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Pass on Plastic Toys this Summer

Beth Mark

If you are beaching it or laying beside the pool (who are we kidding, how many of us actually ever get to relax poolside anymore?), you know that kiddos are swimming in a sea of plastic entertainment. Seek alternatives to plastic toys this summer to improve your kid's long term health.

by / Views 55 / July 14, 2016

Summer with kids means plenty of time at the playground, pool, or beach. And there’s one thing that you’ll undoubtedly see everywhere at these outdoor destinations: plastic toys. While not all plastic toys are bad – and all toys aren’t created equal – we’ve highlighted some of the dangers lurking in plastics in the past. There has been recent movement to ban harmful chemicals found in children’s products, but there’s still much to be done. In the meantime, it’s best that parents know what makes up the toys their children are surrounded by and what should be kept out of the playroom, stroller, and pool bag.

Two of the most harmful plastics out there are categorized by the “#3” or “#7” markings that you’ll see on the bottom of a toy. These plastics contain the following substances, which are best to avoid:

  • PVCis a thermoplastic polymer. PVC is usually combined with phthalates to make plastic softer and more flexible. Because of this, PVC is often found in shower curtains, cling wrap, pool toys (and regular toys), inflatable structures, clothing, and vinyl IV bags. If you find that a flexible plastic toy isn’t labeled, it’s best not to buy it unless it’s labeled as “PVC-free” (like these plastic sand toys).
  • BPA: This chemical is used to make rigid, hard plastics like those used for baby bottles and some baby toys and pacifiers. BPA is often found in products made with #7 plastics and has been shown to cause damage to breast cells, reproductive organs, and the nervous system. It can act as a endocrine disruptor, causing developmental disorder and birth defects. It’s also been linked to heart disease and diabetes. It’s best to stay away from toys made with BPA, especially if they’re going in your baby’s mouth (we’ve rounded up some safe teether options to help with this!). BPA can cross the placenta in pregnant women or breast milk in women who are nursing.
  • Phthalates: While limiting exposure to #3 and #7 plastics, it’s also important to make sure plastic toys are phthalate-free. Phthalates are used as a plasticizer, so they’re used to make toys softer and more flexible. Phthalates have been associated with numerous health problems, including cancer, endocrine disruption, development delays, and reproductive system damage.

As always, it’s best to opt for wooden and organic toys. Plastic toys made of recycled materials (like Green Toys) are also a better option, as they are often safer and more eco-friendly. Remember that items found around you in nature (pine cones, sticks, rocks, shells, stones, leaves), especially while at the playground and beach, can always take the place of plastic toys and provide endless, creative possibilities for play.

What could be better when it comes to safe summer fun?

Image courtesy of Pexels.