Is it safe for my baby to chew on keys? Is it safe for my baby to play with keys?
No and No.
But what about my toddler? They don’t put things in their mouth. So that’s harmless, right?
Children (of any age) should not be playing with or handling keys. It goes beyond the dirt and grime that is found on most keys, though that may be reason enough not to let your child play with them. If you’re like me, your keys often end up at the bottom of your bag, which definitely isn’t the cleanest place in the world!
The bigger reason why you should not let your child play with your keys, especially babies who put things in their mouth, is because of lead.
DANGERS OF LEAD EXPOSURE FOR CHILDREN
According to the EPA, “lead can affect almost every organ and system in your body. Children six years old and younger are most susceptible to the effects of lead”. Even low levels of lead in children can result in a slew of problems including:
- lower IQ,
- slowed growth,
- hearing problems, and
- behavior problems
“In rare cases, ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma and even death.”
REGULATION RELATED TO LEAD
The law does limit the amount of lead that can be present in children’s toys to 90 parts per million.
However, keys are not considered toys. There are currently no regulations on the amount of lead that can be found in keys (or most other products meant for adults, for that matter).
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY KEYS HAVE LEAD?
It’s better to err on the side of caution and just assume that one or more of your keys is leaded.
There is a special machine that tests lead levels in products (XFR), but unless you buy one (they’re tens of thousands of dollars, by the way!), rent one, or hire someone who has one, you won’t know for sure how much lead is in your keys.
One such person you can hire is Tamara Rubin, an internationally recognized, award winning lead-poisoning prevention advocate.
As part of her advocacy work, she tests tons of products for lead and shares the results on her site. You can see the results of the various keys Tamara Rubin has tested for lead here. Spoiler alert: they all have shockingly high levels of lead.
Promise me you’ll never let your child play with or chew on your keys ever again!
ALTERNATIVES FOR BABIES WHO LOVE KEYS
It’s understandable why our keys are so appealing for babies and young children. Among other reason, keys are:
- fun to manipulate
- jingle when you shake them
- cool to the touch, so feel great on the gums when teething
They are often given to babies by unsuspecting parents because they are so readily available. In the grocery store? At a restaurant? You always have your keys on you so it’s an easy trap to fall into if you didn’t know any better. But now you know better. Keys are not safe for babies.
If your baby loves keys, I highly recommend toy keys from a company called Kleynimals. They are the perfect replacement for real keys. They provide all the same features that babies and young children are drawn to in real keys, but these are safe.
Kleynimals are made (in America!) with 100% food-grade stainless steel. They also come with a muslin pouch so you can toss them in your bag without them getting dirty.
I bought these for my 8 month old when I was looking to offer my baby a variety of textures and materials to teeth on. She loves chewing on her Kleynimals and I love that they are safe and non-toxic. Not to mention, they are super cute! The ‘keys’ are shaped like a lion, giraffe, and elephant!
For more articles on non-toxic toys, check out: The Modern Mindful Mom