As a healthy living expert and mom of three, I'm constantly doing my best to "balance" – if there even exists such a thing as a parent! – the importance of healthy eating (and living) with allowing my kids to "live a little" (you can read what I mean by this here).
I understand how I can appear to be the party pooper mom who doesn't let her kids have any fun because I don't like it when they eat foods with chemical additives. (Yes, I'm the mom who bans the slush machines at all birthday parties, and makes my kids air their toys outside for a week to allow them to off-gas before they can bring them into the house).
However, I understand that sometimes kids just need to be kids, and there’s no place this is more true than in a toy store. The bright packaging reels kids in, and then before I know it they’re transfixed by everything from Easy Bake Ovens to Blizzard Makers, hair streaking kits, and “kid-friendly” lip gloss. Pretty much everything they saw on TV before they even walked into the store!
Last Christmas, I took my kids shopping and within a few minutes of being there I realized I had a major bone to pick, and it wasn't with my kids. It was with Toys "R" Us. While this toy store may have appealed to my kids, the dangerous ingredients I uncovered in nearly everything my kids wanted me to buy did NOT appeal to me.
As my kids wandered through Toys "R" Us that day, I couldn’t help but wonder how the largest toy store chain in the world justified packing so many chemicals under one roof. After further investigation I realized that the majority of the toys that contained these harmful chemicals were found in the girl's section of the store (Note: I looked really hard in the boy's section and maybe found one or two items that were of concern. There were MANY more dangerous toys found in the sections dedicated solely to young girls).
Like many other young girls, mine love to play dress up, play with dolls, and pretend to cook. So it didn't surprise me that when we arrived at the girl's department we were greeted with Easy Bake Ovens and the accompanying boxed mixes, Blizzard Makers, and even D-I-Y Slurpee Makers. It was a little girl's dream-come-true. And who could blame them? The packaging made everything look like so much fun it made even me want to try them! (I realize that this is another issue entirely, and irrelevant to this article, however, Easy Bake Oven does come in a boy's version too, so why was it only found in the girl's section? But I digress…) The major issue, however, is that our girls are dealing with the health ramifications of playing with – and even eating – these chemical-laden toys.
Also located in the girl's section is makeup. We found makeup kits, nail polish, and lip gloss. But when I read the ingredients of most of the products on the shelf I found a list of endocrine disruptors that no adult should ingest or put on their skin, let alone young girls with developing immune and reproductive systems.
What I saw that day with my kids (and more, as you will see as you read through my article) prompted me to take a deeper look into the ingredients of the products found at the largest standalone toy store in the world, and petition Toys "R" Us to offer healthier options for our children.
I always knew many of our kid's toys contained toxic chemicals (like flame retardants and heavy metals including lead), but to be honest I didn't really realize how rampant the issue was, and just how few options we have as adults when it comes to buying toys from Toys "R" Us.
Let’s take a closer look at the products I analyzed, and their ingredients. Below are six categories of food and cosmetic toys to avoid at Toys "R" Us:
- Sign the Petition Now
- Read Page 1 of the Exposé
- Easy Bake Ovens & Other Desserts
- Blizzard & Slurpee Makers
- Jelly Belly Jelly Beans & Other Candy
- TM! Cosmetics
- Tattoos, Body Art, Scented Toys, and Other Cosmetics
- Exiting the Store Through a World of Junk Food