Make bath time fun & non-toxic

Green Living expert Aida Garcia Toledo shares her for making bath time fun and safe.

Photo by Syrie Wongkaew

Unbeknownst to many parents, those squeaky bath toys that we all grew up with and that are still widely available can actually be some of the most toxic items in our home. The good news is that, if you know what to look for and what to avoid, there are many fun and non-toxic alternatives.

What to avoid

There are three main chemicals that are still quite common in bath toys and that you will want to avoid; PVC, phthalates and BPA.

Additionally, consider avoiding toys that have crevices and openings where moisture can get trapped and lead to mold and bacteria growth, because if it has a place for mold to grow I assure you it will grow – and you definitely don’t want you little one chewing on a moldy toy.

  • Polyvinyl chloride, (PVC)

How to identify it: PVC or vinyl,  is commonly found in soft plastic toys, with a recycling number 3 .

Why it is bad: It is a known human carcinogen that can also expose you to lead, a known neurotoxin, and endocrine disrupting chemicals.  It is not only bad for humans, but also really bad for the planet since PVC production releases a host of toxic chemicals into the environment.  PVC should be avoided for young children because children’s brains and bodies are still developing and their metabolism and behaviors (ie: putting things in mouth) make them especially vulnerable.

How to avoid it: PVC is still quite common in less expensive plastic bath toys. The best way to avoid this chemical it to search for toys that specify they are PVC free, or opt for toys that are not made of plastic.

  • Phthalates

How to identify it: Phthalates, in bath toys today, are used to soften the plastic and make it ‘squishy’ – they are often found in PVC/vinyl toys.

Why it is bad: Phthalates are endocrine disruptors (they mimic your hormones) that have been linked to early puberty in girls, premature delivery, impaired sperm quality and sperm damage in men, genital defects and reduced testosterone production in boys, as well as obesity. Phthalates are not chemically bound to the plastic and can easily escape from the product and into your little one’s body.

How to avoid it:  Look for toys labelled ‘phthalate free’ and “PVC free”.  Opt for bath toys that are not made of soft plastic

  • BPA

How to identify it: Plastics that contain #7 in the recycling code can contain BPA. Plastics containing BPA are usually hard and clear.

Why it is bad: BPA is another endocrine disrupting chemical that has been linked to hormone disruption, developmental problems in children and obesity. It is  readily absorbed by the body.

How to avoid it: Look for toys labeled “BPA-free,”  or go with natural materials.

Remember, a healthy bath-time does not stop with bath toys. Make sure your bathtubs and other bath accessories are also free of these three chemicals and make sure your bath soap and shampoos are non-toxic too!

What to look for:

  1. Toys that specify they are PVC, Phthalate and BPA free
  2. Toys made of 100% natural rubber
  3. Toys made of high grade silicone are a safe option too.
  4. Toys without holes or crevices where mold and bacteria can grow

Our safer bath time picks: