Toys, and toxics, on parade


Now that our daughter’s old enough to grab things (and, inevitably, put them in her mouth), toys have become a big part of our world. I confess to being one of those parents who, before the birth of the child, was adamantly anti-plastic—only to change my tune once the actual playing began.

The toys in our collection came from several different places, each presenting its own dilemmas. First of all, we have new toys that people bought us as gifts. Some of these are made of wood or organic cotton. Most, however, are hard plastic, polyester, and so forth; many are made in China. Even many months after BPA received a very public flogging, lots of baby toys still aren’t labeled “BPA free”—so you have to assume that you wouldn’t want them in your baby’s mouth. It’s sad to feel ambivalent about using something given as a gift, but that’s the way it is.

Our girl LOVES this one, but what is that skirt made of, anyway? And aren’t her eyes creepy?

Then there are a couple of toys I bought at the SPCA Rummage Store. In avoiding plastic, I ended up with fabric toys. Once I got them home, I realized these would need to be cleaned, since who knows where they’ve been. At that point, laziness took over and weeks later, I’ve neither cleaned them nor offered them to our baby. Would they go in the washing machine? What if they have wooden parts?

A haven for germs, or just a whole lot of fun?

Finally, there are a bunch of (mostly plastic) toys my mother saved from my own childhood. The sentimental value of these is obviously through the roof, but I imagine the chemical profile of those plastics is dubious at best.

1977 is calling. It wants its petals back.

Using secondhand stuff is always greener than running out to buy a lot of new products, but a baby’s health is so important. Any parents have some advice?