In two weeks Little Man will be the big 0-1. With his birthday in close sight, I found myself thinking about the birthday toys he will soon receive and the army of toys he already has.
It is amazing how someone of such a tiny stature has amazed such a large repertoire of toys. The toys are mostly brightly coloured, made up of plastic or artificial materials with very few organic, natural fibres in sight.
Considering that the Dreamboat and I are determined to reduce the amount of chemicals that Little Man is exposed to day-to-day, it was a shock to see that we were so far behind in the toy department. While we were sure to have toys and teethers made of organic cloth or untreated wood before he was born, we started slipping once he arrived.
For one thing, anything organic is expensive, making non-organic toys seem all the more tempting. But there is also the simple fact that having a child means that sooner or later he or she will receive gifts from others. Those gifts may be organic, but then again they may be made of PVC plastic, light up and play insanely loud music. What do you do then?
What is the etiquette on telling family and friends about your concerns with toys that are not from organic, sustainable materials? How can you ask them to forgo the cute plastic toys in favour of the, generally more expensive, alternatives? And what about brand name toys? Is it offensive to tell someone that you want to keep anything related to film and television shows out of your home?
On the one hand, I want to avoid saying anything because I don’t want others to think that I am rude for dictating what they can purchase for Little Man. On the other hand, I want to be clear so that I can save them the trouble of getting Little Man a gift that the Dreamboat and I feel is not suitable for him. And on a final note, I want to save myself the trouble of having dangerous toys in my house.
So I find myself sitting here, deliberating over what to do about the gift debate. What would you do if you were in my shoes? If you have approached this topic with family and friends, what did you say? How did they react? Or did you decide that this issue was not worth the potential hurt feelings it may cause? I would love to hear any comments on the topic of gift giving.
If you would like more information on PVC, and other chemicals commonly used in children’s toys and school supplies, and their effects on the health of little ones, click on the links below:
Centre for Health, Environment and Justice (2012) Back-to-School Wallet Guide to PVC-free School Supplies. [online] Available at: http://www.healthyenvironmentforkids.ca/…[Accessed: 10 Mar, 2012].
Mascarelli, A. (2010) Before you buy that train set, do your homework. LA Times, [online] 22 November. Available at: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/nov/22/health/la-he-safe-toys-20101122 [Accessed: 14 March, 2012].
Safe Alternatives for Baby and Child (2008) How Dangerous is PVC in Toys?. [online] Available at: http://www.safbaby.com/how-dangerous-is-pvc-in-toys-weve-got-the-answers-from-the-expert [Accessed: 10 March, 2012].
For brand specific information, see also:
Healthy Stuff (2008) One in Three Children’s Toys Tested by HealthyToys.org Found to have Significant Levels of Toxic Chemicals Including Lead, Flame Retardants, and Arsenic. [online] Available at: http://www.healthystuff.org...[Accessed: 12 March, 2012].
Safe Alternatives for Baby and Child (2009) Lead-Free, PVC-free and Fire Retardant-Free Toy Manufacturers. [online] Available at: http://www.safbaby.com/lead-free-pvc-free-and-fire-retardant-free-toy-manufacturers [Accessed: 12 March, 2012].