PomPom: Are plastic toys actually harmful for kids?

Our friends over at plastic-free store PomPom debunk some common plastic myths when it comes to children’s toys.

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.

However, the stark truth is, we all know plastic is “bad”, but 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.


Myth 1: BPA-Free plastic is safe

BPA has become a well-recognised word amongst mothers, fearful of the harmful chemical that leaches from plastic toys 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 plasticisers. 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 plasticisers may 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.

There are many easy switches that you can make;

*20% of profits from our sales go to MCS

Myth 2: Wooden Toys are 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 are fabulous for Instagram because they look great. It is always a bonus. However, the secret to 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. 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 outlast your pram and folds up more easily!

However, the imagination never runs dry; from stacking animals to balancing boards, from marble runs to a bucket and spade. 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.

Myth 3: Plastic Toys can be recycled so are not harmful for the environment

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 that are made from multiple types of plastic, screws, batteries, and fabric.

Therefore only 18% of plastic in the UK is recycled and as MCS 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 microparticles and make their way through the Earth’s atmosphere, soil, and water systems. We drink it and the fish eat it.

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 to do it imperfectly. Ditch the guilt and embrace what you can!

Enter discount code MCS to receive 10% off across the PomPom site.

About PomPom

Plastic is such an enormous part of our daily lives, finding the alternatives that kids actually love takes effort, energy and time. It requires planning, preparation and thought. We know how busy the world is, so we created PomPom.

PomPom is an online store for unusual and stylish designs for babies and children with toys, gifts, games and playroom ideas. It is the natural home of the climbing triangle. PomPom is proudly plastic free from product to packaging.

PomPom is a proud partner of MCS and donates 20% of profits from certain products to support their vital work, protecting our seas and shorelines.


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This blog was written by our friends at PomPom and is not a direct representation of the beliefs of MCS.