Dr Mark Rosenthal


Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine

also specialist in Food Allergies & Disorders of Sleep

A | A | A

T: 0207 351 8832

E: s.harvey@rbht.nhs.uk

A:The Royal Brompton Hospital, London, SW3 6NP

Buying or borrowing old toys, clothes and other essentials for your baby can be a great way to save money, reduce your environmental impact or refresh memories of your own childhood. However, your private paediatrician in London wants to remind you that it is important to be aware of the health risks that can be associated with some older items. Most parents are aware that it is not a good idea to use an old mattress or car seat, but recent research has reminded us that older toys can also be hazardous.

toys for kids

Toxic Plastic Toys

A study conducted by the University of Plymouth looked at 200 plastic toys that had previously been used. Some of the older toys that were picked up from homes, nurseries and charity shops contained toxic materials that wouldn’t be allowed by modern manufacturing standards in London and the UK. Metals such as antimony, lead and selenium can be very harmful even at low levels if children are exposed to them for an extended period. The levels of these chemicals can also build up over time, so even if a toy was safe when it was made, it may not be now. However, the good news is that the danger comes when children chew or swallow the toys. Handling the items was safe, so it is usually still OK to show older children the toys that you played with when you were young.

Other Risks from Second Hand Items

Toxic chemicals are not the only potential risk associated with used toys. When you are using any kind of second hand items, it is also essential to check for any sharp edges, damaged parts or other potential hazards and to clean the items carefully. Germs can easily cling on to toys and other items, so it is essential to wash them thoroughly before passing them on to your child. It is a good idea to do this even if the items have only been borrowed, as sharing toys is one of the main routes through which childhood infections are spread. If you are concerned or have questions about preventing germs from spreading, you can always ask your private paediatrician in London.

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