; it mimics estrogen in the body and has been linked to obesity, anxiety and a brain tumor called meningloma, among other problems.
Sorry to be such a downer, Santa. But you can’t be too careful these days! Meanwhile, here are a few of my favorite picks of the season for non-toxic holiday toys–especially for little ones.
2015 Non-Toxic Holiday Toys Gift Guide
There are few things more satisfying than the resounding crunch made when you cut through the velcro halves of a wooden apple. (And I’m speaking from personal experience.) At under $20 and solid wood (no formaldehyde here), Plan Toys Assorted Fruits and Vegetables deliver to toy kitchens everywhere. Plus, this is a great way to talk with kids about eating more fruits and veggies!
My youngest daughter makes stories out of everything. Even her Legos have identities and complicated community relationships! I can just imagine what she’d do with this organic cotton pack of Scrappy Dogs from Under the Nile. Give the set–it’s around $10–or split them up as stocking stuffers. Woof. 12.10.15 Editor’s note: A reader pointed out that if you scroll down to customer comments on this page it seems that you only get one dog for $10. It’s really not clear, so I put in a call to Under the Nile to clarify. Will report back! 12.13.15 I haven’t been able to confirm with the Amazon site, because it’s not actually managed by Under the Nile–it’s a third-party company–but I think the price is one for $10. You can also get the Scrappy Dogs for a lower price directly from Under the Nile–they are very responsive and awesome!
Water-based dyes and natural wood make this adorable Oval Xylophone from Plan Toys the perfect session pick for your local preschool band, and at around $16 it’s affordable, too!
I’ve shared how much I love Green Toys, which use recycled milk jugs to create their line of non-toxic holiday toys, but this adorable Build-a-Bouquet Floral Arrangement Playset is hands-down my new favorite. It interlocks like a building set, and is BPA and phthalate free!