When it comes to wooden toys, not all woods are equal or safe to use. In fact, some woods are actually toxic. If your child is under the age of 4 years or if your child chews on toys, you need to be concerned.
The safest wood you can use in children’s toys. Naturally antibacterial and closed grained, maple is the wood that has the lowest naturally occurring formaldehyde content.
A safe wood to use in toys. Low in formaldehyde content.
Safe woods to use in toys. Low in formaldehyde content.
Although beautiful to look at, walnut is one of the most dangerous wood you can use in wooden toys. Walnut is highly toxic as it has a high formaldehyde content. Walnut is known as an irritant, a sensitizer, and it is considered a "probable" carcinogen that sometimes causes NPC (nasopharyngeal cancer, a cancer of the upper area of the pharynx or “throat,” where the nasal passages and auditory tubes join the remainder of the upper respiratory tract.)
Oak is toxic too. It has a really high formaldehyde content and is considered a “probable” carcinogen that sometimes causes NPC (nasopharyngeal cancer, a cancer of the upper area of the pharynx or “throat,” where the nasal passages and auditory tubes join the remainder of the upper respiratory tract.)
Plywood and MDF Wood Products
Unless the plywood and MDF has been tested in a 3rd party lab, it is not safe to use in wooden toys because the glues involved in making the wood products are high in formeldahyde and other toxic chemicals. Most handcrafted toys made here in Canada that are created out of plywood and MDF have not been tested. The raw materials for them have been purchased from the Home Depot or Lowes building materials shelf which means it has a high probability of being toxic if your child mouths the toys made from it.
Why worry about formaldehyde?
Play it smart!
There is a reason why you do not see toys made of certain woods on the shelves of big box stores and it does not have to do with the price of wood. It has to do with the safety of toys.
Unfortunately toys made out of toxic woods are frequently offered by home crafting type businesses that have not educated themselves on the dangers of wood and wood safety with children.
So how do you know what type of wood a toy company is using? Ask them.
A good toy making company that cares about your kids will do their research on wood types and only offer you toys and puzzles in woods that are safe for your kids.
Please take time to learn about what type of woods people are using in their toys before making a purchase. Not all woods are equal when it comes to toy safety. It is up to you as a parent to educate yourself decide what you are willing to risk for your child.
Research references used on this blog post:
- Formaldehyde Emission from Solid wood, Bettina Meyer 2015-05-08
- Woods, B., Calnan, C.D., Toxic Woods, Br. Journal of Dermatology, 1976
- List of toxic substances managed under Canadian Environmental Protection Act
- Health Canada Foraldehyde, its sources and its risks
National Cancer Institute formaldehyde and cancer risk fact sheet
- EPA Protect against exposure from formaldehyde
- Government of Canada Toy Regulations
- Health Canada Toy Safety Regulations