See this little elfling?
I'm still trying to keep toxic chemicals out of his system. As I might have mentioned, as Nate gets older, it gets more challenging to ensure that he only plays with safe, non-toxic toys. He has play dates, he goes to school, he receives gifts and I can't always be the Fun Police (rats!). The one thing I can do is ensure that our money is spent supporting businesses that produce high quality, non-toxic toys.
As committed as I am, it is also hard to spend the time researching every single toy, like I used to do. The info isn't always out there and I don't always have the time. So, I try to stay away from plastic (unless it is ABS plastic) and pick toys made from hard wood and water based paints or non-recycled paper.
1. These adorable lacing games from Land of Nod help develop fine motor skills and come in lots of different critter shapes. They're made in Poland from apple wood, cherry wood, alder, maple, beech, birch or walnut and "child safe" non-toxic lacquers. While lots of companies claim their paints and lacquers are "non-toxic," I've learned that you can't accept that at face value. I've given up trying to find more info on this particular item and think I'm just going to cross my fingers on this one. How great would this be to occupy a toddler in the car? I'll just tell him to refrain from licking it.
2. When it comes to books, I feel they are usually a safe choice, as long as they are not made from recycled paper or contain foam or plastic bits. While recycled paper may be "eco-friendly," it often contains BPA, an endocrine disruptor. "Both the National Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health and FDA have some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children."
One of Nate's favorite little books is this one from Richard Scarry. He's kind of obsessed with it.
3. Nate is a big play dough fan. He's enjoyed my home made variety, but he's also enjoyed the sweet smelling 'doh of my childhood in our mommy and me class. I like the vibrant colors in this all natural modeling dough collection from Clementine Arts and have had great luck with their products in the past.
4. Nate loves flash cards. I buy cheap sets wherever I find them and we now know way more about dinosaurs and the eating patterns of North American mammals than I would have ever imagined. I found these sweet English/Spanish animals cards at a nearby children's consignment shop over the weekend. I love that there is a ring holding these cards together, which should slow down Nate's daily path of living room destruction (his alter ego is DESTRUCTO). And since he's always asking me for Spanish translations of words (he has a bilingual friend), I know he'll enjoy these.
5. Nate received some matching games from Lakeshore Learning for his birthday and absolutely loves them. I think he might be ready for one of my all time favorite childhood games, Memory. This cute wooden set from Plan Toys (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Plan Toys) might take up a lot of room in the stocking, but I think it will be worth it.
What stocking stuffers do your recommend? My favorite non-toxic stocking stuffer of all time was bestowed upon my little sister a few years back. But I guess I'll keep that tip to myself.