Safe Toys For Christmas

Last week my husband’s aunt inquired about what our daughter would like for Christmas. I stood speechless, unsure how to answer her. Instead of envisioning a pile of presents under a beautifully decorated tree, I was picturing the mountain of toys (nearly a million) that have recently been recalled because of health hazards.

My knee-jerk response was to say, “Anything that is not made in China”, but I resisted the urge. Instead, I went to my computer and began to research the problem that has captivated the minds of the American public: where to find toys that are safe for our children. After emerging from my computer, I realized that although China has become the scapegoat for poisonous products, US Companies may actually be at fault.

For example, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) is a US firm under attack by parents and consumer activists because KKR is the parent company of Toys ‘R’ Us, Dollar General, and other companies that have manufactured or sold dangerous products. They are accused of pressuring overseas manufacturers to cut corners in order to make products at bottom line prices. While such actions may have lined their corporate pockets, it has also placed dangerous products in the hands of children and other consumers. Avoiding products manufactured in China is not going to make business practices that endanger our health go away.

So how are we, as consumers, going to handle the holidays? The first step is to seek out reputable companies to purchase toys and other gifts from. The most environmentally-sound approach is to find suppliers or stores that sell safe products in your neck of the woods. Join the local chapter of the holistic moms group, don’t worry dads, you can join too (www.holisticmoms.org) and ask other members where to shop. If there are no local options, many safe products are available online.

One company I have discovered is 1888Toys.com, which has a business model that encourages sustainability and child safety. They have a wide variety of products including board games, wooden toys, kitchen sets, puzzles, and educational toys. Their products have not been affected by the recent safety recalls. The owner of the site, who is very pleasant to speak with, ensured me that all of their toys meet or exceed US and European standards for toy safety and pass regular safety and quality checks. Many of their toys are made by small companies in the USA (many are located in Montana, Minnesota and Michigan). I was also pleased to learn that the wood finishes are selected from the ‘safe substances’ list. (After all, lead is not the only toxic threat to children). You can purchase your gifts online at http://www.1888toys.com or call for other options. They even offer free shipping for orders over $75.

Perhaps the best alternative is to get a few extra hours of sleep on Black Friday rather than braving the crowd of holiday bargain shoppers. If you can hold off on toy shopping until after December 5th, you will have the advantage of shopping the big name stores armed with information about which of the toys found there contain toxic chemicals. Just go to http://www.HealthyToys.org on Wednesday, December 5th. That is when the results of testing performed on more than 1500 popular toys for toxic chemicals such as lead and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) will be released. Each week until Christmas more toys will be tested based upon shoppers’ requests. The testing was performed by the Ecology Center in collaboration with the Washington Toxics Coalition and other leading environmental groups using technology more reliable than home lead testing kits.

Another alternative to toxic toys is to gift clothing rather than toys. If taking this approach, consider organic cotton clothing or pajamas that are inherently flame retardant so the chemical hazards of flame retardants are not absorbed through your child’s skin. For babies, Under the Nile (www.underthenile.com) sells organic cotton children’s clothing, stuffed toys, and a cute little crate of stuffed veggies.

As the holiday season approaches, remember that each and every dollar we spend speaks volumes about what we believe in. By refusing to support companies that endanger our health, we are paving the way for safer products and sustainable practices to thrive in the marketplace. So lets all have a happy, healthy holiday by purchasing quality products from companies that care. And remember that hand-made gifts are from the heart and equally precious. If you cannot afford to buy safer products forego the store-bought gifts and craft something yourself.

If you are looking for a gift for an adult, order the eBook “Holler for Your Health: Be the Key to a Healthy Family” at http://www.holler4health.com. This book will help the recipient preserve or reclaim their health. According to Dr. Leo Galland, author of the highly acclaimed The Fat Resistance Diet, Power Healing, and Superimmunity for Kids, “Every parent needs to read this book.” Let this Christmas be the year that we provide our children with healthier gifts for themselves as well as the world they will inherit.

4 Tips for Buying Dog Toys

The best dog toys are those which are not harmful to the dog, but afford them hours of fun. Let’s look at some things to consider when buying a dog toy. Depending on the breed, size and age of your dog, they may prefer a particular toy over others. In fact, while it may not be a toy at all, some dogs may become attached to an inanimate object much like a child will hang on to a security blanket.

Squeak Toys

Generally, dogs love toys that squeak; especially as puppies. It doesn’t matter what shape or color it is, as long as it squeaks, it generally becomes a favorite. Dogs love to squeak the toy and sound will always catch their attention if you want to initiate play with them.

Dog Toy Tip #1:

* Get a toy that squeaks and is durable. If it’s a furry toy with a squeaker, it helps if it is washable.
* Avoid purchasing a squeaky toy that can easily be torn; a dog can choke on the squeaker.

Fetch Toys

Taking your dog to a dog park or other area where they can run about is an important part of their exercise regimen. As such, bringing along the Frisbee or tennis ball will give your dog hours of pleasure. To create a longer experience for you and your pup, there are a lot of choices for “fetch” toys including ChuckIt! ball launchers and Air Kong that make it easier for the human to throw the ball or toy further with less effort.

Dog Toy Tip #2:

* Get a Frisbee, tennis balls and/or other appropriate “fetch” toys for your dog’s age and size.
* Ensure that the toy is not made of hard plastic or other materials that could harm your pup.

Chew Toys

Dogs, especially puppies, love to chew on just about anything. When caught in the act of chewing on something inappropriate such as a shoe or your furniture, quickly say, “No!” and replace it with an appropriate chew toy and praise them for chewing the toy. Let them know that it’s OK to chew, but they must limit their chewing to what you deem to be OK.

While plastic bones are widely available, dogs prefer bones they can readily chew such as rawhide. There are also some great cloth and felt toys that are long-lasting and are good for teething pups.

Dog Toy Tip #3:

* Get bully sticks or bones made of vegetable material or rawhide.
* Keep an eye on your dogs when chewing these toys; remove them as they get too small and become a choking hazard.

Treat Toys

Dogs particularly love toys that have a secret compartment wherein you can place a treat. These are great to use as a

reward or to keep your pup busy during times that you want them to be occupied without your direct supervision such as when you are eating or otherwise engaged.

Dog Toy Tip #4

* Get a rubber toy like a “Kong”, a heavy duty toy with a hole in the center in which treats are placed; Kongs come in all sizes with treat types for different age and size dogs.
* Beware of cheap toys that are made of plastic or that can be easily chewed; i.e., empty water bottles or anything of a thin plastic material. Dogs can break them and choke on or cut their gums on the pieces.

The truth is, you can easily make a toy out of an old sock. Make some large knots in it and your dog will be perfectly happy. But when buying a dog toy, it is important to read the label to ensure it is safe, does not contain any lead or other toxins, and will be durable.

Purchase a variety of toys and let your dog choose the ones which they prefer.If you are a pet owner, you know from experience that once a dog is given a toy that squeaks, for example, the squeak won’t last forever. Keep a small cache of favorites and other toys and switch them up; put some away and take out others.

Remember that matter what you spend or how many toys you supply to your pet, it’s always going to be YOU that they enjoy the most.

What You Need To Know About Remote Control Toys

Owning A Remote Control Vehicle

This is a great way for you to bond with your children or friends as this type of toy will keep you all busy for hours. You can all become involved by designing courses and tracks to race your buggys on. It will surprise you how competitive everyone becomes and the need to race each other will become serious business. You can race for fun or competitively when you become better with your remote control toy. There are many different groups and events that you can attend when you begin to get better. This is also a great way to meet other remote control enthusiasts who can give you help and advice.

When deciding to buy a remote control toy there are many different things to consider as you will want to involve everyone. If you are water lovers than a remote control boat may be better suited to you rather than a land toy. If you like the idea of flying something around, then a remote control helicopter will be ideal for you and your family. The summer months are more suited to flying toys as more people are out and about enjoying the weather. You can also see clearer in the summer months making the flying conditions more suited to helicopters and planes.

As with all of the toys there are several different varieties of helicopters and planes to choose from and which one you purchase will be your decision. Although when first starting out you should try to purchase one that is robust and can take crashing. It would be great if you didn’t bang and crash the toys but unfortunately when first starting out there will be accidents. There is a vast range of helicopters, some are great for beginners and others are suited to more advanced fliers. You will need to consider how far you want to fly and in what condition, also your skill level. Electric helicopters are suited to beginners as they are cheaper and easier to fly than gas powered ones.

Electric powered helicopters are less noisy and smell better as gas ones tend to chuck out a great deal of smell. Gas ones are more expensive and you will need to have some knowledge of what you are doing if you want to operate one of these. This style of flying toy will need to be regularly maintained and serviced which can be costly and complicated. You can always strive to purchase one of these helicopters when you become more experienced. In the beginning though you will want a remote control toy that you can practice with and master how to control it.

Land remote control toys are the most popular to purchase as everyone loves seeing them race and all ages can get involved. There are very basic models of buggies for younger children to have a go with before they progress to more complicated versions. Children usually love the look of the Monster trucks which do look impressive when being driven. They also cause a great deal of amusement as they can travel over all terrains and are very sturdy and robust. Even with their size they can often perform tricks which can keep you and your children amused for hours trying to achieve these.

This style of remote control buggies can often be driven in the wet which makes them ideal for off road races and courses. It is far funnier to see the trucks racing in the mud and puddles and finding out how far you can in fact push them. If you don’t fancy getting dirty then you can road race as well, there are many different remote control toys that look great and race on the flat roads. Often you can find these models branded to your child’s favorite character such as Barbie or Ferrari. You will be able to achieve some great speeds with this style of remote control cars. These are the best style for road racing and you will be amazed how fast they can in fact go.

Deciding how much you want to spend on your remote control toy will be the first thing you need to decide. There are many elaborate high tech toys on the market, these are more expensive to purchase and you might want to buy a cheaper version in the beginning. If you continue with the remote control toys then you can always upgrade and buy better buggies and helicopters as you feel you can afford them. Researching is very important as you want to ensure that you buy the correct style to suit your needs or it could work out very expensive.

You can purchase remote control toys in many toy stores and online, there will be a vast range available for you to choose from. If you want more choice or a certain type of remote control toy then you can join one of the many clubs. This will enable you to ask their advice and guidance when it comes to which toy will suit what you are looking for. You will find that once you begin to purchase different remote control toys then you will get hooked. You will want to be out racing other toys and getting better results every day. Something so simple can be an ideal way to get all of the family out of the house and having fun.