Picking and choosing the right toys for your newborn can seem like one of the last things you’re thinking about. While the nursery, changing station, etc., are all high priority, it’s important to think about what your new family member needs when it comes to entertaining them in a healthy way. Fun and safe toys are key for their development. While some may seem like the right fit, they can actually come with unknown hazards.
Common Toxins In Toys
While not every children’s toy is going to contain toxins, there are some that stand out above the rest. A study was done by the University of Denmark and the University of Michigan showed that just about 25% of chemicals found in children’s toys actually contain substances that can potentially cause cancer or non-cancer-related health issues.
While these materials are on their way out of toys, they’re still prevalent in a lot of what’s on shelves and online stores. In fact, some of these substances even include flame retardants, which are known to hinder neurological development and increase the risk of cancer. This substance can be easily monitors by checking tags of items. If they say “flame resistant,” it’s best to choose something else. Keep this resistancy for items you’ll actually need it for, like camping bags for your future outdoor adventures!
Lead, asbestos, and phthalates (or soft plastics) are some of the leading toxic substances in children’s toys. While they may seem harmless in small doses, this is actually quite the opposite. Lead can be known to cause learning and behavioral problems, along with brain and nerve damage. Phthalates and PVC are soft plastics that can are seen in almost everything, giving them the name of the “everywhere chemical,” but can actually be known to increase childhood cancer and other diseases further down the line.
Asbestos, often found in vinyl flooring, popcorn ceilings, and roofing in your home has actually shown up in children’s toys as of late. While not on teething toys or items like blocks, it has been found in crayons, and powders used in some coloring kits. It may seem like these don’t involve any inhalation, but since kids are prone to putting these objects in their nose and mouths, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Associated often with older adults, asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer, show up later in life due to their latency period. However, being exposed to asbestos at an early age can have lasting effects through childhood and adulthood.
Going All Natural
One of the easiest ways to avoid these toxins is to go for an all natural approach. All natural toys, even at a young age, are the best way to avoid these hazards as your little one begins to grow.
Wooden toys, for example, can provide the same teething experience as those of plastic ones, and last longer. Teething toys for your newborn (usually closer to 3 or 4 months old) are a great way to stay not just sustainable, but also safe and healthy! The smooth wood is just as soft on your child’s mouth to help those first set of teeth grow, while maintaining a non-toxic atmosphere. In other positives, they’re less likely to break, encourage creative play, and are more adaptable to growing with your child. While they may not use their teething toy for life, wooden blocks and other items can be used for years!
Another option is choosing organic cotton toys. Plush toys like teddy bears, dolls, even safety blankets, can contain the toxins mentioned about if we’re not careful. Cotton is a good alternative because it’s good for their skin and is more than likely okay to be used when playtime comes around. Consider doing some research on organic knit toys, as these will not only be safer for your newborn, but also have a longer lifespan as they hold up a little bit better to rough child play conditions. Even the pacifier clips you may use can contain these materials, so finding ones that are all natural are key as well.
Regular Toy Checks
If you’ve already been given toys, due to a baby shower or as gifts, or you’ve bought some already for your newborn, take some time to check the ingredient lists on some of these items. While not every toy will list what they’ve been made with, the Consumer Product Safety Commission can provide a quick overview of recalls as well as manufacturing details. They also provide news releases as they happen to keep you and other families up to date on consumer products and their safety.
Another key to avoid any dangers is to always check the health of toys and items your child may use. Make sure wooden toys haven’t been accidentally chipped and have splinters, riding toys with metal pieces don’t have rust, plush toys don’t have seams pulled or exposed removable parts. These are all key to keeping your child safe and healthy, while still providing a fun environment for growing up in.
While having a baby means your mind is racing a mile a minute, don’t be afraid to take a step back and take some time for yourself. While there are plenty of hazards through life, and the health and safety of your child is important, don’t forget about you. Self care can be one of your greatest assets as you start to buckle down on what you need to do as a parent to make sure your newborn is happy and healthy. Start with the basics, and work from there. After all, being a parent is a work in progress, you can’t expect perfection.