I Fail at Being a Minimalist

I was so determined that I would not buy him any more toys except for classics like stacking rings, shape sorters, bead coasters and blocks. And most importantly they would all be wooden ones. This was even before the recent news that many toys found in Singapore were found to have excessive levels of phthalates and/ or lead.

A test of 50 toys conducted by CASE in July 2010 found that 23 of them (46%) failed chemical toxicological tests and were found to contain higher than permitted levels of phthalates, lead or both. The permitted levels on phthalates and lead were determined using US and international regulatory standards. These standards were used as Singapore does not have a test standard for toy safety. (Source: http://www.case.org.sg)

Phthalates are used to soften plastic so it’s best to avoid any plastic that is pliable. This is especially true for bath toys. Even if these toys pass the US and international regulatory standards, their standards are based on some arbitrary number for part per million (ppm). Frankly, for a baby, ingesting any of these chemicals is one part too many especially when they like to mouth anything in their path or suck on their hands after touching things. If I could help it, I would avoid made-in-China (MIC) toys altogether since most of the problem items originate there altogether but that would probably mean he wouldn’t have very many toys at all. Even for wooden toys, many of them are MIC and I’m wary of those not so well known brands because the paint may well have lead in it. So in the end, I decided only to buy the brands which I’ve found to be more reputable and have  good safety standards i.e no lead recalls, no phthalate, no pvc, no bpa. This basically eliminates most of the popular brands like Fisher Price, Playskool and Vtech. So far, the only brands I really liked were Tolo and Tiny Love.

It’s no big loss because most the Fisher Price type toys are electronic toys with their fit inducing flashing lights and annoying teeny voice, which most kids get bored of after a week. One of my rules in buying toys is if it needs batteries, it’s not gonna get bought. Admittedly we already own some of those and they are well loved – Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes, Munchkin Mozart Cube, Tiny Love Carousel and his Tiny Love Cot Mobile which I’ve sold off cheap to another mummy on the forums. Any new toys that needs batteries will definitely undergo some close scrutiny and soul searching (aka the-does-he-really-need-it test)

As I was saying, I was planning not to buy any more toys for him for a while because I find that he is more interested in playing with us than in his toys. They might entertain him for a while when I’m busy but human interaction is definitely much preferred. I didn’t want him to end up being overwhelmed either. With too many toys, he might flit from one toy to another and won’t have the concentration of a fly to focus on exploring just one thing for an extended period.

So when I went to the baby fair today, I was in a bit of a pinch since I saw the Tolo First Friends Carousel on sale at $25. I was eyeing it previously but it was a little pricey. In the end, I gave in and bought it anyway. Gah, I’m just a big sucker when it comes to buying toys. So looks like my plan to be more minimalist might not work out as well as I thought, but looking at him enjoying the toys I buy for him is such a great joy. And so far most of his toys I picked out have lasted him a couple of months at least =)

17 Aug: I like my Toys. Ahm!


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