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Most of the toys are made from plastics. There are so many options and varieties to choose from when it comes to plastic toys. However, plastics are known to leach chemicals and they can be harmful to our little ones. Babies and toddlers can be affected by inhaling the toxic fumes released from toys and also by touching or sucking toys that contain toxic chemicals such as lead or phthalates. Therefore, some parents avoid plastic toys in general and seek safe alternatives. There are several alternatives available: solid wood, organic cotton or safer plastics. These toys are made from natural, organic or recycled materials and do not release toxic chemicals. The manufacturers of these toys often practice ethical, sustainable manufacturing process and also care for safety of their workers & environment. Then what are the best non-toxic toy brands currently available? Let’s check out wooden, organic cotton and recyclable plastic toy companies for babies and toddlers.
Wood is a natural material and it is a good alternative to toxic plastic material. However, just because the toys are made of wood, it doesn’t mean they are safe from toxic chemicals. Wood can be also toxic if wood material is not solid wood. In solid wood, there is a naturally occurring chemical called formaldehyde (but only a trace amount). It is a toxic chemical, known to cause cancer and a variety of other health problems. At normal state, a very tiny amount of formaldehyde is released from solid wood so there is no cause for concern. On the other hand, manufactured wood such as MDF or Plywood are treated with hot temperature or prolonged heating during manufacturing process. That will make MDF or plywood emit higher level of formaldehyde. Also, manufactured wood is made by gluing several wood layers or wood composites together. Often, formaldehyde-based glue is used to put these layers or wood composites. This formaldehyde-based glue from a furniture will release formaldehyde in the air where your baby breathes. Therefore, when choosing a wooden toy, select toys made of solid wood.
Wooden toys also have wood finish on them. Wood finish of a toy can also release harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Both water-based or oil-based finish will release harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). However, water-based finish will release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at much less amount than oil finish. The best, safest option is to get a toy with no finish or organic oil finish. Organic oil includes shellac, beeswax, tung oil, and linseed oil (flax seed oil).
Also, some wooden toys have colors or color decorations on them. The colors can be put on the wood by paints or dyes (stains). However, it is important to check what type of paint is put on a wooden toy because paints can contain toxic chemicals such as lead. (Thomas & Friends Railway Toys Recalled.) Babies or toddlers can gnaw on a toy and they can easily eat the paint chipped off from it. The safe option is non-toxic, water-based, food-grade paint. Dyes or stains do not chip off like paint so there is less to worry about. However, still go for the non-toxic, water-based dyes or stains since baby or toddler can suck on the toy. If a toy is made in China, there is higher chance that cheap, toxic paint or finish is used so check before you make a decision to get the toy. Here are wooden toy companies that I feel safe for babies and toddlers.
Plan Toys – Non-Toxic Toys
I really like Plan toys. This is my favorite toy company. They use sustainable material and practice sustainable manufacturing. They reduce, reuse and recycle. Their manufacturing processes are designed to reduce waste and save energy. The materials they use are non-toxic and safe. They have large selection of toys to choose from.
Wood Material: They use solid wood from recycled rubber wood. (rubber trees that no longer provide latex) Their wood is not chemically treated to make it strong. Also, no fertilizer is added to the soil three years prior to cut the trees down.
Wood Paint: Organic color pigment or non-toxic water-based dyes (contains no heavy metals or lead)
Glue: water-based, formaldehyde-free glue
Made in: Thailand
Camden Rose – Non-Toxic Toys
Wood Material: They are made of solid wood such as cherry, maple and walnut from USA. Their wood is not chemically treated to make it strong but treated with heat.
Wood Finish: Toy are polished with wood finish blend of beeswax and USDA certified organic Jojoba oil or food-grade mineral oil. Their mineral oil was tested to be safe. Wooden toys are not like lotion that goes through skin so mineral oil should be okay. You can also ask for unfinished if you wish.
Glue: water-based, formaldehyde-free glue
Made in: USA
Hape – Non-Toxic Toys
Hape Toys are the world’s largest producer of wooden toys. However, not all toys use solid wood. For example, their kitchen is made of solid wood, plywood and particle boards. Only about 1/3 of the kitchen is solid wood. Other than that, their toys seem to be safe. If you don’t want toys that are made of plywood or particle boards mixed with solid wood, get their solid wood toys like Hape Walk Along Wooden Pull Toy, Hape Wooden Doll House or Hape Pound And Tap Bench with Xylophone.
Wood Material: Wood sourced from environmentally sustainable forests
Wood Finish: non-toxic, water-based, solvent-free lacquers
Wood Paint: Non-toxic water-based paints
Made in: China but the factories are all owned and controlled by Hape, German company
Haba – Non-Toxic Toys
Wood Material: Haba uses wood from sustainable forestry in German forests. (beech and birch wood) Some toys use plywood from Finland and Russia.
Wood Finish: Non-toxic finish
Wood Paint: Solvent-free paints or water-based stains
Made in: Most of their toys are made in Germany, however, some wooden toys are made in China.
Maple Landmark Toys – Non-Toxic Toys
Some of Maple Landmark Toys has lacquer or urethane finish. Lacquer is petroleum-based and urethane is oil-based. However, they also have unfinished or non-toxic finish toys and those are safe. I love their name train and train tracks.
Wood Material: New England Maple solid wood
Wood Finish: Depending on their product line, toys come unfinished or has dye stains, lacquer, natural oil, teak oil, urethane or whey as their finish.
Wood Paint: Non-toxic paints or water/alcohol based stains
Made in: USA
Wonder World – Non-Toxic Toys
Wonderworld Toys use lacquers and there is no detail about which lacquers they use. They do say they use non-toxic paints, dyes or lacquers. One good thing about this company is they do use formaldehyde-free glue like Plantoys or Camden Rose. They make stacking toys, blocks or shape sorting toys.
Wood Material: Wonderworld toys source their wood from Thailand in an environmentally-conscious way (from rubber trees that no longer produce latex)
Wood Finish: lacquers (they don’t give any details about which lacquers they use.)
Wood Paint: Water-based non-toxic paints or dyes
Glue: Formaldehyde-free glue
Made in: Thailand
Grimm’s Spiel and Holz – Non-Toxic Toys
Grimm’s Spiel and Holz Toys are very safe. They make many stacking toys, building blocks, magnet puzzles, etc.
Wood Material: Their wood is sourced from sustainably managed forests in Europe. They use alder, lime, beech and maple trees.
Wood Finish: Linseed oil
Wood Paint: Non-toxic water-based stains (no paint so no chipping of paint)
Made in: Germany
Uncle Goose – Non-Toxic Toys
Uncle Goose makes cool alphabet or symbol blocks that you can teach kids to spell, sequence, and stack. Their toys are non-toxic.
Wood Material: sustainable Michigan basswood
Wood Paint: Printed using non-toxic, mouth safe inks
Made in: USA
Non-Toxic Plastic Toys
As a parent, you want to offer your kids a variety of toys that encourage creative, imaginative play. Sometimes, you feel limited just with wooden or organic cotton toys. If you want to get plastic toys, take a look at these two companies with toys made from safer or the safest plastic.
Green Toys is my favorite plastic toy company. #2, 4, 5 are the safest plastics and Green toys use #2 plastic. They offer variety of toys such as cars, trucks, houses, fire stations, farm play sets, stacking toys, etc. I love their tea set!
Material: Recycled plastic milk jugs (#2 plastic is considered as a food-safe, non-toxic plastic.)
Made in: USA
Spielstabil Toys makes sand toys or stacking toys. They use no glue and use hygenic ultrasonic welding technology to join plastic parts together. Therefore, there is no chemicals from glue.
Material: food-grade ABS plastic (ABS is #7 plastic. However, toys made from #7 plastic such as Legos, have no phthalates, BPA, fire retardant added in them so they should be safe.)
Glue: To join the plastics together, they use hygenic ultrasonic welding rather than glue to ensure that there are no chemical glues or adhesives used.
Made in: Germany
Organic Cotton Toys
Conventional cotton is treated with so much pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, Irradiation and Genetically Modified Organisms. (Importance of Organic Cotton.) This results tremendous damage to our environment and also to health of workers who produce cottons. Most of pesticides are gone when final cotton fabric is made. However, the real problem lies with finishes and dyes on cotton fabrics. Cotton fabric is treated with many other toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), phthalates, chlorine, etc. at the finishing process. These chemical residues will remain on the fabric and they can irritate the skin or off-gas toxins. (Does Non-Organic Cotton Contain Pesticides Residues?) Babies or children have more sensitive skin and they will be more susceptible to toxic chemicals. Toxic finishes and dyes can be also done to organic cotton if conventionally produced. Unless organic cotton is Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified, it will still be treated with toxic finishes and dyes. (How to get rid of chemicals in fabrics.) Therefore, choose 100% organic cotton material that is GOTS certified.
Apple Park Organic Farm
Apple Park Organic Farm Toys are made with 100% organic cotton and their cotton is certified by Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS). Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) assess materials from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labeling. I love their plush toys, rattles and blankies.
Material: 100% GOTS organic cotton
Filling & Dyes: hypoallergenic sustainable corn fiber filling and dyes
Made In: China
Under The Nile
Under The Nile toys are also certified by Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS). They make not only organic baby toys but also baby clothes, towels, blankets, hats, etc. They practice ethical, sustainable, transparent cotton production and manufacturing. This is my favorite organic cotton toy company.
Material: 100% GOTS certified, organic Egyptian cotton
Filling: 100% organic cotton
Dyes: Under The Nile use low-impact, metal free dyes. These dyes do not contain any harmful chemicals such as AZO agents or flame retardants and do not contain PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride), a hazardous chemical used in conventional dyeing processes.
Made In: Egypt
John N Tree Organics
John N Tree Organics Toys makes baby toys, towels, bedding, clothes, etc. I love their toys’ undyed natural organic cotton colors. They have very cute, cozy looking dolls for babies.
Materials: 100% Organic GOTS certified unbleached cotton
Filling: Polyester filling
Dyes: Undyed natural organic cotton color (Light Beige, Light Green, Light Brown)
Made In: South Korea
Natural Rubber Toys
Toys made from 100% natural rubber are non-toxic. Natural rubber is made from latex, rubber milk produced by Hevea Brasiliensis trees. These trees can be sustainably harvested without the use of herbicides. When sustainably harvested, the trees are never chopped down; their sap/milk is simply harvested from the living tree. Natural rubber is a renewable material and also biodegradable. It is pvc/ vinyl free, phthalate free, lead free, petroleum free and heavy metal free. Unless baby is allergic to rubber, natural rubber is one of the safest material for toys.
CaaOcho makes non-toxic teething toys and bath toys. Their bath toys don’t have a hole in it so it doesn’t grow mildew. Their toys are safe for babies or toddlers to chew.
Material: 100% pure natural rubber
Paint: Certified non-toxic, food-grade paint
Made In: Designed in Canada, Made in China
Vulli makes teething toys, bath toys, rattles, etc. They are famous for the teething toy called ‘Sophie La Giraffe’. Their toys are very safe.
Material: 100% natural rubber, sourced from Hevea trees grown in Malaysia
Paint: food-based paint
Made in: France
Meiya & Alvin
Meiya & Alvin Toys are first ever toys to combine rubber and natural cotton together. Their toy can be a great companion to your baby as well as a teething toy.
Material: Their material is natural rubber sustainably-harvested from the Hevea tree. The fabric is cotton.
Paint: Hand painted with water-based non-toxic dyes
Filling: Stuffed with fiber fill reclaimed from recycled plastic (PET) bottles
If you are interested in non-toxic bath toys, see my previous posting, ‘Non-Toxic Bath Toys – Natural Rubber As A Safe Alternative To Plastics‘.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
WHAT NON-TOXIC TOYS DO YOU HAVE? DO YOU KNOW ANY OTHER COMPANY THAT MAKES NON-TOXIC TOYS FOR BABIES AND TODDLERS?
PLEASE LEAVE ME A COMMENT!