Are Vintage Toys Dangerous for Baby?

Sep 2, 2009 by

In our most recent ultrasound, my husband and I had the pleasure of seeing…our son!  We are so excited to welcome our baby boy, and I can now truly begin curating treasures for his nursery.  In the process, I have been contemplating and researching what vintage treasures and toys would be safest for baby.

Vintage Toys Safe

From what I’ve read, babies like to put everything in their mouths…which does not bode well if vintage toys have lead paint or other dangerous toxins.  Sadly, it does not seem that many vintage toys will make the cut until baby stops chewing on all items in his grasp.

  • Toys made before 1978 may have lead paint.  While lead paint usage decreased throughout the 1960s, the CDC did not officially ban lead paint until 1978.
  • In 1931, there was tremendous growth in the usage of phylates, which are present in plastic toys.  Although these were banned in the EU in 1999, in the US, we did not ban them until 2009!

Thus, what toys can be safe for a baby?  Based upon the above, my logic says:

  • Vintage toys with paint that are manufactured after 1978 should be safe.
  • I don’t think I will be buying plastic toys made in any era, including the current one.
  • For pre 1978 toys (which I find to be the cutest), I will be looking specifically for non-painted wooden vintage toys.  To the best of my research, I could not find information connecting wood finish or shellac to lead, as lead was used specifically in paint as a pigmentation extender.  Thus, if there is no pigment in wood finish, this prompts me to believe that there is no lead (although I’m not sure how this applies to stain finishes).

Here are toys I think would make the preliminary safety cut.  However, for vintage or antique toys that make the pre-qualifications, I will still be testing them with LeadCheck swabs for my peace of mind.

Safe Vintage Toys
Here are vintage toys that would have to be stored away until baby stops chewing on everything, unless they happen to pass the Lead Check test.

Safe Vintage Toys 2

In my research, I was greatly shocked about how lax standards have been for toys, both vintage and modern.  In fact, did you know that asbestos is still technically allowed to be put in today’s toys?!   Indeed, the CDC has NOT banned the use of asbestos in toys.  All I can say is thank goodness for Waldorf-inspired wooden toys, handmade organic softie toys, and lots of creative crafting at my house!

As a new soon-to-be-mom, I have so much more to learn about baby safety.  I sincerely welcome and appreciate any advice you may have about choosing safe vintage toys!

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