Safer Toys for Your Tot

By Stacy Whitman

Toys are supposed to be fun, but the potentially harmful chemicals found in many of them can be anything but. Hazardous materials like BPA, lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, bromine, PVC and phthalates regularly pop up in some plastic or painted toys, costume jewelry, books with plastic covers and more. All they have to do is enter your child’s mouth, rub against her skin or be released into the air around her to find their way inside her.

To minimize the risk, stick to cloth and plush toys, fabric teethers and unpainted wooden toys, if possible, recommends Alan Greene, M.D., author of Raising Baby Green. On plastic toys, check the recycling number: Numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 are safest; numbers 3, 6 and 7 are not advised.

Still unsure whether your tot’s playthings get the green light? Find details about the toy in question at And the next time you head to the toy store, make a beeline for Green Toys, made from 100 percent recycled plastic milk jugs that’s free of BPA, phthalates, and PVC. From stacking cups to trucks to play food, the line has lots of fun, imagination-building options for babies and toddlers. ($4.99 to $44.99,