Plastic Toys – Why should we focus on quality over quantity?
Would you expose your children to toys that can limit their physical growth, impair their learning ability, and can potentially cause behavior issues? Obviously not. Plastic toys can cause all these health problems in children.
The main component that is not safe for kids in plastic toys is the plastic itself. Most of these toys are made in Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC), a severe carcinogen. If you do not already know, plastic is the by-product of crude oil.
Studies show that toys made in PVC are a significant source of domestic lead poisoning in children. Research conducted in Karachi in 2002 claimed that 4 out of 5 children suffered from the abovementioned health issues due to lead. Lead, the 82nd element in the periodic table, is a heavy metal in paints coated on low-grade plastic toys. Unfortunately, there is limited research on the adverse effects of plastic toys on children’s health in Pakistan.
Now imagine a six-month-old baby playing with a low-grade recycled plastic toy and putting it in his or her mouth. You can not stop this toddler all the time from playing with toys this way.
The toddlers have an instinct to put things in their mouths. The mouth is one of their primary sensory media to experience the world around them. It takes them time to learn to use their hands and fingers to feel and explore objects. Moreover, their mouth has more nerve endings than the rest of their body. That is why whenever we give them something, their first reaction is to put it in their mouth. Then they decided, should it be swallowed or just felt.
Hence, there is a higher chance that the toddlers will ingest PVC in the form of micro-plastics and minute quantities of other toxic chemicals in the plastic toys. Moreover, children are susceptible to harmful substances like heavy metals. Therefore, licking, sucking, or chewing lead paints on low-grade plastic toys can cause severe health issues.
So, when it comes to playing material for kids, why do we always choose quantity over quality?
As parents and educators, we should be more concerned about the experiences we want to give children. Getting toys that are not safe for them means their health will be at risk. Therefore, it is better to get products for them that have at least a negligible health impact.
More is always less when it comes to kids. Getting them more toys does not mean they will have all comforts in their lives. Such indulgence implies that you are not teaching them a vital life skill, i.e., enjoying life even in limitations.
Children have a fantastic ability to be creative and imaginative. They do not need structured and unlimited quantities of toys to enjoy. They will think of ways to make life interesting for them if guided and given the right opportunities by their family and teachers. Hence, as primary caregivers, we are responsible for providing safe and healthy play options to our little ones.
 Rahman, A., Maqbool, E., & Zuberi, H. S. (2002). Lead-associated deficits in stature, mental ability and behaviour in children in Karachi. Annals of tropical paediatrics, 22(4), 301-311.