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Safer Baby Doll Toys

Plastic “baby dolls” have been staple play toys for years, most likely, you and/or your children had/ or have a favorite doll…can you recall if it was made of plastic? These plastic dolls are found in most child care facilities. Unfortunately, many plastic dolls are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC)—making them a health concern for children who play with them on a daily basis.

Read on to learn more about safer doll alternatives for your home and child care facilities.

What is polyvinyl chloride (PVC)?

PVC plastic, commonly referred to as “vinyl” (although not all vinyls are PVC), is an odorless and versatile plastic. It is found in many consumer products including raincoats and rain boots, shoe soles, shades and blinds, upholstery and seat covers, shower curtains, furniture, carpet backing, plastic bags, inflatable swimming pools and floating rafts, beach balls, dolls, bath books, toys (rubber duckies!), and infant chew toys (teething rings).

Why should I be concerned?

The health concerns related to PVC are especially worrisome for children due to their increased exposure to PVC in toys and garments. Vinyl chloride, which is the main ingredient in PVC, is a known carcinogen (cancer causing). Often PVC contains Phthalates, which are a class of chemicals used to soften plastic products to make them more flexible. Health issues related to Phthalate exposure could include: hormone disruption, developmental and reproductive problems, asthma, preterm birth, and the development of some cancers.

How can children be exposed to PVC in Dolls?

Young children have the natural tendency to mouth soft plastics, which can lead to exposure to PVC through ingestion. Chewing on a plastic toy creates small openings (often microscopic) in the plastic, providing an avenue for leaking of chemicals from the toy into a child’s mouth.

The best way to protect children from the harmful effects of vinyl dolls is to eliminate them completely. If getting rid of all vinyl dolls is not an option, the next best option would be to remove them from infant and toddler rooms, because this age group has the largest tendency to put toys into their mouths.

What should I be on the lookout for?

In order to distinguish between the different types of plastic that your toy is made out of is to look for the symbol usually located on its underside. The number inside of the triangles dictates what type of plastic was used to make it. Look for the Recycling Code #3 inside of the triangle! Code #3 means that the product is made of PVC and exposure may lead to harmful health effects.

What are some safer alternatives?

There are 100% PVC and Phthalate free options, such as dolls made of natural materials like cotton and wool. Often, these dolls are machine washable, making them easy to clean, while also being safer for your child.

Source: Child Environmental Health Network

To learn more about plastics and ways to avoid harmful chemicals please join Madelene HEAL Coordinator on Monday, December 17th for the Eco Child Care Training at Mc3. To sign up please contact or 415.491.5784

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