It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and the most stressful with regards to shopping.

From product recalls to lead scares, you can’t be too careful when it comes to making safer choices for your children this holiday season.

Here are a few tips to help you buy the safest toys possible, as well as my top 5 favorite green toys of 2012.

First, do your research.  

Get to know the companies behind the products.  Do they have frequent recalls?  Do they have a commitment to safety posted anywhere on their website?  Investigate and call their customer service hotline with any questions you may have.  One call will not make a difference, and chances are the representative on the end of the line may not even know what phthalates are.  HOWEVER,  thousands of calls from moms across the country over time will spark change and reformulation of products.

Second, do more research.

What’s IN those toys anyway?  Are they natural materials like sustainably-harvested wood or organic cotton, or are they covered in paint or contain metal/plastic parts?  If metal/plastic, what kind of metal?  What kind of plastic?  Not all metal is the same.  Stainless steel?  Put in in your mouth all you want.  Cadmium-filled costume jewelry?  Notsomuch.  Not all plastics are the same either.  I would much rather my son chew on a polypropylene (#5) object than, say, a PVC-laden (#3) one.

Third, you guessed it, keep researching.

Liking and following the social media accounts of green bloggers and reputable organizations such as Healthy Child Healthy World, Safe Mama (I love her Holiday Toy Guides), The Smart Mama, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, The Soft Landing (Safe Preschool Toy Guide here), and Groovy Green Livin’ will help make sure you are “in the know” when news breaks.  HealthyStuff.org has a comprehensive list of reports tagged as “toys” that will simultaneously educate and scare the crap out of you.  Katy Farber of Non-Toxic Kids has a great gift guide here.  Also, check out Toxic Toys:  How To Choose A Safe Toy For Children via Healthy Child Healthy World.

Knowledge is power, and hopefully the more you know the more power we will have collectively to demand safer toys for our children.

Now for my favorite holiday picks!

1. Green Toys Tea Set

This set is perfect for play or real life use, as it meets FDA specs for food contact and is dishwasher safe.  Green Toys products are tested by nationally recognized, independent, third-party labs (located, yes, in the USA.) They contain no traceable amounts of Phthalates or BPA. They are also designed without any external coatings, eliminating the fear of lead paint.  I love so many things from the Green Toys line.  Check them out for sure.

2.  Tegu Mahogany Blocks

These blocks inspire imagination and foster creativity, all with the simplicity of wood and magnets.  Tegu plants zillions more trees than it uses and also employs socially responsible business practices.  Based in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, the Company creates living wage jobs at its factory and provides support for locally-established educational and environmental initiatives.  Tegu makes gorgeous (and fun) toys.  See the entire line here.

3. eco-kids eco-dough

Eco-kids is a family run business that produces all natural art supplies.  Eco-dough is comprised of all natural ingredients including plant, fruit and vegetable extracts. Essential oils keep the dough soft and pliable and provide a light aroma.  My son LOVES playing with this dough, and I have to admit, I do too!

4. Plan Toys Drum Set

Officially named the “Musical Band”, we love Plan Toys in this house and it was very hard to restrain myself from buying everything in their catalog.  This set includes 2 different sized drums, a pair of drumsticks, a cymbal, a guiro, and stands over 13 inches tall.  Plan toys makes the most aesthetically pleasing toys…their design team is top-notch.  PlanToys are made from non-toxic, natural materials such as organic rubberwood and adhere to the most stringent safey standards. See all they have to offer here.

5. Haba Sticki Blocks

We love our Haba  multicolored building blocks.  They fit together beautifully and the colors are so vivid.  Available in a larger set as well, My son will play with these for hours.  Well, it’s actually more like 45 minutes at a time, but it seems like hours.  Haba (a German company) uses safe, non-toxic, water-based lacquers on their products (not paints) and their toys meet (and often exceed) the ASTM mechanical specifications required by the CPSIA in the USA.  In addition, Haba toys are tested to meet the stringent European requirements for safety. View the entire Haba line here.

What are your favorite green toys?  I’d love to hear about them.  Please share in the comments below!

Want to win a $25 Amazon.com gift card just in time for the holidays? 

Tweet the following:

$25 @Amazon gift card giveaway on @AtlantaGreenMom’s Safer Holiday Toys gift guide!  So easy to enter:  http://www.atlantagreenmom.com/safer-holiday-toys/

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Winner chosen 12/10!

Disclaimer:  this post was not sponsored in any way and all opinions expressed are strictly my own.

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