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Alert! New Consumer Product Safety Rules Will Make Handmade, Natural Toys Illegal

Handmade toys may soon be illegalA common theme on Eco Child’s Play is toy safety. We like to tell you about safe, natural toys, as well as the latest news in toy product safety.

That’s why we find the latest efforts to keep our children safe by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) alarming, as it will actually prevent safe, natural toys from small companies from reaching the US market.

[social_buttons]Due to under staffing at the CPSC and the flurry of toy recalls that have occurred, the agency passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in August, 2008. At first glance, this seems like good legislation, as it bans lead and phthalates in toys, mandates third-party testing and certification for all toys and requires toy makers to permanently label each toy with a date and batch number.  Such requirements will be easy to fund for large toy companies; however, small independent natural toy companies will not be able survive these extra requirements.  According to the Handmade Toy Alliance:

For small American, Canadian, and European toymakers, however, the costs of mandatroy[sic] testing will likely drive them out of business.

  • A toymaker, for example, who makes wooden cars in his garage in Maine to supplement his income cannot afford the $4,000 fee per toy that testing labs are charging to assure compliance with the CPSIA.
  • A work at home mom in Minnesota who makes dolls to sell at craft fairs must choose either to violate the law or cease operations.
  • A small toy retailer in Vermont who imports wooden toys from Europe, which has long had stringent toy safety standards, must now pay for testing on every toy they import.
  • And even the handful of larger toy makers who still employ workers in the United States face increased costs to comply with the CPSIA, even though American-made toys had nothing to do with the toy safety problems of 2007.

The CPSIA simply forgot to exclude the class of toys that have earned and kept the public’s trust: Toys made in the US, Canada, and Europe.  The result, unless the law is modified, is that handmade toys will no longer be legal in the US.

According to Z Recommends, Selecta, one of my favorite German wooden toymakers, has already announced they will no longer sell toys in the US.

Selecta manufactures toys that comply with strict EU regulations for phthalates and other potentially harmful chemicals, but cites the cost of new testing as the reason it can no longer supply the U.S. market. The company claims that prices would be forced upwards “by at least 50 percent, which would price these products out of the market.”…The company wrote that the decision “is based solely on costs; there have not been any issues with successfully completing the testing and certification process.”

We need to protect our children from toxic toys, but this legislation will actually do the opposite. Small, handmade, natural toys will no longer be legally sold in the US, as small companies cannot afford the additional requirements.  The US market will be slimmed down to large toy companies who manufacture in Chinese factories, thus making our children less safe.  The trusted toy companies parents have sought out because of the toy recalls will no longer be available. This may just be the last holiday season you can shop for natural, handmade toys from small companies.

If you want to help, you should write to your United States representative and senator to request changes in the CPSIA to save handmade toys.  The Handmade Toy Alliance has provided a sample letter, and here are links to find your congressional representative and senator.

Image:  Handmade Toy Alliance


  1. Jennifer,

    Thank you for drawing this to everyone’s attention. It is too bad that people are saying no more toxic toys and this is happening. Sad.

  2. This is what happens when we rely too often on government to solve our problems instead of the market or common sense.

  3. All these government organizations just keep making things more and more problematic, it is clear they don’t really care about child safety and small businesses. Pretty soon all the toys will be made by one company. They will all look the same, they will mostly be plastic, and will all come in the obnoxious primary and neon colors. One legislation after another just makes me want to move out of this country! (or maybe this planet)

  4. Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. As first time new parents, my wife and I have made a commitment to create the healthiest possible environment for our little one, which includes eco-friendly/natural developmental toys. Any action, by our government or otherwise, that jeopardizes the availability of these types of goods would be a severe blow to our parenting efforts as well as those of countless other parents.

    I have already made our feelings known to our government representatives here in California (thank you for making it so easy!), and I encourage everyone else reading this to do so as well – and to also spread the word.

  5. Are you kidding me? This is ridiculous! This is a democratic government for you; The more laws the better; and the more we have, the more we loose our freedom. I will keep making them as much as I want. I have done it all my life and I’ve made dolls, bears, crafts of all kids for kids. I use non-toxic paints when I need to paint.

  6. lets all reverse the law!
    Natural toys being illegal? No sense of originality?!?
    Reverse the damn’ law!
    Spread the word everyone!
    I would not be playing with toys made in china coz’ i will die and not just me but the whole US will die all because of this law!

  7. This is the result of parents demanding too much government involvement in keeping us safe. Many parents were doing what worked, conscientiously shopping for quality. But because many feel that the government needs to be heavily involved in child safety, the government has responded favorably and gotten involved. Now the same people who would lobby for more government regulation are saying, “But wait! We didn’t mean us!” We truly have to choose which side of this issue to stand on. You either want broad government regulation of toy safety or you don’t. Personally I don’t. I feel competent to make smart choices for my family all by myself. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but we (parents) brought this on ourselves.

  8. Kristen Chase says:

    Angeline — I have to disagree with you. I think it’s perfectly fair for parents to demand testing standards from large companies who are mass producing products that are getting in the hands of tens of thousands of kids.

    To lump small businesses who often only reach kids in their surrounding areas was a mis step by government officials – not parents lobbying too hard.

  9. Thanks for bringing this up & reaching so many.I agree with Kristen.One of my sets of twins have lead poisoning,and so I’ve sent this around to all friends & family that have kids or love them to help out. I’ve sent it to local daycares as well as they tend to take donations from anyone who knows what toys those kids play with!

  10. What effect, if any, does this legislation have on the small cottage-industry manufacture of children’s clothing accessories, such as bows, barrettes, hair clips, etc.?

  11. I agree with Kriten as well. However, my sons dr just tested my son for lead and told me that a child can get lead poisoning from playing in the dirt. What’s going to be next, dirt being tested in yards? Large manufactures should test, I understand- mass production etc, but people don’t have to buy handmade if there is a fear or concern. You can still buy Cigarettes for G’s sake! But banning handmade?!!

  12. this is so sad. It reaches even cottage industries like myself. I make hair bows out of ribbon! I received a quote for testing on a bow I sell for 8.95~ The cost to test would be 415.00! If I only have lead testing it drops to 200.00. For a bow that is 9.00. WOW! This is plain silly!

  13. This is truly a sad irony when an unvarnished wooden toy has to be tested for lead paint and phthalates (a substance used to make vinyl soft!) Also sad when a small start up company like ours with only the support of active involved parents who are conerned about their child’s development have to have lead paint testing on the instructions which are not even to be given to the child.
    For parents with children still using the pacifier, we will be offering the only nurturing answer to this developmental milestone by the end of February. Visit http://www.PaciferBGone.com to see our product. It will be available and be fully tested to comply with all the laws.

  14. Just want you folks to understand its more than just new toys that are covered in this law,new hand made clothes, previously owned clothes, used toys, used childrens books, childrens furniture and more. I’ve collected a lot of childrens clothes that I was going to sell on ebay this spring; if this law is enforced the way the CPSA wants to; it’ll all end up unsold and in a landfill.

  15. Good point Dawn. We have covered that on other follow up posts on ECP. This was our original post on the subject. You can find the other posts in our search results for CPSIA:

  16. Anything that I sell in the future that could be remotely considered for children will have a warning label on it. “This item, in compliance with CPSIA legislation, is not meant for children 12 and younger.” Even if the item is a vintage coat, or baby quilt, the label will read something along the lines of “The item is meant to be a collector’s item. (A piece of history meant to remind you of a simpler time when parents were allowed to use their own good judgment when buying/making items for their children, without the government’s interference.) Please keep out of the reach of children 12 and under, to remain within compliance of CPSIA legislation.”

    How ridiculous!

  17. There are some provisions that have been implemented to excempt toys made of natural materials such as wood, animal yarn, etc. The date in which the regulation will go in effect has also been postponed and maybe talking about 2010. Don’t forget that the CPSIA will apply to inventory, too!!

  18. Good post

  19. Awesome post.


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