Every parent wants to make sure their child isn’t playing with harmful chemicals. The main types of chemicals to be aware of when shopping for your kids are phthalates, BPA, and lead. Read this article on how to shop safely on amazon!
Are Plastic Toys Safe?
Yes! Plastic toys can absolutely be safe for you baby/toddler to play with, chew on, and put in their mouth. Parents just need to be cautious while shopping for plastic toys that are free of harmful chemicals!
General Rules of Thumb to Follow:
If it’s designed to go in a baby's mouth like a teether, stick to silicone. Silicone is an inert material that’s normally produced free of harmful chemicals. And if it’s going in a toddler’s mouth get something without painted coatings.
Flexible Soft plastic are usually made out of PVC. An example of this would be a rubber ducky. Phthalates and lead are commonly used in the production of PVC. Therefore we suggest avoiding toys made from PVC if the toy is likely to end up in your toddler’s mouth.
Softer plastic toys will likely be made out of polypropylene plastic.
Polypropylene plastic is not made with BPA or phthalates. You can tell a toy is probably made of Polypropylene by giving it a light squeeze, you can make the plastic bend.
Hard plastic toys are usually made from ABS.
ABS is normally chemically safe - BPA + Phthalate free.
LEADWhy Should We Care About Lead In Toys?
According to the EPA, even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in behavior and learning problems, lower IQ, hyperactivity, slowed growth, and hearing problems. Therefore they have set a high standard for the allowable lead in toys.
Are Toys Still Made with Lead?
Unfortunately, YES, it is still legal to have lead in your toys!
The consumer product safety commission requires that all toys have less than .009% or 90 parts per million of lead in their surface coatings. This TED talk does a great job of visualizing 90 parts per million. Imagine the empire state building, it is made of 1 million bricks, so 90 of them in this case would be made of lead.
The European Union only allows ¼ the amount of lead that can be in toys compared to the USA. Their legal limit is 23 parts per million.
Why Do Some Toys Contain Lead?
The main way that lead gets into toys is through paint and surface coatings. For example, on this giraffe baby rattle below, the paint marked with red arrows contains lead. (We tested it!).
Lead is used in paint to make it more durable, moisture resistant, and less likely to come off.
What is the Main Source of Lead Exposure in Children?
Dust from lead paint is the #1 cause of lead poisoning in children. Houses built before 1978 most likely used paint with lead and is the most common cause of lead poisoning. The lead in toys is less likely to cause an acute poisoning event. Instead it is harmful because it will increase the baseline level of lead that your child is exposed to everyday. Overtime, continuous exposure to small amounts of lead can cause unhealthy levels of lead accumulation.
How do I avoid lead in toys?
Buy from reputable manufacturers! Avoid the no-name brands you see on amazon selling cheap toys. Many of these sellers are foreign companies trying to make a quick buck. They may advertise their products as lead free, but don’t believe it! There is no one checking the accuracy of their claims.
This rattle set has over 800 reviews and a 5 star rating on Amazon. They claim this seahorse rattle is BPA free and NON-TOXIC. Well we tested it, and it contains both BPA and lead in the paint. The lead level was under the legal limit for the USA, but not for the E.U.
Are Baby Rattles and Teethers Allowed to Have Lead?
Unfortunately the answer is - YES - baby rattles & baby teethers are legally allowed to have lead in their paints and most toys do. We tested some of the top sellers on amazon! Almost all of the baby rattles we tested on amazon had lead in their paints! You can check out our laboratory test report here.
If you shop on amazon for toys, I would recommend using this article about best practices to making use you are buying as safely as possible!
Why Should We Care About BPA in Toys?
BPA also known as Bisphenol A is a hormone disruptor that studies have shown can cause early puberty, hyperactivity and aggressiveness. Studies have shown almost all people have some level of BPA in their systems. Scientists are still working to determine a safe level of BPA in the body.
Are there any laws related to BPA use in toys?
NO! There are no laws in the USA on BPA use in toys. All products like baby rattles, teethers, and bottles can and many do have BPA in them. The EU on the other hand does require “BPA migration testing”. EU Toy Safety Directive 2009/49/EC requires that all toys have less than .04mg/L of BPA migration.
Why is BPA in Plastics?
BPA is a chemical that is used to harden plastics. This is why it is more often found in harder plastics like polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is used heavily in the food industry because it is both hard and clear. Tupperware, plastic plates, ect often are made of Poly
How Worried Should Parents Be About BPA in Toys?
Every parent has a million worries for their children, BPA exposure from toys shouldn’t be high on that list. The vast majority of BPA exposure will come from ingesting foods that have been stored in containers containing BPA. Milk cartons, canned foods, plastic disposable cups/utensils are a far larger source of BPA exposure than toys.
When you’re buying baby bottles, teethers, and pacifiers make sure you’re buying from reputable companies that have labeled them as BPA Free.
Since 2018, all phthalates have been banned from use in toys in the USA. Phthalates are harmful to the body because just like BPA they act as an endocrine disruptor and have been shown to cause hormonal imbalances affecting development.
Where are phthalates found?
Prior to the 2018 law, phthalates were primarily used to make plastics softer and more flexible. If you have a soft toy like a rubber ducky or vinyl toy from prior to 2018, keep it out of the reach of children who might put it in their mouths.
How Worried Should Parents Be About Phthalates in Toys?
We have not found phthalates in any toys that we have tested. They don’t seem to be used in manufacturing processes anymore. If you buy from a branded toy company.