Your Guide to Nontoxic Toys
The best wooden, organic cotton, and all-around safe toys for babies and kids
Young Children Cotton to Cotton
Stuffed animals and dolls are the perfect toys for creative young children. Toddlers and preschoolers enjoy animating them through imaginative play, and babies like to explore the textures and shapes with their hands and mouths. But stain- and moth-proofed cotton, synthetics, and wool used in stuffed and soft fabric toys can contain azo dyes, which can be carcinogenic. And cotton crops account for one quarter of the insecticide use worldwide. Be sure that the cotton toys you buy are made from certified organic and/or untreated cotton and wool colored with nontoxic colorfast dyes. Here are some good options.
Organic Gift Shop sells Froggy Friend, an easily-animated, green cotton amphibian whose hands and feet can be dipped in water and frozen—a welcome remedy for the sore gums of a teething baby!
For infants through preschoolers.
Mama’s Earth features soft, cuddly, and Earth-friendly cotton stuffed toys hand-sewn in Vermont. The menagerie includes something for every animal lover: big and small bunnies, a Teddy bear, a whale, a turtle, and an elephant.
For infants through preschoolers.
Beautiful Books with an Eco-Friendly Message
Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle. The text of this gorgeous book reads like a nursery rhyme about ten different animals, each of which is—or has been—on the endangered list. Toddlers might miss the point, but they’ll enjoy looking at the lush colors and beautiful creatures.
For children ages 2 to 3 years.
Published by Henry Holt, 2003
Where Once There Was a Wood by Denise Fleming. This just might be the most gorgeous children’s book around! Fleming’s text and stunning illustrations recall a wood, meadow, creek, plus their inhabitants—and the housing development that replaced them all.
For children ages 2 years and up.
Published by Henry Holt, 1996
A Special Gift in the Holiday Spirit
How about giving a gift to the environment from your whole family to start the new year off right? Consider “adopting” an endangered animal! Several organizations dedicated to saving endangered species have animal adoption programs. Donate money to one of these organizations, and your family will receive an adoption kit, which typically includes a certificate and either a photo of the animal or a stuffed toy. It’s a great way to make a difference for the environment and a fun opportunity for kids to learn about wild animals.
Defenders of Wildlife: For $25 per species, you can choose to “adopt” one or more of a selection of 10 wild animals: wolf, dolphin, polar bear, panther, whale, sea otter, snowy owl, black bear, tiger or elephant. For $40 to $75, your family can adopt a whole animal family! You’ll receive a kit with a plush animal toy and a certificate of adoption. When ordering from www.defenders.org (800-385-9712), allow four to six weeks for standard shipping and five to seven days for express shipping.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International®: You can adopt an infant gorilla for $50, a mother-infant pair for $100, or a majestic silverback for $300. In exchange for your donation, you’ll receive a photo of “your” gorilla and adoption papers. Allow four to six weeks for delivery when ordering from www.gorillafund.org (800-851-0203).
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