Toxic toys need remedy: Smarter toy shopping

I am amazed at the number of toy recalls within the past few months—even within the past few weeks there have been two from Mattel. I’m happy to say that the only things we had to remove from our toy buckets were a few Thomas the Train pieces that my kids don’t play with anyway.

So beyond the conversation of what to do about these toxic toys making their way out of China, perhaps the discussion might be about the actual toys. I’ve seen blogs and online sites saying we need stricter regulations for China. Maybe that’s the answer, but as parents maybe we should take it to the next level—what we buy our children.

Every time I set foot in Target or Toys R Us, I am dumbfounded at the amount of crap that is available to our kids. Don’t get me wrong, I love to shop for toys and buy them. What I don’t enjoy is bringing them home, having them played with for two seconds and dumped aside. So perhaps, as parents we should be more strategic in the types of toys we buy, this might even involve some research. [Gasp] Looking up online where things are made or even reviews off of Amazon. I have decided against many toys after reading parent reviews of small pieces coming off or things not working properly.

I have come to accept that my 2- and 3-year old do not really play with toys. But instead, they wander around the house making toys of everything that shouldn’t be. So as a result, I have had to become more strategic with my toy shopping. Dora the Explorer figurines or Elmo dolls are exciting for a few minutes, but get tossed aside so quickly that aside from my biased against commercial products there just isn’t a point to these things our house.

If we can pull ourselves away from the dollar aisle in Target (I know it’s hard, but that section calls out lead paint to me) and drive to one of the nicer toy stores in your city--the educational one, the one that has the “overpriced” toys, but the truly fun toys—we might all be reminded of what other options there are out there. While many of those products are made in China too, you can often find ones made in Denmark, Germany, Italy, France and our great USA. You might get more for your buck if you can purchase toys that not only grow with your children—whether they are wood or plastic—but ones that help develop their imagination without the scare of lead paint.

Tree Top Toys in the DC area is one of my favorite stores. In Austin, Texas, Terra Toys just can’t be beat. Both shops have wall-to-wall toys, books, clothes that spark the imagination and contribute to local business as well.

Here are some brands to look for which are NOT made in China:
Little Tikes
Brio (some products)
Haba (some products)
And many others in this European Toy shop.

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