Making Better Decisions: Questions to Ask Before Purchasing Plastic Toys
Making Better Decisions: Questions to Ask Before Purchasing Plastic ToysThanks for joining me on our hunt for safer toys! Last week, we talked about wood toys for toddlers and preschoolers, like my own 19 month old daughter and nearly 4 year old son.
I was on a mission to find safer action figures and dinosaur toys my son might still be interested in playing with. The wood toys I found didn't meet that criteria, though there are some available. We all need to find our own level of comfort with what we provide to our children, so I began to look for some safer plastic toy options.
Here are the questions I ask myself when looking at plastic toys, in order of what I personally consider to be the most important factors regarding safety.
1) Is it BPA free or non-detectable?
Generally, I only thought of Bisphenol A as it relates to baby cups and bottles, food storage containers, etc. However, BPA is a phthalate, and a report done by HealthyStuff.org revealed that BPA was reported in certain toys just a few years ago. This year, the EU has further regulated BPA in toys effective by the end of 2015.
Bottom line: If the manufacturer doesn't state that they are BPA-free on their website or on the product packaging, then consider reaching out to their Customer Service or Quality Assurance team directly for confirmation, or visit HealthyStuff.org to see if they have a report on the product you're interested in.
However, remember that BPA testing isn't required currently for toys, and a manufacturer may state that they are compliant.
2) Is it phthalate-free or non-detectable?
There are plenty of concerns you may have about PVC and other types of plastic, but my bigger concern is the effects of the plasticizers which soften plastic, specifically phthalates. Only six types of phthalates are regulated in the US for toys. It's not enough, for my personal peace of mind, to have the manufacturer state that they are complying with the CPSC/CPSIA phthalates requirement.
Bottom line: Look for a manufacturer or packaging to say phthalate-free or nonphthalate, though remember phthalates may also be in inks, so look carefully at the language used.
A manufacturer is also dependent on working in cooperation with their suppliers, and while no phthalates may intentionally be added, the term phthalate-free may be misleading. You can ask for test results of a toy to see what phthalates it has been tested for specifically. Or, you can also look for toys made of a hard plastic. It's less likely (though not guaranteed) that a hard plastic toy would contain phthalates anyway.
3) Is it PVC-free?
There are a lot of types of plastics, but this one gets some of the worst press. If you're interested in learning more about plastic from its chemical footprint during manufacturing to health hazards, I'd invite you to read the Plastics Score Card v. 1.0.
Bottom line: Brands using food-grade plastic like polyethylene are a better bet. However, I am more comfortable giving my son a phthalate-free plastic made of PVC than my daughter, who is still putting toys in her mouth.
Bonus Question: Is it recycled?
We can all feel better for the environment and our health buying a toy made of recycled plastic! Plastic doesn't break down easily in the environment. Here are some brands I found using recycled plastic.
- Bruder Trucks
- Green Toys
- Sprig Toys
The following brands as of this publication date have plastic toys which are BPA- and/or phthalate-free. Be sure to research and double check yourself for your own peace of mind. Remember that formulas and manufacturing processes may change over the years.
Disclaimer: By listing these brands, neither I nor Naturepedic are endorsing them over another brand with similar qualifications. Nor have we tested all of these products or contacted each brand individually. I used publicly available information, reached out as a consumer to a few customer service agents, and made decisions about what to include here based upon: the types of toys I am seeking for my kids, their ages, and the level of comfort I have personally with the safety and quality information provided by each company.
- B. Toys/Terra (Owned by Battat)
- Crocodile Creek
- WOW Toys
Next week I’ll be discussing action items you can do to help your loved ones select safer toys for gift-giving, including key terms to look for on packaging.