baby gear - toys

Natural toys:

Dangerous toy recalls have predominated the news lately, although we have all known for a long time that mass produced cheap plastic toys can't be good for our children or the environment.

Toys made from natural materials are usually less toxic and therefore safer for babies.

Fabric, wool, metal and wooden toys are often handcrafted and are generated with less impact on the environment than their mass produced plastic counterparts.

You'll find wooden toys in most good toy stores. However it must be pointed out that not all wooden toys are created equal! Many are made in China with dubious glues and paints and finishes. Just taking off the packaging can release nasty fumes!

When selecting wooden toys it is worth asking whether:

  • the wood is from a renewable resource
  • if non-toxic and organic finishes have been used, and
  • whether the toy has been made locally
  • check the safety standard

Toy Recalls:

To keep abreast of recalls, in the United States, visit:

In NZ, visit the Consumers Association web site (you can subscribe to RSS feed).

Safety standards:

In the United States, visit the US Consumer Product Safety Commission web site.

The NZ Product Safety Standards (Children's Toys) Regulations 2005 are designed to prevent or reduce the risk of injury when goods are used properly. They do not require an independent test. The law simply expects all toys supplied in New Zealand meet ‘the standard’. Those that do not are prosecuted.

The CE mark is a mark that is required by the European standards (which are generally higher than NZ standards). In Europe and the UK this mark is required to be on every toy. To be able to put this mark on the toy it needs to have gone through an independent testing organization. The testing organisation will test all aspects including the safety, materials, and packaging of the toy according to the European Norm EN71.

You will also find toys with the German “GS” label (geprüfte Sicherheit/ tested for safety). These have been tested by TUV, the independent German testing authority.

Plastic toys:

They are everywhere! in doctor's waiting rooms, playcentres and people’s homes all over the country, so they are difficult to avoid.

If you do have plastic toys at home, stick to hardened plastic only and avoid PVC (softened plastic). Watch out especially for bath toys - those cute (?) plastic duckies (made in China!) and teething rings.

Read about the many reasons for avoiding Polyvinyl chloride (PVC).


1. Stewart, Robin. Chemical Free Home. 1998. Black Inc. Melbourne, Australia.


Make your own natural toys

knitted animals

(prices may vary)

from FishPond NZ

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