My daughter’s carers tell me she particularly likes the hard-faced vinyl dolls at day care. This makes my toes curl because not only is PVC the most polluting plastic in the world, it’s made from cancer-causing vinyl chloride and full of hormone-disrupting chemicals.
I have searched high and low for a safe non-toxic baby doll, but do you think I can find one? There were a few promising leads, but the one brand that I found that made phthalate-free vinyl dolls, which are a step in the right direction, was unavailable everywhere I looked. The brand is Keptin Jnr and hopefully they will continue to stock safer dolls.
A safe alternative
The only way to ensure you have a baby doll 100% free of vinyl chloride, lead and the carcinogenic phthalate DEHP is to choose one that is PVC-free. This essentially means you need to choose a cloth or rag doll. I looked into Waldorf dolls, which I just love for their educational, handmade and toxin-free attributes, so I went back to the ladies at day care and said, “hey, what about this?” Nope. Edith has access to more rag dolls than you can shake a baby at; the only thing she truly wants is a “real bubba” to carry around and wrap up warm on a 30C-degree summer’s day.
I know I’m not the only one with this dilemma as I found others on just about every parenting forum asking “Anyone know where I can get a safe non-toxic baby doll?” But the facts remain: hard-faced dolls contain vinyl; vinyl is PVC, PVC is toxic.
Enter the compromise
I’m sure there are others out there who, like me, are considering buying the One Thing Their Child Must Have, even though it compromises their beliefs. It’s a ridiculous paradox: I feel like a terrible parent because I am considering providing my child with exactly what she wants. And it’s not like I’m giving her a gun – it’s a baby doll for god’s sake!
As I wrestle with this situation, I have looked for ways to compromise. So here are some thoughts on how to meet your values and your child’s desires halfway:
- Choose second-hand: this is my first preference as pre-loved toys will have fewer residual chemicals on the surface, and possibly a healthy coat of grime as protection.
- Buy a reputable brand: cheap, $10 baby dolls are unlikely to have been made in carefully controlled environments and, seeing as lead is often used to stabilise PVC, you want to make sure it conforms to all safety standards.
- Offgas, offgas, offgas: If you do choose a brand-new vinyl doll in a box, take it out of the packaging for as long as possible. Here in Oz, we have plenty of sunshine to speed up the offgassing process, but the heat of a cosy room should do it too, just remember to open a window to let the volatile organic compounds out of your home. [Never place PVC dolls on a heat source such as a radiator.]
- Choose better accessories: Just because you’ve compromised a little, doesn’t mean you have to go the whole hog. Search your favourite hand-made store for organic dolls’ clothes, bedding and other accessories.
To read more about PVC and its inherent dangers, read this article on Healthy Child Healthy World.
Do you know of a safe, non-toxic baby doll? Does PVC in kids’ toys worry you?