Good Safe Fun!

These days it is hard to know which toys are truly safe for our children to be playing with. Between phthalates, BPA, lead, and every other nasty chemical out there, it can leave you feeling like you don’t want to give your child anything more than a wooden spoon to enjoy!

Well, rest easy- there are lots of wonderful toys available out there that you never have to second guess, and a few you can create yourself with very minimal effort. Here are some ideas:

-Encourage imaginative play! That wooden spoon just may not be such a bad idea! See how many brilliant things that spoon can become in the hands of your little one. Add some pots and you will find yourself with a full blown drum set. Add a cardboard box and your little one could be paddling a boat on the ocean blue. The options are endless! Sometimes the lack of actual “toys” is the best stimulation your child can receive!

-Gather up cloths you no longer wear, especially anything that seems ridiculous (hint: if you thought it was cool in high school, they will probably think it is funny now!). Put your finds in a big box and let the kiddos play dress-up! They will be amused by your old wardrobe and you can take a little trip down memory lane!

-Younger kids love tactile stimulation! Try filling a small bin or bucket with a dried beans, rice, dried peas or sand, and hide small toys throughout. Your tykes will be thrilled to dig for all the treasures again and again! Find other great ideas for easily homemade activities for tots on one of my favorite new blogs: Totally Tots!

-Play dough is an activity that children of any age can adore (you may even find yourself sucked into this fun activity)! Instead of buying pre-made versions that are filled with chemicals and preservatives, why not make your own? Better yet, have your little ones help you! Even the littlest of tot participants can help dump in ingredients! There are a zillion recipes on the internet for everything from play dough, to goop, to modeling clay. Here is my favorite:

* 1 cup flour (not self-rising)
* 1/2 cup salt
* 1 cup water
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

Mix in saucepan over low heat. (It does not have to heat long.) Dough is ready when it rolls into a ball. Keep dough fresh in an airtight container. If you need to make different colors, add food coloring while mixing over heat.

-Check out some of the wonderful toys available online, on such sites as MT Diaper Store, Hyenacart, Etsy, Tiny Birds Organics, Nova Natural, A Child’s Dream, or Sarah Jane’s Treasures. These shops feature everything from natural rubber teethers, to wooden rattles, to play kitchens and food, to race cars, games, and more!

Already have plenty of toys but just want to check and make sure they are safe for the youngsters in your house?

Head on over to where you can search for the particular toys you own and see how safe they really are. They even have a text message number that you can send requests to while you are out toy shopping, and you will receive a text back on the safety of the product you are considering purchasing! What a great tool to have in your back pocket (not to mention handing out to grandparents and friends who may wish to buy your little ones a gift)! Safe Start for Kids is another great site to go to for product safety information.

So take heart and have hope- not everything available to our kids is bound to make them sick!

There really are some wonderful options out there for things they can play with; sometimes it just takes a little imagination, and 5 minutes or so to put them together!

An original 5 Minutes for Going Green post. Follow the rest of MacKenzie’s musings on being a birth and postpartum doula while pregnant, totschooling her son, and still finding time to knit, at Mama Kenz Studio.

And remember, the Bummas Giveaway is going on until Sunday March 1st at 7pm EST, and all you have to do to enter is comment on the giveaway post with a valid email address; if you haven’t entered yet, what are you waiting for?

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