The holiday season is quickly approaching and it’s time to start thinking about getting some shopping done for your kids. This time of year can be stressful as you will need to juggle everything from decorating to finding the right presents for your kids at the top of their list. You may have the urge to rush through your shopping so you can start thinking about the next task on your holiday to-do list, but some toys you’re looking to buy your kids may pose health and safety risks, which makes it important to do your due diligence when finding the right toy. Here are some tips to help make the shopping process for your kid easier and safer.
1. Do your best to avoid soft plastics
While it’s difficult to completely avoid plastics in toys, there are still ways to improve your child’s safety when playing with them. Recent studies have shown that 74% of plastic products tested were found to be toxic. So, when searching for the right toys try and find brands that are PVC and BPA free. Products that contain BPA (bisphenol A) have been linked to causing health problems in children such as brain growth, thyroid function, and possible changes in behavioral development. Products containing PVC (polyvinyl chloride) have been linked to premature puberty, liver dysfunction, and cancer.
If you are going to purchase toys for your child that contain plastic, the safest route to go is to buy ones made out of polypropylene, one of the safest known plastics. This is due to its ability to resist heat, which can cause other plastics to breakdown. However, if you’re buying toys this holiday season for a toddler who is still in the teething stage, it may be in your best interest to consider the other alternatives to plastic toys.
2. Buy wood toys as an alternative
Buying your children toys made out of wood is one of the safest alternatives you can buy. Wood toys are known to be much safer options than plastic toys because they aren’t made with the same harsh chemicals that are used in plastic toys. The safest type of wood toys to look for are ones that are either coated with essential oils or uncoated all together.
If you are looking to buy wood toys that are painted, you should check the labels to make sure the paint is either water or food based. If not, the paint could pose a risk of exposing your child to lead contamination. Exposure to lead can cause children to develop brain and nervous system problems which can hinder your child’s development. While it’s important to be on the lookout for unknown toxins and chemicals in toys, it isn’t the only issue when searching for the safest toy brands.
3. Be careful of “bargain” deals
Saving money is always a good thing, but not when it comes at the expense of your child’s safety. It’s appealing to save a few extra dollars and go with an inexpensive brand, but these bargain toys raise safety concerns for your kids. One of the main reason certain toys are labeled as bargains is because they are made with poor quality materials.
Toys that are made with cheap plastics can easily break which become choking hazards. Plastic can break into sharp fragments that could hurt your child while playing. The best thing to do is to spend the few extra dollars to buy the brands you know will be made with higher quality materials. While the pricepoint may be alluring, skipping the heavily discounted items will keep your child safe this holiday season. As you begin shopping, try to avoid any toys that are made by unknown brands or that are alarmingly cheap.
4. Buy your child age-appropriate toys
Since toys pose choking hazards risks from small pieces and broken fragments, you want to check the labels and make sure the toys you buy are recommended for your child’s age. Parents should keep a close eye on younger children playing with toys that need to be put together with small pieces, batteries, or lots of packaging.
It’s also important to monitor your child’s behavior. If they still put their hands in their mouth and nose often, you should be cautious about buying your children art and make-up based toys. When looking for safe art and make-up toys for your kids, find brands that are talc-free. Talc based make-ups, crayons, and clays have been linked to containing asbestos—which can potentially cause health concerns such as respiration issues and cancer later in life.
While having kids that put things in their mouth or up their nose can be troublesome, you may be able to use their new found obsession with their senses to your advantage. Teaching kids about their senses, and how they can use them to keep them safe could be a fun exercise to try next time you introduce a new toy. Learning that bitter means bad, and certain smells are toxic are easy ways to keep your kid from ingesting something that could be harmful to their health.
As your child develops, make sure to keep introducing new types of toys to aid in their development.
5. Do your own research!
One of the best possible ways you can avoid toxic toys is by educating yourself on how to find the safest toy brands. You can do this by looking out for any product recalls that have an effect for your specific area or nationwide. If you are feeling ambitious as a parent and want to go that extra step, you can always call toy companies and ask them about their safety standards and how they make their product. With keeping these 5 tips in mind, you should be able to provide your child the safe and happy holiday that they deserve.