Are plastic toys bad for babies?

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Plastic-Free Toys for Kids - PomPom

Are plastic toys bad for babies?

3 Plastic Toy Myths debunked!

Are plastic toys bad for babies? Are plastic toys really THAT harmful? It is a great question and one that you, dear readers, Google all the time! 

We want plastic toys to be safe for our kids – the brighter, the crazier, the better.  After all, 90% of the world’s toys are made from plastic.  Lego is made from plastic and all kids love Lego.  Babies’ play pens are speckled with colourful plastic and they are so happy when they are in it! 

However, the stark truth is, we all know plastic is “bad for babies” but the question you consistently ask Google is how bad?  On a scale of shall-we-ignore-it-and-pretend-it’s-ok to I-must-purge-my-house-this-instant-of-anything-plastic, it’s neither and both!

Wooden Toys, PomPom

Are plastic toys safe for babies? 

Is BPA-Plastic safe? Look out Babies and Barbies!

BPA has become a well-recognised word amongst mothers, fearful of the harmful chemical that leaches from plastic toys for babies or sippy cups when sucked or washed.

The much sought-after label “BPA-Free” should logically solve that problem and yet, plastic will likely still contain plastisizers.  According to Carl Baum, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine and the Director of the Center for Children's Environmental Toxicology, some plasticizers may be even be more dangerous for our children than BPA.

It is SO stressful as a parent understanding what is ok and what is not ok.   Let’s make it simple – if you have to be a Professor of Medicine to understand what’s in a product designed for babies and children, chances are your child shouldn’t be sucking it, playing with it or eating or drinking from it!

The world is too busy but there are many easy switches that you can make;

  • Bamboo Toothbrushes (even the big supermarkets sell them now)
  • Natural Rubber Baby Teethers
  • Bamboo Bowls (including the fabulous suction cups on the bottom for weaning)
  • Shampoo Bars (even if you can’t give up the L’Oreal, your kids won’t notice)
  • Toys made from wooden toys, sugar cane, rubber, organic wool
  • Yes, even Lego can be replaced (BioBuddi looks like Duplo, plays like Duplo but made from sugar cane)

Wooden Toys, PomPom

Are Plastic Toys Bad for Babies or are Wooden Toys better? 

Are wooden toys boring and only good for Instagram?

Ah yes, Instagram.  The Mumpreneur with her side hustle in cashmere, posing in full make up blogging about her “difficult day” with colourful wooden building blocks surrounding her cooing baby that has entertained him for hours!

I love real life!

Wooden toys for kids are fabulous for Instagram because they look great.  It's always a bonus.  However, the secret to children's wooden toys is often they are “open-ended” so designed to spark the imagination and creative play. Usually they don’t just do one “thing” unlike battery operated toys, and so play lasts for longer. 

Creative play inspires children to happily play independently. 

Interestingly, it is usually only parents that ask what “open-ended” toys actually DO!  Kids seem to have no problem building castles, creating dens, stacking bricks, balancing games, zooming cars over and under bridges, cooking lunch and playing shop! 

A wonderful example of this is a Climbing Triangle UK Made.  It looks like a climbing frame and yet while children will use it to slide, climb and jump, they may also use it as a drying rack for doll’s clothes, a cosy nook for reading, a teddy bear’s catwalk and a garage for their favourite cars. Loved from 6 months – 5 years, it is the only toy that will out last your pram and folds up more easily!

However, the imagination never runs dry; from stacking animals to a wooden balancing board, from marble runs to a Pikler Triangle, UK Made. Oh yes, the bucket is a handbag, a flower pot, a stable for horses, a game for hide and seek, a hat.  The imagination is a glorious thing! 

Plastic free toys no longer cost the earth, you can buy second hand, you can borrow from lending libraries and indeed, companies are working all the time to keep costs lower.  As the toys last longer, you will spend less. 

Wooden Toys, PomPom

Can I recycle Plastic Toys?

Plastic toys and games will not usually be collected by your local council for recycling.  

Plastic can only be recycled if it contains only one type of plastic and indeed, no other material is attached.  This is rare in toys which are made from multiple types of plastic, screws, batteries and fabric.

Therefore only 18% of plastic in the UK is recycled and as MSC notes, every minute, one garbage truck of plastic is dumped into our oceans. 

Since plastics aren’t biodegradable, plastics that end up in waste piles or landfills break down into micro-particles and make their way through the Earth’s atmosphere, soil and water systems.  We drink it and the fish eat it.   Which evaporated into the atmosphere it rains.

More than 1,000 metric tons of micro-plastics rain down on us a year.


There are no easy answers to the world’s plastic problem.  However, please don’t throw away your plastic toys either.  If your kids are of an age, where they don’t have the same sensory need to “mouth” toys, keep, use, play with all your existing plastic toys.  When you are finished, give to a friend or a charity shop, so they can be loved again.

Be part of the change, even small changes can make a huge difference.  We don’t need a handful of people being plastic-free in every aspect of their lives.  We need millions doing it imperfectly.  Ditch the guilt and embrace what you can!

Author Biography:  Cecily Henderson is a co-founder of PomPom and has spent the last 3 years researching plastic toys, understanding the benefits of wooden toys for kids.  She believes passionately in the environment and thinks we should all do better when we can. 

If you enjoyed reading this blog post, you might enjoy: 

5 Benefits of an Indoor Baby Climbing Frame   

10 Easy Ways to Encourage Independent Play

Why Does My Kids Climb on Everything?!