Category Archives: Safety

Sustainable, Non-Toxic Toys: Where Are We Headed Next?

Sustainable Baby Toys

As a parent, you’re probably familiar with what the typical playchest looks like: full. of. plastic. Unfortunately, while plastic is certainly convenient, plastic poses risks both to the environment and your child’s health.

This guide will discuss current progress in the world of sustainable, non-toxic toys, and will walk you through how to pick toys that are safe for the Earth and human health.

What’s the Problem with Conventional Toys?

As you may have gathered by now, our reliance on plastic is one of the main problems with toys today. Not only is plastic extremely carbon-intensive, as it’s made from fossil fuels, but it also can contain harmful chemicals. 

Unfortunately, a whopping 90% of toys on the market today are made from plastic. This reliance on plastic has severe environmental impacts, ranging from contributions to global warming to creating large amounts of plastic waste. For example, plastic often breaks down into microplastics that litter our land and oceans. Finally, when plastic toys end up in landfills, they can break down and leach chemicals into the air, soil, and water. Not only does this harm ecosystems, but it can also cause exposure to these chemicals through our food and drinking water.

Many plastic toys contain dangerous chemicals or heavy metals such as cadmium and lead. For example, some toys contain phthalates, a class of hormone-disrupting chemicals used to soften plastics. While some countries like the US and the EU have begun regulating the use of phthalates in toys, many toys do not undergo appropriate toy safety testing and may still contain the chemical. While exposure to dangerous chemicals in plastic toys is fairly low, the risk goes up if the toy is broken or your child chews on it.

Luckily, many of the innovations that make toys sustainable also make them safer for humans.

Making the Move to Safe, Eco-Friendly Toys

1. Check your materials

The materials a toy is made of are the biggest indicators of both sustainability and safety. We’ll tackle safety first. As mentioned above, many toys are manufactured with dangerous chemicals. Instead of buying plastic toys, consider buying toys made from non-toxic materials like stainless steel, which is 100% non-toxic. In fact, most of us put stainless steel into our mouths every day in the form of silverware. 

Other non-toxic materials for toys include unpainted wood, natural rubber, or toys made with wood that use natural, non-toxic sealants and dyes.

Sustainable toys employ many of the same materials as non-toxic toys. After all, if it’s toxic to humans, it’s often toxic to the environment as well. Luckily, avoiding plastic and other unsustainable materials is getting easier every day, as many toy companies are beginning to produce toys from new materials. For example, researchers are working on 3D-printing toys made from beetroot puree, a material that is not only healthier for children, but also has a much lower carbon footprint.

Other more sustainable materials to look out for include:

  • Stainless steel, like Kleynimals toys, which are 100% recyclable and made from around 50% recycled materials
  • Cotton
  • Wool
  • Wood
  • Bamboo
  • Hemp
  • Other natural fibers

2. Ensure proper use

One of the main ways to make sure a toy is safe for your child is to make sure it’s being used as intended. Some toys can become dangerous when they’re taken apart, as this can cause choking hazards or exposure to toxic chemicals in toys. Some electronic toys may overheat. Make sure to read the instructions on any more complicated toys you buy to make sure your kid can play with it safely. It’s also important to monitor play, especially with toys with small parts or electronic toys. 

Your best bet, of course, is to simply use toys that are simple and non-toxic in every situation. For example, especially with babies and toddlers, there’s a strong chance that a toy will end up in their mouth whether it was meant to or not! Pick the safe option of simply buying a toy that is mouth-safe.

Finally, part of “proper use” is proper disposal when you’re done with the toy. First, you can always donate the toy to your local thrift shop. If the toy is beyond the point of usefulness, however, consider recycling it. Before chucking the toy in the trash, where it may end up leaching toxic chemicals from the landfill into our environment, check to see if the toy can be recycled. Many plastics and metals can be recycled, and some toys, like toys made of wood, might even be compostable!

3. Get safety-tested toys

As we discussed above, the best way to ensure your toys are safe is to buy toys made from safe materials. If you’re ever unsure, though, consider buying from manufacturers that adhere to strict toy safety testing procedures. This not only helps ensure the toy doesn’t contain harmful chemicals, but it also ensures that the toy is functional and safe to play with.

Some toys may also have sustainable certifications. For example, toys made from cotton may be GOTS certified, meaning they’re fully organic (which also means no toxic pesticides!). Another label to look out for is fair trade certification, which certifies that the toy was produced under ethical and sustainable conditions. 

4. Buy durable toys

Let’s face it – most kids are not exactly gentle with their toys. In fact, you can almost bet on toys ending up on the floor at least once, if not all the time! The best way to practice sustainability is to buy durable toys that you won’t need to replace every time they break. This helps reduce the need for more production of plastic, which helps limit the energy and emissions necessary to manufacture new toys.

Buying durable toys is also a smart measure to take in order to avoid small pieces breaking off and posing a choking risk.

Kleynimals toys are made entirely from stainless steel, so your child can truly put the toy through its paces without breaking it. And if (when!) the toy does get dropped, you can simply rub out any rough spots with a nail file to make it look brand new again!


How to Pick Safe Diapering Products: Nontoxic Diapers, Creams and Wipes

Safe Diapering Products

It can feel overwhelming when buying products for diapering your baby. There seem to be a million and one opinions on which diaper is the most leak proof, which rash cream is the most soothing and which wipes are the most effective.

As parents, safety is of course your number one concern. While there are many guides on how to diaper safely, many of us didn’t even consider the safety of the actual products we use. Unfortunately, some diapering products contain chemicals that can harm you and your baby.

If you’re wondering where to even begin, this guide is for you. Here are the basics on safe diapers, safe diaper creams, and safe diapering cleanup.

Safe Diapers

The main question when it comes to diapering is whether to use cloth or disposable diapers. Besides the possible environmental and economic benefits of cloth diapers, cloth diapers may win when it comes to safety as well.

Are Disposable Diapers Safe?

Disposable diapers contain many synthetic chemicals that may pose dangers to your health at high exposures. 

For example, many diapers use the chemical tributyltin (TBT), which is an irritant and which, at high levels, can cause nausea and diarrhea. Disposable diapers may also contain TBPP, a toxic plastic additive, as well as diethanolamine, a chemical used in a number of products that acts as a skin irritant. Lastly, disposable diapers contain sodium polyacrylate, which works to absorb liquids. Sodium polyacrylate is also an irritant and can harm your baby through skin absorption.

It’s worth noting that although disposable diapers do contain chemicals, the level of exposure is likely not high enough to cause health problems. For example, one 2015 study found that while diapers may contain phthalates, hormone disrupting chemicals, exposure levels are extremely low and likely not dangerous. 

So while some disposable diapers may be safe, research is still ongoing, and it may be a good idea to avoid disposable diapers for now.

How to Pick Safe Cloth Diapers

Luckily, picking safe cloth diapers is pretty simple. The safest fabric to use for your cloth diapers is organically grown, undyed cotton. 

Cotton grown with pesticides or using conventional dyes can cause irritation and other health problems. Learn more about safe fabrics for your children here[1] .

Safe Diaper Creams & Baby Powders

Many parents rely on diaper creams and powders to help protect their baby’s sensitive skin. It’s important to read the ingredients on these products in order to make sure they’re safe.

Creams

When it comes to diaper rash creams, you don’t want to risk causing even more irritation! Many diaper creams contain fragrances and other chemicals that irritate the skin or cause other health problems. For example, many diaper creams use petroleum oil, which penetrates skin, stays there, and may even cause cancer.

A good natural option is coconut oil, which hydrates and soothes skin. If DIY isn’t your style, many brands out there sell non-toxic diaper creams.

It’s also important to make sure that any creams you use have been tested for skin irritation and are not expired. A good rule of thumb is to buy products that have an EWG Verified mark, which shows the cream doesn’t use harmful chemicals. Use their website to search for safe personal care products for your baby.

Baby Powders

While baby powder likely does not help diaper rash, it’s still a popular product for leaving the skin soft and dry. However, talc-based baby powder can contain asbestos, which may cause ovarian cancer

If you must use a powder, opt for a cornstarch based, talc-free baby powder instead. (Make sure to keep the bottle away from your child, as inhaling large amounts is extremely dangerous.)

Safe Diapering Cleanup

Finally, you need to make sure that any products you use to keep you, your baby and the general area clean are nontoxic.

For example, some baby wipes contain formaldehyde, a carcinogen, which may be listed in wet wipe ingredients as “diazolidinyl urea” or “DMDM hydantoin,” among other names. 

Many other chemicals are used in conventional baby wipes in addition to formaldehyde, so it’s best to simply search for specifically nontoxic baby wipes. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website is a great resource, as they research and rate the safety of baby wipes.

If you’d like to simultaneously stay safe and reduce your waste from throwing out disposable wipes, use an organic cotton cloth wipe with a little water to do clean up. For extra hygiene, use a small amount of nontoxic, gentle baby soap.


6 Tips to Help You Choose Safe Clothing for Your Kids

non-toxic tips for babies

From the time your child is a newborn, they’ll spend most of their time in clothes. While clothes keep us warm, keep us clean, and are a fun form of expression, some fabrics hold more risks than others.

This post will guide you through picking safe, nontoxic clothes for your child, so you can feel safe dressing them (or helping them dress themselves!) every day.

What Chemicals Should I Avoid?

Over 8000 chemicals are used in producing clothing. While not all of these chemicals are necessarily toxic, many of them are, and many we don’t even know enough about to know either way.

Some of the more well-known chemicals used in some textiles include:

  • Pesticides (used to grow cotton or other natural fibers)
  • Formaldehyde (a fabric finisher used to create ‘easy-care’ clothing or to reduce creases)
  • AZO dyes (used as a colorant)
  • Chlorobenzene (used to dye polyester clothing)
  • Phthalates (used to soften leathers and rubbers)

These chemicals can have harmful effects. For example, formaldehyde and AZO dyes are known carcinogens and skin irritants, and are even banned in some countries. Formaldehyde can also cause respiratory issues. Phthalates are known to cause disruption of the endocrine (hormone) system. Long term exposure to chlorobenzene can affect the central nervous system.

While serious health effects are unlikely to come from the low exposures we get from clothes, it’s still a good idea to avoid these chemicals. Avoiding these chemicals can also help protect your baby’s sensitive skin from irritation.

The following tips will help you avoid these chemicals and keep your kids safe.

1. Embrace Natural Dyes

As you can see, chemical dyes are one of the biggest health concerns when it comes to clothing. In fact, toxic AZO dyes are used to dye nearly 60-70% of all colored clothing.

The best way to avoid toxic dyes is to buy clothing that uses natural dyes. Many dyes are made from natural plant materials that still create beautiful colors. 

While many brands sell clothing that is made with natural, organic dyes, if you’re feeling creative, you can even take it a step further and make it yourself! Just buy a plain, organic cotton outfit and experiment with different colors by different plant materials, like blueberries, red cabbage and lemon peels.

Not only are these natural dyes safer, but they are also better for the environment, as many synthetic dyes create high levels of water pollution.

2. Buy Certified Organic Textiles

While some natural materials like cotton may be grown using dangerous pesticides that linger in the fibers, opting for organically and sustainably grown cotton is a great solution to avoid these pesticides and other toxic chemicals.

The best way to tell if a natural fiber is safe is if it has a GOTS certification. The Global Organic Textile Standard certifies products that use cotton farmed without pesticides. Many infant clothing brands are GOTS certified. While there are other certification schemes out there, GOTS is a great option, as it also considers the source of the fabric, which promotes ethical labor.

3. Read the Brand’s Chemical Policies

Many companies that have ditched harmful chemicals want to tell you about it! One of the best ways to choose safe clothing for your kids is to read a brand’s website for statements about chemicals in their clothes. 

Even some major brands like Target have started to release statements about their efforts to stop using unsafe chemicals in their products.[1] 

And if the company doesn’t release a statement on chemicals (or lack thereof) used in their clothing? It’s a fairly safe bet to say that they use harmful chemicals.

The Greenpeace campaign “Detox My Fashion” aims to reduce the use of chemicals in clothing that harm human health and the environment. Many brands have signed on to the campaign. You can find a list of these brands in Chapter 4 of Greenpeace’s report on the campaign progress.

4. Buy Vintage

Many clothing companies have started using chemicals only in the last half century or so, so buying older clothes is a great way to find safer clothing.

Buying used clothing also has the added benefit of being an environmentally-friendly choice, as you help reduce the amount of waste produced by buying new clothes.

5. Wash Clothes Before Wearing Them

Washing clothing before your child wears it helps to get rid of some of the irritating chemicals like bleach or textile finishes that may be used in the final steps of making the clothing. This is especially important when it comes to children, as they often have more sensitive skin. 

This isn’t a full solution, as some toxins can stick around through many washes. However, washing clothes does help to remove some of the most irritating chemicals.

Keep these tips in mind next time you buy clothes for your child, and rest easier knowing your child’s health is being protected.


Are Electronic Baby Toys Safe? How to Choose Safe Toys for Your Child

Are Electronic Toys Safe for Babies?

More and more baby toys these days are electronic or have electronic components. While these toys may be exciting, sadly, electronic toys can pose risks to your child. 

The risks associated with electronic toys include:

  • Burns: Electronic toys may overheat because of faulty wiring or circuit boards. This can burn your child.
  • Electric shock: Faulty electrical wiring or plugs can be very dangerous, and can cause electric shock. Electric shock is also a risk when an electronic toy is used near water. As we know, babies and toddlers can be messy, so make sure to keep liquids away from electronic toys.
  • Fire hazards: Overheating of electronic toys, especially poorly built toys, can cause fires.
  • Battery hazards: Batteries in toys can pose risks such as overheating and breaking down into small pieces that cause choking. Choking risks are especially high for babies, who are more likely to chew on toys.
  • Toxic materials: Some electronic toys contain dangerous substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) or polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE). These materials are generally only used inside the toy, so don’t worry – your baby is unlikely to come into contact with them. Of course,  it’s still best to buy toys without these substances!

Electronic toys are also environmentally unfriendly, as they are notoriously difficult to recycle. Additionally, research suggests that relying only on electronic toys, rather than more traditional toys, can harm a baby’s language development.

Here are some tips for choosing safe and stimulating toys for your baby.

1.    Choose Non-Electric Toys

The simplest way to avoid the dangers of electronic toys is simply not to buy them! All our Kleynimals toys are non-electronic and made from safe and nontoxic stainless steel. Our toys provide your baby with all the excitement and stimulation they need without the risks posed by electronic toys.[1] 

If you do choose to use electronic toys, it is best to mix these in with more traditional toys. Exposure to different types of toys, including simpler toys, helps your baby develop a wide variety of skills.

2.    Choose Well-Designed Toys that Comply with Safety Standards

Safety must be included in every step of a toy’s production. If you do choose to buy electronic toys, make sure it is from a trusted manufacturer that takes the necessary steps, such as testing for toxic materials, to ensure the toy is safe and functioning properly.

There are several regulations in place that work to protect you from the dangers of electronic toys. It is important to check that your baby’s toys have been tested for compliance with these consumer protection laws. For example, electronic toys stamped with a “CE marking” (a small CE symbol printed on the toy or packaging) comply with all safety regulations and do not contain harmful materials.

3.    Choose Sturdy Electronic Toys

Make sure your electronic baby toys are well-built and sturdy. Durable toys are less likely to break down, exposing you or your child to any harmful substances that may be used to create the inner electronic parts. Toys that break down are especially concerning for babies, as babies are likely to chew on their toys as part of the teething process.

Durable electronic toys are also less likely to experience overheating or other problems due to degradation. 

4.    Make Sure the Toy Is Used Properly

Electronic toys may have parts that are designed to be used in a specific way (for example, that spin in a certain direction). But we know that babies and children may not use the toy in the way it was designed! This improper use can cause potentially dangerous malfunctions.

If you do choose electronic toys, always watch your child when they are playing with the toy to make sure it is being used as it was intended. While most toy manufacturers put control measures in place that will avoid malfunctions no matter the situation, it is still best to use the toy as it was designed.

All in all, the risks of electronic toys can be safely managed by an attentive guardian. Of course, the most worry-free option is to simply buy non-electronic toys! If you do choose to use electronic baby toys, however, make sure you buy well-made toys of a wide variety to support your child’s development happily and safely.


9 Ways to Choose Safe Teething Toys

Baby nibbling on a Kleyminals safe teething toy

Many babies have it rough when their pearly whites begin to peek out, mostly at the age of 4-7 months. They have to contend with flushed cheeks, swollen gums, plenty of drool, rashes, poor appetite and disrupted sleep, among other nasty symptoms.

Little wonder that they are always rummaging for something to nibble on in a bid to soothe their tender gums. Thankfully, teething toys are a great reprieve.

But here’s the problem, some teething toys are from the bottom of the barrel. They are laced with harmful toxins that pose unprecedented health risks to little children. How can you separate the wheat from the chaff while buying your baby’s teether? This article will show you how to cherry-pick safe teething toys for your little cherub.

How to Choose Safe Teething Toys for Your Baby

1. Choose Non-Toxic Materials

A damning 2016 report published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology revealed that harmful chemicals are rife in teething toys. In the study, 59 plastic teethers were tested and were all found to contain BPA (Bisphenol A) and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals. This is despite the fact that 90% of the teethers were labeled as “BPA free” or “Non-Toxic.”

Sadly, this report is merely the tip of the iceberg. A lot of baby products are chock full of harmful toxins that wreak havoc on the tender lives of children.

Harmful Chemicals in Teethers

Here are some of the ravaging chemicals commonly found in teething toys:

  • PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)
  • Phthalates
  • BPA (Bisphenol A)
  • Antimony
  • Cadmium
  • Lead

Parents, therefore, need to go the extra mile while vetting teething toys. Your best bet at shielding your child from this menace is by getting teethers made from non-toxic materials. Needless to say, avoid plastic toys in their entirety.

Non-Toxic Materials for Teething Toys

Here are examples of non-toxic materials that can be used to manufacture safe teething toys:

  • Food grade stainless steel
  • Natural rubber
  • Untreated wood
  • Organic cotton
  • Food grade silicone

Our Jangles Teethers are the perfect non-toxic teether for your baby. They are made in the US using 100% food-grade stainless steel and are completely devoid of the aforementioned horrendous toxins. Your baby can nibble on them freely to their little mouth’s content.

But perhaps their versatility is what endears them to babies and toddlers alike. These teething jangles can turn into anything your baby deems fit. Your baby can use them as bracelets, rattles, teethers, or even fidget toys. What’s more, Mom can slip it on her wrist and have it act as “chewable” Jewelry. 

2. Choose Durable Teething Toys

Teethers go through a lot in the hands and mouths of babies. When they are not being gnawed at, they are getting hurled to the floor or doubling up as toys. They, therefore, need to be durable in order to weather your baby’s vitality.

Avoid teething toys that break easily as they can injure your baby. All our Kleynimals toys (keys, jangles, and rattles) are made from stainless steel and are highly durable. Additionally, they are heat and fire-resistant and will be your baby’s companion for a jolly long time. They are also non-corrosive and rust-resistant.

3. Avoid Liquid Filled Teething Toys

Some teethers are filled with a liquid (mostly saltwater or glycerin and water) that allows you to freeze it to effectively pacify your child’s gum. Such teethers are not safe because the water can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Furthermore, if the teether cracks open, your innocent child may chug down the liquid.

4. Avoid Teethers With Batteries

Some teethers come with extra features such as the ability to vibrate while soothing a baby’s gum. Such teethers are often powered using batteries. This poses a great risk because the battery, battery cap, or screws can get dislodged and end up in a baby’s mouth.

Thousands of children are hospitalized each year after swallowing batteries, causing them serious injuries. As such, teething toys that use batteries should be avoided.

5. Choose Easy to Clean Teething Toys

Tummy Time with Jangles

Always sanitize your baby’s teethers before use. Additionally, a good teether should be easy to clean using warm soapy water. Some teether toys, like our Jangles Teether (pictured above) can even be put in the dishwasher.

6. Avoid Old Teething Toys

Old teethers may cause more harm than good to your baby. They may be damaged and injure your baby’s sensitive gum. Additionally, toy manufacturing regulations are constantly revised. This means that an old toy that was labeled as “not-toxic” during production may not pass the test when scrutinized under existing laws.

7. Avoid Teething Necklaces

There are two types of teething necklaces- those designed for moms to wear and others for babies to wear. Pediatricians warn that putting a teething necklace on your child increases the risk of choking and strangulation.

8. Avoid Rough Teething Toys

Teethers come in an array of textures with some aimed at stimulating babies mentally while at the same time soothing their gums. Be careful however not to hand your little tot a teether that’s rough around the edges – literally. Ensure that all your teethers are smooth to avoid injuring your child’s gum.

9. Regularly Inspect Teethers

Don’t underestimate your baby’s gnawing and chomping on their teether. Regularly inspect it for any damage. It is best to toss away teethers that have given in to wear and tear.

Final Thoughts

Your baby’s safety is the most important factor to consider while choosing a teething toy. Here is a nifty summary of what safe teething toys look like:

  • Made from non-toxic materials
  • Durable
  • Not Filled with Liquid
  • Without Batteries
  • Not worn around baby’s neck
  • No rough edges
  • Inspected regularly

Thankfully, our Jangles Teethers effortlessly tick all the boxes. They are designed with your child’s safety in mind. Besides soothing irritated gums, they also help stimulate your baby’s sense of sound, sight, and sound. Babies get enthralled at the way our chain of jangles interplay in unexpected ways. But don’t take our word for it, go ahead and try them for yourself. 

YES, YOU CAN RAISE SMART KIDS-7 WAYS TO BOOST YOUR CHILD’S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

Boy holding a book

Holding a brand new baby is magical. You spend oodles of time staring into their glinting puffy eyes and stroking their chunky feet. Besides being awestruck by their beauty, figuring out ways to boost your child’s cognitive development is one of the best gifts you can offer them.

Between birth and the age of 3, a child’s brain develops at a skyrocketing speed. During this time, a lot is happening behind the scenes as your little tot coos and shows off their gummy smile. A foundation is being laid in their brain. This foundation will determine how your child will interact with the world years later. 

Fortunately, your child doesn’t need to do the groundwork alone. There are several things you can do to enhance your child’s ability to think, understand, and perceive their environment. But first things first, what is cognitive development?

What is Cognitive Development and What’s Your Role?

Cognitive development refers to the way a child interacts with the world around them. This includes how they think, explore and interpret things and situations.  

Cognitive skills include the ability to pay attention, remember, reason, and interpret sounds and sights. Just like any muscle, the more a child’s cognitive development is flexed, the better it functions.

Children need daily quality interactions with the adults around them in order to sharpen their cognitive skills. This gives them a head start in their success in school and life.  

7 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Cognitive Development

1. Read Books

It’s never too early to introduce your child to the fascinating world of books. You can set the ball rolling by reading to them from 3 months of age. Choose books with more pictures than text during their earlier years.

Make reading fun by using different voices and acting out the story. Reading to your kids early in life helps trigger their curiosity, improves their focus and concentration, improves communication, and gives their literacy skills a hefty boost.

2. Encourage Outdoor Play

Lots of good things happen when kids trail outdoors. As they stamp on rocks, crawl under bushes, and pick flowers, they are coordinating multiple senses. Here are some of the benefits that outdoor play rakes in:

  • Improves attention
  • Enhances social and communication skills
  • Stokes their imagination
  • Strengthens their bodies while making them more agile
  • Gives their mood a boost
  • Builds motor skills
  • Helps regulate weight

3. Enthuse Them With Safe Non-Toxic Toys

Use Kleynimals-How to boost your child's cognitive development

There’s a reason why kids of all ages light up at the sight of a new toy. Toys draw in children like a magnet. That’s because they play a huge role in fostering their cognitive development. Here’s how they do that:

  • Improve memory and concentration
  • Encourage problem-solving
  • Teach cause and effect
  • Teach imitation
  • Improve motor skills and dexterity
  • Trigger curiosity

Only Purchase Safe Non-Toxic Toys – Kleynimals

It is important to ensure that you only buy safe non-toxic toys for your kids. A lot of conventional toys are laced with harmful chemicals which leach out when babies grasp them or put them in their mouths.

This means that in your quest to boost your child’s cognitive skills, you could end up crippling their health if you purchase toys laced with harmful chemicals.

Be hawk-eyed while purchasing toys. Opt for safe toys such as those manufactured using organic materials.

Kleynimals- A Safe Bet

Our Kleynimals are the perfect choice of safe non-toxic toys for your child. They are organic toy keys made from 100% stainless food-grade steel. They are free from harmful toxins like BPA, lead, phthalates, formaldehyde, cadmium among others.

Kleynimals are suitable for babies who can sit unaided. As babies touch them, rattle them, and nibble on them, they are improving their ability to perceive sound, learning about cause and effect, and honing their fine motor skills.

4. Visit Interesting Places

You can open up a brand new world for your kids by taking them to fun places like children’s museums, amusement parks, farmers markets, famous landmarks in your area, the library, the beach among others.

As you explore these places, take time to answer their myriad of questions. As they savor a new world, they learn new things and perk up their imagination and curiosity.

5. Sing and Dance

Watching your child twirl in a jig does more than send you into fits of laughter. As they move and sing along, they are reaping several benefits:

  • Improved memory
  • Better mood
  • Improved literacy and numeracy skills
  • Improved motor skills
  • Greater confidence and creativity

You can start with simple nursery rhymes and move on to more advanced music as they grow.

6. Assign Chores

Having your kids take up chores is another brilliant way of stoking their cognitive abilities. Chores help them develop hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills. The earlier you encourage your kids to participate with chores the better for them.

2-3-year-olds can for instance help in cleaning up toys and sorting out clothes by color. 4-5-year-olds can wipe up spills and water houseplants. As they grow they move to more advanced chores.

7. Answer Their Flurry of Questions

Kids take the trophy for shooting the most questions. One study showed that children ask an average of 73 questions each day. That’s a lot, honestly. But it is a good thing where their cognitive development is concerned.

By asking questions, children are able to understand how things work. This in turn helps sharpen their problem-solving skills. It also helps them understand the concept of cause and effect.     

Final Thoughts

Kids are constantly exploring their environment and prodding the adults around them in a bid to understand how things work. The quality of a child’s experiences in their early years sets the stage for their brain development.

Parents/guardians should not let this narrow slice of time slip through the cracks. We trust that you are now armed with ways to boost your child’s cognitive development. As you do this, you are inadvertently setting your kids up for success.

Non-Toxic Baby Toys: 7 Ways to Sift Through the Junk While Buying Your Baby’s Toys

Being a parent is a tad frightening these days. There are so many ills to contend with. There are pesticides in kids’ bedding, harsh chemicals in bubble baths, toxins in crayons, and harmful chemicals in toys among many other perils. 

Parents buy toys to keep their tots enthused and to stoke their social and cognitive skills. Unfortunately, many of these toys brim over with harmful toxins that often leach out when kids nibble on them. These toxins cause severe health complications to children. 

It’s no longer business as usual, parents need to be hawk-eyed while purchasing toys. Fortunately, there are plenty of non-toxic baby toys available for your child. This article will show you how to niche down on them. 

Cracks in Toy Safety Manufacturing Laws

How do toxin-laden toys seep through the law and end up in the hands and mouths of little babies? In the USA, the buck stops with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). 

There are however many loopholes in their regulatory laws mainly because toy production is a complex global supply chain. Many companies in developed nations outsource their manufacturing overseas. This complicates the regulatory process and the rules are easily flouted. 

Furthermore, CPSC focuses mostly on mechanical safety such as the choking and laceration hazards. CPSC has also been mainly reactive in cracking the whip. In the past, they have only recalled toys after complaints are filed.   

Common Toxins in Baby Toys and Their Harmful Effects

What’s your idea of a perfect toy? We bet that you fancy soft, sturdy, durable, colorful, affordable, and heat-resistant toys. Toy manufactures are privy to this and will go to any lengths to churn out your dream toys. 

Unfortunately, many of them use harmful chemicals that are crippling to kids’ health. Here are some common toxic chemicals found in baby toys.

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) and Phthalates

PVC goes down as the most environmentally impairing plastic, from its production to disposal. PVC is all around us – in home furnishings, packaging, building materials, and sadly in children’s toys. 

It has a high chlorine content which causes toxic pollution in the environment. Phthalates on the other hand are thrown in to make PVC soft and flexible. 

Phthalates are notorious for triggering hormone disruption, birth defects, asthma, liver problems, early puberty, and low fertility. They also exacerbate the risk of both testicular and breast cancer. 

Other harmful chemical compounds found in PVC are lead, cadmium, and organotin which have devastating effects on the human body. 

Bisphenol A (BPA)

BPA is an industrial chemical that is commonly used to make plastic strong, heat resistant, and light in weight. BPA easily leaches to the human body and causes great harm to infants and children. It is an endocrine disruptor that throws the body’s hormones into disarray.

BPA can interfere with the development of prostate glands, alter brain development, cause infertility, obesity, cancer, and liver problems. It has also been linked to high blood pressure. 

Lead

Lead can be found in the paint, metal, and plastic parts of some toys. It is used to soften plastic, make it flexible, and as a stabilizer from heat. It causes nerve damage, reproductive problems and has been linked to low IQ and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). 

Flame Retardants

These are added to toys to make them less flammable. They are endocrine disruptors that trigger reproductive problems and birth defects. They also cause dermatitis, allergies, asthma, and some types of cancer. 

Formaldehyde

This is colorless flammable gas with a pungent smell. It is used as a preservative in water-based toys. Exposure to formaldehyde can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, and throat while long-term exposure has been linked to some types of cancer. 

Children Are More Vulnerable to Toxins

If an adult and a child were both nibbling on a toxin-laden toy, the child would be more adversely affected. Children are more susceptible to environmental toxins and hazards. In our case, the child would ingest a larger dose of the toxins than the adult in proportion to their smaller body.

Additionally, a child’s body is still developing so their detoxification system may not be able to flush out the toxins.  

How to Choose Non-Toxic Baby Toys

Here is a cheat sheet that will help you dodge harmful toys:

1. Avoid Plastic Toys

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Plastic is the most common material in conventional toys. Though not all plastic toys are created equal, most plastic toys are chock full of harmful chemicals that leach out and cause untold harm to children. 

2. Avoid Cheap Toys

Cheap is expensive. It’s appalling to think of the harmful toxins hiding in cheap toys. Steer clear of dirt-cheap toys especially from countries where toy production laws are sloppy.  

3. Avoid Toys That Smell

If a toy has a ‘chemical-like’ smell, steer clear of it. If it smells fruity, it is most likely having some phthalates in it. 

4. Opt For Stainless Steel Toys – Kleynimals

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Your tot gawks with longing at your house keys. They love the tinkling sound. They would love to fiddle with them before shoving them into their mouth. But you know that keys often contain lead, not to mention the gunk they accumulate over the years. So you keep your keys far from your child. 

How about enthusing your little cherub with their own organic, non-toxic and safe set of keys that they can rattle and nibble on to their heart’s content? Our Kleynimals are kid’s toy keys made from food-grade stainless steel that is 100% non-toxic. 

Kleynimals are manufactured in the USA and are durable, dishwasher safe, recyclable, heat and fire-resistant. They are suitable for babies that can sit unaided.

5. Opt For Wooden Toys

Opt for non-toxic wooden toys made from natural wood that is devoid of toxic paint or finishes. Wood is durable, biodegradable, and recyclable. It’s great for both your child and the environment.  

6. Opt For Natural Rubber Toys

Opt for toys made from natural non-toxic rubber that has been harvested naturally without the use of herbicides. Rubber is environmentally friendly because it is biodegradable. 

7. Opt For Organic Stuffed Animals

Babies love cuddling with plush toys. Non-toxic stuffed animals that are made from organic fabrics like cotton, wool, bamboo, or hemp are a great choice. Ensure that they do not contain any non-toxic dyes and pigments. 

Final Thoughts

It is paralyzing to think of the plethora of harmful chemicals that children come into contact with through toys. Parents need to keep their eyes peeled to ensure that they only purchase non-toxic baby toys. We trust that the tips we have shared will help you fortify your kids from this peril.   

If you are looking for the perfect non-toxic, heirloom-quality American made baby gift, this is it! Kleynimals Baby Flatware Set.

This is NOT a paid or sponsored post; there are just a handful of items that I absolutely LOVE to gift to the babies in my life – and this is one of them!

This is one of my favorite products out there and, if you have been reading my blog for a while you know I don’t give this kind of praise lightly. The quality and design of this baby flatware set is excellent, and I trust this brand 100%. [Full XRF test results are below if you are interested!] When I first learned of Kleynimals’ products I approached them (not the other way around) and asked them to sponsor my website — because I thought their products and their company were amazing, and something I could wholly endorse!

Kirsten, the owner of Kleynimals, was able to support my advocacy work and website by becoming a sponsor in May of 2019. [Sadly, Kleynimals is currently no longer able to financially support my advocacy work (in large part due to the impacts of the pandemic) — but I STILL LOVE THEIR PRODUCTS!] Now, during these wild times we are all in – I want to return the favor and make sure to share with my readers about how much I love these products and hopefully encourage y’all to purchase one or two or five!!!! – one for each of the babies in your life! [I just sent the flatware pictured here to my favorite cousin in Germany who has a baby – I am excited to see what he (the baby!) thinks of them!]

Did you know that many antique silver baby spoons may have unsafe levels of Lead?

The Kleynimals baby flatware set is a must-have alternative to some of the antique silver baby spoons you may have in your life — because a lot of those antique silver baby spoons actually have unsafe levels of Lead! You can read more about that here on this link:

If you do buy one of Kirsten’s products (and the baby flatware is just one of the very thoughtful, non-toxic, stainless steel baby things she makes and sells), you are not only buying something saferfor the babies in your life, but you are also supporting a small, woman-owned business during a very difficult time – a business that is also committed to making products right here at home in the United States. If you are a mom, or an auntie with a bunch of older kids in your life (like me!) and expect to be a grandma or great-aunt soon – please consider helping to keep Kleynimals in business in 2021 by buying multiple sets of their baby flatware (and rattles too!), so you can set them aside and have them on hand to give to each of the new babies when they are born in to your family!

I love their products because, not only are they high quality stainless steel, they are very well made, sturdy and truly heirloom quality products (and let’s not forget cute, super cute!) If you buy them for your grandkids now, I expect they will be handed down for generations.

For more information from Tamara Rubin, child health advocate and environmental activist, please look at her website: tamararubin.com

A Panic Attack Can Mimic the Symptoms of COVID-19. Here’s What to Do About It.

It’s hard not to feel anxious during these stressful and trying times. I have been using meditation and breathing exercises to get me through the moments when reality hits hard. Here are some tips I found helpful to share. Sending love and light, Kirsten

Sweating, shortness of breath, a sense of impending doom: The symptoms of a panic attack are never particularly pleasant. But in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic they can be downright disconcerting—especially for people experiencing them for the first time. Here is what to do if you think you might be having a panic attack, and how to deal with your pandemic-related anxiety in general.

If you’re in need of immediate help, call 911 or one of the mental health hotlines listed here.

Shortness of breath is a symptom of both COVID-19 and anxiety. Here’s how to tell the difference.

A panic attack is when your fear or anxiety trigger sudden, physical symptoms with no obvious cause. The exact result can vary from person to person, but classic signs include some of the same symptoms folks have been told to look out for from COVID-19: chest pain, shortness of breath, and a feeling of feverishness or chills. If you’re having chest pain or serious trouble breathing for a sustained period, or when you already feel physically ill, you should absolutely call a doctor. But if you think your symptoms might be due to fear or anxiety, there are strategies you can use to breathe through it.

“The piece that gets people going in a classic panic attack is often that they feel as though they can’t breathe,” says Sheila Addison, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Oakland, California. This is usually because you’re taking very fast, shallow breaths, which minimizes your oxygen intake and causes your muscles to tense up.

Often, Addison explains, focusing on making your breathing more structured—lying down and counting through a pattern such as square breathing, where you count to four while inhaling, pause for a count of four, exhale on a count of four, and pause for another count of four before starting again—can help steady the body and get oxygen flowing normally again. Once you no longer feel starved for air, your body should stop tensing up. Your panic probably won’t disappear in an instant, but it will dissipate.

If you already know you have anxiety, don’t forget to keep doing what works

When it comes to people who have already been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder before, Addison says, the first line of defense is simple: Stick to your usual coping mechanisms.

“Sometimes when a stressor like this comes up and routines get disrupted, people inexplicably stop doing the things that work for them,” Addison says.

If you know exercise helps lower your anxiety, keep exercising—go for walks or runs outside as much as you’re able, or take up yoga at home. If you’re already prescribed medication, keep taking it (and be diligent about getting refills if at all possible). If journaling has been an important tool in managing your stress, don’t stop making your entries. This might sound like common sense, but if your anxiety has been spiking lately, stop and take inventory of your usual strategies and routines. Have some of them fallen by the wayside? There’s no shame in that—it’s a scary time, and doing your morning yoga might feel silly or self-indulgent—but it’s time to get back to your best habits. The CDC recommends eating well, getting plenty of sleep, and disengaging from the news occasionally to give your brain a break.

If you’re experiencing anxiety for the first time, here are things you can try at home

Meditation is a great thing to try if you need to destress, and there are apps to help you get into a meditation practice if you’re new to the idea. But Addison points out that it doesn’t work for everyone, and you shouldn’t feel bad if it doesn’t work for you.

“I don’t meditate,” she says. “I’ve found that trying to do it just stresses me out.”

Still, she says, the broader concept of mindfulness has been very helpful to her and her clients. She recommends reading the works of Pema Chödrön, an American Tibetan Buddhist nun, for help grappling with dark times.

“I’m not a Buddhist myself, but a lot of her work really resonates, especially now,” Addison says. “She talks a lot about how we like things to be certain, we like to have control, and we like to have choices.” When we’re in a situation with lots of rapidly-changing circumstances and looming unknowns, Addison says, our first instinct is to resist that reality as much as possible. In doing so, Chödrön argues, we only add to our own anguish.

“I may not be able to do much about the suffering of canceled plans or missing my family or worrying about someone I love,” Addison says, “but I can do something about the suffering caused by the stories I tell myself about the situation—worrying it will always be like this, or thinking about how unfair it is and how much I hate it.”

But how can we change those stories we tell ourselves? A lot of this comes down to internal dialogue; investigate the way you’re thinking about your current situation and ask yourself what parts of that you might be able to change. Addison thinks a recent resource published by Russ Harris, a psychotherapist and author of The Happiness Trap, is a good place to begin:

FACE COVID is a series of steps for dealing with fear and anxiety in the time of COVID-19. Start by focusing on what’s in your control. The economy, for example, is not in your control. But you can decide you’d like to write out a new budget that takes some of the uncontrollable financial pitfalls you’re worried about into account.

Acknowledge what you’re feeling: Very matter-of-factly recognizing that you’re experiencing anxiety or grief has the dual benefit of encouraging you to be kind to yourself and discouraging your mind from running away with those feelings. Grief is a valid feeling, but it doesn’t have to consume your whole day. Recognize that it’s there, but also that it isn’t you.

Come back into your body. Meditation might not be for you, but taking deep breaths and grounding yourself—or even using one of the breathing patterns mentioned earlier in this article—can help you regain a sense of control of yourself.

Engage in what you’re doing. Smith recommends thinking about three or four things you can see from your current position, or taking note of the smells and tastes you’re experiencing, as a way of refocusing before you move from thinking about your anxiety to honing in on whatever task you have at hand.

The COVID part of the acronym deals with moving forward from the moment of acute anxiety: Committed action is about picking things to do that align with your values and will make good use of your time. You might text a friend who you know is self-isolating, donate protective gear to a local hospital, deliver groceries for an immunocompromised neighbor, or commit to accomplishing some long-put-off task while you’re stuck at home.

Opening up is about continuing to engage with your own feelings, and being as compassionate and patient with yourself about them as you would be with a loved one who came to you for advice. “Values” is a reminder to think about what is important to you and what you would like to contribute to the world during this crisis—sharing kind words and offering emotional support to others. Identify resources by figuring out who you can and should reach out to when you’re in crisis and finding reliable sources of information to keep your anxiety in check. Finally, Smith throws in a “Disinfect and Distance” instruction to remind us all of why we’re cooped up at home alone: To protect ourselves and our communities.

Don’t forget that reaching out to friends and family is still quite possible, thanks to technology—and that some of them may be feeling just as anxious as you are. Sharing love and resources can help both of you feel more calm.

“We’re finding some fantastic ways of staying in touch thanks to technology,” Addison says. “It’s so cliche to blame tech for separating people, but I’m blown away by all the ways people are finding to connect.”

Written by Rachel Feltman for Popular Science and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

How to stop touching your face

Right before the COVID-19 shut downs started, my son and I went into Washington, DC on March 10th to speak to our congressional representatives about World Wildlife Fund and the importance of protecting nature. The coronavirus weighed heavily on my mind and I admit to being all over my son about touching his face. I spent the day constantly swatting his hand away from his face, and dousing his hands (and mine) with hand sanitizer. Here are some helpful tips for you and your family!

Public health officials consistently promote hand-washing as a way for people to protect themselves from the COVID-19 coronavirus.

However, this virus can live on metal and plastic for days, so simply adjusting your eyeglasses with unwashed hands may be enough to infect yourself. Thus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have been telling people to stop touching their faces.

We are experts in psychological science and public health. Brian Labus is an expert in communicable diseases who knows what people should do to avoid becoming infected. Stephen Benning is a clinical psychologist who helps clients change their habits and manage stress in healthy ways. Kimberly Barchard is an expert in research methods who wanted to know what the research says about face-touching. Together, we used our clinical expertise and the research literature to identify the best practices to reduce face-touching and lower people’s chances of catching COVID-19.

People touch their faces frequently. They wipe their eyes, scratch their noses, bite their nails and twirl their mustaches. People touch their faces more when they are anxious, embarrassed, or stressed, but also when they aren’t feeling anything at all. It's been estimated that students, office workers, medical personnel, and people on trains touch their faces between nine and 23 times per hour, on average.

Why is it so hard to stop? Face-touching rewards us by relieving momentary discomforts like itches and muscle tension. These discomforts usually pass within a minute, but face-touching provides immediate relief that eventually makes it a habitual response that resists change.

Change habitual behaviors

Habit reversal training is a well-established behavior modification technique that helps people stop a variety of seemingly automatic behaviors, such as nervous tics, nail-biting, and stuttering. It trains people to notice the discomfort that prompts their habits, select another behavior to use until the discomfort passes, and change their surroundings to lessen their discomfort.

You may have already changed some of your other habits—for example, by coughing into your elbow instead of your hands, or greeting others with a bow or wave instead of a handshake. But unlike coughing and hand-shaking, people frequently touch their faces without being aware of doing so. The first step in reducing face-touching is becoming aware of it.

Each time you touch your face, notice how you touched your face, the urge or sensation that preceded it and the situation you were in—what you were doing, where you were physically or what you were feeling emotionally. If you usually don’t notice when you touch your face, you can ask someone else to point it out.

Self-monitoring is more effective when people create a physical record. You can create a log where you briefly describe each instance of face-touching. For example, log entries might say:

  • Scratched nose with finger, felt itch, while at my desk
  • Fiddled with eyeglasses, hands tingled, frustrated
  • Rested chin on palm, neck sore, while reading
  • Bit fingernail, nail caught on pants, watching TV

Self-monitoring is more effective if people share their outcomes publicly, so consider sharing your results with friends or post it on social media.

Create new responses

Now that you are aware of the behavior you want to change, you can replace it with a competing response that opposes the muscle movements needed to touch your face. When you feel the urge to touch your face, you can clench your fists, sit on your hands, press your palms onto the tops of your thighs, or stretch your arms straight down at your sides.

This competing response should be inconspicuous and use a position that can be held for at least a minute. Use the competing response for as long as the urge to touch your face persists.

Some sources recommend object manipulation, in which you occupy your hands with something else. You can rub your fingertips, fiddle with a pen or squeeze a stress ball. The activity shouldn’t involve touching any part of your head. For tough-to-break habits, object manipulation isn't as effective as competing responses, perhaps because people tend to play with objects when bored, but touch their faces and hair when anxious.

Manage your triggers

Changing your environment can reduce your urges to touch your face and your need to use alternative responses. Use your log to figure out what situations or emotions are associated with your face-touching. For example:

  • If your glasses keep slipping off your nose, you can use ear hooks or hair ties to prevent slippage.
  • If you bite your nails, you can use a file to keep your nails short, or wear gloves or fingertip bandages, so that nail-biting is impossible.
  • If allergies make your eyes or skin itch or make your nose run, you can limit your exposure to allergens or take antihistamines.
  • If you get food stuck between your teeth, you can brush your teeth after each meal.
  • If your hair gets in your eyes and mouth, you can use an elastic, scarf or hair product to keep it back.

Face it, you may not be able to stop

Most people cannot entirely eliminate unwanted habits, but they can reduce them and just reducing face-touching lessens the opportunities for viruses to enter your system.

Sometimes you need to touch your face: flossing your teeth, putting in contact lenses, wiping food off your lips, putting on makeup or shaving your jaw. Remember to wash your hands first. To adjust your glasses without first washing your hands, use a tissue and throw it out immediately after use. Avoid finger food and using unwashed hands to put food into your mouth. Wash your hands first, or use utensils or the wrapper to handle the food.

Other ways you can reduce the spread of infectious diseases include practicing social spacing, washing hands thoroughly with soap and water or hand santizer, and disinfecting high-touch surfaces regularly. When your hands touch contaminated surfaces, though, the suggestions above may help you avoid touching your face before you wash them again.

Written by Labus for Popular Science and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.