In search of a safe non-toxic baby doll

baby doll

 

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?

 

photo credit: Kıvanç Niş via photopin cc

Comments

  1. Verity says

    I sympathise! My daughter is set to inherit the baby doll that I had as a little girl, well and truly off gassed, plenty of healthy grime and excellent quality to start with. The dolls generally available today make my skin crawl with their dummies, bottles and potties! Great post.

    • (dt)em says

      I know – who wants a baby that wees and smells like vanilla? Quality always trumps – anyway, if yours is more than 20 years old, there’s a good chance some of the most vile chemical concoctions weren’t in mainstream use x

  2. Rebecca Saha says

    Hi there,
    I wondered if you’ve seen Stella, the most “realistic” cloth baby doll we have found. Made by Manhattan Toy, Stella comes with peach skin or light brown skin…there’s a boy version too. All the accessories (pacifier, bottle, etc.) are great and non-plastic too, plus they magnetically grip to a magnet behind Stella’s mouth. My youngest is 8 and we still can’t pass Stella along to another family! Here’s what peach Stella looks like: http://www.manhattantoy.com/p/baby-stella-peach?referring_products=%7C44368b96d85a30e8b9c0e87994a85a1f
    Love your blog! I own an online children’s consignment store, called Eco Outfitters Online. I hope you’ll check me out on Facebook or visit the store at http://www.EcoOutfittersOnline.ca
    thanks!
    Rebecca Saha
    Toronto, Canada

    • (dt)em says

      They are gorgeous, thanks Rebecca! I know Edith would love to do the feeding and giving bub a dummy. Good to know the longevity factor is there too. Your store is fantastic, I love the term “high-end and gently used” :)

  3. Abbie says

    I’ve been lucky, both of my kids have cried and screamed “put it away!” at all plastic dolls (even my childhood cabbage patch dolls!!!), their first doll was a Wahldorf one, as it’s the first one they haven’t cried at.

  4. Momm Kathy says

    I, too, sympathize! I’ve been looking for a non-toxic baby doll for my goddaughter for about a year, with no luck. I’m in this loop of: look, fail, give up, come back to it later, look, fail, give up, etc. I’m not looking for a rag doll, but one with a realistic face such as the ones vinyl provides. Whoever solves this puzzle will have built a better mousetrap, and they will beat a path to your door. Meanwhile, folks who care about healthy toys should go to http://www.gettingready4baby.org and take action.

  5. Esther says

    I could have written this myself!! I was also on track of the Keptin Jr doll and since they are a Dutch company (I’m a Dutchie too) I wrote them and asked them why they were not available in the US. Apparently they took them of the market all together since they didn’t make it through the tests after all (!). I now found two brands that seem (at least) to be without phthalates: the (German) Kathe Kruse dolls ($$) and the little less expensive Haba / Gotz dolls. Still not happy to see my girl walking around with it but the Haba doll Paola could really not live up to the standards of the vinyl. These Kathe Kruse and Gotz dolls don’t have the vanilla scent that the Corolla dolls have.. (since, what chemicals are used to keep that smell on there for years and years..)!

    Nice to read your blog!
    Esther (www.behappybynature.com)

    • Amy Smith says

      Are Kathe Krus dolls made with plastic? How did you find information that they are a safer alternative?
      With Christmas around the corner I am trying to find a doll for my daughter. I don’t mind spending a little more money as long as I can feel good about the materials it is made from.

  6. Kathy Oconnell says

    Hmmm, I wonder if a porcelain doll would work? I made one for my granddaughter and she loved it. She is 12 now and still keeps it on her shelf. Children played with porcelain dolls long ago. Porcelain is very strong, it would only break if smashed with a hammer( perhaps a little brother) .

  7. Anne says

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us. This has been my same dilemma!!! (child wants plastic doll, Mama feels torn…)

    I appreciate it, and all the helpful comments, too.

    :) Blessings

    • (dt)em says

      Bring back porcelain, huh! I was thinking today how awesome it could be to have a doll made from bamboo… anyone?

  8. Brandi says

    I work in a Childcare center and purchase toys for children Birth to 3 years old. Thanks for the posts and comment/recommendations. It is really a huge struggle to strive for green/non-toxic toys for children with such a low volume of supply! I hate that I either have to comprise on the “least” toxic alternative or choose not to purchase something teacher’s and children love. I hope demand for non toxic toys for children and education of the toxins will continue, as we truely strive to find the safest products for our young population.

    • (dt)em says

      Thanks for your comment. It seems compromise is the best option at the moment. There are heaps of dolls at my daughter’s daycare and she loves them. If you can, remember to stick them in the sun for a couple of days or leave them out of the box to offgas x

  9. Brooke says

    Hi, does anyone know if the vintage Laurer rubbery water baby dolls are toxic? Bit worried here as I purchased one for my baby (washed it before giving it to her) who’s also teething and now am a bit worried.!?
    Please let me know if I should be getting rid of this and will my little one still be ok? Thanks.

  10. Tracy Bryce says

    After the birth of my daughter I also search for a safe, non toxic vinyl doll. Unable to find anything on the market I began my long process ( 5 years) trying to make a doll that all mothers could feel good about. I am proud to announce that our Treexies natural rubber dolls will be ready for sale this fall 2016. They are Hand Crafted, 100% Non Toxic, BPA, PVC, BPS & Phthalate-free, and Biodegradable. Tested true by a mom like you! http://www.treexies.com

  11. Becky says

    While researching for a safe, non-toxic baby doll I ran into this website and read all the replies. I looked into the Stella doll that was recommended here. She is so cute! My daughter is a chewer though so I was a little worried about the magnets in the doll/pacifier. I read through all the reviews of the Stella doll on Amazon and someone else there had recommended a baby doll by magiccabin.com. So I went there and researched their dolls! They are a little pricier but I decided to order one of the baby dolls! Their so cute and you can actually place their thumb in their mouth to suck and a bottle and pacifier works with it too! Its jist a little more realistic than the Stella doll so I decided to go for it! The only con to me would be the size. It’s 17.5 inches long I believe and this is only for my 1 yr old. But I figure she will grow into it! Their really darned cute…check em out here!

    http://www.magiccabin.com/mobi/rubens-barnand174;-baby-dolls-collection.htm

  12. K.S. says

    I’ve been struggling with this same thing the past 6 yrs. I want to avoid giving my children potentially toxic toys but they love the realistic look of the plastic baby’s & dolls. I’ve managed to buy primarily cloth dolls but keep in mind that with those made of polyester that polyester is still basically a plastic. I at least feel better that these dolls can be run through the washer which I hope washes away some/most of the chemicals. I’ve seen the treexies dolls and I love them. I’ve been wondering why no one made dolls of natural rubber before…it’s about time! :) they’re a bit on the pricey side for my family but I’m hoping to save up & perhaps be able to purchase a treexies doll for my girls for Christmas. I also have the issue though that my husband and other family members don’t have any issues with vinyl or plastic toys so that always makes purchasing more natural toys for my kids more challenging.

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