Hi there, if you have been following me for a while you would know that I had a beautiful baby girl named Octavia back in April 2015. She is now 2 years old and we have already accumulated a lot of toys. I shutter to think about the arrival of more toys when we celebrate her 2nd birthday in a couple of days.
Before I even had Octavia I was researching the best non-toxic, eco-friendly toys that I could buy. I know most people think I’m a little obsessed with buying everything non-toxic things for my daughter, but I think it’s really important. I rather buy products that are safe, sustainable and can be passed on. I also like to consider that the less plastic in her playroom and bedroom, the better the air quality and the less likely that she will inject toxic substances. Does this mean she doesn’t own any plastic toys? No, she has a few but I try to keep it to a minimal.
People also think that’s it’s not affordable, which I understand. However, I rather take a more minimalist approach and purchase a few higher quality items. We are also a one income family, but we make it work. I love using gift registry for birthdays so that our friends and family can put money towards things she may need. I also ask family members to put money towards more expensive purchases, so it’s not such a burden on one person or family. Most of these toys were purchased through Biome’s gift registry for our baby shower. Also, I’m always on the look out for sales. I subscribe to many online stores so I know when their sales are, I try to use gift cards for big department stores and take advantage of credit card cash back promotions.
Below you will see my picks of toys we bought or would also have liked to of bought instead. The categories include:
- Activity Gym
- Play Mat
- Teether toys
- Soft/Plush Toys
- Other toys for under 12 months
Just keep in mind that this info is based on my own personal research, my budget, and availability in Australia. I have also included some links and information on where to find Eco Toys, Safety Standards and Certifications and recommended brands.
Tips on buying Eco Toys:
- Ask for more information about the products
- If retailers can’t help you then email the company who makes the product
- If they don’t want to answer your question correctly, then they may be trying to hide something
- Shop around
- Sign up to a few websites to receive notification of sales
- Ask friends and family for donation to your baby fund
- Use gift cards for bigger retailers that you received as a gift or bought discounted
- Make use of Credit card promotions e.i. Amex Shop Small cash back
- Be aware of Green Washing
- Just because its ‘eco-friendly’ doesn’t me it’s non-toxic and safe for your baby to put in their mouth
- Window shop in your local eco store, baby boutique store or online stores
- Look for products that you like
- Educate yourself on eco options available in the product ranges
- Educate yourself on the dangers of harmful substances in kids toys
- You can then make an informed decision on what you will and won’t accept
- Organise you gift registry with an eco or baby boutique store
- yes it may be more expensive than finding the best price online but you can splurge a bit when it’s being gifted and you are also supported these smaller retailers
- try to return unwanted gifts at big department stores and swap for eco alternatives
If you are interested in non-toxic products for babies and children but are very new to this topic I recommend you read this article, The Complete Guide to Non-Toxic Baby Products, by TotScoop. It is a more in depth discussion on why non-toxic is best for babies, chemicals of concern and some recommend safer products. It is an American perspective so you may not be able to find all these products in Australia. Another great article is Chemicals in Common Products: Risky Business for Children’s Health, by the Greenguard Environmental Institute.
If you have any feedback on toys your kids enjoyed let me know, in case there’s a baby no. two. Also just remember kids make their own fun. As I am writing this my daughter is sitting beside me taking my pencils in and out of my pencil case. As long as she’s safe and happy, I am happy.
We decided to go with the Skip Hop Treetop Friends Activity Gym. Octavia really enjoyed this for a long time and was probably the only thing she really played with every day. It pushed her practice reaching and grasping and was great for tummy time. It can be easily washed and packed away for baby no. 2 or gifted to a friend. This is probably the only toy I think is a must for little babies. I bought mine from David Jones online, but many other retailers sell them and there are a few different styles available now.
We have hardwood floors so I wanted to get a soft playmat for Octavia to do tummy time on.We bought the Deuz Organic Cotton Baby Play Mat from Sustainababy. This version is no longer available, but you can find their new version from a few Australian retailers. I use to put the activity gym on top of the play mat so that she wasn’t on such a hard surface. I would also take it with me to my pilates classes and to the park, as it’s easy to wash. I am very happy with this play mat and we are still using it.
Teethers are also a must for babies and since it spends so much time in their little mouths you want to get the best quality. They are also inexpensive and you only really need one. I didn’t realise this at the time of our baby shower so I ended up with a few. I received the original Sophie and the Sophie Teething Ring, My Natural Elephant ring and Dog Dingaring through our gift registry. She only really liked to chew on the soft Sophie and hold the dog Dingaring. All babies have different preferences and some like to suck or chew teethers more than others.
We received the Dandelion Bunny Comforter through our gift registry. Octavia never really took to it. But I have seen other babies that are really attached to them.
We received the rainbow Dingle Ball through our gift registry with Biome. Octavia did like looking at this colourful ball when she was really tiny. I later bought her the Caaocho and Oball. I bought them from the Sleepstore. They were costly, but now you can purchase them cheap from Australian retailers. I’ve seen the Oball at Kids Stuff and BigW. We still play with them now, but I probably didn’t need both.
In Octavia’s short lifespan we have received so many soft toys. Out of this list, we received the Barefoot Artisans Thorny Devil Lizard, which she loved when she was tiny. She also received a Maud n Lil Bunny, which she appreciated more when she was older. Both were purchased through our gift registry with Biome. There are plenty of lovely soft toys with non-toxic fill that are great to give or receive for baby showers.
We never bought a rattle for Octavia, since she had the Dingaring, but if we did I would loved one of these.
Other toys for under 12 months
I couldn’t find many brands that sell toys recommend for under 12 months. However, Green Toys and B Toys have a few great toys for this age bracket. Similar toys in other brands are recommended for older babies. If you prefer another brand maybe contact them directly or use your own judgment and supervision. We bought Octavia the Green Toys Elephant on Wheels and the B. Toys Hugs Links. She really enjoyed the Hug Links as she likes sorting things. Unfortunately, her elephant hasn’t seen much play yet. I purchased them of David Jones and Fishpond.
We bought the Plan Toys Sea Life Bath Set for Octavia. She has lots of fun with them in the bath and they still in good condition. She now prefers to play with her beach set.
3. Boon Odd Duck (don’t absorb water)
Where to find Eco Toys?
Online Store: Biome, Hello Charlie, Sustainababy, Eco Child, Eco Toys, Little Earth Nest, Itty Bitty Greenie, UrbanBaby, Milk Tooth, Minimee, Amazon, Etsy, Peter of Kensington, Zanui, The Sleepstore; Fishpond, The Nile, Honeybee
Safety Standards and Certifications
ASTM certificate had developed consistent standards for children’s products, based on current research. There are currently 17 standards, which cover a variety of products. This certification includes and often expand upon existing mandatory government. However, this standard only requires children’s products to be phthalate-free and contain none to very low levels of lead. Therefore not all toxic substances are addressed under the ASTM F963 law. According to SafBaby are a few companies that go beyond this standard, making sure their baby products that are PVC-Free, Phthalate-Free, Lead-Free and Fire Retardant-Free. These include Green Toys, Lego, Plan Toys, Sevi 1831, Spielstabil, Tiny Love, Olli Olbot, Wonderworld, Wow, Trudi Toys and Edushape.
CPSIA is a U.S.consumer product safety law, which provides regulatory and enforcement tools to amend and enhance several CPSC statutes, including the Consumer Product Safety Act. Its provisions address the presence of lead and phthalates, toy safety, durable infant or toddler products, third-party testing and certification.
EN71 is a European Product Safety standard, which applies to all toys sold in the European Union, so that they meet certain minimum safety standards. These include Mechanical, Noise, Flame retardant, Chemical composition, Electrical, Safety, Sanitation, Radiation.
GOTS or “The Global Organic Textile Standard, is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain…The standard covers the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling, trading and distribution of all textiles made from at least 70% certified organic natural fibres. The final products may include, but are not limited to fibre products, yarns, fabrics, clothes and home textiles. The standard does not set criteria for leather products.” (Global Standard 2016)
“The STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® is a worldwide consistent, independent testing and certification system for raw, semi-finished, and finished textile products at all processing levels, as well as accessory materials used…[I]t tests for harmful substances are fundamentally based on the respective purpose of the textiles and materials. The more intensive the skin contact of a product and the more sensitive the skin, the stricter the human-ecological requirements that need to be complied with.
Here’s a bit of info about the brands that I have recommended. The information below was provided by the brands themselves or retailers selling these items. I encourage you to do your own research before purchasing. Always check that the product you are interested, in case it is made with different materials than listed below and confirm safety standards.
Apple Park is an American company that is makes organic, sustainable and recycled materials, that are Polyester free. All of their organic materials comply with international organic standards: GOTS – Global Organic Textile Standard or OE 100 – Organic Exchange Standard. They comply ASTM F963-08 – American Society for Testing and Materials for Toy Safety and ICTI Certified Factory Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act & International Council of Toy Industries. Their products are AZO dye free, free of mutagenic and carcinogenic dyes; Certified non-toxic and non-phthalate. Their products also do not contain harmful chemical dyes, synthetic pesticides, PVC or Polyester fillings. Their packaging is also printed on recycled paper with soy ink.
Their Blankie in a box is made of 100% organic cotton body, silk nose and naturally hypoallergenic corn fibre filling.
B.Toys is an American based toy company. All their toys go through stringent testing procedures that meet or exceed all U.S., Canadian and the even more stringent European safety standards, all regulations regarding age guidelines, all Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) directives and guidelines. Their packaging is recyclable. All toys are BPA-free, lead-free and phthalate-free.
Barefoot Artisans Toys (Between the Threads)
Barefoot Artisans Toys are made in Sri Lanka by dedicated weavers and needlewomen who, without time constraints of mass production. Barefoot Sri Lanka opposes exploitive practices. Each Artisan earns a real wage enabling them to support their families with self-respect and dignity. Barefoot toys are now filled with polyfil due to import restrictions on kapok. Each are 100% hand woven fabric and 100% natural fibres and Swiss dyes used are non-toxic and colourfast.
Boon is an American based company. All their products to meet or exceed all applicable U.S. government and state safety regulations, as well as applicable U.S. “voluntary” standards and international safety regulations and standards. These safety regulations in the U.S. include the Consumer Products Safety Act and the Federal Hazardous Substances Act which specify safety requirements for consumer products, especially those used by children. Also included is the new Federal law known as the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Other industry standards include the ASTM toy safety standard F963 Other ASTM standards apply in the U.S. to certain products (such as ASTM F404 for high chairs), and a number of international standards apply to our product in Canada, Europe and other regions.Included in these standards are requirements and restrictions such as those for lead and other heavy metals in surface decorations and materials, the use of plastics that do not contain certain phthalates, and requirements for product design and construction to prevent safety hazards during use of the products. Many of their products are BPA, PVC and Phthalate Free.
Caaocho is based in the USA and Canada. Their products are made of 100% pure natural rubber and use food grade paint. They are certified non-toxic: and are free of BPA, PVC, Phthalate and Nitrosamine.
Re-play is an American owned and operated company. All their products are manufactured, assembled, and tested in the USA. Re-Play products are free from BPA, BPS, PVC, lead, phthalates and melamine. The source plastic is specially selected and cleaned to meet FDA & EU strict purity standards. Their toys and rattles are dyed with low-impact, fibre-reactive dyes which require less water, less electricity and fewer chemicals to manufacture, having a lower impact on the environment. These fibre-reactive dyes actually form a bond with the fibres of the textile resulting in a long-lasting, colourfast dye which won’t bleed into the wash water. All Dandelion products comply with US toy safety standard ASTM F963 and European toy standard EN71.
Their Dandelion organic squeaker is made with organic cotton fibers and lightly stuffed with fluffy corn fiber filling. Their Dandelion Bunny Comforter Teething Blanket is made of 80% organic cotton, backed with a small amount of non-organic polyester to provide structure and durability. The bunny’s head is filled with natural corn fibre filling which is non-toxic and retains its shape when washed. The sound makers inside is safely tucked inside an extra inner cloth pouch which is then sewn into one of the seams.
DEUZ is a brand who’s bright and lively creations are the lovechild of two French sisters. Their Organic Cotton Playmat and Cozy Mattress are manufactured in India by workshops of solidarity trade. Playmat is made of 100% organic cotton poplin and Cozy Mattress is made of 100% organic cotton canvas. Both have been manufactured with non-toxic inks, have a polyester interior and are Certified GOTS and CE tested.
EverEarth is a UK based company. Their toys are made from sustainable, FSC® (C106741) -certified wood. Their products are made of sustainable FSC beech wood and finished with non-toxic water-based paints and stains. Earth uses environmentally friendly soy bean ink on product packaging and assembly instruction and 70% of all packaging for toys is recycled paperboard. The company also complies with ISO 14001 Environmental Management and adheres to the highest socially responsible practices for its workers.
The Grasping Toy Rattle additionally has a nickel free bell, baby safe mirror and saliva resistant.
Green Toys is an American based toy company. All toys are made in the USA, with 100% recycled plastic. They are free of BPA, phthalates and PVC and mMeets FDA food contact standards. Packaged can be recycled and is made of recyclable materials and printed with soy inks.
Hevea Planet is a Danish based company. Their pacifiers, teethers and bath toys are made of 100% natural rubber; free from phthalates, colours, PVC & EVAtane, silicone & BPA. Their accessories are made from pure organic cotton, which meets the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS). All their products comply with the EU safety standard EN71, US ASTM, AS/NZ ISO and Canada Consumer Product Safety.
Hess Spielzeug is a German owned and operated company. They fully comply with European and Australian Safety Standards for Toys. Their wooden products are made of beech and maple wood from renewable resources. All paints and stains are water-based and 100% non-toxic and saliva-resistant. All other materials used such as strings, elastics and glues are also non-toxic and child-safe. Any metal parts such as clips and bells are nickel free.
Sophie the Giraffe is made by the French brand Les Folies (Vulli). Sophie is made from 100% natural rubber derived from the sap of the Hevea tree and is painted with non-toxic, food-grade paints. She is free from phthalates, vinyl and PVC. Sophie and other Vulli products meet Australian and International Standards and testing and certification process ensures ongoing compliance.
Lifefactory was founded in Sausalito, CA by a pediatric feeding specialist and an integrative designer, committed to creating a safer drinking solution for babies. Their products are free of free of BPA, phthalate, PVC, and latex. The silicone used in their products made in the USA and are medical grade.
Maud N Lil Organic Cotton is an Australian based design company which specialising in luxury certified organic cotton baby products. They are certified by GOTS , ICTI, Intertek or equivalent inspecting body. Their factories pay their staff fairly, provide healthy & safe conditions for workers and pay proper overtime. All Maud N Lil products are manufactured using European Oeketex Accredited weaving, knitting, dyeing & finishing processors to minimise environmental impact. Our natural filling fibre is derived from NON GMO sweet corn, is machine washable at 40º and eventually biodegrades after the life of the product. It is also backed by Oekotex. All Maud N Lil products have passed full CE testing and accreditation so meet both the AS8124 parts 1,2 &3 and the EN71 full standard.
Based in Brooklyn New York and under Greenpoint Brands. Their products use no harmful chemicals or substances and they use low-eco impact dye process for soft goods, which generates much less waste and contamination. All of their products are designed and tested by third party laboratories according to acts enforced by Consumer Products Safety Commission and American Society for Testing and Materials(ASTM).
The Eco Teether is 100% baby-safe and features a plant-based bio-resin material that is better for baby and the environment. Made safely and free from BPA, Phthalates, PVC and latex. The Sleepytime Lovie Blanket is hypoallergenic, made of organic cotton velour and made with low-impact eco dyes.
Nature Baby is a New Zealand based company. Their organic cotton products are GOTS certified. Their Playmat outer is made of 100% organic cotton sweatshirt knit and filling made of organic cotton wadding.
Natures Purest is based in South Leicestershire, United Kingdom. Their manufacturing is based in Sri Lanka, on an eco-friendly island. Their products now carry both the Oeko-Tex 100 and Garments Without Guilt certification and organic products are certified GOTS.
The Pure Love Comforter Bunny is made of organically grown cotton velour and is naturally coloured (no dyes).
Natursutten is a is a Danish based company. All Natursutten pacifiers are EN 1400-certified, continuously tested by ForbrugerLaboratoriet, the independent, distinguished laboratory in Denmark. They have also been tested in the U.S. and comply with all standards established by the CPSIA. In Australia where they comply with Australian and New Zealand standards, and towards strict Japanese standards too. Their pacifiers and teether is made of 100% natural rubber teether; free of BPA, phthalate, PVC, lead, nitrosamine, chemical softeners, parabens, and other harmful chemicals.
Nook Sleep is based in California, in the USA. Their products comply with all Federal/State and CPSC testing requirements. The Nook Lilypad Playmat cover material is made of Eucalyptus and Organic Cotton. Core Materials is made of Good PETE, which is non-toxic and recycled. OEKO-Tex certified Polyester/Organic Cotton blended thread.
Kids II is an American based company. Their Oball Classic Rattle/Ball is free of BPA phthalate, PVC and Latex. It is made in China.
Their products are designed in Byron Bay and made responsibly in Indonesia, with no plastic packaging. The Dingaring has a plush super soft body, beechwood timber teething ring and Recycled stock swing tag and backer card. All their products are independently safety tested for children and meet EN71 and CPSIA toy safety standards and labeling.
Plan Toys is an American company. Their products are made from natural rubberwood trees that no longer produce latex. To keep the wood pure, no fertilizer is added to the soil three years prior to cut the trees down. They use Chemical-Free Kiln-Dried to strengthen the wood and PlanWood. They products do not contain Formaldehyde Glue. They use organic color pigment; water-based dyes; soy ink and recycled paper. Their products exceed international safety standards including both ASTM (USA) and EN71 (Europe).
SkipHop Activity Gyms are BPA-free, PVC-free, Phthalate-free. Their toys are safety tested to meet or exceed ASTM, CPSIA, EN71 and other applicable safety standards.
This small retailer makes custom wooden pieces, which are made of raw wood that is sanded and painted with non-toxic paint.
Under the Nile is an American company. All of their products are certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). They are made with 100% Egyptian organic cotton, made at fair trade farm in Egypt; Free of Azo colorants, BPA, flame retardants, formaldehyde, fragrance, PVC or lead.