Babyblogging.la: Toy Safety

With the eight billion (number approximate) toy recalls in recent months, a lot of my local mama friends are worried. Making your house safe for your children is fairly easy.

First, you should check the toys that are in your home. You can check for lead using the same device you’d use to check for lead paint. You can buy one locally at any hardware store — I know for sure that Koontz carries three different kinds (details below). If a toy has been recalled, there is no need to check it; just bring it to the store where it was purchased, or call the company for instructions if you don’t know where it was bought.

The next order of business is to get better toys into your house. Most toys these days are made of plastic, which can be harmful even if it does not contain lead or small pieces that break off or any of the other recallable offenses. You can read about the negative aspects of plastic here (check out the links on the right side of the page).

Buying better toys is expensive, and it may be difficult to convince well-meaning relatives, but try to remember that your child is just as happy banging on pots and pans, and it is really OK to have fewer toys that are well-made, a little more special, and safe. That said, it might not be your priority. That’s OK too (but seriously, check for lead).

A few of my favorite toy stores below the cut.

Where to Buy Natural Toys:

Acorn in Santa Monica (no website; 1220 5th Street, 90401) is my favorite local toy store. They carry only natural toys, primarily made of wood. Most of the toys are European (I believe the proprietress is German) and many are handcrafted. Those that are mass-produced in China (Melissa & Doug and some Haba toys) are made at factories that are closely regulated by the companies.

Mahar Dry Goods is an online shop run by Robert Mahar of Santa Monica. The selection of handcrafted toys and gifts is astonishing.

The Puzzle Zoo also carries a good selection of wooden toys — nothing you can’t find at Acorn, but their prices are a few dollars lower.

The LA County Fair is coming up, too, and is a great opportunity to find toys and baby items handmade by locals – but do keep in mind that the materials used to make the toys may come from China. It is OK to ask where the materials come from, and it is a good idea to remember that not everything from China is automatically dangerous.

Know of another good local resource for natural toys? Leave a comment!

Testing for Lead:

I sent an email to Koontz Hardware in West Hollywood, the only local non-chain hardware store with an email contact listed on their website. I got this back from them:

Yes, we do carry three different lead test kits. One is a swab that turns red if any lead is present, and two that require the user to take a sample and send it into a lab. There is a lead paint test kit and a lead in water test kit that require lab work.

the swab kit is for 2 uses and costs 7.99

the lab kits are 12.99 and includes postage paid to the lab that is partnered with the company. But the lab fees are an additional $20.00. The labs give you a complete analysis of the amount of lead in the sample, and are mainly used for verifying the absence of lead in real estate transactions.

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5 Replies to “Babyblogging.la: Toy Safety”

  1. And garage sales! Look for wooden toys at yard sales around town. A good friend with kids has found great 2nd hand toys for her kids and they don’t notice the difference.

  2. Annika,

    Very good advice to all parents, because Mattel is not the only importer of toys with leaded paint from China. I wonder why the media is not saying a word about all the other companies that have bought toys from the same company Mattel used?

  3. Julia thanks for your comment. Yard sales are a source to get toys but be careful. Do be aware of the age of the items and manufacture source.

    Wood toys, especially blocks roll around for years (my kids had mine as my Ma saved). A lot of those, especially hand made ones will have small bits, brads, nails and screws that can come loose with rough play. Also the paint if its old enough could be a source of lead too.

  4. When I read that Polly’s were part of the toy recall, my first reaction was complete joy!!! Finally, I was going to be able to get ride of all those stupid little dolls and their clothing that always rips that Liberty, my 7 year old daughter has all over the house. (after reading more on the recall, we decided to let Liberty keep the toys, just told her to not put them in her mouth, not le the cat chew them and to wash her hands once she finishes playing)

    My second reaction was- Yea, may be we can start making toys in the USA once more- they will coast more, but as any mom can attest too, our kids have WAY TOO MANY TOYS!!!. I know, some of you are saying “what about the working class and the poor kids, they don’t have any toys” I have gone to many of Liberty’s friends homes, some from well off families that live in the hill and some so poor they live 6 family members in a one bedroom apartment, and no mater the income, all the moms complain about their kids having too much junk, to many toys.

  5. When I read that Polly’s were part of the toy recall, my first reaction was complete joy!!! Finally, I was going to be able to get ride of all those stupid little dolls and their clothing that always rips that Liberty, my 7 year old daughter has all over the house. (after reading more on the recall, we decided to let Liberty keep the toys, just told her to not put them in her mouth, not le the cat chew them and to wash her hands once she finishes playing)

    My second reaction was- Yea, may be we can start making toys in the USA once more- they will coast more, but as any mom can attest too, our kids have WAY TOO MANY TOYS!!!. I know, some of you are saying “what about the working class and the poor kids, they don’t have any toys” I have gone to many of Liberty’s friends homes, some from well off families that live in the hill and some so poor they live 6 family members in a one bedroom apartment, and no mater the income, all the moms complain about their kids having too much junk, to many toys.

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