It’s Holiday Season and with that comes the deluge of toy advertising – but do you know how safe those toys really are? With the recent studies on the effects of the numerous hormone disrupting chemicals found particularly in plastics, and the continuing recalls due to lead and other heavy metals found in toys we need to be selective in the products we choose to bring into our homes.
We’ve compiled a Holiday Toy List of our favorite toys in each age range that we’ve personally used. Not only were these toys are total hit in our house, but they are all BPA, Phthalate, Lead and other chemicals of concern free! Wishing all families a happy AND healthy holiday season!
Gift Suggestions For Ages 0-12mo
Dandelion Activity Ball & Dandelion Busy Block
The Dandelion Activity Ball and the Dandelion Busy Block are both products which provide sensory experiences for curious babies. These products are made with organic cotton fibers and are filled with corn fibers. Check out the Dandelion Products on Amazon.com!
Finn + Emma Organic Play Gym
Finn + Emma offer a great overhead play gym that is made of 100% birch wood and finished with a non-toxic clear laquer (free of lead, nickel, phthalate, mercury, formaldehyde and VOC’s). Check out the Finn + Emma Play Gym on Amazon.com!
Green Toys My First Stacker
For a Made in the USA stacking toy that is BPA, PVC and Phthalate free, check out the Green Toys Stacker! These stacking cups are colorful and were also used a number of times as a teether by our little guy! They were also used in the bath – such a great, versatile toy! We love the Green Toys line and supporting business that make their products in the USA. Check Out Green Toys My First Stacker On Amazon.com!
Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teether
Vulli’s Sophie the Giraffe teether was a favorite in our house. This teether is made in France and is phthalate and BPA free. It is made of 100% natural rubber and food paint. Check out the Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teether on Amazon.com!
Gift Suggestions For Ages 1-2
Green Toys Dump Truck
As with all Green Toys products, the Dump Truck is made in the USA of 100% recycled plastic milk containers and is BPA and Phthalate free. The truck has a large, workable dumper which is the perfect size for sandbox play. These toys are very rugged and extremely easy to clean as they have no metal axes to rust. Check out the Green Toys Dump Truck on Amazon.com!
Plan Toys Punch And Drop
We received the Plan Toys Punch and Drop when our son was 7 months old along and initially the balls were simply rolled around the floor. Later, the toy was used as intended with the hammer aiming the balls into the slots – it’s a great choice for age 1 and over. This toy was always a hit with friends who all seemed to love the different colored balls! Check out Plan Toys Punch and Drop on Amazon.com!
Plan Toys Shape And Sort It Out
The Plan Toys Shape and Sort It Out toy was a 1st birthday gift and was a hit for almost an entire year. The shapes were often played with outside of the sorter and like all Plan Toys, it is made in Thailand from organic rubberwood. We highly recommend this toy! Check out Plan Toys Shape and Sort It Out on Amazon.com!
Green Toys Chef Set
Our little guy needed some cookware to be able to cook his fruits and vegetables so when we saw that one of our favorite toy lines had cookware, we purchased the Green Toys Chef Set. Our son starting playing with this as he was closer to 2 mainly due to the fact that we didn’t introduce the smaller wooden food until that time. The set has been fantastic but something to be aware of is that the frying pan is very small. It works well for our smaller wooden food but if you do decide to buy plastic food which is larger, it likely won’t fit in the Green Toys frying pan. Check out the Green Toys Chef Set on Amazon.com!
The Bullyland line of animal toys are very realistic and are hand made in Germany from PVC free plastic (unlike Schleich that now makes a good number of their figurines in China). We gave our son his first animal figurine just after he turned 1 and it was the Bullyland Lion – this Lion is still played with now at 4! Check Out The Bullyland Lion on Amazon.com!
Gift Suggestions For Ages 2-3
Bruder ROADMAX Excavator
Bruder toys are made in Germany and they carry a ROADMAX line of toys that are made for younger children (age 2+). Per the Bruder website, they use only plastics of the highest quality – some of which are also used in the car industry. They collect the scrap plastics, recycle them and re-introduce them to the material flow in an effort to save resources and protect the environment. Bruder trucks are made of high-impact ABS plastic – ABS is a stable resin that doesn’t leach toxic chemicals into food, water or toddler mouths for that matter! The Bruder ROADMAX Excavator in particular was a favorite starting at age 2 and we gave this as a present at many 2 year birthday parties! Check out the Bruder ROADMAX Excavator on Amazon.com!
Science & Building Toys:
Plan Toys Geometric Sorting Board
The Plan Toys Geometric Sorting Board is a great shape puzzle. Since the board has wooden pegs on which to place the shape pieces, I kept a close eye on our little guy during play with this board while he was 2 so that the empty peg board did not end up near his face! Check out the Plan Toys Geometric Sorting Board on Amazon.com!
Janod Construction Blocks
Our son began playing with Janod Construction Blocks at 18 months, however, a few of the blocks are quite small so that required very close supervision! I think 2 years old is the ideal time to introduce them. The blocks are designed in France but are made in China using water based paints. Check out Janod Construction Blocks on Amazon.com!
Green Toys Tool Set
The Green Toys Toolset is recommended for ages 2+ although we did buy this for our little guy when he was 1 1/2. We just removed the smaller nut, nail and bolt pieces and gave him the larger tools and box to play with. It is a great first sturdy toolset and comes with a tool box, saw, wrench, pliers, hammer, phillips screwdriver, flat screwdriver, 2 two-hole connectors, 2 bolts, 2 nails and 2 nuts. Once he was about 2 1/2, he was playing with the entire set and it was always a hit during playdates! Check out the Green Toys Tool Set on Amazon.com!
Melissa & Doug Felt Food Pizza
The Melissa & Doug Felt Pizza Set comes with a huge variety of toppings and 4 pizza ‘slices’ for endless pizza combinations! The set also contains a pizza pan and box which is super cute and makes for more realistic play. We have had so many fun hours of play with this set! Check out the Melissa & Doug Felt Pizza Set on Amazon.com!
Natural Modeling Dough and Finger Paint
Most toddlers LOVE art and if your little one is showing an interest, there are all-natural options available for your supplies. Eco-kids make a modeling dough that is made in the USA using natural ingredients and plant dyes. They also have finger paints, glue and crayons among other fun art supplies! Check Out Eco Kids Art Supplies on Amazon.com!
Gift Suggestions For Ages 3-4
Bruder CATERPILLAR Tractor/Bulldozer
Bruder toys are made in Germany and their line of trucks are very sturdy – they are going strong after countless hours of play in our house! The Bruder CATERPILLAR Tractor (or bulldozer) is very realistic and its tracks work well/run very smoothly. It has a front blade that moves side to side and raises up and down and is a great size to push blocks and other smaller toys! Check out the Bruder CATERPILLAR Tractor on Amazon.com!
Science & Building Toys:
Tegu blocks are made of sustainable sourced Honduran hardwoods and a water-based lacquer finish. Magnets are safely embedded into each piece which makes for unique and creative block play! Tegu has built their own manufacturing plant in Honduras and give back to the community with reforestation and social outreach initiatives. When you make a purchase from Tegu you are contacted via email and given the opportunity to direct a portion of the proceeds to two Tegu initiatives: reforestation and education for the impoverished. It’s your choice – Tegu will either plant 12 trees in Honduras or fund one day of school for a child who would otherwise work on a trash dump near Tegucigalpa. Check out Tegu on Amazon.com!
For the 3 and up crowd, Magna-Tiles are a great, creative toy! The different shaped pieces each have magnets built in to attract on their edges so the construction possibilities are endless! They are manufactured in China but are free of toxic chemicals. Per the Magna-Tiles website, they do not contain any BPA, phthalates, PVC, latex or toxic materials. Magna-Tiles Solid Colors use HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene) plastic and Magna-Tiles Clear Colors use ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) as outlined above.
We chose the clear color 100 piece set and they are a hit! Based on the size of the set we purchased, I wouldn’t suggest going with the smallest set (32 piece) as I don’t think it will allow for as much creativity. The sets are pricey but I do think that the mid-sized sets of 60 pieces or the large set are they way to go to get the most out of the toy! Check Out Magna-Tiles on Amazon.com!
Hape Marble Run
Our marble run has been so much fun to play with! Constructing different maze configurations for the marbles and troubleshooting issues when the marbles do not follow the track as expected keep our son totally engaged with this toy! There are a number of different marble runs on the market to choose from. The Hape Marble Runs are made of birch and rubber wood and use non-toxic finishes. They are very sturdy and come in a variety of set options – the Quadrilla Vertigo is one of their larger sets which includes 98 building pieces. Check out the Hape Quadrilla Vertigo Marble Run on Amazon.com!
Nova Natural Microscope
For the budding scientist, Nova Natural offers a wooden microscope made in Germany. As a first microscope, this is a great choice as kids can manipulate it by themselves and don’t need to squint to see clearly!
Green Toys Sandwich Shop
I think this is one of the best toys I have ever bought for under $15! This set contain 15 pieces including 2 bread and 2 bun pieces to make a variety of sandwich combinations! The sandwich order pad is adorable and of course, we love the Green Toys line as they are made in the USA of 100% recycled milk jugs. Our son LOVES taking orders and making new creations! Check out the Green Toys Sandwich Shop on Amazon.com!
Gift Suggestions For Ages 4-5
Puzzles continue to be a hit and we love the Ravensburger line of puzzles. They are made in Germany (since 1891) and the picture quality is brilliant. I initially went with a 60 piece puzzle but found that the 100 piece one was a better choice for this age. This is another one of our go-to birthday gifts for this age set! Check Out Ravensburger Puzzles on Amazon.com!
Monkey Pod Games Tangram Puzzle
There are a number of plastic tangram type puzzle games on the market for this age set. A great wooden option that is made in Thailand is from Monkey Pod Games. With 100 challenges, this appeals to all ages and is a great set for kids that are looking for more advanced puzzles! Check Out Monkey Pod Games Tangram Puzzle on Amazon.com!
Science & Building Toys:
Roy Toy Log Building Set
Lincoln Logs are well known building sets but unfortunately these sets are made in China and have been known to have quality issues. A great alternative is Roy Toy! The Roy Toy Building Sets are made in the USA from hand cut pine logs and are stained with a non-toxic, food approved dye. According to their online safety statement, all dyes used on their toys do not contain allergens. Check Out The Roy Toy Deluxe Log Building Set On Amazon.com!
Unique erasers have become a hit with both my niece and son in the last year and we absolutely love the Iwako eraser line! These erasers come in so many adorable sets and are very realistic. The erasers are lead, cadmium, PVC and phthalate free and the Iwako (Japanese) company provides safety compliance reports online for its products. Check Out Iwako Eraser Sets on Amazon.com!