When considering toys to buy for my kids, I am constantly considering safety and longevity. Toys for the bath tub are no different. There is an underwhelming regard of bath toy safety from toy manufacturers and retailers which puts an extra burden on parents to inform themselves about what is safe and what is not.
While you read, keep in mind that manufacturing companies and retailers do not do a parent’s job, and they certainly don’t have a parent’s discerning skepticism and desire to protect fueling their business models. Their job is not to keep tiny humans safe. Their job is to make money. Just because certain toys are still sold does not mean they are safe for children (just look at how many companies still produce and sell crib bumpers which the American Academy of Pediatrics and The American SIDS Institute issued strong warnings against in 2016). As with all products, particularly those for children, be sure to always do your homework!
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Alright now that my cynicism and distrust has been aired, another factor that’s not always considered when purchasing toys is longevity. Will this toy grow with my kids, or will they tire of it after a few months? Is the quality such that it will last? Parents often fall into the trap of buying something their child wants NOW. But sometimes, even though that toy is enjoyed in the moment, the draw quickly fades and the toy ends up in the bottom of the toy box or donation bin.
Over the past few years I have focused on only purchasing toys with longevity, and I have found a lot of success and undoubtedly saved a good amount of money.
Read on for more info on bath toy safety and reviews of several bath toys so you can decide what’s worth your money and what’s not.
- Harmful ingredients
Bath toys NOT to buy
Toys that squirt
Do you remember back in 2016 when parents across the US and Canada were discovering mold in Tommee Tippee sippy cups? The issue was that there were parts of the valve that could never be completely dried and constant moisture causes mold to develop and grow.
Two years ago, I cut open one of our soft rubber water-squirting bath toys similar to those pictured below, and guess what I found: mold. The mold wasn’t there because the toys were never cleaned but because the insides could never dry. The tiny hole in the bottom that squirts water also prevents airflow, traps water, and doesn’t allow the toy to dry. Water and moisture are constantly sitting in there breeding mold and the worst part is you can’t see it!
Toys with tubes/small crevices/hard-to-clean areas (and batteries??)
The issue with the tubes, small crevices, and hard-to-clean areas follows the exact same principals mentioned above for toys that squirt water. But who thought it was a solid idea to make bath toys battery powered?? Is that really necessary? My kids are in the bathtub for all of 15 minutes, and I am certain they can survive 15 minutes without an electronic toy.
Bath products with harmful ingredients
There are definitely people who have accused me of being uppity and paranoid for the way that I choose what products are acceptable for my children. That’s all fine, and I understand all parents have different views. So I won’t get on my soapbox (tub joke!) except to say that I urge you to read about the ingredients in the following bath products and make sure they’re up to your standards before using them with your children.
- bath paint/crayons
- bath bombs
- bubble bath, shampoo, body wash, soap (generally speaking, the cheap brands and novelty bottles are the worst offenders)
- color-changing tablets.
Now that you know what to be on the lookout for, let’s move on to the good guys!
Bath toys that are good in my book
I have gifted these with every baby shower gift I’ve attended over the last three years and recommended them to all of my parent friends. This set of plastic stacking cups is a great Montessori toy for endless scooping and dumping both in and out of the tub.
They are made of one solid piece with no crevices for mold to grow in. My only suggestion is don’t nest them together after bath time. Instead, I throw them separately into our little toy net so they can dry. If you nest them down together while they’re wet, mold will start to grow. Remember: the name of the game is letting toys dry out completely.
I throw them in the dishwasher every couple weeks to keep them clean. I also have a couple sets we take camping because cleaning them is so easy. My kids have played with these consistently from infancy through toddlerhood. They stack, they nest, they clean well, and they’re cheap. What’s not to like? Check them out on Amazon.
From the makers of the ever-popular Boon Grass, this set of bath jellies is a kid and parent win win. These colorful jellies are fun, safe, and easy to clean.
My kids love sticking them to the shower walls, underwater on the bottom of the tub (swimming jellies!), and to each other to create little jelly towers. My toddler likes counting and sorting these by color, as well as creating shapes and patterns by sticking them on the shower wall in different groups, and my infant can easily hold, splash, clank, and gnaw them. AND they come in a set of 9 so there are enough to go around when I’ve got both kids in the tub. Plus the bright, jewel-tone colors look really neat when wet, and they’re just plain cute.
Another super fun Montessori toy for the tub (and maybe the pool once summer hits!). Check them out on Amazon.
Above all, just make sure your kids’ bath toys are not harboring mold. If you aren’t sure, cut the toy apart and check the inside. Or just toss them and invest in something new that you know if safe and will stand the test of time!
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