Are all baby toys really safe?

We all at some point in time have come across the fact how harmful plastics could be. Maybe in form of a newspaper article, or words from a friend’s mouth or a video clip on the internet. But how harmful are they in reality? Or rather a long and significant question would be: - are babies and toddlers around the world playing with them and unknowingly harming their bodies? Read on to take a look at the facts behind the headlines.

The answer could well unsurprisingly be a resounding, YES.

One of the most dangerous chemical used is acronym’ed: BPA. No, not the British Parking Association or British Parachute Association either. 

The chemical is BisPhenol A. It is most dangerous than any other form used in toy products for children. Even more so, since the products that are manufactured using BPA are used in plastic cups, feeding bottles, food boxes, lids of jars, tableware (plates and mugs) etc. Meaning, the chemical comes in direct contact with either the consumables or with the mouth. Studies suggest these chemicals to be acting as a disrupting agents for baby’s already delicate hormone system. As per the NHS, UK “those calling for a ban suggest that it may be a factor in a rising numbers of human illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease and genital birth defects”. The European Union (EU) directive says there's enough evidence that baby bottles may not be safe if they are made with bisphenol A (BPA). In 2011, the EU banned BPA in baby feeding bottles in Europe. 

Toys are supposed to be fun. They are baby’s best friends in the early years afterall. However, time and again studies reveal that children who chew on toxic toys absorb dangerous chemicals into their bodies.

BPA is just one of those highlighted above. Phthalates, PVC, Lead are the other culprits from the plastic family.

Phthalates are used in flexible plastic toys such as teethers. When mixed with PVC it helps retain the strength and resiliency of plastics while allowing them to bend. Research has found evidence of a link between phthalates and both liver damage and reproductive failure. There is a EU wide prohibition on certain plastic toys containing phthalates. The toys which are specially intended to be placed in the mouth by children under three years of age. But these chemicals are still used in other baby products such as bath toys and squeezy toys, so it is very much possible for babies and small children to ingest them. Babies who accidentally swallow large amounts of lead by eating chips of paints from certain toys can develop blood anemia, severe stomachaches, muscle weakness and brain damage.

Precaution is better than cure

No better time to practice this saying while the baby is still young. Unfortunately, the responsibility still lies with the parents to find out if potentially toxic chemicals are used in baby products they are buying.

Here’s some precautions ideas to look out for particularly in regards to babies and children:

Only use bottles, cups, plates or any baby toys for that matter, that are labelled toxic chemicals free.

  • Always read the fine prints for all plastic products you buy for your babies.

  • Feel free to write to sellers / manufacturers of these products asking if their products are BPA-free for instance.

  • Regularly replace food containers

  • Avoid using microwave – BPA is used to make plastic strong. However, it is known to break down at higher temperatures thus easing the chemicals into the food being warmed. Use glass containers instead.

  • Avoid buying any toys or baby products that contain PVC, BPA or any traces of such harmful chemicals. The fine prints usually give this information.

  • Turn over any plastic container you have around the house. If you see a '3' or a 'V' printed on the plastic, you are holding PVC plastic product in your hand. Those labelled "6" may contain styrene, so you may wish to avoid these

  • Make sure to check with the company or store when buying cot mattress to check if it has been treated with a flame retardant and that it meets British Safety Standard 1877 part 10

  • Discard any old worn out plastic kitchenware.

  • Whenever possible, make your own homemade baby food. Ideally use a glass or stainless steel containers to store it.

  • Avoid using baby bibs made of PVC. Use Organic Cotton bibs instead.

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