A Newbie’s Guide to Non-Toxic Toys

Because everything goes in kids' mouths

You probably never thought your living room would become a giant playroom filled with kids stuff, but somehow it is. Of course you want your kid's toys to be educational, fun, and developmentally appropriate toys, but sometimes you just want them to be entertained so you can enjoy your cup of coffee.

When you bring toys into your home, you want to make sure they are safe and non-toxic, especially because your kid is going to be chewing and licking everything at some point. And with the history of toxic toy recalls and research showing that chemicals being used in products have detrimental developmental effects, you want to err on the side of safety (1, 2, 3). Even if your kid isn't obsessed with putting every object in their mouth, they are touching them and the particles that escape from from toys can contribute to dust in the home. This is something to be cautious about because kids breathe in more air comparatively than full grown humans (4). The toxics in the dust also matter more for babies because childhood is a time where so much changes and grows so quickly. While we are just trying to catch up on the latest episode of The Bachelor, our kid's brains are working on doubling in size.

It's impossible to understand the environmental impact of each toy. You would have to study the materials, manufacturing processes, labor and industrial processes and transportation...etc. Ain't nobody got time for that. So, instead we have some easy to remember tips and recommendations. When you are looking for toys, try to look for as many natural materials as possible and buy from reputable toy companies. Look at our roundup of safe and healthy toy brands for some ideas.

Wood toys are timeless, durable, and versatile. They also encourage imagination. When picking out wood toys, look for ones that are unfinished and just sanded, finished with beeswax and food safe oils, stained with dyes, or painted with a water-based paint. Be wary of paint that is chipping and make sure the brand is serious about making sure their paints are safe.

For soft toys, choose natural fibers like wool and cotton or toys that can be easily washed and dried. The majority of stuffies made today are filled with polyester fibers, which is a naturally flame retardant material, so they are unlikely to be sprayed with flame retardants, which is a huge plus in our book. But, remember that polyester is a petroleum product that is nonrenewable and will never break down. Some brands are making toys with recycled polyester, which some scientists argue are more environmentally friendly than cotton. (5) With all of these factors in mind, our advice is to be selective about stuffies and go for quality over quantity.

Natural rubber products (especially those processed to exclude the latex-like nitrosamine proteins) are healthy option for babies and toddlers, too. There are rubber duckies and other bath toys and teethers in a variety of animal shapes made from natural latex.

But let's face it, plastic toys are sort of unavoidable. So, if you are picking out or receiving plastic toys, try for the following: #2, #4, #5 plastics which are considered safer and don't leach harmful chemicals. When you can, limit plastic toys that have electronic components because they are commonly treated with flame retardants (so they don't accidentally catch on fire). Just another reason to opt for simple toys. Simple toys are also a great way to help your kid strengthen their imagination, which can help them with critical thinking skills later in life (6).

One last note: Be wary of vintage or hand me down toys. There have been a lot of regulatory change to what can be in toys, especially after 2008 when the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission adopted stricter rules like banning lead and some types of phthalates from children's products (7). Second hand toys have been shown to have high levels of heavy metal, including lead, often because they are older and were created before we had regulations and knew as much as we do now about the dangers of lead paint and coloring (8). Scientists found especially high levels in building blocks, plastic figures, construction toys, games, puzzles and play jewelry. And especially in bright colored pieces such as yellow and red (9).












Why You Shouldn’t Sleep with Your Phone

At least put it in airplane mode or toss it across the room

We know that scrolling can be a totally mindless way to fall asleep. Look at some random photos on Insta, read an article somewhere, take a quiz to learn what your cheese choices say about your love life, and before you know it, you're drifting softly to sleep. But, that probably also means your phone is your snuggle buddy. You might think it's totally fine, or that random alarm clock app might promise to wake you at the best time in your sleep cycle if you leave your phone under your pillow, but we are thinking that may not be the best idea for a couple of reasons.

Keep Reading Show Less
Want more news like this?
Sign up to receive our email newsletter and never miss an update!
By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy.

5 Tips To Help Reduce and Properly Recycle Electronic Waste

For when you get a new [insert electronic device]

Getting new gadgets is always exciting. Whether it's a cell phone, an electric toothbrush, or even a blender, it's fun to learn all about the new features. But, what happens to the old ones? If it still works, maybe you resell it, or it goes to a friend, or Goodwill. Other times, it ends up in a drawer with all the old cords you keep around just in case (like that one to plug your old digital camera into your laptop - oh wait, you laptop doesn't have ports anymore… but you never know!). For all of the items that don't end up in either of those categories, many of them end up being thrown out and becoming e-waste.

As technology keeps improving and advancing at a lightning fast pace and electronics become harder to repair, the larger the amount of e-waste will become. So, what does that mean for us and the planet?

Keep Reading Show Less

9 Veggies You Can Grow Indoors

Gourmet dinners with fresh veggies and no more plastic herb packets are in your future

What's better than having an indoor plant baby? How about one that gives you food? Even if you don't have a backyard, you can grow some vegetables and herbs on a windowsill inside. We found 9 veggies and herbs that are easy to grow inside and are useful to have on hand.

Keep Reading Show Less

Why Creating Your Own Compost Might Be Easier Than You Think

We've got step-by-step instructions, tips and tricks to get you the best looking soil around (seriously!)

You made it! Now that you're here, don't run yet! Gone are the days when composting meant throwing a heap of your leftovers in the dirt and banking on magic to make some soil (not that you still can't). BUT, we've got everything you need to know to jump on the composting train, reduce your carbon footprint and start saving money on fertilizer without all the headache and mess.

Keep Reading Show Less

Why You Should Care About Soil Contamination If You're Starting a Garden in Your Backyard

Here's the dirt-y details you're going to want to know and what to do about it

Dreary winter blues might have you dreaming of blue skies, warm weather and some home grown vegetables. But before you go jetting off to your nearest Home Depot or nursery, you might want to take a second and get to know your soil. We're serious! No, not the hello, my name is ____, more like the hey, what's in my soil? Not all soils are created equally and trust us when we say that you'll definitely want to make sure the soil you're using for growing food to eat is top notch!

Keep Reading Show Less

What All Those Certifications on Mattresses Actually Mean

Label Education: Decoding what GOTS, GOLS, Greenguard, Organic, and more mean

Choosing the right mattress is so important for sound sleep and health, yet with so many options the shopping can be confusing and stressful! Obviously you want to take comfort and pricing into consideration, but there are some chemical ingredients you might want to consider too. Standard synthetic foam mattresses can contain various harmful chemicals we don't want to be sleeping on. And these chemicals can evaporate into the air, or collect in house dust, which is yucky and no good for your family's health.

The great news is that there are a bunch of healthier alternatives, and these labels below can help you find them. We also have a roundup of 12 non-toxic mattress brands if you just want a quick guide to organic mattresses and natural mattresses you can buy.

Keep Reading Show Less

12 Non-Toxic Mattresses

options for every budget that are free of any harsh chemicals and petroleum-based foam, including organic mattresses

Step 1: Start researching organic mattresses or natural mattresses. Step 2: Get confused! Step 3: Look at our roundup where we did all the research on safe, well reviewed, comfy mattresses for you. Step 4: Order a healthy, non-toxic, organic mattress Step 5: Sleep more peacefully. We found options for every budget, so what are you waiting for?

All of the mattress brands we found use natural materials like 100% natural latex, organic cotton, and wool, and do not use petroleum-based foams or no chemical flame retardants. For our budget picks ($), a base model queen retailed for less than $1000. For the quality picks ($), a queen ran between $1000 and $2000. And the splurge picks ($) retailed for above $2000. Some brands use inner coils and some are made of just latex layers. We hope this list of natural mattress brands is a good starting place for a better night's sleep.

Keep Reading Show Less
Want more news like this?
Sign up to receive our email newsletter and never miss an update!
By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy.