My little 6 month old is at that stage where anything and everything ends up in her mouth. If I look away for a second she can grab a nearby magazine and chow down. Her first two little teeth appeared just the other day and this makes chomping down on something even more necessary to maintain her sunny personality (that is, if she doesn’t flop over).
The Issue: The teethers on the mainstream market look like they could fit the bill, but the many of them still have a major problem. The little plastic teethers, usually a soft, gummable plastic filled circle with water and cute decorations, are usually made from a plastic that has potentially dangerous chemical properties. Soft Vinyl plastics, called PVC, can have harmful additives called Phthalates. These are hormone-disrupting chemicals that are used as plastic softeners, which make teethers, well, so chewable. When administered at high doses to animals, PVC with phthalates caused increased cancer rates and damage to the liver, kidneys and other organs. PVC can also contain lead, which is known to cause developmental delays in children. Several years ago, the Consumer Product Safety Commission asked manufacturers to voluntarily eliminate phthalates from toys, and many of the large toy retailers stopped selling products containing phthalates. Some companies are phasing out the use of phalates in the near future. Many products still contain high levels of PVC with phthalates, and many retailers (including some chain drugstores) still sell these products. A particular problem with teethers and little baby toys with phthalates is the chemicals are leeched more quickly in a babies bloodstream by the babies’ chewing action.
Non Toxic Kids recommends: Buy natural wood (finished with beeswax polish) or organic cloth teethers from a reputable company. Two of my favorites are http://www.rosiehippo.com/ and http://www.novanatural.com/. Both retailers have many different kinds of teethers, rattles and hand toys for you to choose from.
If you must buy plastic, buy only teethers and baby toys (all toys, if possible, for that matter!) that clearly state they are phalate or PVC free. I must say, though, that I find it hard to simply trust this labeling.
Mama Tested: My baby girl chews on a Cherry Rattle from Nova Naturals. It is chunky and seems satisfying to her. Although, sometimes she cries when she bites it too hard, and I wish we had a cloth one for her as well. Haba Toys, based in Germany where the European Union has WAY higher standards to control chemicals in toys, has a great line of rattles and teeters. We have Flapsi, a cute hand rattle and perfect for her little mouth. Haba Toys are available at many independent, smaller toy stores and online at http://www.moolka.com/. We also have Flori, which is a cool clutch toy flower with wood petals. I think I like playing with this one as much as she does (maybe I shouldn’t admit that).