The Best Toys for Your Tots
By being mindful about the toys you choose, you'll save money, keep toxins out of the playroom, and help workers around the world. Use the following checklist when you buy for children this holiday season—or anytime:
1. Buy simple toys — These types of gifts will stimulate a child’s imagination. Consider items like clay, paints, or other art supplies. Or, create a kit of materials for building their own toys, such as supplies for assembling a kite or sewing a cloth doll.
2. Buy Local — Visit local arts and crafts fairs to buy all-natural, toxin-free toys (like musical instruments, wooden boats and cars, or handmade dollhouses) directly from local artisans.
3. Buy sweatshop-free — Turn to the National Green Pages™ to find companies that sell toys not made in sweatshops overseas or see the resource list below
4. Buy non-material gifts — Make your gift your time, take a child on an outing. Or hire someone local to share his or her special talents with a child. Music or art lessons will have a much more lasting impact than another packaged toy.
• Blessings—800/864-0131, all-natural crafts, dollmaking kits, and Waldorf-inspired books, imaginative and wooden toys, cooperative games, and fair trade items.
• Eco-baby Organics—888/ECO-BABY, stuffed organic cotton toys and wooden toys.
• Global Exchange Fair Trade Store—fairly traded musical instruments, dolls, quilts, pull toys, blocks, puzzles, baby toys, and more.
• Kidbean.com—online vegan children’s super-store featuring cars, trains, building blocks, dolls, play kitchens, and arts and crafts supplies.
• North Star Toys—800/737-0112, creative, nontoxic, nonviolent wooden toys and puzzles, created to stimulate a child’s imagination. Made by a family business.
• Peapods Natural Toys and Baby Care—651/695-5559, a mother-owned store in St. Paul, MN, offering wood toys, Waldorf dolls, dress-up, baby items, and books.
• Roots and Wisdom—608/536-3028, natural wooden toys, cloth Waldorf dolls, organic, fair trade, wool children’s clothing, homeschool supplies.
• Toys from the Heart—610/948-4894, specializes in natural toys and crafts.
• Under the Nile—800/883-4402, organic and nontoxic dolls, puppets, and teething toys.