As we are approaching the most important holiday of the year (at least from a little kid’s standpoint), one might wonder if all those bright colorful toys that are routinely bought for babies and toddlers are safe. I mean, OF COURSE, they are safe! The government makes sure of it, right? Right?
While 65% of people believe that toys that contain toxic or potentially toxic chemicals wouldn’t be allowed on the shelves of baby stores, the reality is more grim. In fact, our government has long since subscribed to the philosophy of “safe unless proven otherwise”. That is where we, as parents, are forced to do the due diligence before buying a cute toy.
It is true that we cannot protect our babies from every danger, no matter how hard we try – we can’t live in a bubble. But we CAN take certain steps to educate ourselves about, let’s say, toy safety, especially considering that aside from food (more on food safety in another post), this is the one thing that gets put in their mouths constantly in the first few years of life. I also won’t be talking about “fringe dangers”, like plastics that are yet to be found dangerous (all those millions of new chemicals, plastics and materials that get made and discovered in labs all the over the world have not been proven dangerous and thus are by default “safe” as far as our government is concerned). So even so called safe plastics are not necessarily safe. Wood is, of course, the best, but wood can have hidden dangers, as well as natural rubber.
What makes it even more dangerous is our current standards for levels of toxic substances in children’s toys are based on a 180 pound adult male. As you can imagine that makes a huge difference when the same amount of toxins is ingested by a 20 pound infant whose body and brain are developing and don’t have the same capability of processing toxins.
The issue also comes in when these toxins “interact” in our body and create different reactions all together than they would if they were simply ingested alone.
I would like to list all the common dangers, as well as the materials that are considered somewhat safe, ways to find out what is in your toys, hidden dangers of “safe” materials to watch out for, and finally a list of companies that are committed to making toy safety a priority and have been found to be more consciences and safer than others. What I will NOT cover is the physical danger of toys, like making sure they are age appropriate, can’t be choked on, as well as can’t cause bodily harm. Those are more common sense things.