5 Ways to Steer Clear of Toxic Toys This Holiday Season

kid playing with eco-friendly toyIt didn't take very long after Halloween for the gift-buying frenzy to kick in! Too bad shopping for the holidays isn't always that easy. When it comes to picking out the perfect present for our little ones especially, there are always a million questions running through our minds. Of course we want to make sure we get them something they'll love -- and use -- but when we're flooded with recalls and research about various, potentially hazardous materials used in toys, there's a whole other layer of worry. But it doesn't have to be super-stressful.

Here, five ways to avoid toxic materials when shopping for safe, eco-friendly toys ...

  1. Check for recalls. A good first step when buying new toys is to check to make sure that the toy you’re buying hasn’t been recalled by the Consumer Products Safety Commission for any safety or health hazard. The CPSC will note any toys that could create potential choking or falling hazards.
  2. Check for lead paint. Sadly, many toys are still manufactured with lead-based paint, which was banned back in 1978. But the CPSC is supposed to act as a watchdog for these toys, so checking on their website before hitting the stores can help guide you in the right direction.
  3. Be especially aware of bath toys. The potentially harmful chemical PVC is often used in bath toys to make them more flexible. However, you can find a list of some safe bath toys here.
  4. When in doubt, go for wood. If you're concerned about plastic, you can look for toys made out of wood, which are not only naturally safer but should last longer to boot. Score! (One example: My niece loves toys made by Melissa and Doug.)
  5. Shop online. Many websites offer a wide variety of BPA-free, non-toxic, organic toys, many made from recycled products -- so they're green, too! Check out Amazon's Eco-Friendly section, ChildTrek, Planet Happy Kids, and Green Toys.

How do you find safe, eco-friendly toys during the holiday season?

Image via Kate Ter Haar/Flickr

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