You read that right. That cute little cuddly bear which your child loves playing with, could be loaded with harmful chemicals which might be exposing your child to severe health hazards.
Until recently, I never paid attention to the big Lion soft toy that my son would incessantly hug and sleep with every night. Off late, I seem to have caught a bug – to research about what goes into the making of toys, specifically those that are extensively used by my children. This is what I uncovered about Soft/Plush toys:
As per a report from Toxin Link, an NGO dedicated for environment protection, soft plastic toys sold in India contain lead and cadmium. Some even have very high concentrations. Majority of these are imported into India or cheaply made in the informal sector using very low quality of materials. Our children spend a lot of time sleeping or playing with such toys so it’s a good idea to be aware of what goes into them.
What happens when children are exposed to toxins?
- With use and over time, the toxins in toys start moving out and leaching into our bodies. Children are more vulnerable because their body is far more susceptible and prone to chemicals. They are constantly touching, chewing and putting things in their mouth.
- Constantly breathing around or chewing on toys infused with toxins results in lead poisoning which affects their brain development and slows their ability to learn.
- While symptoms may take long to occur, little by little toxins accumulate in your child’s blood, brain and bones
- Once toxins specifically (lead and cadmium) enter the body, the results are IRREVERSIBLE and PERMANENT.
What to avoid when buying soft/plush toys:
- PVC : PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) is a definite BIG no while choosing toys. Also important to note: to soften hard plastic, lead is added to toys as stabilizer. Thankfully soft toys are not fully made up of PVC however several components are made of it like the nose, paws, eyes, etc.
- Fragrance free: Anything with a strong smell is added with phthalates, which is a common hormone disruptor. It is never mentioned on the packaging but avoid toys with fragrances.
How to ensure your child gets the right soft toy?
- Natural material: ideal to use toys made of cotton, wool, bamboo, crochet, etc as there will be no PVC used. Inspect the whole toy, sometimes smaller parts go unnoticed like the nose, feet or hands generally tend to use hard material which is harmful.
- Natural dyes and colors: Fabric or cloth can easily be dyed using natural colors and not the ones laced with lead or other toxins.
- Supporting Local Artisans: a little bit of research can lead you to some amazing artisans who are making handmade soft toys using safe and non-toxic materials. Handmade toys are totally in vogue nowadays and what better than it being hand knit by our local artisans!
- Sustainably made: It’s a huge plus point for me if the products purchased are bio-degradable, which is why choosing natural material like cotton, wool, etc over plastic is important.
#kidstackrecommends for soft toys:
I scouted around for non-toxic, safe and made in India soft toys and surprisingly found that most of them are social enterprises, manufacturing sustainable and local products, and at the same time uplifting rural artisans.
I fail to understand why we wouldn’t purchase their products which are not just safe for our children & society but also creating a livelihood for the underprivileged (as against purchasing imported, trash quality products from our neighboring countries)
- Blue Mango Trust: LOVE their vibrant colors, prints, and great variety of animals. Feel free to customize your toy. We are currently crushing over the Dragon and Elephant. This Trust is run by and for woman with AIDS.
2. The Color Caravan: Wish I’d have discovered this brand when my kids were younger! Hand knitted by 100% acrylic wool yarn, their animals are ADORABLE. What takes the cake are their Learning Toys – stick unstick Caterpillar, Bunny Stacking Set, and Sorting-Stacking set are unbelievably cute. A social Enterprise that supports traditional artisans and rural women in Himachal Pradesh
3. Shivanjali Crafts: these adorable Dolls come in bright traditional attires and variety of skin tones and hair type which are made of 100%cotton. Being a North Indian (and not a racist!), I loved the Kannamma Western Dolls. Shivanjali is a social enterprise building towards betterment of underprivileged women.
4. Yarnarte by Kiru: High quality of yarn which can easily be seen in ALL of their designs. Handmade with ethically sourced materials, one can contact them for customized toys and accessories for the li’l ones. No chemicals or toxins!
6. Happy Threads: Another one made with excellent quality of yarn which is chemical-free and safe for your baby. Don’t miss out their wind chimes in different designs. Come sunder a Non-profit organization which empowers women to use their skills productively.
Stoked to know that these li’l monsters have safe, toxin-free buddies during their sleep time 🙂