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Category Archives: Parenting choices

Articles like this remind me why I care where my toys come from

This won’t be a full post rather a link to a news article.

Here

Basic summary, all those junky cars 2 figures you’ve been buying you child, is made by children and if child labor isn’t enough how about being over worked, underpaid and in hazards conditions. None of these toys will be seen in my home.

Oh and this is a solid report on solid evidence not wishy washy maybe cover up china is so well known for.

Are wooden toys better?

Ok so first I have to say I love love love wooden toys. I think they last longer are better developmentally and just plain look nicer. I’d rather have only wooden toys over only plastic any day.

That being said not all wooden toys are equal. With all the recalls going on parents have to pay close attention and some have jumped on the band wagon of wood is better/ always safe. Well in my opinion wood is better, but not necessarily safe.

You have to know what kind of wood, where it is made and who makes it. If the company is not forthright about this PASS. Please note this does not include homemade toys. Most of those are awesome, but often need to ask rather than printed on ‘label.’

You can also just tell the difference in quality. I have an awesome stacking train, not sure who made it, but quality. I received a walmart brand stacking train for Christmas. I rotated the two because we wanted to honor the giver. The walmart one broke pretty quickly while the other…well I think it will last us though our grand kids.

Melissa and Doug is a company most people think to buy from, I’m not a big fan any more. They used to be awesome. The best example I have is two sound puzzles I owned, one was like 1/2 inch thick and made in Thailand the ‘newer’ one was 1/4 inch thick and made in china. I have puzzles that used to be painted and now are ‘stickers.’ Number one reason I don’t like them in November of 2009 three toys were recalled in Canada for high levels of barium. These same toys were not recalled in USA, because they were different? NO because US doesn’t have same standards. So Canadian children get to play with safer toys because M&D didn’t feel the need to protect US kids as well. I think it says something about a company when they only follow ‘law’ to protect kids.

I will say, though, that barium is not usually found so high in their toys, so its not like they are constantly putting out unsafe toys. AND their customer service is excellent.

Walmart sells wooden toys and so does target…honestly pass on these no name brands as you don’t know who is making them, but unpainted should be safe.

Another reason to pay attention Kidkraft sells a wooden family that looks like Melissa and Doug’s and Plan toy’s, but it compost wooden. Compost wood is glued together with who knows what.

My favorite toy brands are Plan Toys, and Haba (wooden only.)  Plus, Plan Toys has the best customer service ever. I have purchased more of their toys based on their quality, but also on knowing if I have a problem they will replace fix whatever with no hassle because they stand by their products.  There are many other wonderful brands out there. These are just the ones readily available on Amazon. A couple of great sites for safe toys.

http://www.novanatural.com/ (I seriously drool over their catalog)

http://www.magiccabin.com

www.etsy.com (for homemade stuff)

But if your handy/ know someone who is many of these toys can be made by you! for much much less. Hopefully I’ll have further posts about just that!

Are plastic toys bad?

I have a love/hate relationship with plastic toys. First plastic is easy to clean, it comes in much more vivid colors that stay and good plastic lasts and lasts.

I hate how unnatural plastic is and cheap and crappy toys made from plastic. I guess mostly its that toys I hate are always made from plastic. I prefer simple open ended toys.

Plastic toys are also subject to tons of recalls, made in china lead and arsenic and all that lovey stuff you want going in your children’s mouths. A great website to check out about whats in your toys is here.  Also, I often google the toy name and recall and things pop up.  Like this search for well known brand fisher price and this lovely article.

With much consideration to companies histories and practices I think some plastic toys are great. But unfortunately blindly buying isn’t just an opinion of child development anymore. Now its real risk to your child’s health.

I will keep some plastic, because wood just can’t do what plastic does. Little People, we have a barn, Noah’s arc and zoo. The animals are safe for chewing, light for throwing and are fun to play with. Plus, Little People has never been subject to recall due to poisons. (just a few older toys with missing screws and stuff)

Mr. Potato head, well come on its Mr. Potato head, also never recalled (well, once because box was mislabeled 2+ when it should have been 3+) We also have a few other random bits, I personally think will slowly disappear and never come back.

Oh! but schleich animals are awesome. I’m mad because they used to be made in Germany, but now are in China too. Regardless this company so far has been safe. We already have quite a few (though they are away for now since they are HARD and Buggy Boy is not) and wood can’t make animals so real.

Plus some instruments are better in plastic (we have a cool drum and xylophone) I know I could get real ones, which I will also do, but at this age its nice to have non hands on constant supervision as Pumpkin rocks out.

We also have a little tykes playhouse. My parents found it at a yard sale for $10. seriously can’t beat the price and it’ll last forever. If I lived somewhere with lots of land I would build a shed playhouse or treehouse, but not to avoid plastic, but because its so much cooler.

Bath toys, plastic…nuf said there.

Guess main point is plastic sucks, but when carefully chosen and safely chosen it is cool for some things.

Oh and if your totally sold on must be plastic  BpA-Free, Phthalate-Free and PVC-Free are what to really look for.

Boon is a great company. We have their odd ducks

Also GreenToys (made from recycled plastic) we have two of their trucks.

How we became battery free!!!

We are finally Battery free!!!! No, I don’t include camera’s and such. We just participated in this great consignment sale called Just for Kids.  I sold most everything I put out, though I do have a few more things I’d like to purge.  Isn’t that a great word?

Purge

It just rolls off your tongue and makes you feel good and lighter all at once.

Anyway, back to the battery free.  I have a few toys that ‘could’ use batteries, but we don’t (like our Little People barn) and I did keep a Percy train flashlight, but come on its a flashlight it does need batteries. What I don’t need is toys in my house that my children could glance at and then be entertained for 3 minutes by annoying music and out of context ‘learning’ thrown at them. I think the creepiest toys we got rid of were those that said (and I mean spoke out loud) “I love you”, “You’re my friend.”

Yeah, there is something to be said about avoiding therapy when you child is older wondering why their creepy shape sorter loved them.

Now, I will say Pumpkin doesn’t prefer flashing lights and random noise makers. He likes being in control of the sound input and output (namely banging on things to make different sounds with the spatula he sneaked out of the kitchen. ) He loves books and is learning animals, shapes, letters and number naturally.  SO when he goes to read “A” one day he’ll already have a firm context rather than flashbacks to a singing worm.

Did I mention that leapfrog is never ever allowed in my house, or Vtech or Laugh and Learn. I don’t understand how people think one day, “Oh great it will read to my kids for me so I don’t have to.” Almost as brilliant as the singing potty seats. Really parents can’t you do your own little dance? I assure you your children would rather spend time with you, and if you think not…well you’ll be picking up the psychology bill later.

I have resolved to not allow anymore toys in my home that do not agree with our parenting style/ philosophy. Gifts that don’t will be donated or sold at the next consignment sale! I don’t want this to sound mean, but my job as a parent is to provide the best learning environment (and loving and that good stuff too) for my kids to grow in. Even if that means making dear Aunt Lucy feel bad that Pumpkin doesn’t keep the handheld game especially made for 2 year olds.

Along the same lines…I’m seriously considering getting rid of our TV all together. In truth Pumpkin and Buggy Boy don’t watch it everyday or for that long when they do, but something about the way Pumpkin zones just feels wrong. Plus, he is wired afterward.

I think some kids are just more susceptible than others.

Oh, and if you buy this stuff for your kids, great! That is your choice I do not think it makes you a bad parent or a less loving parent. I think it just means you are not the parent of my children. And that is good. I wouldn’t trade them for the world.