Toxic Substances in Toys and How to Avoid them

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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?

Apparently wrong!

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.



Probably the number 1 worst and most common toxin out there. Lead is a heavy metal that is classified as a neurotoxin. A neurotoxin impacts brain development, causing learning and developmental problems including decreased IQ scores, shorter attention spans, and delayed learning. It has not been found safe at ANY level according to one study ( Lanphear 2005, Gilbert 2006)- “even the smallest amount affects a child’s ability to learn”. In fact there is “a steeper drop in intellectual ability when a child’s level of exposure goes from 5 to 10ug than when it foes from 10 to 20ug”. Yet the CDC considers a blood level of 10ug acceptable and current toy standards allow up 90 ppm (as far as I know). “In the United states, 1 million children currently exceed the current 10mcg/dl recommended limit”. According to 2006 Gilbert study, when children are exposed to lead, the developmental and nervous system consequences are irreversible. Lead can be inhaled or ingested and it very well transfers from hands to mouth, so handling lead items and then touching your baby’s hands will produce the same effect as that baby chewing on lead.

How common is lead?

It is absolutely scary how much lead there is around us. What makes it worse is that a child’s stomach absorbs 50% of whatever lead they ingest (compared to 11% in adults). Lead is used as a stabilizer in PVC products, in paints, rubber, plastics and ceramics. It is tracked into our house from the outside (another reason to take shoes off in the house, especially with a crawler), it settles on dust on vinyl blinds and in corners, it can be found on children’s clothing (charms on shoes and zippers), and one of the most dangerous is our house/car keys. Keys are often made with lead and who hasn’t heard of the old trick of jingling keys to calm a child down? So every time you give your kid your keys to play with, you risk them ingesting lead (not all keys are made of lead, but one still shouldn’t let their kids play with keys. Instead get a small silicone toy to carry in your purse in case of an “emergency”.) This is something I wouldn’t have even thought about, had I not read it in “Superbaby”prior to Lexi’s birth. Now whenever I see a friend or an acquaintance of mine give their keys to their baby to play, I cringe inside but I do not think it is my place to tell them what to do (unless they are a very close friend of mine in which case I tell them about lead in keys). But I am glad I can spread the info here for those who care to read.

What you can do:

  • Make sure to check any toy or baby product you buy on database. They don’t have all the toys on the market, but it’s the best we’ve got for now.
  • Some toy manufacturers specifically state that their toys meet EU standards, which tends to be much higher than US standards so it’s a good thing to go by.
  • Watch out for any items that are not intended for baby use that your baby can touch or put in their mouths. There was a recent case of a little girl dying from lead exposure after she swallowed a charm off her shoe.
  • Paints often contain lead, so if your house was built prior to 1978, it could have been very well painted with lead paint.
  • Do not give your kids any metal household items to play that are not intended for them.
  • Buy a lead testing kit to test suspected items.
  • Mop floors and clean window sills and dusty areas often.
  • Wash your children’s hands regularly.
  • Remove shoes to avoid tracking lead from the outside.
  • Get a carbon water purifier (read about ours) or a Brita filter to filter lead (and other contaminants in water) – according to EPA, 40-60% of non breastfed infants’ lead exposure is from drinking water used in baby formulas in the first 6 months of life. In general exposure from drinking water accounts for 10-20 % of lead exposure.
  • Avoid toys made prior to recent changes in lead requirements in 2011, where the lead level could be as high as 300ppm and more in the years prior to that. If buying second hand, find out the year the toy was bought and look up recalls and requirements.

In addition to that, these common items may contain lead: old vinyl miniblinds, calcium supplements, brightly colored pottery that uses lead glazes, keys, dirt from soil tracked indoors.


Another extremely common hazard, found literally everywhere from pacifiers, to bottles, to bath products, flooring, food packaging, and many many other random things.
Center for Health, Environment and Justice called PVC “one of the most hazardous consumer products ever created”. PVC is also commonly referred to as vinyl. It is made from flammable gas vinyl chloride ( a carcinogen) and can easily be inhaled as it off-gases. PVC is often used in baby products (try finding a bath toy or product without PVC). It’s often combined with other dangerous materials such as lead, cadmium, and phthalates (when they need to make it soft and flexible). Cadmium has been linked to brain damage, phthalates are known hormone distrupters (see below). Beach balls, blow up products, shower curtains or any items that have that shiny plasticky or sort of stretchy feel and a “new smell” are most likely made out of PVC. If exposed to any heat, PVC leaches toxins into its environment. According to Center for Health, Enviroment and Justice, “chemicals released during PVC’s life cycle have been linked to chronic diseases in children, impaired child development and birth defects, cancer, disruption of the endocrine system, reproductive impairment and immune system suppression”.

What you can do:

  • Make sure to buy products labeled PVC-free, especially if they will be used by your baby.
  • Any non-baby items that are suspected to be made of PVC should be left out to off-gased or not used at all.
  • Learn to recognize PVC/vinyl by its shiny look and contact the manufacturer or look at the label to verify. You’re looking for words “vinyl or PVC”.
  • Rain shields, rain coats, beach toys, bath toys and products are often made of PVC. Many common household items are also made of PVC, so take care to only have your baby play with safe toys.
  • Check with While they do not test for PVC specifically, they do test for chlorine, high levels of which usually mean that the product contains PVC.


As hormone distrupters, they interfere with normal growth and reproductive development in children and have been banned in Europe since 1999 (yes, we are quite behind here). However, despite their big dangers phthalates are used so pervasively that they can be found even in subsurface snow in Antarctica and in jellyfish that live over 300 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. Women who had the highest level of phthalates during pregnancy gave birth to sons with smaller penises and scrotum, incomplete descent of the testicles. While our government finally did put a limit on the amount of phthalates allowed in toys, there are a million of items that still contain phthalates. Some of them are: bibs, changing pads (they are not considered a children’s article), skin and body care products ( a lot of shampoos, conditioners, lotions contain phthalates). Most PVC products contain phthalates, so stay clear of those.

What you can do:

  • Look for phthalate-free and PVC-free products.
  • Personal cosmetics and care products will state that it is a phthalate free product
  • Stay away from PVC


Is a toxic chemical, another hormone disrupter that mimics estrogen that leaches from plastic dishware and from toys ( especially when heated) that is linked to a variety of problems including heart diseases, liver abnormalities, diabetes, brain function problems, mood disorders, behavioral disorders, and even early puberty and fertility issues. In fact just low exposure to BPA has been linked to breast cancer and hormone problems. BPA was initially used as a growth hormone for cattle and a estrogen replacement for women, so it comes as a surprise to hear most government agencies to take a stance of BPA being “safe” for human exposure. While that might or might not be true, noone knows exactly what BPA can do to children whose reproductive systems are still developing, considering what a strong hormone mimicking factors it has (hormones co-ordinate almost everything in our bodies in the period of development so their proper expression is crucial to our health)

Infants do not develop the necessary enzyme to metabolize BPA until 3 months of age. Up until recently, by three months of age most infants who were bottle fed or given a teether were exposed to BPA in bottles, teethers and EVEN formula. In 2008 95% of baby bottles contained BPA. I believe some formula companies still line their cans with BPA, so if you’re formula feeding, try to find the one that is in BPA free cans or use powder since BPA is less likely to migrate into a solid dry substance.

What you can do:

  • Buy food in glass jars
  • Stay away from canned food or buy cans labeled BPA-free (I will try to write a post about companies that do use bpa free cans)
  • Stay away from plastic or make sure it is BPA- free (and BPS free)
  • Do not heat baby bottles or microwave plastic containers,
  • Avoid cling wrap or take care not to have it touch your food (use wax paper to cover food and then cling wrap it).
  • BPA is a great example what we, as consumer, can do and dictate. Because of the outrage that followed the discovery that BPA might be toxic and that baby bottles leach this chemical, almost every single company quickly adapted to the market by making BPA free bottles. Currently, it’s much harder to find a baby bottle that has BPA in it.

Polyurethane Foam

PU foam is essentially solid petroleum and often contains formaldehyde which is a known carcinogen. The issue becomes when this foam is used in countless baby products like mattresses, nursing pillows, pads, seats and as stuffing for toys. A mixture of chemicals that usually evaporates from the foam products is capable of causing arrhythmias, headache, couching, asthma, blurred vision and a host of other problems.

A problem also arises from the fact that since polyurethane foam is HIGHLY flamable, it is required to be sprayed with extremely toxic fire retardants ( see below).

What you can do:

look at labels. If it says PU foam, or polyurethane foam, make sure it also doesn’t have the CA TB 117 label which indicates fire retardants use. If you have to purchase a PU foam product, make sure it’s not something that your baby will be sleeping on or lying on for extended periods of time. Stuffed toys often have a PU foam stuffing, so attempt to find those that are stuffed with polyester fiber instead. During our trip to Disney, I literally had to hunt for a stuffed animal that didn’t have polyurethane foam inside.

Out of the the toxic materials I have listed in this post, this is probably the least dangerous as long as it is not sprayed with fire-retardants.

Flame Retardants

Also known as PBDEs or Bromine are highly toxic chemicals sprayed onto almost EVERYTHING baby related and not, from pjs to car seats, strollers, breastfeeding pillows,TVs, electronics, mattresses, beds and even toys. We are exposed to them EVERYWHERE. Just like phthalates they persist everywhere in the atmosphere, but unlike phthalates they are also biocummulative which means they are stored in fatty tissues, breastmilk and blood of animals and humans, with humans getting the worst end of the bargain because we eat animal products (dairy, meat) that transfer all those PBDEs straight into our fatty tissues.

That is one of the reasons why it is important for our government to ban such a wide use of PBDEs, because as a pregnant or breastfeeding woman, you transfer all those toxins that have accumulated in your tissues and blood over the years to your precious baby through placenta and breastmilk 🙁 Earlier fire retardants were discovered to be highly toxic and banned in US in 1977. Current types have been banned in Europe since 2008 but are widely used in the US.

Unfortunately, the guidelines put in place to make sure most of the household items are fire-retardant have been ineffective at curbing fires and all they have done is made our homes even more toxic. In fact, fire retardants have been implicated in SIDS in the toxic gas theory where wrapping a mattress in a gas-proof cover has a 100% success in reducing SIDS. Aside from the controversial and currently not accepted but intriguing SIDS theory, fire retardants are known to be hormone disrupters, leading to attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, hearing problems, slow mental development and, possibly, cancer. In rodents it was a cause of problems with brain development with most of the damage done during prenatal life and early life and the effect were irreversible. While these finding were done on animals with levels lower than we, humans, currently have in our bodies ( and yes, we ALL have PBDEs in us), because flame retardants are bioaccumulative, it won’t be long until those levels become of concern.

What you can do:

Certain items will have a label indicating that it was treated with flame retadants. Strollers, car seats, pillows, mattresses should have a label that has “California Standard Technical Bulletin 117, TB 117”. You can either avoid those or make sure you wash them thoroughly ( though I am not confident they wash out).

Why are our children exposed to so many harmful chemicals and substances and noone is doing anything?

It’s a good question! There are many organizations that found their passion in trying to get our government to make changes. This IS a passionate topic: the well being of our children and us, as a human race. Certain changes HAVE been put into effect. Government agencies are slooooowly jumping on board. But multi-million corporations and their lobbying powers are strong and powerful. Change costs them money and time. Why come up with something better and healthier if what you have is cheap and does the trick? One of the ways we can get them to change is by doing our part, as a consumer. That is, DEMANDING healthier safer products and not settling for the ones that put our children’s lives in danger. Consumer demand is everything, WE have the power here. If we all stop buying products that are toxic and instead choose more organic or natural items, the companies will get a clue and eventually those fringe “safe” products will become cheaper as supply grows.

In the meantime, the following materials are considered SOMEWHAT safe.



It is a pretty safe alternative to plastic, especially for teethers and toys. It is widely used in the medical field and to me it feels a lot more pleasant to touch.

Here are some of the baby items made of silicone:



The best material for toys! However, you have to be careful when wood is painted or glued together, since paint can contain (and often does) lead and glue can be toxic. So only buy wood toys from trusted companies. Do not just assume that any wood toy is safe.



Also a great material for bath toys. But (there’s always a but, isn’t there?) even natural rubber contains naturally occurring nitrosamines so make sure that they toys you’re buying have had them removed.



It’s a very good substitute for PVC and plastics, as well as more toxic foam. It’s stable, soft, it floats and it is generally safe. It’s been recently discovered that EVA foam can contain formamide which is a toxic substance that can be inhaled and off-gases for a period of 28 days or so. If you do buy an item made out of EVA foam, make sure that the company tests it for formamide (most US companies don’t) and/or let it offgas for a month.



ABS has good resistance to impact, heat, and chemicals, a safer alternative to other plastics. That is, until they find something wrong with it as well.


  1. The first step to making your child safe from these chemicals is to educate yourself. There are plenty of books out there that talk about the effects of different chemicals on our environment and our health. A simple Google search will produce somewhat accurate results, as well.
  2. Once you know what the dangers are you can call or email the customer service of a toy in question or look for a BPA free, PVC free, Phthalate free label. I’ve done it for all our toys and have gotten a reply from every single one of them. There are also a few websites that did the leg work on toy manufacturers and have posted the results. If you trust them, they could be your source.
  3. And finally the biggest thing that worked for me is avoiding the toy isles of stores and shopping online instead or making lists of potential purchases and then researching. When you are at a store, if you’re impulsive like me, you are much more likely to grab a toy or an item you liked hoping it is safe. Instead, what I do is look for toys online, then Google them to see if anyone trustworthy has already done the reasearch and posted it. If not, I email the customer service of the brand inquiring about the materials used and if it is PVC, BPA, lead, fire retardants and phthalate free. I also check the toy on in hopes of finding that exact toy listed there.

I know it sounds complicated, but once you have a list of brands that you trust, you simply always go to them for any toy need. So for that reason, for the next 7 days, once a day I will write a review of a toy company that I like and consider safe (-r), along with some of their best toys, as well as host a giveaway for some of them right in time for Christmas.

Below is the schedule of the Toy Feature:


In addition to these toys, there a few toy brands that aren’t in this feature that I would like to bring to your attention:

KUSHIES WOODEN TOYS (new line about to be released)


MATTEL (owns Fisher Price, Disney toys, Barbie, a few others) (uses PVC, took a long time to commit to removing phthalates, huge lead recalls with over 110,000 ppm (limit is 600ppm))
HASBRO (uses PVC& phthalates and denies there is any danger)
DISNEY (polyurethane foam in stuffed animal, questionable cheap plastic, necklaces with high lead content)

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  • Reply
    Sarah C.
    November 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    Just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU for this amazing post. I’ve done all the research too, but it’s SO NICE that you have put it all into one concise post to refer back to. (I pinned it to my Pinterest baby toys board, giving you full credit, hope you don’t mind!) I’m looking forward to the safe toy features – I already have a bunch of Plan Toys and B Toys for my baby boy so I’m excited to hear about your favorites!

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      November 19, 2012 at 7:08 PM

      Thank you Sarah! Glad you had already looked into the safety of toys! 🙂
      And of course pinning is no problem!

  • Reply
    Sarah B.
    November 19, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    Very helpful post! Thank you!!

  • Reply
    November 19, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    Love this post! I also wanted to let you know that Green Toys are amazing! We learned about them when my son got a toy truck as a gift a few years ago. It was an instant hit. Since then we have gotten pretty much everything they make. Their toys are very durable and have taken and survived more abuse than what you can find in a chain store. My only complaint is that they don’t make more things.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      November 19, 2012 at 5:06 PM

      I agree, I had completely forgotten that we have Green Toys’ sand play toys. My only complaint would be the same as yours: not to many toys, but what they do have is great!

  • Reply
    November 19, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    Thank you for this post. This kind of thing is so interesting to read. I have already added some of those recommendations to my baby’s Amazon wish list. Do you know if Leapfrog is similar to Fisher Price as far as safety is concerned? I was really wanting to get the Leapfrog My Pal but if it contains all kinds of chemicals then of course I wouldnt. Thanks again for all your knowledge.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      November 19, 2012 at 5:02 PM

      Hi, Cari!

      Unfortunately, I know nothing about LeapFrog. The biggest the company the shadier their “ingredients” get, though it’s not ALWAYS the case. I’d suggest you email Leapfrog and ask about that specific toy, as well as whether they comply with the EU standards (since they are usually higher). Good Luck and let me know what they said!

  • Reply
    November 19, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    Thank you for all this info. in one place! A company I line that helps w me weed through some product lines for kids and introduce me and my son to companies we may not have lookec at before is Citrus Lane. They give us a box each month and I discovered Green Toys, Plan Toys, non-toxic books, and others from it.

  • Reply
    November 19, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    Those are some interesting statistics you have! I’m really hoping you can give me some of the sources you used to get your stats and information, I’d like to read more about this.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      November 19, 2012 at 7:04 PM

      I listed all the sources in the article.

      Super baby, center for health, environment and justice, and a few other msc books for minor info, plus common knowledge based on a ton of other reading I’ve done over the years.

      And all these sources have cited actual studies for me so that I didn’t have to.

  • Reply
    Anna Kochetkova
    November 19, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    wow look at this massive “corner” for Alexis 🙂 so cool 😀 Id love to play there 🙂

  • Reply
    November 19, 2012 at 8:13 PM

    Thank you Elena for this amazing post. I always try and get my daughter what is best for her and keeping her away from harmful toys is a tough one (especially when friends and family offer her presents!)

    Here is a link of a French research (english version) which you might find useful too.

    All the best to you and your little darling

  • Reply
    November 19, 2012 at 10:34 PM

    fantastic – thank you again for doing this research for us!!! Just got some FP toys for my baby’s 1st b-day from the relatives, fingers crossed they are not the worst offenders. I do not buy any of the FP articles whatsoever, so I am really apprehensive.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      November 19, 2012 at 11:26 PM

      Not all FP toys have an issue. I would send them a quick email about the specific toys you got and you’ll be good.

  • Reply
    November 19, 2012 at 11:14 PM

    Ah. Overwhelmed. But a good post nonetheless. Have you read anything on cloth diapers, specifically those utilizing PUL, or polyurethane laminate fabric, as the water resistent layer? How about microfiber absorbant layers in cloth diapers?

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      November 19, 2012 at 11:31 PM

      Yeah! I know what you mean! It took me a while to remember all this information and then I had to keep re-reading things to just remind myself what it is that is so bad about them.
      I haven’t done too much research on CDs. I can only do so much at a time, and like you said it takes a lot of mental power to even wrap your head around all the stuff. But from what I understand the PU laminate is on the inside of the pocket, so it wouldn’t come in contact with your baby. And aside from that, PU is mostly bad due to the fact that it needs to be sprayed with bromine. Not in CDs though. Not sure about microfiber. I think it’s ok, but I really haven’t looked too much into it, sorry 🙁

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      November 19, 2012 at 11:34 PM

      Oh and as far as being overwhelmed, take it one step at a time. Find a few toys/brands that are safe and stick with them for now, as well as try not to let your baby play with household items that could cause a problem.

  • Reply
    November 20, 2012 at 1:29 AM

    I’m confused. You listed Disney as a manufacturer to avoid, yet you seem to love Disney and Disney World. If Disney is so horrible why would you give them your business in any way, shape or form? I just find it hypocritical to give Disney your business if you feel so strongly about people who produce unsafe toys.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      November 20, 2012 at 7:32 AM

      It’s not all or nothing. I’m just being honest. I can love their parks or movies but only buy certain toys that are safe. It’s not hypocritical, it’s wonders of freedom of choice.

  • Reply
    November 20, 2012 at 8:35 AM

    Great resources! I know it’s a lot of work, but I think it’s so important to try and avoid environmental toxins if at all possible, especially when our babies are so young and susceptible.

    One major issue you didn’t address (and I know this post is about toys and not other baby products, but I think this is the most important issue with baby products and toxins) is the toxins in disposable diapers! Especially Sodium Polyacrylate- it’s the chemical that is in all diapers (even “green” diapers) that is used as an absorbent gel. This is what causes toxic shock syndrome in tampons, and in fact it’s been BANNED from use in tampons because it was considered so dangerous, but it is still in use in all diapers! I think of any changes you can make to protect your newborn from environmental toxins (especially in the first 6 months of life when the skin is the most vulnerable) avoiding disposables would by far outweigh any other change you can make. Think about it – a baby may mouth or chew on a toy for, what, a few hours total each day, maybe? And much less when they are young. But a diaper is pressed against their delicate skin 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Just comparing the amount of exposure, switching to cloth (I make sure to use 100% organic cotton prefolds to avoid the artificial synthetics in other cloth diapers) would make the biggest difference. You can have as many silicone and wooden toys as you want, but if you use disposable diapers all of the organic and toxin-free toys are moot – you’re exposing your baby for much much longer to all kinds of toxins that are literally pressed tightly against their skin, and they can’t escape it. 🙁

    Toxin-free toys are important, but I think that organic mattresses, new construction/new furniture (issues with off-gassing and Chinese drywall), organic cloth diapers and of course where you live (toxins in your general environment – for example, living on a golf course is one of the worst places for environmental toxin exposure, even pro golfers who don’t even LIVE on golf courses have higher cancer risks) are MUCH more important than toys – the different in the levels of exposure differ by magnitudes.

  • Reply
    November 20, 2012 at 8:40 AM

    Ha, it’s too early in the morning – that last sentence is supposed to be “… the difference in the levels of exposure differ by magnitudes.”

  • Reply
    November 20, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    Hi Elena,

    What about green sprouts?

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      November 20, 2012 at 11:15 AM

      I’ve seen them around, but I haven’t looked into them extensively! There is only so much I could do. I encourage you to email them to see what they made their toys out of! I’d love to hear it!

  • Reply
    November 20, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    Also, I recently just read about bath squirting toys are basically e-coli squirters now. Eww. That definitely narrows down the list of acceptable bath toys even further too.

    Thanks again for all of your research. It is much appreciated!

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      November 20, 2012 at 11:20 AM

      Oh really??? That totally makes sense! Ew! I have some Boon ones, though I am not a fan. I will have a great bath toy I will be featuring this week!

  • Reply
    Megan V
    November 20, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    I bow down to you, my friend!!! Thank you thank you for all your research, and condensing it down into something that I can email right to grandma and grandpa that want to buy all those plastic junk toys!!!!! You’ve already inspired me to email four companies and make my own personal little list of save vs. unsafe. 🙂

  • Reply
    November 20, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    When talking about phthalates disrupting hormones many people don’t know exactly what that means or how it is translated to real life. I read (wish I could remember where) that individuals who exposed themselves to phthalates regularly through bath products increased their chance of type II diabetes by 75%!!! (keep in mind this is based off of whatever the person’s individual chances are at having type II to begin with) Its not only sex hormones effected insulin is a hormone as well. So sad that so many products contain these chemicals and so many people are uneducated about them!

  • Reply
    November 20, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    Thanks for all the info! Sometimes research can be a bit overwhelming, so I like how you covered all the basics.

  • Reply
    November 21, 2012 at 7:29 PM

    Elena, I assume you know that most US manufacturers have agreed to remove BPA from children’s products? A recent victory. You likely should update your BPA information accordingly.

    Also, I must repeat an earlier confusion re. Disney. Your girl has some Disney toys and Disney clothes; that’s apparent in your photos. Does Disney list potentially dangerous substances in its toys? Aren’t the bulk made overseas with little regulation?

    Personally I have no problem with picking one’s battles and I dislike ideological purity; I don’t think your readership would care much if you admitted that sometimes you do not/choose not to stick to your own standards, as in the Famous Lexi on Golf Course incident. I think your sponsors wouldn’t care much, either.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      November 21, 2012 at 8:33 PM

      To answer your questions:
      1. Yes some manufacturers did agree to remove bpa but since it’s voluntary and not mandatory, it’s something I like to keep in mind.
      2. Lexi has one toy from Disney, a bear that I made sure is filled with polyester fiber and washed a few times. Luckily she doesn’t chew on it. Though even if she did, polyester is no biggie. I can like certain parts of Disney, but not like others. It’s not an all or none situation.
      3. Well if you understand the concept of picking your battles, then what I do shouldn’t come as a surprise. She won’t miss out on some toy if I only buy safe toys, but I don’t want to take experiences away from her simply due to fear of chemicals, because if I started that , then she would have to live in the wilderness since chemicals are all around us. So I draw the line at where it starts hindering HER experience of the world as opposed to only inconveniencing us as her parents. Some people lay their babies in fire-retardants laden beds every night for years, I let my baby crawl in the grass once in a while.
      Would we have bought a house on a golf course knowing what I know now? Definitely no! Would she still be exposed to stupid treated grass? Oh yeah she would, considering even public areas and parks are treated since grass doesn’t survive well in this climate (anyone who’s been around S Florida communities where they let homeowners take care of their own grass has evidenced that).
      So I choose to accept it and do my best at letting her live her life like a normal kid, without me constantly saying what she can or cannot do.

      If that doesn’t clear up your “confusion”, then I give up 😉

      Oh and what do “my sponsors” even have to do with this?

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      November 21, 2012 at 8:41 PM

      I would also like to add that some people mistakenly assume that just because a toy is made oversees like china it is not regulated. As far as I know (and please anyone who knows something more, correct me), any toy SOLD in the US has to comply with US laws and requirements, regardless of where it was manufactured. Supporting US made toys is great but it’s done to support our economy not because it’s somehow safer.
      Plenty of organic brands have outsourced their manufacturing oversees to certified factories . I don’t support outsourcing but I understand why it’s done.

  • Reply
    November 28, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    I am loving your series on “safe toys”. We have a seven month old daughter and have been using your reviews and brand suggestions to build her Christmas list and weed out some of the unsafe toys we already had in our home. This is fabulous information and such a great reference. I’ve used several of your other suggestions as well including the banana baby toothbrush – our daughter loves it!

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      November 28, 2012 at 3:37 PM

      Hi, Bethany!

      I am so happy it was useful! Thank you for letting me know. Btw, Lexi is STILL in love with the banana toothbrush 🙂

  • Reply
    December 13, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    Great post! Can you tell me what toy Lexi is playing with in the picture?

  • Reply
    December 26, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    I’d just like to say a massive thanks for this really valuable information! I’m expecting my first child in a few weeks and would like to be educated about these sort of issues- you’ve helped get the ball rolling in a huge way! Thank you 😉

  • Reply
    Tammy Root
    March 5, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    Hi Elena,
    Just curious — have you done any research on Melissa and Doug toys? I emailed them inquiring about the toxicity in their toys. They emailed me back saying I would need to call them. This is a red flag to me, even though I will still call. Just wondering what your experience is…I want to buy my daughter some wood toy puzzles and M&D have a ton! Thanks so much!
    P.S. Loving Daily Mom. 🙂

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      March 5, 2013 at 12:21 PM

      You know it’s funny you ask.
      I kept going back and forth on MD. I really love their puzzles but had read a while ago about lead issues and their general stance on toxic substance that I didn’t like. I ended up buying 2 sound puzzles but then decided to look at the
      While they didn’t have our exact puzzles, the alphabet puzzle was found to have a lot of lead in it.
      And that’s a kiss of death for the whole brand as far as I’m concerned.
      I prefer Hape puzzles even though they don’t make sound.

      • Reply
        Tammy Root
        April 22, 2013 at 10:01 PM

        Hi Elena,
        I was just re-reading this post after our FB conversation and just now realized you responded to my question about Melisa and Doug! I usually receive an email when you comment but I don’t think I did this time. So sorry for not responding and saying thank you. I agree with you, I decided to NOT buy any M&D toys.

  • Reply
    March 13, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    Hi – I have a Fisher Price space saver highchair (without legs and attaches to an adult chair). I can’t find the materials used to make this product. Do you by any chance know what materials they use? Do you think it is safe to use this (as far as the type of plastic it’s made of)? Many thanks.


    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      March 14, 2013 at 12:06 AM

      I definitely wouldn’t know without contacting FP.
      Send them an email and include the exact model. If they give you a generic answer and not specific materials, keep pressing. Eventually they give out what type of plastic it is made of. It should be fine though, unless it has a softish plastic pad.

      • Reply
        March 18, 2013 at 1:28 PM

        Thanks. I contacted them and they won’t tell me what the product is made of. Initially I received an email stating their products are safe. I responded that they didn’t answer my question about what materials the item is made of. The company responded by telling me they don’t have the info and directed me to a company report which explains they stopped using BPA in food products (what about the fact that babies eat everything!) and do use PVC because it’s safe.

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          March 19, 2013 at 2:12 PM

          That’s precisely why I try not to buy from big companies. No accountability. I’ve gotten that response before and what it means is we possibly so use harmful plastics so we can’t really tell you if it’s in what you’re asking for.

          It’s a high chair right? As long as it’s from hard plastic not PVC and your baby doesn’t chew on it and the tray is made of ok plastic, you’re fine

  • Reply
    Angie Menegay
    October 8, 2013 at 9:46 PM

    Hi Elena,

    I noticed on the side bar it shows Lexi’s Amazon Wish List that has a few VTech toys on it. What do you know about VTech? We have a lot of VTech toys, and after reading this article, it starts to concern me.

    Thanks for any information you might have!

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      October 8, 2013 at 10:42 PM

      The wish list is just for me to remember things I want to look into or buy. I put in the Vtech so that I could check them out.
      I don’t know whether they have a company wide policy not to use certain materials. I am pretty sure they would use PVC at least. But the one toy I do have from Vtech, I emailed them on and verified the materials. I’d suggest you do the same in question 🙂 Hope this helps.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2013 at 2:52 AM

    Thank you for this! I’ve read a lot about these things, but learned more here. I find myself in the conundrum of avoiding plastics yet not knowing if the alternative has paints, finishes, etc that could be more toxic.

    Can you please share the brand of the tunnel?

    Thank you!

  • Reply
    January 8, 2014 at 3:28 PM

    hi and thanks for the article. I see you have the meoswic piano on this page is that toy safe? I have it and wanted to know if it was safe. Also what brand of the play tunnel are you showing in the pic cant seem to find one that has no flame retardants or pvc. thank you.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      January 8, 2014 at 3:59 PM

      Yes meowsic is safe. The tunnel is pacific play tents. It says the fabric itself is flame retardant which usually means it’s not sprayed but I sent an email to then to verify that. Will update.

  • Reply
    March 5, 2014 at 8:41 AM

    omgomgomg THANK YOU. i have spent hours and hours doing this same research, and it is amazing to see it all in one place. i was just about to type up notes for myself and now i pretty much don’t have to!!! huzzah! just wish i’d found your blog FIRST!!! i’m pretty sold on tiny love for an activity mat, i think, but question…have you researched much on infantino?

    I got an email from them yesterday that looks good.

    Tue, Mar 4, 2014 at 2:38 PM
    Shannon Sharkey
    Hello Jess:
    Yes, Pop & Play Activity Gym is BPA, Pthaltes, PVC – Pthlates free, Lead and latex free. All of our toys are…
    You can see this under our Safety Statement. Customer Care( Bottom of the page) then to the left of the page Safety statement.
    Take care?
    To: Shannon Sharkey
    Thanks. What about flame retardants? I’m curious about this piece as well as the cloth mats it would go on. Thanks!

    Shannon Sharkey

    Hello JESS:

    No , Flame retardants are used in our products as well.
    We do not use flame retardants on our products. We comply by using materials that do not contain any of these chemicals thus pass and meet the California’s flammability standard TB 117.
    Sincerely here for you!
    Consumer Relations Department

  • Reply
    January 1, 2016 at 3:47 PM

    Hi, I know this is an old post, but finding it has been so helpful to me. I would love your feedback and advice! I’m still confused about polyurethane foam and flame retardant use. When a product has the CA TB 117 on the tag, does that actually translate to the use of flame retardants, or just that the product meets flammable requirements by the use of flame retardants OR the use of material such as polyester that already meets the standard without being treated? If the latter is the case then would the only way to find out if the product or toy has been treated with flame retardants is to ask the company? My other question is do you know if polyurethane foam is very toxic on it’s own? My daughter’s grandmother got her a stuffed pooh bear which has pu foam in it, and I’m waiting on a reply from Disney Store about their use/not use of flame retardants. If they don’t use them I’m thinking about removing the stuffing and filling it with something safer, although I don’t know if pu foam toxins have already affected the outer material, and my daughter would be putting this in her mouth. Thank you!

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      January 3, 2016 at 6:40 PM

      Ok, this is coming from just my personal knowledge and understanding and might not apply to everything or be the absolute truth, but from what I understand if it has the tag then it HAS been treated with fire retardants. Either way it is always just much safer to contact the company to find out for sure if the item has been treated.

      As far as PU foam, it offgasses, not sure for how long, but that’s one of the other dangers there, aside from the fact that it often is treated with FRs. A lot of Disney toys have PU foam but there are some that don’t.

      Good luck, it’s pretty challenging find the right toys. 🙂

      • Reply
        January 7, 2016 at 10:50 PM

        Thank you! I have been able to find some great, safe toy companies in the short time I’ve been researching about all of this, and also the ones that you recommend.

        Anyway, I found this post in a Google search and I can say that finding your blog is one of the greatest tools that have come my way since my daughter was born six months ago. I have *pocketed* (as per your app recommendations) many of your posts already, whether it’s something I’ve been wanting to do more research on or something I never even knew about, it’s going to be so useful to me 🙂

        Also, before I found your blog I was doing car seat research to try to find the least toxic one as far as FRs go. Currently we a have Maxi Cosi infant seat, and I always figured we’d go up to the Pria convertible seat when the time came. But (now that I know more about FRs) I’m not sure because I can’t find info about maxi cosi and their type of FR use. Then I found Clek Flo which is free of BFRs and CFRs, but still being unsure I thought I’d see if you did a car seat review and I was happy to find that you’ve actually reviewed both brands! Haha, so now what I’d like to ask is what were your findings of FRs and maxi cosi? Also, my daughter always gets sooo hot in her maxi cosi infant seat so I’m worried that it would be the same for the pria. I really am interested in the clek, but it looks big, and we have a mini cooper (yikes!)

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          January 9, 2016 at 12:27 PM

          Well, thank you so much for the feedback and your sweet words. It’s always been my hope that people would find some of my posts helpful.

          As far as Pria vs Clek when it comes to FRs, what I do know is that Clek absolutely does not use any. I actually spent a few hours with the owner at ABC and it was amazing listening to how they produce the seats. It’s definitely superior to everything else.
          Lexi never got hot in the Pria and it should improve now that they changed the fabrics as well. I would not worry about the size of Clek, it really was designed to fit in the smallest cars, but if you’re concerned call their customer service and talk to them about how they think it would fit into a Mini Cooper. They will give you an idea.
          Pria might be shorter, but it’s definitely wider. I love both car seats.
          Also check out Diono, they don’t use any FRs either.

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