Non-Toxic toys your kids should not grow up without

Tue, Jun 27, 2017
Great Green Toys (© GreenHelps)
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With the toxic scare around plastic toys, many parents are turning to toys made with natural materials like cloth and wood. Nothing turns a party in to a flop more than the toxicity factor that may be lurking behind wrapped gifts. Because of millions of lead paint recalls from Diego to Elmo, parents are becoming sick to their stomachs and looking for alternatives to these cheaply made and produced and now toxic toys. Finding toys that are hand-crafted, sturdy and can be past on to future generations are becoming more and more appreciated and demanded today. “The customers who shop with me are picky about the items they buy and the items they want in their homes. My prices are fair but when some handcrafted or wooden items cost more than similar plastic toys, my customers value what they are getting and are willing to pay the difference,” says Sonya Bingaman, owner of the online natural toy boutique A Toy Garden. Many of the toys found on her site and others like hers find crafters from around the World that use recycled and organic materials like waste wood and organic wool. “I have spent nine years searching the World for crafters and companies that I want to work with. It is an ongoing process, like a perpetual scavenger hunt, but is also very rewarding. I love work-from-home crafters and small family businesses,” says Sonya. Sonya started her business by making her own Herbal Play Bean Bags, Apron and Tablecloth Sets, and Play Silks, which she still makes and sells today.

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Another online educational healthy toy retailer is Harrisville Designs, which sells supplies for the historic craft of looming and knitting. Knitting is a great learning tool for children in lots of ways, like developing familiarity with natural fibers, dexterity, math skills, design skills, spatial recognition, etc. Patricia Colony, owner of Harrisville Designs says, “We use wood instead of plastic. We use 100% Virgin Wool (which we spin in our mill) in our children's kits or in our potholder kits, we offer 100% Cotton Loops and we are the only ones to have 100% Wool Loops. Our products are made to last and therefore can be passed on to other children for a long time. Our yarns are all natural - no synthetics.” She also noted, “We have definitely been getting a much stronger reaction to our products this year and much of it seems to be from parents who are worried about all of the problems with toys coming from China .”
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The physical environment is so important to young children. Through the senses children take in all the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings of the world. This is why today’s toys (plastic), with all the blinking, talking, and overall chaos, are a bad idea. They take away from the otherwise beautiful natural environment, which is why toys that blend with our natural environment will help children develop physically, socially and spiritually, and allow them to use (and need) their imagination.

I have discovered a couple websites and unique natural toys that have been tested (by my kids) and approved (by me) for the eco-family, so without further ado, here are the top toys I recommend.

Natural School Bus
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Crafted from responsibly harvested unfinished hardwoods, this toy is as natural as it gets. The top is removable so your child can get to the 10 little wooden riders and play with them as well. Hours of fun, non-toxic and a great value! $40.00 maplelandmark.net

Nature Kaleidoscope Kit
This is a great kit to have around the house for when your child comes to you (and you know they will) and says, “Mom, I want to do a craft!” This kaleidoscope kit is full of beautiful objects found in nature (and you can add your own found nature treasures as well), with an easy to put together design, and the contents can be easily changed, so it is craft you can do over and over again! $12.95  atoygarden.com

PEGLoom
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This “Toy” is a great way to introduce your children to the art of weaving. Easy to use, made out of wood and comes with 100% wools, this is a great project for children to create gifts or just keepsakes and occupy and stimulate their wonderful minds. $19.95 harrisville.com
 
River Barge with String
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My kids have just adored this barge. Playing with it in the swim pool, by the river, in the bath, in the kitchen in my pots, dragging it along the floor, oh, the places this boat will see! This Barge is made from old Organically raised Walnut trees planted 150 years ago by homesteaders in Northern California and were only cut down when they had lived long full lives and no longer were producing fruit and needed to be cut. $17.50  atoygarden.com

Silks
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Every Child should have a set of silks (or every parent because it keeps the kids so busy), they are the most amazing universal “toy” that will keep your kids busy. Weather it is to use for playing dress up or to be the river running through their stacking blocks, these are a must have. Home dyed and hand-hemmed, these are a steal at $5.50 each  atoygarden.com 

Stacking (nesting) blocks
These colorful blocks provide hours of entertainment and many different uses. They could be houses, caves, tunnels, or just stackable blocks. My kids like to integrate these into a small town, using them as the little houses scattered around (these are great for the imagination!). Beautiful craftsmanship and dyed with non-toxic stain. $39.95  atoygarden.com

Tree Branch Blocks
And we thought blocks only came square, boy were we wrong. These are truly the center of our living room now. Great for stacking, creating, and bringing the nature indoors, my kids are head over heals with these blocks. Each set comes with various shapes and sizes as well as a few “Y” shaped pieces for ultimate stacking power. (Of course my kids somehow turned trees into a space ship!) CAD $39.95 anaturalpod.com

Wooden Cups & Plates - View Photo
Great for indoor or outdoor use, your kids will love to pretend play with these beautiful wooden cups and plates. Great for play kitchens or any pretend scenarios (Cup of Coffee sir…sure madam. Would you like a scone…why, of course, thanks!) Comes with two cups and plates, CAD $12.97 anaturalpod.com

Natural Cherry Rattle
For the baby in your family, this beautiful hand crafted unique rattle is made from sustainable cherry wood, and each one is different. It is finished with an all-natural Polish, is easy for little hands to grasp and sooths baby’s gums. This is a great alternative to the conventional “teething toys” which are usually made from plastic. $14.95 palumba.com

All-Natural Beeswax

If your going to invest in natural toys, it is good to have some quality beeswax on hand to keep them looking and working well. In addition to toys, this beeswax is great for conditioning wooden cutting blocks, concrete countertops and for keeping hands soft as well. palumba.com

Beautiful Hand-made wooden animal puzzles

These puzzles are not only beautiful but lots of fun. Fun for children of all ages, choose from mama and baby ($30) puzzles or individual small animals (only 3 pieces, great for two and under only $10). Hand-crafted by a husband and wife duo in Oregon ’s beautiful Willamette Valley . $10-$75 dragonwoodarts.com

100% Recycled Plastic Green Toys
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Beautiful good for the earth pretend play toys that your kids will absolutely love. Green Toys actually makes their toys for recycled milk jugs, they are completely safe and non-toxic, and they are made in the USA ! Choose from the Tea Set, Indoor Garden Set (which includes dirt pods and seeds), or the amazing Cookware and Dining set; all leaving your kids with hours of green fun! $24.99 - $34.99 greentoys.com

Wooden Memory Game
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This is what I like to call the indestructible wooden memory game! This game comes with 24 wooden picture tiles depicting 12 different types of the cutest zoo animals and this game is fun for adults and for kids alike! Find this and other amazing eco-friendly toys on hazelnutkids.com $21.90

Mini Bus
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This is the perfect little companion for your imaginative 2 and 3 year old. This mini beech wood bus comes with three wood passengers, giving your child a smooth ride to take them on. Like the picture shows, my child won’t go to bed without it! CAD $24.95 (Canadian Currency)  naturalpod.com
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