Safe Baby Toys : Toys that are free of phthalates, PVC, lead, and flame retardant

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

This article covers safe baby toys that are free of toxic chemicals that could harm your child. Ever wonder which toy companies put potentially dangerous toxic chemicals in your children’s toys?  Now that I am pregnant, I am wondering, so I spent the last several hours doing research on non-toxic baby products and toys, and the information seems to be spread far and wide.  Phthalates in toys can leach out and get into the baby’s system, and we have all heard about recalls due to lead in toys. I am going to cover the major companies and their policies about toxins in their toys, and then share with you several great companies that I found that sell safe baby toys.  A lot of these are also eco friendly toys, too, which is great.

Update! September 2012 – This guide is now the best resource for safe and eco-friendly toys on the internet!

Some of the major chemicals I am trying to avoid here include PVC (vinyl), phthalates, BPA (bisphenol-a), flame retardant, and lead. Finding safe baby products like shampoos, soaps, and lotions is a breeze, plus I can reference EWGs awesome Skin Deep Database if I need to. It is great.  It is the toys, strollers, carseats, playpens, and all other assorted baby “gear” that I am having a hard time with. I have, however, successfully tracked down some really good toy manufacturers that make safe baby toys. In the future, I will focus more on the “big” items, like strollers, carseats, etc.

I first started researching safe baby toys. I wanted to know how safe my “antique” My Little Pony dolls and Fisher Price Little People sets were. The answer seems to be, not very. I feel pretty bummed about this. My mom saved so many of my toys, and so many of them likely contain things I am trying to avoid. The My Little Pony dolls most definitely are made with PVC- they even have that “new shower curtain / rubber ducky” smell when fresh out of the box. The Little People are basically ancient plastic (can’t trust that, can I?) and apparently a choking hazard to boot. (Though, I don’t understand that part. My sister and I had no issues whatsoever choking on Little People. Maybe we were older when we started playing with them.)

Two of the biggest Toy manufacturers are Mattel and Hasbro. They seem to own just about all the most popular toy brands out there. Some of these include: Barbie, G.I. Joe, American Girl, Fisher-Price, Playskool, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, and a lot of your favorite games.

I do believe that the major companies have removed phthalates from anything that is meant to go in a baby’s mouth (like teethers), but other than that, I don’t know that they have done much. Also, not all teethers and the like you find in stores are actually phthalate-free. The laws in the EU are much better than they are in the U.S. when it comes to providing safe baby toys. We still haven’t caught up. Mattel gave a promise to remove phthalates from its toys for children under 3, back in 1997, and to try to make toys with plant-based plastics in 1999.  But I can’t really find anything more recent, and you would think Mattel would be really promoting that their stuff is PVC and Phthalate-free, right? Especially with all the Chinese factory lead recalls they faced a few years ago. It would be good PR for them.

Oh! Binary Barbie!

(While researching this, I discovered “Computer Engineer” Barbie. She is brand new. Her shirt is covered in 0s and 1s -binary code- that translate into “Barbie”. I’m, uh, feeling really weak right now. The girly geek in me very much wants this PVC Barbie doll for herself…It also does seem like a great message to send to girls, but of course, it would be a lot nicer if the toy was free of toxic chemicals!)

Hasbro definitely uses PVC and makes no apologies for it. From the Hasbro site:

“Hasbro…firmly believes that toys and childcare articles made from PVC and softened with phthalates pose no health risk to children.”

They believe this, though they say they do follow the regulations imposed by different countries. Good for them, but I still think they are smoking crack if they think this is a good answer. I guess they are hoping no one watches videos like the one I posted in my article on phthalates.

So, I don’t really know if I can trust the major toy companies, especially for the first few years of my child’s life, when they are most likely to be putting all their toys in their mouths. If they were trustworthy, I don’t think a lot of other eco-aware mommys out there would be searching around for safe baby toys. They wouldn’t have to if they could be easily found at every toy store. I have discovered a few companies that make toys that are free of PVC, Phthalates, Lead, BPA and Flame-retardants. I doubt that every single baby toy is perfect, and it seems like a lot of companies inevitability have recalls for one reason or another, but this is the closest I’ve come to finding safe baby toys that, for the most part, shouldn’t put your child in close contact with any dangerous chemicals. I also believe we should “vote with our pocketbooks” and reward companies that are trying to be socially responsible.

All of the links and pictures below open up in a new tab to the toy or company page on Amazon.com.


Safe Baby Toys Company List

PVC-free, Phthalate-free, Lead-free, BPA-free and Flame-retardant-free


  • Plan Toys – I love this company. They are going to be my replacement for Little People and plastic play food for my kids.
  • Tiny Love – This company makes safe developmental / educational baby toys.  They have mobiles, toys for carseats, and activity centers that I really like. They say that they do not have any lead, phthalates, PVC, BPA, or flame retardant (in the cloth) in their products. I will be definitely be buying these!
  • Earthentree – Wood toys made from a sustainable source. Small company from WA, but carved in India by artisans and painted with eco-friendly natural vegetable dyes. (So, no lead paint!) Fair trade, which is great.  The company actually cares about their workers. These toys are recommended for older babies, as some of the pieces are smaller. I think I will definitely buy some of these beautiful safe baby toys eventually. I want to reward a company that is trying to be so socially responsible.
  • Lego - Lego offers…. Legos! I think we all know what those are. Fun blocks to build interesting things out of.
  • Edushape (Some stuff may be made with PVC, but be phthalate free) Edushape offers a lot of foam type toys for play and bath time.
  • Green Toys – These are really cute. Good for “playing house”. Tea Set, Tool Set, “Chef” Set, and even some fun stuff for the sandbox or beach. They also have have kid’s jump ropes, frisbees, and gardening sets.
  • Olli Olbot – Very cute cloth toys for babies. Italian Company.
  • Sevi – A bunch of different kinds of toys. Italian Company. Extremely cute little wooden pull toys and children’s musical instruments.  Also some practical things, like alarm clocks and toothbrush holders. (The only “bad” thing I’ve read is that some of  the pellets in the stuffed animals are made of polyethylene, but I haven’t seen too much concern over that. These pellets may be in either Trudi, Sevi, and/or Olli Olbot.)
  • Trudi - Super cute and safe stuffed animals! I love them. Italian Company.
  • Wow Toys – Sold by Ravensburger on the US Amazon site. UK Company. Cute plastic safe baby toys. They have cute little plastic people and toys that definitely could replace Little People. Amazon has some stuff, but you might have to search around for different sets.
  • Spielstabil – Lots of plastic kid’s toys. Stuff for outside play, like a garden / sandbox set, and play food and accessories. All PVC-free (see exception.) German Company. (Exception: Duck from bath set item no. 3704 and squirter animals from baby water fun set item no. 7524 include PVC, but  are phthalate-free.)
  • Green Sprouts – Teethers, Rattles, and other small baby toys. They also have things like cups, bibs, bottles and blankets. All their stuff is BPA, PVC, and phthalate-free. No word on whether or not they use flame retardant.
  • Wonderworld Toys – Many products made from environmentally friendly rubberwood, non-toxic water based paints and biodegradable fabrics. A lot of the toys are very cute and look like they’d fall under “developmental toys” for babies. Company in Thailand.

When I was doing research, I really loved some of these awesome safe baby toys and definitely plan on buying them for my own kid(s). Here are some of my favorites.

Plan Toys

Cute Eco Play House from Plan Toys!

I think I have found a replacement for the Little People! I absolutely love these toys. Check out the eco-friendly house. ;) Besides the houses, people, and other components for a whole town, they also sell really cute play food. I now have an alternative for all that plastic play food stuff and the Little People my mom has been keeping in storage for me.

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Green Toys

Phthalate-free and BPA-free tea set from Green Toys

Ok, well… I might be having a boy, but if I am having a girl… How cute is this tea set? They also sell a tool set and some other really adorable toys.

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Tiny Love

Tiny Love Gymini Super Deluxe- Lights and Music

Tiny Love Sweet Island Dreams Mobile

Tiny Love Activity Ball

Tiny Love makes safe developmental toys for babies. I love their stuff. I was looking for an answer to the mobile / activity center and I think I have found a good one. Tiny Love says that all their stuff is free of PVC, phthalates, lead, and even flame retardant. I am planning to buy a lot of toys and things from this company.

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Trudi

Trudi Plush Rinaldo Owl 7"

Hmmm… this cute little owl sure would look perfect on baby’s bookshelf, no? ;)

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More Resources:

Safbaby.com

The Nation – Toxic Toys

The Soft Landing – A good website for specific products and questions.

Only duck from our bath set item no. 3704 and squirter animals from our baby water fun set item no. 7524 include PVC, but they are phthalate free, of course.

Reducing Exposure to Toxins during Pregnancy – Part 1 : Throwing Out Dangerous Cosmetics

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

A few days after I got pregnant, I went through the majority of my make-up and personal care products and researched them to find out which ones were safe and which ones were not. In the U.S., chemicals are not tightly regulated at all, and a lot of dangerous stuff makes its way into our consumer products. The FDA doesn’t regulate the cosmetics industry at all, and so the cosmetics companies are allowed to put whatever they want into their products. Chemical companies do not have to prove their chemicals are safe. The only way a chemical gets taken off the market is if it is shown to be unsafe. (And it is a little too late then, isn’t it?) I will be covering the topic of chemicals in consumer products a lot on this site, so for now, you can reference this article from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) if you would like to learn more about the hazards found in personal care products.

For my research, I used EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database. They have tested thousands of personal care products and have rated them based on the levels of hazardous chemicals found in them.

I kept track of everything as I researched it, and I am including my list here. Perhaps it can help you get an idea of how your cosmetics score.

My Makeup List

0-2 low hazard, 3-6 moderate hazard, 7-10 high hazard

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