With toys, a little bit of research goes a long way. Try to shop locally when you can and ask questions about the contents of the toys and the manufacturing process.
Plan Toys are widely available. These are made out of organic rubber wood, non-toxic glue and water based dye. The company has a strong environmental stance. My child has several of these toys. They are indestructible and really cute.
Green Toys are toys made out of recycled milk jugs in California.
And Healthy Child has a good list of “green” toys/manufacturers. They also have good tips for reducing, reusing and recycling during the holidays.
Wrapped presents don’t have to be pretty for kids or even wrapped for that matter. Consider not wrapping presents or using paper bags to wrap presents. You can involve the kids in having them decorate the wrapped presents with crayons or markers. Or reuse drawings they’ve made on scrap paper.
For younger children, remember that the packaging is often more interesting as the actual present. Don’t be hasty in throwing away boxes and used paper. These items can lead to meaningful play in the days following the holiday, from playing with the different textures of ribbons and paper to making “art” out of the leftover pieces!
I have a 14-month old child, and lately focused on reducing my family’s exposure to household chemicals/toxins. I learned that small children are more susceptible to exposure to environmental toxins and consume more pound-for-pound than adults because of their natural behavior. While crawling around on the floor and putting everything in their mouths helps them to learn about their environment, it also exposes them to potentially harmful substances.
So I’ve been using vinegar, baking soda, lemon and good old fashioned elbow grease to clean my home. I only bring out the “hard-core” stuff (commercially produced disinfectant) when I have a “hard-core” mess to clean up. Poop happens–sometimes in the tub–and when I do use it I make sure to use according to the package instructions. When I am done I rinse, rinse, rinse and ventilate the area.
I think these little changes make a big impact on the health of my family.