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Are Organic Baby Toys Necessary?

"Despite claims made by organic toy manufacturers, the toys are not always nontoxic."

Many families are switching to organic food, in an attempt to avoid some of the potentially harmful pesticides and chemical dyes sometimes present in consumables. But what about other things your baby touches, and possibly puts in his mouth, on a daily basis -- his toys? Some parents are shelling out big money to create totally organic play environments for their babies, while others avoid the extra expense associated with these products.

Organic toys are typically made of wood or natural fabrics. If paints and dyes are used, they are supposed to be nontoxic. Many parents appreciate the classic look of these toys, which often bring about nostalgia due to similarities to toys popular during previous generations.  Despite claims made by organic toy manufacturers, the toys are not always nontoxic. A 2011 study found toxins in some organic toys. Still, the frequency at which toys tested positive for toxins was greater in traditional toys than organic toys. For example, the study indicated that 70 percent of toys made by Mattel tested positive, while 20 percent of toys made by organic toymaker Melissa and Doug tested positive.

The Verdict: Buy organic toys because you or your child are drawn to them, and you think they will stimulate young imaginations. Stocking up on piles of organic toys is a wallet-buster, and you have no guarantees that even organic toys will be completely free of toxins. Plus, most children will have access to non--organic toys at daycare, school, or playdates. Short of keeping the child in a bubble, there is no way to keep him completely unexposed to toxins, and the toy industry is heavily regulated to ensure no toy is a danger to children.  You should avoid toys more than 20 years old, however, because some hazardous materials may have been used in manufacturing them.