Going Back to Basics

The next time that you visit a Toy Store, look around and ask yourself "How many toys can I spot that are non-plastic and non-battery operated?". How many toys are made from non-toxic materials and finishes? Yes, in mainstream toy stores, this can prove to be quite a challenge. For an excellent overview of 2 chemicals linked to health problems: Toxic Flame Retardants (PBDE) and Phthalates, I refer you to "The Right Start, the Need to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals from Baby Products" which lists some products which the researchers have found to have these chemicals present and also list products which have undetectable levels of these chemicals (pg 27-29). I often think back to my childhood and fondly recall the hours playing in the grass, outdoors with nature, playing with simple everyday household items for hours and hours. These days, 2 year olds are playing with toy laptops and preschool aged kids are required to be sitting at desks for hours at a time. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend that aged 2 and younger watch ANY television. "For older children, they recommend no more that 1-2 hours per day of educational non violent programs". When your baby/toddler receives a fancy gift, what does he/she end up playing with? I would guess the wrapping paper and box, right? Babies/children are naturally drawn to simple objects. Please don't think that the more expensive the toy, the more high-tech the toy, the greater the value. Our child have in a sense "forgotten what it is like to play". I challenge you to seek out toys that are non-battery operated and that challenge a babies/toddler/child's creativity and imagination. There are many household objects that can double as fun, creative, developmentally stimulating toys for babies. Please be extra vigilant about safety, since they do not come with a label. We generally say that if an object can fit through a US sized toilet roll, then it is unsafe for child under the age of three. In addition, do not give baby anything with sharp edges and make sure it is very clean. Keep all plastic wrapping and bags away from baby to prevent suffication. In addition, avoid long strings, cords ribbons etc. Some examples of using everyday household items as toys can be found below. Introduce one item at a time and rotate the items over a period of time. Babies learn through repetition. Supervise at all times.

1. Give baby things to bang on for example a wooden spoon and pot (this can provide baby with hours of entertainment). Make sure that the type of wood you choose is safe for baby and that it has a non-toxic finish.

2. Let baby tear/crumple old magazines, phone books and wrapping paper

3. Give your baby safe things to drop or fling. Add noisy objects so that he can receive some auditory feedback.

What toys did you play with as a baby/child?


Anonymous said...

Wonderful, it is so true. I enjoyed shopping for wooden toys with you. Most toystores are so chemical nowadays.

emily said...

i just sent a link to your blog to my friend. i've been enjoying the company of her 4 month old son.

recently we've been waxing nostalgic about building blocks and home made play-dough (my mom's design.)

Success Through Play said...

Thanks for posting your comments. I really enjoy hearing from my readers. Play Dough is fantastic for developing little hands. Building blocks are equally wonderful - great natural choices!

Kate said...

Yes, I used to play with wooden spoons and pots. I loved to play outdoors, climb trees and play with leaves, branches and grass. "Natural Toys" I guess. I don't think that I had a single plastic they are everywhere.

David said...

I am really looking forward to information on safe and valuable toys for children. This information I will definitely be telling others about.
Rarely have I ever seen wooden toys at places like Toys-R-Us and that is really sad. Why would we want to buy this plastic junk from China anyways? It hardly ever lasts a few weeks in a kits hands and ends up in the trash or worse, in a million small and sharp pieces that little ones could choke on or be cut by. Very dangerous.
I am sure that suggestions of brands (perhaps where to find them like online store or directly from the manufacturer) will be helpful to us all too.

willwade said...

A banana is one of the most useful toys that I have come across - educational (color, food), edible (and of course super mushy), cheap, designed to be breakable (what toys can you think of that meet this criteria?!), non-toxic, no moveable parts(!) and of course no need to buy batteries!
The classic cardboard box is however my personal favourite and if you want to help the imagination you can now purchase cardboard castles, rockets, and play houses:

Success Through Play said...

Willwade, thank you for sharing your ideas. I will be featuring a few posts about using "food for play" in the future. I agree, cardboard is fantastic. Thank you for referencing the link.