Posts Tagged ‘safety’

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.

Related Articles
BPA free bottles, sippy cups and food storage
BPA and phthalate free pacifiers
BPA and phthalate free teethers and rattles
 
Non-Toxic Toys for Christmas

Is it safe to microwave plastic?

The Milwaukee Wisconsin Sentinel conducted a study on the safety of microwaving plastics. Surprisingly, BPA (bisphenol-A) was found to be leaching from many types of plastic, not just polycarbonate. And these plastic containers are labeled “microwave safe,” a claim that is commonly used yet not regulated.

Excerpt:
“The amounts detected were at levels that scientists have found cause neurological and developmental damage in laboratory animals,” the paper reports. “The problems include genital defects, behavioral changes and abnormal development of mammary glands. The changes to the mammary glands were identical to those observed in women at higher risk for breast cancer.”

Makes me glad I recently ditched my plastic for glass, and I usually remove the plastic lid before putting in the microwave and ensure no plastic is touching food in the microwave.

BPA was also found in the plastic trays of microwavable meals, microwavable soup containers and plastic baby food packaging. Even in plastics labeled #1, 2 and 5, which are generally considered safe and typically BPA-free.

This researcher simply states
“There is no such thing as safe microwaveable plastic,” said Frederick vom Saal, a University of Missouri researcher who oversaw the newspaper’s testing.

Related Articles
BPA free bottles, sippies and food storage
Baby products packaged in PVC
Canada bans baby bottles with BPA
BPA linked to chemotherapy resistance

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/
 
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
Lead in Christmas lights

Many car booster seats are not as safe for children as thought

We are in the market for a new car, so I have spent a great deal of time researching cars, safety features, etc. on the Insurance Institure for Highway Safety website. Well, today I saw they have posted results from a study they conducted on the safety of using safety booster seats in the car.

Booster seats are not restaint systems, they are meant to boost a child so the seat belt in the car will properly fit the child to offer the best protection in the event of a crash.

Here is an except from their summary:

Thirteen of the 41 belt-positioning booster seats the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety evaluated with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute did such a poor job of improving the fit of lap and shoulder belts for children that the Institute doesn’t recommend them at all. Ten models are best bets and 5 are good bets. These evaluations are the first to tell consumers how well boosters sold by US retailers improve belt fit for children in cars, minivans, and SUVs. The Institute plans to continue these assessments.

Not-recommended boosters: Boosters the Institute doesn’t recommend are the
– highback Compass B505,
– Compass B510,
– Cosco/Dorel Traveler,
– Evenflo Big Kid Confidence;
– backless Safety Angel Ride Ryte;
– combination Cosco/Dorel Alpha Omega,
– Cosco/Dorel (Eddie Bauer) Summit,
– Cosco Highback Booster,
– Dorel/Safety 1st (Eddie Bauer) Prospect,
– Evenflo Chase Comfort Touch,
– Evenflo Generations,
– Graco CarGo Zephyr, and
– Safety 1st/Dorel Intera.
At least 2 of these models have been discontinued, hopefully replaced by better designs. Booster makers sometimes reuse names and even model numbers for new seats, so manufacture dates and model numbers are important.

Best bets and good bets: The 10 best-bet boosters are the most likely to position not only lap belts but also shoulder portions correctly on many children in many vehicles.
Best bets include 3 backless seats:
Combi Kobuk,
Fisher-Price Safe Voyage, and
Graco TurboBooster.
These may require plastic clips to correctly position shoulder belts.

Six highbacks are best bets:
Britax Monarch,
– Britax Parkway,
Fisher-Price Safe Voyage,
– LaRoche Bros. Teddy Bear,
– Recaro Young Style, and
– Volvo booster cushion.

Another best bet is the combination seat Safeguard Go when it’s used as a backless booster. Combination seats convert to boosters by removing their built-in harnesses. At least 5 of the best-bet boosters have been discontinued but still are sold.

The 5 good bets provide acceptable belt fit in almost as many vehicle belt configurations. They are highbacks
Combi Kobuk,
Graco TurboBooster, and
– Safety Angel Ride Ryte,

and combinations when used as highbacks.
Recaro Young Sport and
Safety 1st/Dorel Apex 65

“Boosters that provide better belt fit aren’t necessarily the priciest,” notes Anne McCartt, Institute senior vice president for research. “Parents don’t have to spend a lot of money for a best bet or good bet booster.” The highback Graco Turbo-Booster, for example, converts to a backless booster and retails for about $50. The backless-only version sells for about $20.

The most important thing to remember is that children need to be in a child restraint system with a 5-point harness until they outgrow the height or weight for the seat. Normally this happens around age 4. Then a child should be in a booster until they can properly fit the standard car safety belt — normally 4’9″ tall and typically 85 pounds is also recommended. A booster will help ensure the car’s safety belt fits the child properly to best protect them should an accident occur.

According to the IIHS:
Boosters are belt positioners, not restraints: When children outgrow child restraints, parents may wonder if boosters are necessary. They are, because safety belts are designed to fit adults and usually don’t fit most kids properly until they’re 4 feet 9 inches tall. About 350 children ages 4-7 die in crashes each year in the United States. An additional 50,000 are injured. Because half of the fatally injured children in this age group ride unrestrained, the first step is to get them belted. Boosters help by improving the fit, effectiveness, and comfort of adult belts.

…Using boosters lowers injury risk by 59 percent compared with belts alone, a 2003 study by the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found. A 2006 study by the same authors found that boosters reduce fatality risk among booster-age children by about 28 percent compared with belts alone.”

More information

More information on child restraints from the IIHS

PDF of booster seats the IIHS evaluated in this study

Video of evaluation

Related Articles
Lead and Phthalate free toys for Christmas
Britax car seat sale
BPA free bottles and sippy cups

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

15 things you should know to care for baby

I thought this was a pretty good little article from USA Weekend.

15 things you need to know to care for Baby
Important lessons from the latest research
By Kelly DiNardo
 
Forget sugar and spice and everything nice. Your little one is a lot more complicated than that. USA WEEKEND wants to make sure you have a recipe for success, so each year we sift through the most recent scientific studies and research to compile this list of the 15 most important findings you need to know. From getting Baby to love her green beans to avoiding tooth decay, we’ve got you covered so your child can be the focus.

1 Help kids eat veggies. “Ignore the faces Baby makes when you introduce new foods,” says Julie Mennella, one of the authors of a study published in Pediatrics that found repeated exposure to veggies increased babies’ consumption. “We gave babies a taste of green beans for several days, and after about eight days, they were more willing to eat it. They learn to like their veggies.”

2 Lower Baby’s allergy risk. Breast-feeding for four to six months may protect against food allergies, says a newly published policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). “If you can’t breast-feed and you have a history of allergies, choose a low-allergen formula that’s not the regular milk or soy-based formulas,” says Scott Sicherer, M.D., author of Understanding and Managing Your Child’s Food Allergies. “Also, hold off on solid food until your baby is about 4 to 6 months.”

3 Try honey. In January, the Food and Drug Administration advised that children under age 2 should not be given over-the-counter cough and cold medicines because of potential side effects that include rapid heart rates, convulsions and death. Instead, soothe your child’s cough with a teaspoon of honey. A study done by researchers at Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey, Pa., compared a teaspoon of buckwheat honey, honey-flavored cough suppressant and no treatment in 105 children with an upper respiratory tract infection and found that honey worked best at calming coughs. However, do not give honey to babies under the age of 1, as there are rare but severe side effects, including infantile botulism. Instead, when Baby gets a cough or cold, treat symptoms with non-aspirin pain reliever and saline nose drops.

4 Quit smoking. Researchers at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia found that if Mom smoked before breast-feeding, her baby’s sleep was disrupted, and Baby slept for a shorter period of time. “Ideally, Mom will quit smoking,” says Mennella, who co-authored the study. “But if she doesn’t quit, she can time the breast-feeding so that Baby is minimally exposed to the nicotine in the milk. It gets into the milk within a half-hour of smoking and takes two to three hours to leave the body.”

5 Take a test. Well-child visits take about 15 to 30 minutes and cover many issues, including vaccination schedules, so it’s no surprise that when pediatricians are trying to cover so much territory, they fail to identify up to 80% of developmental delays in kids. In a Pediatrics study, researchers found that when parents completed a screening test in which they answered questions about their baby’s development, referral rates for continued evaluation increased by 224%. “Push your doctor to use a standardized developmental tool,” says Hollie Hix-Small, one of the study’s authors. She suggests completing the Ages & Stages questionnaire at asq.uoregon.edu. “It gives parents a better understanding of where their child should be.”

6 Watch Baby’s mouth. Decay in baby teeth is on the rise among 2- to 5-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Keith Morley, D.M.D., president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, offers these tips to keep Baby’s teeth in tip-top shape:

Tips
Take Baby to the dentist at age 1.
The dentist can walk parents through a series of things to do with their little one.
Brush Baby’s teeth as soon as they come into his mouth.
Use a fluoride-free toothpaste until he can spit.
Do not let Baby take a bottle to bed if he has teeth.
The sugars in the milk or formula contribute to decay.

7 Go skin to skin. In a review of studies, researchers at Vanderbilt University found that babies who were placed on their mother’s chest with just a blanket over their back were more successful with the initial latching on to Mom’s breast and breast-fed longer. “If possible, hold your newborn there after the first [ever] breast-feeding for about two hours,” says Elizabeth Moore, one of the review’s authors.

8 Skip the bumper. Bumper pads on cribs and bassinets are meant to prevent Baby from hurting herself, but a study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that the risk of accidental death or injury outweighs their possible benefit. The researchers found that over 20 years, there were 27 accidental deaths and 25 non-fatal injuries of children between 1 month and 2 years of age that were attributed to the bumper pads.

9 Turn off the TV. Parents are ignoring the AAP recommendation that children under age 2 not watch TV. According to a study done by researchers at the University of Washington, 40% of babies are regular viewers by the age of 3 months, and 90% of2-year-olds are regular viewers. Studies have shown that early TV viewing is associated with a variety of long-term problems, such as slower development of reading and math skills. Toymakers also are introducing tech devices with screens, like children’s computers, for younger and younger kids. “I don’t see a reason to introduce those products to kids under 2,” says Frederick Zimmerman, the author of the TV study. “Interaction with other people, like parents and older siblings, is far better.”

10 Avoid unnecessary medication. “Every infant under 3 months of age is going to have reflux,” says Vikram Khoshoo, M.D. Khoshoo and researchers from West Jefferson Medical Center near New Orleans measured the reflux, or regurgitation of acid from the stomach into the esophagus, of 44 infants. They found that 42 of the babies were on anti-reflux medication, but only eight should have been. “If your child is gaining weight properly, not having recurrent respiratory problems, not excessively irritable, feeding well and not vomiting blood or bile, they do not need to be on medicine,” Khoshoo says. To help alleviate reflux, give Baby a smaller volume of milk and thicken it with rice cereal, and recline Baby at an angle of about 45 degrees during and after mealtimes. “If that does not help, the child needs to be evaluated,” Khoshoo says. “It’s not good to take unnecessary medications because we are still learning all of the effects.”

11 Check Baby’s head. Since parents have been told to put Baby to sleep on her back to avoid sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), the incidence of positional plagiocephaly has increased fivefold. Positional plagiocephaly occurs when Baby’s head becomes slightly misshapen because her skull is soft, and she’s primarily sleeping on one side. Within a year or two, “as the baby starts moving around, they take care of the problem on their own,” says Monica Wehby, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. She suggests rolling up a blanket and angling it under Baby’s shoulder and hip to alleviate pressure on the head. “Don’t prop the head or you’ll risk them suffocating themselves. If you’re concerned or it gets worse, mention it to your pediatrician.”

12 Know the signs. It’s estimated that one in 150 kids are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), a group of disorders that affect social behavior and communication skills. Most parents become concerned when Baby is between 15 and 18 months. Although how the disorder presents itself varies, you may want to talk to your doctor if Baby ignores your efforts to draw her attention, seldom makes eye contact and hasn’t begun babbling after 9 months. If Baby has ASD, she may play differently, too. Kids with ASD often lack creativity, engage in repetitive play and develop attachments to common objects, like string, sticks and rocks, rather than store-bought toys.

13 Follow safe swim rules. After age 1, the primary cause of death for kids is injury. In the past five years, there were, on average, 2,200 children younger than 5 years old treated in emergency rooms for swimming pool-related injuries. “The No. 1 rule is that you never leave a child unattended around a swimming pool,” says Larry Baraff, M.D., professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “You have to be paying attention. You can’t be having an intense conversation.”

14 Check your home. More than 90% of injury-related deaths in children under 1 happen at home, according to the CDC. A study published in Pediatrics found that moms reported a greater use of home safety practices than were actually in use. For example, smoke detectors were found in 97% of participants’ homes, but only about half were working. The AAP recommends the following tips to keep your home safe for Baby:
 
Tips
Make sure drapery and blind cords are out of Baby’s reach.
Be certain the smoke detectors work and that there is one in or near Baby’s bedroom.
Place plug protectors in any unused electrical outlets.
Keep all medicines, vitamins, toiletries and any other potentially poisonous substances in cabinets with child-resistant safety latches.

15 Get Baby vaccinated. The AAP issued new vaccination recommendations in 2007. The changes include giving Baby a hepatitis A vaccine at 1 year of age as a two-dose regimen. Each dose should be given at least six months apart. The AAP also recommends two doses of the varicella vaccine (for chickenpox) — the first given to children between 12 and 15 months and the second between 4 and 6 years.

My comments: I think all these are good an important. However, I the AAP, WHO, AAFP and UNICEF all recommened breastfeeding for 6 months and then gradually offering supplemental foods starting at 6 months.

I would also add that there are many benefits to eating organic foods. Young children consume a great amount of pesticides from foods and this could lead to other health issues. Eating organic foods is much healthier.

I know #15 (vaccinating baby) is being debated by many parents. I believe that parents should do the research and decide what is best for their family. Dr. Sear’s “The Vaccine Book” has been very helpful in our decisions about vaccinating our children.

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Britax Car Seat sale

Amazon is having a rare sale on Britax car seats, which are touted as being among the best/safest car seats available. I have one and LOVE it. Yes they are a little bigger and heavier than most, but they have performed better than other car seats in crash tests.

The sale is for one week only, so don’t delay! It looks like all Britax seats will also receive free shipping! When I purchased my Britax, all prices were very similar, so free shipping was important to me. But now there is a sale AND free shipping! Can’t beat that!

Britax offers a wide variety of car seats — convertibles, boosters — and in different models with different features. I have the Boulevard, which offers true side impact protection. I have a Civic, so that was an important feature to me. It also had a knob on the side allowing you to adjust the straps to where YOU want them all without having to remove the straps or the seat.

Another thing to watch for is weight limits. The Boulevard is rear-facing up to 35 lbs and forward facing up to 65 pounds. The Roundabout is rear-facing also to 35 lbs, but only forward facing to 40 lbs.

The most important thing about car seats it to make sure they are properly installed!! I NEVER install my own seats. There is a technician at one of the fire stations here who is recommended by Children’s Hospital. He is certified and does hundreds of installations every year. The fact is, death from improper use or installation of car seats is the leading cause of death in infants and children. It’s so not worth it — get it professionally installed fire stations will do this for free, so cost is not an excuse, just takes a few minutes. Your child is worth it!

Other tips for safe car seats and usage:

1. Make sure the seat fits your car and fits your child

2. Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. This has nothing to do with age or how long your child’s legs are. Rear-facing is the safest position up to the weight limit of the seat or until his head reaches the top of the seat.

3. Use the seat every time! NEVER go anywhere without your child properly restrained in an approved car seat.

4. Watch for recalls, especially important if you are using a second-hand seat.

5. Lifetime of a seat is about 6 years because the plastic starts to breakdown. Again, especially important if you are using a second hand seat.

6. Use a 5 point harrness, LATCH system and tethers.

7. Inspect the seat regularly to ensure it is still secured properly (ideally you would do this each time before putting the child in the seat)

8. Make sure the straps are tight and secure each time you buckle up your child

9. Children up to 80 pounds, 4’9″ and 8-10 years old need to be in some restraint system

Other resources:

http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/

http://www.aap.org/family/carseatguide.htm

http://car-seat.org/