Plastic toys and their harmful effects on our children’s health
Play is essential for healthy and normal childhood development and as Albert Einstein wisely once said, “Play is the highest form of research”. Play enables children to connect all the elements of their life as they experience it. It is an outlet for the fullness of their creativity, and it is an absolutely critical part of their childhood.
But what about the safety of toys and the impact they have on our child’s health? Have you ever considered what plastic toys are made of? Sadly, our children are exposed to many harmful chemicals simply because of the toys they play with.
Babies are given plastic teethers and toys from a young age to chew on to help soothe and ease their baby’s gums. What most parents don’t realise is that many plastic teethers and toys contain chemicals such as BPA, phthalates and PVC that babies suck on and ingest while chewing on the toy.
These chemicals can be traced directly to the illnesses that our babies and children are now experiencing. These include immune diseases, asthma, allergies, and cancers, higher rates of learning and behavioural difficulties and intellectual impairment. They also include a host of reproductive problems, such as birth defects, congenital malformations, and infertility. So while we often think that we are doing the right thing, it can be unknown to us that we are actually doing more damage.
So what makes a toy chemical free? Firstly, it has to be made from natural materials, not synthetic man made materials. Obviously there is a preference for natural materials that have been untreated and grown organically such as organic cotton, natural rubber and untreated wood (brands such as Plan Toys). There are many toy manufacturers that are getting on board and manufacturing environmentally friendly toys so our suggestion is to know your brand sand suppliers that support them.
Then there is the question of paints. We all know about the dangers associated with high levels of lead exposure, so always make sure the paints are water-based which means not only are they safe for children’s toys, they are also environmentally friendly. Or you can simply choose to buy wooden toys that are as natural as possible, without paint and lacquers. If you buy organic cotton, make sure it is certified organic and that the toy is filled with either organic cotton or natural fibres.
As parents we need to demand better and safer products for our children and we need to ask where and how and with what the products are made from. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves so that we can read labels and understand exactly what we are buying and bringing into our home.
Article written by Melinda Bito, Founder & Director of Eco Toys. Eco Toys is Australia’s first and leading toy store committed to providing quality, sustainable and non-toxic toys to parents. www.ecotoys.com.au