Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Top picks for eco-friendly toys 2009

Here is my list of the best eco-friendly toys for Christmas 2009! No lead, no BPA, no PVC, no phthalates, or other toxic paints, plastics or glues. Many of these are toys we have purchased ourselves and they have been personally tested by my kids.

(imagines coming)

Birth+
Fish teetherby Natersutten Great traditional style cool-it teether, but free of all the yuckies like phthalates, PVC and BPA. Little bumps on the teether are soothing for your little teether.

Sophie the Giraffe Teether, by Vulli This is my favorite. It’s just adorable. Sophie is the perfect size for little hands and there are lots of teethable areas – legs, ears, neck. It’s made of all natural rubber and painted with food quality paint.

Veggies in a Crate, by Under the Nile This has always been one of my favorites. Made or organic Egyptian cotton and certified Fair Trade. There is also a fruit version.

Organic Plush Sleepytime Charlotte, by miYim  This adorable little bear stands 12” tall and is perfect for baby to cuddle. And you can feel good about it too – it’s made of organic materials, chemical-free and uses non-toxic dyes for color – just what you would want baby to snuggle with!

Eco-friendly plush giraffe, by Sevi

Hammer Balls, by Plan Toys Another favorite of my kids. I was skeptical at first, as this seemed too simplistic to be any fun, but it got rave reviews. And for great reason – it’s a fun twist to the traditional hammer and peg toy. Even at 6 months my son was using the little hammer to try and hit the balls. When you hit the balls, they roll out and across the room making it a fun game of chase for 2 – one to hit the balls and the other to catch them and put them back.

12 months+
Cone Sorting, by Plan Toys My son has been playing with this since 6 months and my 3 year old loves it as well. The colors are great and putting it together is lots of fun. My son has claimed the center piece as a teether.

Activity Walker, by EverEarth This great toy is as much fun stationary as it is in motion. There are many great toys on the front and sides of the walker for baby to explore even before he can walk. When he can walk with support, he can push the walker to his delight. The paint is water-based and lead-free; and the wood is from sustainable forests.

Dancing Alligator pull toy, by Plan Toys – Hands down, this is my 11 month old’s favorite toy. Again, my 3 year old loves this too. It’s as cute as it is fun. It dances as you pull it and makes a fun click-clack sound. It’s made of all natural rubber wood and all natural dyes.

Bingo Bed Hammer Toy, Holgate Toys  Non-toxic, rave reviews, wood, time-tested and heirloom quality. What’s not to love? One thing I really like about the Bingo Bed compared to other hammer and peg toys, is with this one, the pegs are different sizes, making it a little more challenging.

Ring-A-Thing, by HABA This toy is a great first game to help your toddler learn colors, sizes and how to take turns. There are 3 basic game ideas and is appropriate for 1-3 players.

Toddler +
Dolphin Adventure Explorer Boatby Sprig Toys My son is getting this for Christmas. The boat is safe for land and water play. Even though this is made from wood, it’s very lightweight Sprig wood.

Deluxe Wooden Railway Set and the activity table (sold separately), by Melissa and Doug While this is not as high quality as the Plan Toys train sets, it’s still a great set, it’s available locally at Smith’s Variety and you cannot beat the price!

Eco-friendly handy doctor set by Wonderworld

Christina’s Kitchen, by Nova Natural Toys  – Forget the kids, I want this for me! This all wood kitchen is so simple, yet adorable! It has a stainless steel sink that can be removed, 4 burners, an oven, cabinet space and even counter space. All your little cook needs is the accessories. They also have a matching wooden fridge. Nova Natural Toys and Crafts are my new favorite. Great quality, natural, non-toxic toys and crafts that you can feel good about giving and receiving!

Dish Set, by Green Toys Inc.  This is new for 2009 and goes great with the award winning Green Toys tea set  and the new Chef Set. This is a great company as they use plastic milk jugs to make their toys and they are manufactured in California!

Green Toddler Picnic Table, by Tick-n-Thistle Every child needs a picnic table and this one is as eco-friendly as they come. They do not use treated wood, formaldehyde glues or paint. They also have many sizes of this table for kids up to roughly age 12.

Butterfly Alphabet puzzle, by imagiPLAY This wood puzzle is perfect for little ones to learn the alphabet, letter recognition and a great way to learn puzzles. Once the puzzle is complete, you can stand it up and brighten up any room! imagiPLAY wooden toys are made from beech wood and use lead-free paint.

Skuut balance bike  What a really great idea! The Skuut Balance bike does not have pedals or chains. Kids use their feet to learn to move the bike. Teaches natural motion to move the bike and a much easier way to learn to balance on two wheels.

Discover Rig, by Sprig Toys  I am so impressed with Sprig Toys. The quality is great, and of course, they are eco-friendly! I just LOVE this ATV-style vehicle. It’s as cute as it is fun and green! It has lights and sounds, but is battery-free (something any parent will love!). Sprig Toys are made of sprig wood (plastic bottles/milk jugs and reclaimed saw dust), yet are surprisingly lighter than you expect. Pair it up with the Side Kick Vehicle and Rally Racer  for endless fun.

Mini It’s Me Doll, by Kathy Kruse Kathy Kruse dolls are adorable – period! These dolls are handcrafted in Germany from natural materials and as I mentioned, they are really adorable!

Preschool Toys

Victorian Doll House, by Plan Toys  This is a great option if you have lots of room and want a big doll house. There is also an extra floor you can add to make this 4 floors of fun! The only downside is you need to purchase the dolls and furniture separately.

The Green Dollhouse, by Plan Toys is a smaller scale house that comes with furniture. Like all Plan Toys, it is made of all natural rubber wood, dyed with vegetable and soy dyes, and assembled with formaldehyde-free glue. This adorable house teaches eco-friendly practices with green features such as recycle bins, a wind turbine, rain barrel and solar panels.

Sprig Toys Story Builders Playset I’m holding out to get the Castle version for my daughter’s birthday since I’m maxed out on her Christmas. This is brilliant! My 3 year old has a big imagination and I love toys that will spark that. This is a configurable set to allow your child to make up stories. There are several sets: the castle, a barn yard, Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs. You can check out all 4 versions on the Sprig Toys Web site.

Plan Toy Balancing Cactus – This game gets my vote for safety of course, but also for promoting teamwork. You work together to add colorful pieces to the cactus without it falling over. The game promotes math skills and analytical thinking as you estimate the size and weight of each piece and determine the best placement to keep the game in play. It’s a great game where everyone is a winner.

Eco-Friendly Hand Puppets, by Cate and Levi Hand puppets are a fantastic way to encourage imagination. Just type ‘eco-friendly hand puppets’ into a Google search and these are the first ones that appear. And rightfully so, these puppets are colorful and fun! There are several animals to choose from and all are handmade in Canada, so each one is unique. All Cate and Levi products are handmade of reclaimed wool and are free from chemicals like flame retardants.

See also:
How to find eco-friendly toys
Toys made in the USA
Where to find eco-friendly toys in Birmingham, AL

Product Review: Charlie’s Soap Laundry Detergent

I saw Charlie’s Soap on Amazon as an eco-friendly laundry soap. On a trip to Whole Foods, they had some in the store, so I decided to try some since I was in need of laundry detergent anyway.

The soap is intended to clean your clothes without leaving behind any residue. In fact, they recommend running a load with just Charlie’s Soap to clear the washing machine of all detergent residues. I will admit, I did not do this. I did do a small load the first time, though.

The soap cleans well, does not leave residue and is not scented. In fact, the package says “If you want flowers, go pick some.” It works just as it promised to do. It is great for people with sensitive skin. I will say that they do not recommend fabric softener, but I found my clothes still needed it. They were a little stiff without it. I used Seventh Generation’s fabric softener.

In fact, I did not realize the difference until I picked up an article of clothing tht had not yet been washed in Charlie’s Soap and I was surprised how much detergent and fabric softener residue I could feel on the garment. I am not sure how I wore those clothes washed in conventional detergent (sorry Proctor and Gamble).

The best part is it’s economical as well. It’s about $13 from Amazon  for a bag that will do 80 loads so that equates to 16 cents a load (though truth be told, I am pretty sure I got mine from Whole Foods for less than this on sale). And yes, 1 tablespoon of the soap is all that is needed, so that bag is small as well. So it is eco-friendly in that respect too.

Overall I give this product an A. I would go ahead and try without fabric softeners as they recommend, and if you find you do need one, I would recommend Seventh Generation’s fabric softener, I personally like the blue eucalyptus

Also available in liquid form
This review refers to the powder form.

Christmas on a budget: Homemade Christmas Gifts for Everyone on your list

With the economy on a downswing, many are wondering how they can still have a great Christmas, or a Christmas at all. Luckily, there are many thoughtful gifts you can make for just a few dollars or even less.

Gifts for Kids

- Consider a toy swap with neighbors and friends. They may have new or gently used toys that their children are not interested in or are too old for.

- Check garage sales or thrift stores, you can find great toys, clothes and games at great prices. You will certainly have to dig a little, but great finds await you.

- Coloring books from the dollar store.
- Board games like Candy Land  are often on sale for 2 for $10 at Wal-Mart
- Buy discount fleece and make a no-sew blanket

If you have very young children, you can make many things at home for very little.
- A cardboard refrigerator box can be turned into a playhouse. Most toddlers prefer the box the toy came in to the toy themselves. You can cut out windows and door, then use markers, crayons, paint, fabric, etc. to make curtains, pictures, a fireplace, etc.
- Old socks can be turned into puppets with a couple button eyes and a permanant marker for a mouth. You can get creative and use fabric scraps for ears, a tougue, arms, etc.
- Fabric scraps can be turned into blankets, doll clothes, dress-up clothes… or use to make book or photo album covers, which you can also make yourself.

If you really cannot provide for your child(ren) this Christmas, check out local charities and see if you can get your child(ren) on an Angel Tree.

Parents/Grandparents
- A framed photo of your child with the grandparent(s)
- Have your child draw a picture and frame it
- Personally monogram a coffee mug, or have your child paint it
- Create a blog to share stories and photos of your family. This is especially great if there is some distance between the grandparents and grandkids

Neighbors/Friends/Anyone
Stencil napkins or linen hand towels and tie together with a pretty ribbon 
- Bake cookies or bread and deliver in a pretty basket, a plate or tin
- Potted plant
- Make bath soaps or bath salts with the kids. You can make all-natural soaps and milk-based soaps for eco-friendly options.
Bargain books from Amazon or Barnes and Nobles
- Make ornaments with thick poster board and glitter
- Melt your old candles and make new ones. Or make them from scratch.
- Make a book of coupons: use services you can provide such as free babysitting, grass cutting, oil change, music or singing lessons… whatever you can provide to the recipient. This is completely free, other than for your time
- Check local trade schools. Many offer free or discounted prices for massages, manicures, and hair services.
- Decorate old jars with ribbon or craft foil and fill with candies or other treats
- Cookie jar – fill an old jar with the pre-measured dry ingredients for cookies or brownies with the instructions to add the “wet” ingredients and how to bake. Decorate with festive ribbon.
- Make a calendar. You can use your own photos or find images online. You can add birthdays, anniversaries, sporting events, and other important dates that would be important to the recipient.
- Make your own bath salts and put in a jar with a pretty ribbon
- Make a trivet. Buy a discount tile from a home improvement or flooring store and glue felt to the back. For a personal touch, add a monogram. If it’s for a grandparent, you can have the child paint it.
- Coupon for soup of the month club – give a quart of soup each month of the year. Great for an elderly neighbor or even a college student. Don’t like soup? Do a casserole or other dish theme instead.
- Create your own spice rub. Google spice rub recipes, make your favorite and deliver in a glass jar decked out in a festive ribbon.

Spouse
- Coupon book for a night out without the kids, massage, or whatever you desire.
- Framed family photo
- Collage of family memories
- Make a photo album of favorite memories of your years together
College kid
- Make a hamper of essentials like shampoo, loopha, lotions, cotton balls, towels, washcloth, toothpaste, etc.
- Gift cards in any amount
- Make a scarf from discount fleece. Cut the desired length and then cut fringe on each end

Today Show: Martha Stewart’s Homemade gifts and goodies

Today Show: DIY sweet and stylish gifts

Frugal Finds under $20

What are you making this Christmas board

Holiday projects board

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Non-Toxic Toys for Christmas

Safety First for Holiday Toys – USA Today

A USA Today article today discussed the challenge of finding safe toys this holiday season. The government recently passed a law which would ban some toxic substances from children’s products, however, the ban does not take effect until February 10, 2008, allowing retailers and manufacturers to sell off toys this Christmas Season that do not meet the new standards.

Unfortunately, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said they will allow toys containing phthalates, one of the newly banned chemicals that affects the reproductive system, to be sold indefinitely. (I find it ironic they have “safety” in their name when they make a decision like this.)

Luckily, many reliable toys manufacturers already meet these new standards, and wooden toys are making a comeback as well. You can see some of these manufacturers and a list of toys that are lead, phthalate and BPA-free here. Other companies, like Fisher-Price, can’t tell you which, if any, of their toys are free of any of these substances.

Shop smart! My list of non-toxic toys and my Amazon store are great places to start.

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Non-Toxic Toys for Christmas

Dolls for Christmas — PVC and Phthalate free!

SAFbaby has done a little research to find PVC and phthalate free dolls – and just in time for Christmas!

There are a few manufactures they list that use vinyl to make their dolls, but they are phthalate free. Certainly a great step, but as the article points out, lead has been found in several products using PVC. SAFbaby recommends erring on the side of caution and going PVC and vinyl free. In any case, those manufacturers using phthalate free vinyl are:
• Kathe Kruse
• Keptin-Jr
• Corolle
• Zapf Creation

These are the vinyl and phthalate free dolls SAFbaby recommends. They are all cloth dolls and easy to clean.

Paola Soft Doll by Haba
Waldorf Flippippi Fortune Fairy by Kathe Kruse
The Earth Friends Doll Raji
BabiCorolle Sorbet Melodie Doll
Keptin Jr – Organic Cotton Doll
 
Other cloth dolls I am aware of include (though note I am still contacting manufacturers to be sure they are free of other toxins):

Pottery Barn Kids Dolls and their Baby Dolls (though note, these are spot washable only, however cute they are)

Sweet Dolly by Baby Gund (my daughter has been attached to this doll for 2 years, since about 7 months old. She holds up very well in the washing machine.)

Flippippi Fortune Butterfly Red
by Kathe Kruse 

Baby Stella by Manahattan Toy

Whatever doll you choose, SAFbaby recommends contacting manufacturers to be sure the dolls are not treated with flame retardants, are free of heavy metals, and are painted with safe/non-toxic paints.

SAFbaby also told me they updated their post. They pointed out that even cloth dolls may not be free of phthalates. Some are stuffed with plastic pellets. Some pellets are made with PE which is a safe plastic and others PVC, which is not safe, so be sure you know what the doll is made of — inside and out!

Related Articles
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Lead and Phthalate free, Non-toxic toys for Christmas, updated

Last updated: November 20, 2008

Because Christmas is right around the corner and the new bill protecting children from lead and phthalates will not go into effect until February 10, 2009, I am taking it upon myself to search for safe toys for Christmas 2008.

Here is the list I have come up with and will continue to add to it as I find new toys that meet the standards of being lead and phthalate free. If a toy has any of these toxins, I will not list them. I also did my best to steer clear of anything that contains BPA. Please note there are millions and millions of toys out there, so this is in no way a comprehensive list. If you are aware of another toy that is free of ALL lead, phthalates and BPA, please comment (along with a website or other evidence you may have if available) and I will add it to the list. Also, I will not list the obvious, like stuffed animals or books, but will do my best to include the obvious categories.

Also, some companies do have toys made with phthalate-free PVC. I have listed these and made a note by those toys. Although it would be great to avoid PVC altogether, as PVC can contain lead. 

Most of the products are linked so you can read reviews, get more information and even purchase online.

Brands who are promising that all their toys are lead and phthalate free:
Edushape
Haba
Kids Give
Lamaze Baby Toys
Lego Systems 
Little Tykes 
Lisa LeLeu 
Melissa & Doug (wood and plush toys) 
Mudpuppy 
Plan Toys 
Publications International 
Sckoon 
Selecta
Step 2
 
Tiny Love 
Under the Nile  

Art supplies/Crafts
(note: many art supplies, including Play Doh, contain trace amounts of arsenic. I did not list these products in the list. Unfortunately, it makes for a shorter list)
EcoTots Art time easel
Melissa and Doug Deluxe Easel
Melissa and Doug Paints
KidKraft Deluxe Easel
Leaf Press by Selecta
Organic Crafts (book), by Kimberly Monaghan
Plant colored pastel crayons

Blocks
Deluxe Jumbo Cardboard Blocks, Melissa & Doug
Mega Blocks
Legos   (all systems including Duplo)
Edushape (They had these at my daughter’s daycare and they are great! They are flexible so perfect for toddlers just learning to play with connecting type blocks.)
Kapla Wood Building Set
Wooden Animal Nesting Blocks, Melissa & Doug

Books
LIttle leaf house book, HABA

Cars/Vehicles
Automoblox mini’s (3 pack)
Automoblox vehicles
Baby Car, Plan Toys
Bulldozer Chunky Wooden Truck, FAO Schwartz
Cement Mixer Chunky wooden truck, FAO Scwartz
Discover Rig, Sprig Toys
Dump truck chunky wooden truck, FAO Schwartz
Firetruck Chuncky wooden truck, FAO Schwartz
Side Kick Vehicle, Rally Racer, Sprig Toys
Road Contruction Set, Plan Toys

Dolls
Babipouce Grenadine – 12″ Cloth Doll by Corolle 
BabiCorolle Sorbet Melodie Doll 
All Dolls by Corolle (made of PVC-free vinyl), including Tidoo, Calin, Chouquette Eva, and Poupette Lili  These dolls are all just BEAUTIFUL
Baby Stella by Manahattan Toy
Flippippi Fortune Butterfly Red by Kathe Kruse 
Kathe Kruse Dolls (some cloth, some PVC vinyl)
Keptin-Jr Dolls (some cloth, some PVC vinyl)
Keptin Jr – Organic Cotton Doll
Paola Soft Doll by Haba
Pottery Barn Kids Dolls and their Baby Dolls (though note, these are spot washable only, however cute they are)
Sweet Dolly by Baby Gund
The Earth Friends Doll Raji
Waldorf Flippippi Fortune Fairy by Kathe Kruse
Zapf Creation Dolls (made of PVC-free vinyl)

Whatever doll you choose, be sure the dolls are not treated with flame retardants, are free of heavy metals, and are painted with safe/non-toxic paints.

Games
Bamboo Art, ages 18 months+
Battelo (memory and strategy game, age 4+, made of Bamboo)
Cagola Balancing Game, Bamboo Collection, ages 4+
Colora Magnetic Design, Bamboo Collection
Dominos, Bamboo Collection
Hasbro Bamboo Matching game (I saw at Wal-Mart, but cannot find online anywhere. It’s cute though.)
Natural Wood Memory Game by Selecta

Interactive Toys
Battino Pounding Bench, Selecta
City Beads (wood), Wonderworld
Click Clack by Plan Toys
Click Clack Ball Track by HABA
Hammer Balls by Plan Toys
Pounding Tower, Plan Toys
Ryan the Zebra Activity Center, by K’s Kids 
Wood Baby Gym, Selecta
Wooden Ball Track Set by Selecta

Kitchen Sets
Guidecraft Deluxe Kitchen 
Guidecraft Wooden Kitchen
Plan Toys Kitchen Center
Plan Toys Kitchen Set
Pink stove top by Plan Toys and Red stove top
Dishwasher by Plan Toys
Refrigerator
by Plan Toys
Melissa and Doug Classic Deluxe Kitchen


Musical Instruments
Banjo, Plan Toys
Deluxe Band Set, Melissa and Doug
Drum Set, Plan Toys
Pine wood train whistle, maple and Marks
Hohner harmonica, Rosie’s Hippo
Mini Red Piano, Schylling
Melissa and Doug Band in a Box
Oval Xylophone, Plan Toys

Push/Pull Toys
Bird Family Pull Toy, Rosie’s Hippo
Circo Pull Toy, HABA
Dancing Alligator, Plan Toys
Frolicking Frog Wooden Pull Toy, Melissa and Doug
Trotto Wooden Push Toy by Selecta
Mini Pull along Giraffe by Sevi
Natural Wood Push Toy, Pedella, by Selecta
Sorting Train, Plan Toys
Walk and Roll, Plan Toys
Wooden Chomp and Clack Alligator Push Toy, Melissa and Doug
Zoo Animals Pull Along, Melissa and Doug

Play Food/Cookware
Alex Toys Deluxe Cooking Set
Bambu Kids Cooking Utensils
Erzi play food: Erzi Assorted Vegetables Box; Erzi Assorted Fruit Box; Erzi Assorted VegetablesErzi Assorted Fruit; Erzi Assorted Fruit Box Tropical FruitsErzi Assorted Tropical Fruits 
Learning Resources – Made of PVC and polyethylene, but is lead and phthalate free
Lunch With Friends” wood tea party set by Djeco
Melissa and Doug: Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Play Food – 10 Piece Set; Melissa & Doug Sandwich making set; Melissa and Doug Deluxe Wooden Spice Rack Set; Melissa and Doug Cutting Food Box
Melissa and Doug Food Groups; Melissa and Doug Pizza Party; Melissa and Doug Birthday Cake; Sushi 
Plan Toys: Fruit and Vegetables, Breakfast Menu (with tray), Birthday Cake with candles, Vegetable pairs 
Plan Toys Toaster
Plan Toys Microwave
Shopping cart by Plan Toys
Cookware set by Plan Toys
Tableware set by Plan Toys
Tea set (wood), Plan Toys
Tupperware Childs Kids Mini Baking Set
Tupperware Kids Cake Taker, Plates, & Spatula
Tupperware Kids Mini Party Set with Mini Cake Taker

Playmat (Infant Activity Mat)
Tiny Love Gymini Super Deluxe – Lights & Music  
Wood Play Gym by Selecta

Pretend Play – Barn
Farm Animals, Plan Toys
Folding Barn, Melissa and Doug
Folding Horse Stable, Melissa and Doug
Plan Toys Country Barn
Plan Toys Wood barn

Pretend Play – Castles
Dragonstone Castle With Inhabitants  by Haba
Princess Castle by Melissa and Doug
Folding Midevil Castle by Melissa and Doug 
Dolls for Melissa and Doug Play Castles

Pretend Play – Playhouse
Neat & Tidy Cottage by Step2 (my daughter LOVES this house)
Daisy’s Market, Djeco

Pretend Play – Dollhouse
Plan Toys Chalet Dollhouse with furniture
Plan Toys My First Dollhouse
Plan Terrace Dollhouse
Plan Toys Contemporary Dollhouse
Plan Toys Victorian Dollhouse (I want this one!)
Plan Toys Modern Dollhouse
Colonial Dollhouse by Plan Toys
Deluxe Wooden Furnished Dollhouse, Melissa and Doug
Dollhouse furniture by Plan Toys
Dollhouse Furniture, Melissa and Doug
Farm House, Plan Toys
Fold and Go Dollhouse, Melissa and Doug
Victorian Dollhouse, Melissa and Doug
Wooden Doll Family for Dollhouse, Melissa and Doug

Pretend Play – Other
Children’s Broom, Camden Rose
Pet and accessories, Plan Toys
Plan City Parking Garage
Pirate Ship, Plan Toys
Tree House, Plan Toys
Doctor’s kit, HABA

Puzzles
Animal Alphabet, Imagiplay (3D puzzle)
Clutching Puzzle Sunny Land by haba 
Counting Bunnies 3D puzzle
Melissa & Doug wood sound puzzles
Nativity Puzzle, Imagiplay (3D puzzle)
Wood Animal Puzzle by Selecta

Riding Toys
4×4 WD Adventure Car, Plan Toys
Arabian Rocking Horse by Plan Toys 
Lights and sound fire engine, Wonderworld
Pony rocking horse by Plan Toys
Puffy Dragon Ride On, Wonderworld
Rocking Cater, Wonderworld
Sports Car by Plan Toys (this is super cute!)
Trike Rider by Brio

Sports/Interactive
Wooden Bowling Set by Sevi 
Ball Track Roll ‘N Roll ‘N Roll by Haba  

Stacking Toys
Fun Stacker, Plan Toys
German Stacking Tower, HABA
Monkey Ring Stacker, miYim
Rainbow Tower, HABA
Rokkolina Wood Stacking Toy, Selecta (cute flower pot design)
Stacking Rings, Plan Toys
Witty Worm Stacker, Rosie’s Hippo
Wooden Rainbow Stacking Tower, Nunoorganic
Rocky Color Cone, Holgate Toys 

Stuffed Animals
Andrew the Hippo, miYim Organic
Baby Victoria the Bunny, miYim Organic
Chikos the Hen, Deglingos
Cuddlekin Bunny Molly, HABA
Natural Friends Sheep Musical Toy 
Pikos the Hedgehog, Deglingos
Ronronos the Cat, Deglingos
Sandwich Striped Cat Doll by Blabla
Solid Red Goose, Lana Organic
White Goose, Lana Organic

Teethers for Baby
Please see my post here: BPA and phthalate free teethers and rattles

Tools
Handyman Tool Box (wood), Wonderworld
My first tool set, Educo

Trains, Vehicles and other accessories
Alex Activity Mat
Brio
Maple and Marks
Melissa and Doug 
Plan Toys
Super City Wooden Railways from Heros! 

Companies with no phthalates (PVC) – Note: I have not yet determined if they are making the same claim for being lead-free. Also note that not all Evenflo, Gerber or Sassy products are BPA free.
Brio 
Chicco 
Evenflo 
Gerber 
International Playthings
Sassy 

Watch for these companies:
Leap Frog (Phthalate-free; some toys contain PVC; most packaging in boxes) 
Manhattan Toy (Use phthalate-free PVC)
Vtech (Use phthalate-free PVC) 
Sassy (Use phthalate-free PVC (since 2000), working to eliminate BPA and eventually, PVC) 
Fisher Price (Frequently use PVC (including teething rings), only toys for kids under age 3 are phthalate-free)
Mattel (Frequently use PVC) 
Playskool (Frequently use PVC)
Baby Einstein /Disney /Kids II (Frequently use PVC)
KidKraft (Claims all painted toys will have some amount of lead, anything wood is fine)
Especially for Baby @ Babies R Us (Geoffrey Inc.) (Frequently use PVC, including teething rings)

Gaming Consoles
XBox and Playstation 3 contain high levels of phthalates, though they are NOT considered toys so will not be affected by the new law banning phthalates in children’s products. Read more about it here.

Another cool site with eco-friendly toys is http://www.euphoriababy.com/

Please check back as I will be updating this post until Christmas is here! Happy shopping!

For more information or to research specific toys not listed, visit these sites:
http://www.healthytoys.org/product.searchtype.php
http://toyportfolio.wordpress.com/2008/02/13/update-complying-companies/
 
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Have we found the cause of SIDS?
Lead and PVC free lunch boxes
Lead in Christmas lights

Lead and Phthalate-free Toys for Christmas

View update here.

Last updated: September 29, 2008

Because Christmas is right around the corner and the new bill protecting children from lead and phthalates will not go into effect until February 20, 2009, I am taking it upon myself to search for safe toys for Christmas 2008.

Here is the list I have come up with and will continue to add to it as I find new toys that meet the standards of being lead and phthalate free. If a toy has any of these toxins, I will not list them. I also did my best to steer clear of anything that contains BPA. Please note there are millions and millions of toys out there, so this is in no way a comprehensive list. If you are aware of another toy that is free of ALL lead, phthalates and BPA, please comment (along with a website or other evidence you may have if available) and I will add it to the list. Also, I will not list the obvious, like stuffed animals or books, but will do my best to include the obvious categories.

Also, some companies do have toys made with phthalate-free PVC. I have listed these and made a note by those toys. Although it would be great to avoid PVC altogether, as PVC can contain lead. 

Most of the products are linked so you can read reviews, get more information and even purchase online.

Brands who are promising that all their toys are lead and phthalate free:
Edushape
Haba
Kids Give
Lamaze Baby Toys
Lego Systems 
Little Tykes 
Lisa LeLeu 
Melissa & Doug (wood and plush toys) 
Mudpuppy 
Plan Toys 
Publications International 
Sckoon 
Step 2 
Tiny Love 
Under the Nile  

Art supplies/Crafts
(note: many art supplies, including Play Doh, contain trace amounts of arsenic. I did not list these products in the list. Unfortunately, it makes for a shorter list)
Melissa and Doug Deluxe Easel
Melissa and Doug Paints
KidKraft Deluxe Easel

Blocks
Mega Blocks
Legos   (all systems including Duplo)
Edushape (They had these at my daughter’s daycare and they are great! They are flexible so perfect for toddlers just learning to play with connecting type blocks.)
Kapla Wood Building Set

Dolls
Babipouce Grenadine – 12″ Cloth Doll by Corolle 
Tidoo Bright Doll, bath doll that really floats! by Corolle (my daughter is getting this for C-mas — this doll is BEAUTIFUL)
All Dolls by Corolle, including Tidoo, Calin, Chouquette Eva, and Poupette Lili  These dolls are all just BEAUTIFUL
Sandwich Striped Cat Doll by Blabla

Games
Hasbro Bamboo Matching game (I saw at Wal-Mart, but cannot find online anywhere. It’s cute though.)

Kitchen Sets
Guidecraft Deluxe Kitchen 
Guidecraft Wooden Kitchen
Plan Toys Kitchen Center
Plan Toys Kitchen Set
Pink stove top by Plan Toys and Red stove top
Dishwasher
by Plan Toys
Refrigerator
by Plan Toys
Melissa and Doug Classic Deluxe Kitchen


Musical Instruments
Pine wood train whistle, maple and Marks
Hohner harmonica, Rosie’s Hippo
Melissa and Doug Band in a Box

Push/Pull Toys
Bird Family Pull Toy, Rosie’s Hippo
Trotto Wooden Push Toy by Selecta
Mini Pull along Giraffe by Sevi

Play Food/Cookware
Alex Toys Deluxe Cooking Set
Bambu Kids Cooking Utensils
Erzi play food: Erzi Assorted Vegetables Box; Erzi Assorted Fruit Box; Erzi Assorted VegetablesErzi Assorted Fruit; Erzi Assorted Fruit Box Tropical FruitsErzi Assorted Tropical Fruits 
Learning Resources – Made of PVC and polyethylene, but is lead and phthalate free
Lunch With Friends” wood tea party set by Djeco
Melissa and Doug: Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Play Food – 10 Piece Set; Melissa & Doug Sandwich making set; Melissa and Doug Deluxe Wooden Spice Rack Set; Melissa and Doug Cutting Food Box
Melissa and Doug Food Groups; Melissa and Doug Pizza Party; Melissa and Doug Birthday Cake; Sushi 
Plan Toys: Fruit and Vegetables, Breakfast Menu (with tray), Birthday Cake with candles, Vegetable pairs 
Plan Toys Toaster
Plan Toys Microwave
Shopping cart by Plan Toys
Cookware set by Plan Toys
Tableware set by Plan Toys
Tupperware Childs Kids Mini Baking Set
Tupperware Kids Cake Taker, Plates, & Spatula
Tupperware Kids Mini Party Set with Mini Cake Taker

Playmat (Infant Activity Mat)
Tiny Love Gymini Super Deluxe – Lights & Music  

Pretend Play (castles, playhouses, dollhouses, etc.)
Dragonstone Castle With Inhabitants  by Haba
Neat & Tidy Cottage by Step2 (my daughter LOVES this house)
Plan Toys Country Barn
Plan Toys Wood barn
Plan Toys Chalet Dollhouse with furniture
Plan Toys My First Dollhouse
Plan City Parking Garage
Plan Terrace Dollhouse
Plan Toys Contemporary Dollhouse
Plan Toys Victorian Dollhouse (I want this one!)
Plan Toys Modern Dollhouse
Colonial Dollhouse by Plan Toys
Dollhouse furniture by Plan Toys
Princess Castle by Melissa and Doug
Folding Midevil Castle by Melissa and Doug 
Dolls for Melissa and Doug Play Castles

Puzzles
Clutching Puzzle Sunny Land by haba 
Melissa & Doug wood sound puzzles

Riding Toys
Arabian Rocking Horse by Plan Toys 
Pony rocking horse by Plan Toys
Sports Car by Plan Toys (this is super cute!)
Trike Rider by Brio

Sports/Interactive
Wooden Bowling Set by Sevi 
Ball Track Roll ‘N Roll ‘N Roll by Haba  

Stacking Toys
Witty Worm Stacker, Rosie’s Hippo
Wooden Rainbow Stacking Tower, Nunoorganic
Rocky Color Cone, Holgate Toys 

Teethers for Baby
Please see my post here: BPA and phthalate free teethers and rattles

Trains, Vehicles and other accessories
Alex Activity Mat
Brio
Maple and Marks
Melissa and Doug 
Plan Toys
Super City Wooden Railways from Heros! 

Companies with no phthalates (PVC) – Note: I have not yet determined if they are making the same claim for being lead-free. Also note that not all Evenflo, Gerber or Sassy products are BPA free.
Brio 
Chicco 
Evenflo 
Gerber 
International Playthings
Sassy 

Watch for these companies:
Leap Frog (Phthalate-free; some toys contain PVC; most packaging in boxes) 
Manhattan Toy (Use phthalate-free PVC)
Vtech (Use phthalate-free PVC) 
Sassy (Use phthalate-free PVC (since 2000), working to eliminate BPA and eventually, PVC) 
Fisher Price (Frequently use PVC (including teething rings), only toys for kids under age 3 are phthalate-free)
Mattel (Frequently use PVC) 
Playskool (Frequently use PVC)
Baby Einstein /Disney /Kids II (Frequently use PVC)
KidKraft (Claims all painted toys will have some amount of lead, anything wood is fine)
Especially for Baby @ Babies R Us (Geoffrey Inc.) (Frequently use PVC, including teething rings)

Gaming Consoles
XBox and Playstation 3 contain high levels of phthalates, though they are NOT considered toys so will not be affected by the new law banning phthalates in children’s products. Read more about it here.

Another cool site with eco-friendly toys is http://www.euphoriababy.com/

Please check back as I will be updating this post until Christmas is here! Happy shopping!

For more information or to research specific toys not listed, visit these sites:
http://www.healthytoys.org/product.searchtype.php
http://toyportfolio.wordpress.com/2008/02/13/update-complying-companies/
 
Related Articles
BPA free bottles, sippy cups and more
BPA and phthalate free pacifiers
BPA and phthalate free teethers and rattles
 
Have we found the cause of SIDS?
Lead and PVC free lunch boxes
FDA: Lead found in vitamins
Lead in the garden hose
Lead in Christmas lights

Government says no more lead in toys — but not until after the holiday season

All children’s products must be compliant with the new govermental standards for lead content by Feb 10, 2009, so a little late for safe and confident Christmas shopping.

This means companies can still seel their lead-containing toys until Feb 10, but they must be removed from the shelves in the US after that. Now, I wonder who will monitor that? Honor system? We know how well that worked…

Anyway, what many may not know about the law is this:

The new lead limit is part of a sweeping product safety measure that became law Aug. 14. The law stipulates that by Feb. 10, children’s products can not have a total lead content above 600 parts per million. Six months later, that limit drops to 300 ppm and then to 100 ppm in three years if feasible.

So this year, buy with caution. Read the entire article here from the Washington Post.

Please check back for more on this topic and where to find safe toys this Christmas season.

Related Articles
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Lead and PVC free lunch boxes
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Eating healthy with the rising cost of groceries

I thought this was a good article on ways to still eat healthy with the rising cost of groceries. I put my own comments at the end of each tip in brackets, plus some additional ones at the end. Please feel free to post your own tips in the comments section.

With Grocery costs On the Rise, Can You Afford To Eat Healthy?
by Mary Pickett, M.D., Harvard Medical School
May 27, 2008

Swallow hard—your grocery bill is getting more expensive.

According to a U.S. Government report, this April’s food prices were 14% higher for bread, 13.5% higher for milk, and 5% higher for food overall compared with last year’s prices.  Last month’s food cost increase was the largest in the past 18 years.

I am motivated, as I am sure you are, to find ways to keep my grocery bill in check. At the same time, I want to make sure I am eating healthy. But healthy foods can be expensive!  Is it possible for us to “tighten our belts” in both cost and calories at the same time, and still enjoy eating?

Here are some ways to keep healthy foods in your pantry, and more money in your wallet:

1.      Buy no sodas

Sweetened drinks have a major impact on weight and diabetes. Your body can absorb sweeteners easily, with little digestion. This results in a large spike of insulin in your bloodstream. Experts think that when dramatic insulin spikes occur over and over, this can lead to diabetes.

The Nurses’ Health Study interviewed and examined 50,000 American women in an eight-year period. Women who drank one or more sodas or sweetened drinks daily were almost twice as likely to develop diabetes compared with women who seldom drank soda. The women who drank sodas regularly also were about 10 pounds heavier on average, but the trend towards diabetes did not appear to be explained by weight gain alone. Drinking water (either straight from the tap or filtered at home) is much cheaper than buying soda.

 [I totally agree with Mary here, but I would add all junk food to this category: chips, cookies, snack crackers, etc. These have high calories and fat; and very little nutritional value. Snack on fruits, veggies, yogurt or hummus instead. These are healthy, low-fat, low-calorie options.]

2.      Put a limit on juices

Juices are more natural than sodas, but they pack a lot of sugar and they carry little fiber. They give you calories but they don’t fill you up. Juices should be limited, even for kids.

[I agree, plus too much juice is shown to lead to cavities in children, which adds an expense of another kind.]

3.      Always buy dairy

Milk products are loaded with calcium and are supplemented with vitamin D, both of which are important for bone health. Calcium may also be important for weight loss, although this is an area that needs more study. Keep low-fat or non-fat dairy options on hand all the time. Having basic dairy ingredients and eggs in your refrigerator at all times may enable you to pull together a fairly health and low-cost meal at home instead of eating out.

[Again I agree here, we never run out of yogurt, cheese or milk! Another tip, try plain fat-free yogurt instead of sour cream, it’s a little cheaper, much less fat and I personally prefer the flavor over sour cream. Boiled eggs are fast and easy for breakfast and nothing wrong with having breakfast for dinner!]

4.      Save on meats

I love meat, but you don’t need much of it for a meal. Groceries package meats in large portions, but packaging doesn’t have to determine your serving size. For example, I slice pork-chops into half-thickness slices, because they cook more easily and stretch farther.  Sometimes I will serve ravioli in broth, instead of serving meat on the side—the carnivore in me is satisfied, even though I haven’t eaten a whole serving of meat.

Remember canned fish and clams, which can be lower cost seafood items. Canned tuna is made from “throw-away” tuna fish that are too small to be cut into steaks. Since canned tuna is from younger fish, it has less mercury contamination per serving than you can find in a tuna steak.

[I agree again, though this is a hard one for our carnivore-ic society, including my family. I shop at Whole Foods for meat, so I can get the exact amount I want, rather then having to find a pre-packaged one with the amount I want (never happens). This allows me to control what I make, so it helps control costs. I do only feed my family organic meat. I truly believe there is a benefit to not eating all those hormones and extra pesticides.]

5.      Introducing legumes!

If you don’t regularly cook with beans, lentils, garbanzos, hummus, dal or other legume foods, find a recipe or two that you want to try and bring them into your household. These are a great source of protein and nutrition, and they are cheap.

[Give your toddler some pita and hummus as a snack – we never run out because my 2-year-old eats it daily. It’s her favorite! We love it as well – it’s loaded with protein, its low fat and it’s just all round healthy!]

6.      Is it important to buy organic?

Buying “organic” can steeply increase the price you pay for fruits, vegetables, milk and grains. For many people, this is simply not an option. If you can afford organic foods, are they worth their extra cost? It is hard to say for sure.

The most important difference between organic and non-organic foods is the presence of pesticides. Large exposures to pesticides are known to be dangerous, since pesticides can be toxic to nerves.  But small exposures (like the small exposure you can get from non-organic foods) don’t cause obvious harms.

One study of pre-school children showed that kids who eat an organic foods diet have less organophosphate pesticide measured in their urine, compared with other children. There is no good study that can prove—one way or the other—whether lifelong trace exposure to pesticides can cause human harm. The risk of pesticide exposure might or might not be worth your worry. It is probably not important enough to warrant the extra cost, although it is hard to be sure.

Don’t buy organic foods if you need to cut down on the quantity of fruits and vegetables that you buy in order to afford them. Washing, peeling, freezing and cooking fruits and vegetables eliminate a portion of the pesticides that contaminate them, so these are additional good strategies. Animals that are raised for meat have higher pesticide residue in fat, so removing fat and skin from meat also reduces your pesticide exposure.

If you choose to spend extra on organic foods, buy the organic versions of the fruits and vegetables in the “dirty dozen”—these are the foods that have the most pesticide residue: peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, grapes (imported), spinach, lettuce and potatoes. Experts from the Environmental Working Group say at least half of our pesticide exposure from food comes from these items.

[I don’t agree with everything here. I personally believe there is a lot of benefit to eating organics and limiting exposure to pesticides, especially in young children. While we are not 100% organic, I always buy the organic versions of the dirty dozen, meats and milk. To be perfectly honest, sometimes organics are cheaper than the conventional version (this is rare but have seen it with items such as kiwi). It will also be interesting to see how prices will compare to locally grown items – they don’t have to travel far, one of the main reasons for the drastic increases in food – higher gas prices means it costs more to transport food. Try local farmer’s markets, a farm co-op or the locally grown section at your grocery store. Locally grown does not mean it’s organic, but typically has less pesticides since they do not have to travel far and are usually eaten more quickly.]

7.      Is it important to buy the more expensive hormone-free (r-BGH and r-BST free) milk?

Probably not. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has gone to great lengths to reassure the public that hormones used to boost milk production in cows don’t present a danger. The FDA is probably correct in taking this stand. These hormones, and the hormone that is associated with them in cows (insulin-like growth factor-1, or IGF-1) would create concern if they were digested in a way that they could enter the human bloodstream in significant levels. However, like other complicated proteins, these hormones deteriorate in our digestive tracts when they are exposed to stomach acid and digestive enzymes. Some studies dispute that the hormones are even present in cows’ milk in the first place, after they are injected into the cow. All milk on the grocery shelf—as long as it is pasteurized—is probably safe to buy.

[I do not agree with this either. I do not see how the presence of hormones and pesticides in milk can be beneficial. Also, organic milk tastes so much better to my family, so I am likely to drink more and waste less. The FDA is wrong a lot, so you can’t go just based on that. And they best they can say is conventional milk is “probably” safe, and that’s just not good enough when it comes to the health of my family.]

Whatever you do to reduce your grocery bill, don’t sacrifice fruits and vegetables. They can be expensive, but cutting down on garden foods in is not a good idea. These foods are just so good for you, that this is not the place to save on your grocery bill. Fresh produce is best, but canned or frozen fruits or vegetables have almost equal nutritional value to fresh foods, and they may be less expensive during certain times of the year. Remember that you can freeze vegetables if you don’t eat them right away.

[Agree here again – don’t skimp on fruits and veggies. Eat seasonal fruits and veggies – they are much cheaper in season. You can buy in bulk and share the food and cost with neighbors/family; or you can freeze and eat it during the “off season.” Pick a few items you may regularly eat and start your own garden (i.e. maybe tomatoes, onions, carrots).]

What are your priorities when you shop for groceries, with both health and cost in mind? What tricks do you have to save on healthy foods? What do you leave out of your grocery bag?

Mary Pickett, M.D., is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University where she is a primary care doctor for adults. Her field is Internal Medicine. She is also a Lecturer for Harvard Medical School and a Senior Medical Editor for Harvard Health Publications.

Other tips:
1. Make simple, healthy, low cost meals that will generate leftovers (i.e. spaghetti, shepherds pie).
2. As Dave Ramsey says “rice and beans, beans and rice.” This is good ole meal with or without meat.
3. Buy store brands: I can be brand loyal, but some items you really can’t tell the difference. I get Whole Foods brand milk, store brand butter, sometimes rice, some canned goods (though it’s very rare I buy canned foods since the lining contains BPA).
4. Clip coupons.
5. Watch your grocery’s weekly circular. Plan your meals based on what’s on sale that week.
6. Make a shopping list and stick to it! Do not stray or make impulse buys. I make one exception, if I see an item on sale, or a buy one get one free deal for something I use regularly, I will get the item because I will save in the long run. Pasta sauce for example – we eat spaghetti a lot! Or if ground beef is on sale, I will get a couple extra pounds to store in the freezer.
 
Got a tip to save on groceries? Please share by posting a comment!

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