One day, when my first daughter was very young (she was probably about 6 months old), I was cleaning up the bathtub after bath time.
I grabbed her rubber ducky and squeezed it to get all of the water out.
Well, the water came out… and so did a bunch of black mold.
I was disgusted, and I immediately threw it away.
Upon further research, however, I learned that nasty mold and bacteria may not be the only thing lurking in our children’s bath toys, so I set out to find some non-toxic options that would be safe for her (and her siblings now too!).
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Best Non-Toxic Bath Toys
When looking for non-toxic bath toys, we recommend finding 100% food-grade silicone or natural rubber toys.
(And to make bathtime even more fun, you can check out our selection of non-toxic bath bombs that your little one will love!)
Here is our selection of brands that are doing it right and keeping your children safe when they’re playing in the bath.
Hevea makes a variety of baby products (including our favorite pacifiers!). We love all of their products because they’re safe and non-toxic.
This sweet little rubber duck is 100% natural rubber, and it’s still super soft and malleable (perfect for teething babies!). There are no holes that will allow water inside either.
This rubber duck doesn’t have any added colors, but Hevea also has cute hand-painted bath toys. The paint they use is made with pure natural plant pigments, so it’s perfectly safe and healthy for your little ones.
What’s more is that all of their packaging is biodegradable and safe for the environment.
Oli&Carol toys are hand-made and hand-painted with safe, non-toxic paints. The toys are all made from 100% natural rubber, which makes them safe for your baby and safe for the environment too.
The bath toys are completely sealed and don’t have any cracks or crevices that will allow water inside, which keeps them mold-free and safe for your baby to chew on.
And if you’re seeking female-owned businesses, this is a great brand to choose. The company was started by two sisters in Barcelona, Spain.
Looking for some great educational toys that are made right here in the U.S.? BeginAgain toys are made in Colorado.
They carry wooden toys, games, puzzles, teethers, and non-toxic bath toys too.
BeginAgain bath toys are made with 100% natural rubber, and they’re all dishwasher safe, which makes them easy to clean.
Their other toys are made with rubberwood, Maine rock maple, and corn starch rubber (a more sustainable and safer alternative to synthetic plastics like PVC).
CaaOcho is a terrific brand that makes 100% pure natural rubber bath toys. Their toys are 100% non-toxic, sustainably-made, and biodegradable, making them safe for your baby and safe for the environment too.
The bath toys don’t have any holes, which keeps them mold-free on the inside, but since they’re not chemically-treated, you’ll still have to take care of the outside by letting them dry completely after bathtime.
CaaOcho bath toys are soft and flexible, which makes them perfect for teething too, and they use non-toxic lead-free paint.
You’ve most likely seen the classic Sophie la Girafe teether toy on store shelves, baby registries, and maybe in your child’s own toy box.
These toys make great bath toys too because they’re made from 100% natural rubber and painted with food-grade dyes.
The Vulli Company makes a toy specifically for the bathtub too, and it’s free of holes and still just as soft and flexible as the original Sophie.
If your kids just love bath toys that squirt (what kid doesn’t?), Giggles & Pebbles makes a wonderful option that is easy to keep mold-free.
You can actually twist them open to clean and dry them, and they’re top-rack dishwasher safe to make them even easier to clean.
What’s more is that these toys are made with 100% food-grade silicone, so they’re completely safe and non-toxic for your kids.
What Toxins Are In Bath Toys?
You’d think you can trust the manufacturers of children’s toys, especially when those toys are geared to babies and toddlers.
Unfortunately, however, the Consumer Products Safety Commission does not currently do any safety testing on toys before they’re placed on store shelves. This leaves the burden on the parent to make sure their child’s toys and bath toys are safe and non-toxic. Here are some toxins you should avoid:
Mold & Bacteria. As mentioned above, mold and bacteria can line the inside of bath toys. Water seeps into the toys through small holes or cracks and crevices, and it’s not able to get back out. Of course, your baby’s bath water isn’t just water. It’s often a mixture of water, dirt, and sometimes urine. Researchers have even found traces of feces in bath toys. Yuck! When your child squeezes the water out of his or her bath toys, that mold and/or bacteria can cause infections throughout their body (including eye, ear, and even gastrointestinal infections). If you find mold in your children’s bath toys, however, try not to panic. It likely won’t do much harm. You can follow the tips at the end of this post to avoid mold growth and clean bath toys properly.
PVC. Soft plastic is usually made with PVC. PVC is one of the most harmful plastics because of all of the chemicals that are used to make it. PVC includes vinyl chloride (a known carcinogen), dioxins (which have been linked to reproductive, endocrine, and overall development issues, immune system damage, and even cancer — dioxins are also found in diapers), and phthalates (which are linked to asthma, behavioral problems, diabetes, fertility issues, cancer, and even a lower IQ). All of these chemicals can leach out of the toy and into your child’s body, especially when your child puts it in his or her mouth.
Lead. We’ve talked about lead quite a bit in the past, and I’m sure you know how dangerous it is. It is not supposed to be in our kids toys, but unfortunately, many toys from other countries still contain lead paint. Lead can cause anemia and damage to the kidneys and brain. Enough lead exposure can also lead to death. However, that’s extremely unlikely with the small amount of lead that could be in a bath toy. No amount of lead is safe though!
Bisphenols (BPA & BPS). I have an entire post about bisphenols if you’d like to learn more about them, but to keep things short, BPA and BPS (which is found in plastic) mimics estrogen. Because our bodies are very sensitive to changes in hormone levels, these bisphenols may actually hinder or accelerate cell growth (which may lead to cancer), damage the reproductive system and thyroid, and studies have also shown that they can lead to heart problems.
Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is in a great variety of products in our homes, and, unfortunately, it may be in our children’s bath toys too. In the short term, formaldehyde can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat and cause coughing. This irritation, in the long-term, may also lead to asthma.
How to Avoid Getting Mold in Bath Toys
No matter what material your children’s toys are made out of though, they still have the potential to grow old and bacteria. How do you avoid that?
To avoid getting mold in your children’s bath toys, don’t allow them to play with bath toys that have any holes, cracks, or crevices that will allow water inside.
If your child (or you!) has a favorite bath toy that does have a hole, seal it with superglue.
Cleaning Your Child’s Bath Toys
To keep them as clean and safe as possible, you should clean your child’s bath toys once a week, even the ones that don’t allow water in. Just mix a simple solution of ½ cup of vinegar into a gallon of water and let the toys soak for an hour. Afterward, scrub them and allow them to dry completely.
You can also boil toys in order to sanitize them.
Cleaning Bath Toys in the Dishwasher
Want to make things extra-easy? You can actually clean your child’s bath toys in the dishwasher! If the toys have holes, just make sure all of the water is out before placing them in the dishwasher.
Cleaning Bath Toys in the Washing Machine
You can also put your kids’ bath toys in a laundry bag and throw them in the washing machine with other items (like towels). Remember not to put them in the dryer though!
How Often Should You Replace Bath Toys?
If your child’s bath toys have holes, we recommend replacing them every 6-8 weeks.
This isn’t very economical or sustainable though. Without holes, you shouldn’t have to replace bath toys at all (as long as they’re in good, safe condition).
Bath toys don’t have to be toxic! Hopefully we’ve helped you find some great new brands that you and your child will enjoy for years to come.
If you’re worried about other toys as well, check out this list of safe toys for your babe.