One Baby, Hold the Cadmium, Please
July 5, 2010 7:19 AM   Subscribe

We don't even have a child yet but I'm strongly advocating we ask all our friends and relatives to, please, never ever buy our kid toys from China. One, is this overreacting? Two, how can I explain it to avoid hurt feelings?

I get quietly outraged when I see new recalls notice for kids' toys that are full of Lead or, recently, Cadmium. I've told my wife that I will ask all our friends and relatives to please buy at least North American or European made but ideally completely natural toys. Surely there are small hippie companies out there making "100% organic hand puppets" etc. At least for the first few years before unavoidable marketing kicks in and we need to start buying Elmo stuff.

Does anyone have experience to either justify or dispel my concerns or with actually telling people your "baby rules"?

Is it reasonable to avoid clothes from China too? Is there any good reason to do this (besides avoiding funding sweatshops)?

I also want to say it in a way that they understand my reasons. I would in NO way try to stifle joyful takes-a-village gifting, and I don't like restricting others' expressions of love. But it is an important issue.

FWIW, all the toys I had until age 8 or so were wooden blocks or linkin logs or a pile of dirt outside. I suppose my LEGOs were made in China though, huh? And I turned out okay. Twitch, twitch.
posted by carlh to Health & Fitness (73 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, you are overreacting. A HUGE variety of goods are manufactured in China. Most goods from China are not contaminated. Some, perhaps many, goods manufactured in other places are contaminated. "Chinese origin" is not a useful proxy for "likely to be harmful".
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:23 AM on July 5, 2010 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: A HUGE variety of goods are manufactured in China.

Just because it's popular doesn't mean it's right. It is literally the cheapest way to do it; not the best. I have some connection to manufacturing in China through clients and I know that they cut corners wherever they can. I'm not familiar with safety regulations on baby items but I'm starting to do research.

It's really none of your business what toys they buy their children.

Oh, nuts. I'm really sorry if I didn't make it clear. I'm in no way trying to tell other people what to do for their kids. I'm wondering for when we DO have a child of our own, can I ask them to please not buy our child Chinese toys. Not sure if it makes a difference, but yes, I'm only talking about when I do have a baby of my own.
posted by carlh at 7:32 AM on July 5, 2010

I know plenty of people that put severe restrictions on what other people can gift to their kids -- people generally talk snidely about those people. If that doesn't bother you then I think you can ask for whatever you want. The key to this is acting graciously when people don't follow your wishes.

A friend of mine only registered for high-end, modern, fancy baby stuffs and everything all organic, etc. That's fine. I got her a single organic onesie ($30) and a baby book. It's all I could afford. Giving her a single, wooden, swedish toy seemed too little but that would have been all I could afford there, too. But, she's a very gracious person and never said a peep other than how great she thought everything was. Just by making her baby list that way -- she got a *lot* of kids books at her shower which I thought was kind of great. She purchased her own high-end fancy stuff.

I think she made her registry at Wishpot which allows you to handpick from any store. I think that was a more subtle way of saying "here's what I need/want" than delivering a lecture on cadmium, baby-killing toys from China (ie: Wal-mart).
posted by amanda at 7:33 AM on July 5, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: While I think going this route is a little overboard, the onus is definitely on you to protect your child from harm, and if you feel this is something you need to do, then do it. But understand that people will buy your child toys from regions you'd rather not have toys purchased from.

The big issue has been paint - You could just as easily ask for toys that aren't painted - soft plastics are usually a safe bet here, as are stuffed animals without painted eyes. Hard plastics like LEGO are usually fine too, due to their color not being from paint. But who knows? They are, after all, plastic - Based on petroleum, the current no-no industry in the US.
posted by Rendus at 7:35 AM on July 5, 2010

Best answer: Having two kids- we rarely have to buy toys and cloths with all the generosity from extended family and friends. Voicing this restriction (not even considering that it's an over-reaction) will guarantee you don't get much. Plus it would be a pain to try and find a toy not produced in China- most wouldn't try.

Plus, by the time your kids are ten they'll have put much worse in their mouth than any chemical laced toy or shirt...
posted by rryan at 7:36 AM on July 5, 2010

Yeah, guys, to reiterate what carlh just posted - They don't seem interested in forcing this upon other parents, just asking others to not buy these things for the child carlh is going to have.
posted by Rendus at 7:36 AM on July 5, 2010

A) As said above, an enormous variety of products are made in China. It would be ridiculous to rule them all out. So you "have some connections" to manufacturing in China and know "they cut corners" whenever they can -- I don't know if you've ever met any American manufacturers, but I assure you that there are corner-cutters here as well. It's pretty essentialist (and a bit offensive to some, I might add) to talk about how "they cut corners" based on your limited anecdotal expereince when you're describing a nation of 1.3 billion people.

B) It is of course fine for you to ask whatever you want of gift-givers -- they're your kids -- but don't expect everyone to love getting a lesson in ethics from you when they're trying to do something nice for you and your kid.

C) You say you don't even have a child yet -- are you pregnant? If you're not even pregnant, this seems like sanctimoniousness. If you're pregnant, I advise that you register for gifts at places you think are "responsible" and just leave it at that. If people choose to go off-list for their gifts, that's also their prerogative and spare them the lecture. Don't make people resent trying to be nice to you and your kids.
posted by proj at 7:44 AM on July 5, 2010 [25 favorites]

I don't think you're over-reacting at all. If you don't want kid's toys made in China, then that's your prerogative.

Except you don't yet have a kid. I assume this request would go out when you're actually pregnant and approaching term, rather than now. It would seem a little odd getting this request from an as-yet childless couple.
posted by idiomatika at 7:45 AM on July 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Rest assured, Lego is manufactured in Denmark and the Czech Republic. So just ask everyone to buy your kids Lego - it's the best toy anyway :)
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:45 AM on July 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: We are kind of picky about the sorts of things our kids play with (though not nearly as much as we thought we'd be), but never burden potential gift givers with it. As I've told my mother, "It's my hangup, not yours. Buy whatever you want." Inevitably, people who have too many restrictions put on them will give up and just give gift cards. Who wants those? They're not gifts, they're shopping with someone else's money.
posted by monkeymadness at 7:46 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm not familiar with safety regulations on baby items but I'm starting to do research.
Until you've doe the research, and in answer to your question, yes, you're probably over-reacting. Unless you do this in a dickish way, few people will begrudge you over-reacting when your child is involved, but don't be surprised if you don't benefit from hand-me-downs.
Is it reasonable to avoid clothes from China too? Is there any good reason to do this (besides avoiding funding sweatshops)?
Besides avoiding "funding sweatshops" (which you may also want to research) and a well-meaning desire to e.g., support your local economy, no, there is no safety reason, which is what I assume you're fishing for.
posted by caek at 7:47 AM on July 5, 2010

Since you asked, yes, I do think you're overreacting because you don't even have a child yet. Why bring this up now? When you do have a child, your overreaction or lack thereof will be evidenced not by your request to prospective gift givers but by how you react when Aunt Minnie ignores you and buys the baby a See-And-Say anyway. Advice: write a lovely thank you note, then quietly return it.
posted by Wordwoman at 7:48 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


IMO, yeah, a bit. Especially since you don't have any kids yet. Not that it's wrong to start thinking ahead, but unless you are about to become a parent in the next month, you don't really know what kind of environment your child will be born into. Maybe this won't even be an issue by then, it's hard to say.

How to explain it?

One way is to set up an Amazon wish list, and only put things on the list that you are comfortable with. Sure, it won't stop that impulsive grandma or auntie from buying something on a whim that may not be up to standards, but it will certainly give people an idea of what kinds of things you'd like for your child, or what kinds of stores to patronize.

Another idea is to become known in your circle as the person who refuses to buy ANY product that may have been manufactured under sub-par safety conditions. If you really live this way, once a baby comes along, it will seem a normal extension of your priorities to only buy safe products for him/her, and people will already know this about you.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:48 AM on July 5, 2010

I had friends who, years ago, refused to buy anything made in China for themselves or their two children. This lasted right up to the point where they drove over two hours to get to a store that actually had a pair of children's sneakers made in the US. At that point, they realized that most moral and political choices, like so much in life, are not black and white after all.

However. They already had two children. If you are not yet expecting a child, than this question is pointless and telling people that you don't want them to buy stuff from China for your imaginary child is honestly kind of strange. If you are expecting, than yes, you have every right to say that you would prefer gifts that are not from China and in fact, that's kind of awesome. There are all kinds of reasons to not want to buy Chinese goods. Here's the thing, though: some of your friends and relatives just won't get it and you will end up with some Chinese stuff because the vast, vast majority of easily available children's toys - and shoes and furniture and on and on - are made in China. To be kind, polite and not alienate people, don't make a big deal out of it; just put them aside to go to Goodwill later.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:56 AM on July 5, 2010

To be honest, I would find it odd. I would think you were over-reacting. If I was your childs aunt or godmother or cousin or neighbour, I would be busting to buy cute funky stuff for the possible (or not-even-a-twinkle-in-dads-eye-yet) outcome of a pregnancy.

I'd want the kid to have cool stuff and I trust my own judgement. I'd be offended if you, as the parent of my new niece or nephew, informed me upfront that anything made in China was unacceptable. I would feel as though you don't trust me enough to make responsible choices about your baby.

That's just how I am. YMMV.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 7:57 AM on July 5, 2010

Best answer: I don't think it's an over-reaction, and I wouldn't be offended if you asked me, if I was your relative, to not buy Chinese goods for your baby or potential baby. I try to avoid chinese-made in a small way myself.

However, avoiding all Chinese goods is so nearly impossible that if you try to undertake it, your entire life will be an exercise in nothing but avoiding Chinese goods. I recently bought a candle which was 'locally made.' The wax was made in the US, the glass was made in the US, the printed label was made in the US. On the inside of the lid of the US-made candle is a little rubbery, plasticky gasket thing to keep the lid on tight. On this gasket is printed: "Made in China." So while I agree that it's a worthwhile goal, even the most conscientious efforts of you and your family will never be completely fool-proof.

Is there any good reason to do this (besides avoiding funding sweatshops)?
I think that and safety reasons are both pretty good reasons. Tthere was, I believe, a meta post a while back (I can't find it now) talking about unfair trade practices China uses. If someone could locate that (and I'm not misremembering) it could make for interesting reading.
posted by frobozz at 7:59 AM on July 5, 2010

I think that most people would get the hint with the wishlist idea outlined above. Only registering at places that make wooden, unpainted toys or whatever would certainly send the right message.
posted by gaspode at 8:00 AM on July 5, 2010

I'm not sure what kind of anxiety/worry level you normally carry around, but this is assuredly something you can not worry about until you have a kid. Until then, you are indeed overreacting to worry about this.
posted by OmieWise at 8:01 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I may actually have been imagining the metafilter post, but googling 'china's predatory trade practices' will get you quite a few results if you're interested in that side of it.
posted by frobozz at 8:04 AM on July 5, 2010

Best answer: I find it hard to imagine this working well. Such toys are ubiquitous, and it is sometimes difficult to tell their provenance. You can make all the announcements you want, but someday someone who doesn't know you as well (or who does know you well but wasn't paying close attention) will give the kid something like this. When you're talking about an infant it's easier, but as soon as the kid gets to be a year or so he or she'd going to be unwrapping his or her own presents --- are you going to dive in front of him, snatch the toy away and start examining it under a loupe? Are you going to do this in front of people or are you going to wait until you're back home and the kid's been playing with the thing for hours before telling him he can't have it? And what about play dates and grandma's house? Pre-school? Happy Meals? I think to really enforce this you'd have to be so vigilant and harsh you'd kind of develop A Reputation.

If you don't care about that, you don't care. But even so I think you're unlikely to make it so your kid never has contact with such things. No-paint you might have better luck with, since it leaves you with a lot of options, with many toys being made of molded plastic.

But otherwise, to my mind the certainty of alienating friends and family would be too high a price merely to obtain some reduction in the amount of contact that my child will have with stuff that, when you come down to it, has a fairly small chance of harming him or her in the first place.
posted by Diablevert at 8:05 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you're pregnant or planning on having a child soon, you sound a little wide-eyed and idealistic (I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of toys manufactured in the west are still made of parts sourced from China, these days) but not totally nutty.

If you're warning people not to buy toys from China for a hypothetical child who may not arrive on this planet for years, then you're being off the wall fish-in-a-bucket crazypants mclooneytoons. So to speak.

Does anyone have experience to either justify or dispel my concerns or with actually telling people your "baby rules"?

Our only 'rule' is that we prefer not to have toys with lots of loud sound effects built in. Most people are pretty understanding of this, but we've still been given a couple here and there. When this happens, and it will, you can choose to donate them, pass them down to other parents who don't share your concerns, or toss them out.
posted by ook at 8:06 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This is some really good feedback everyone, I very much appreciate it, even the ones that are just saying I'm overreacting - it's good perspective that I really need.

The reason I'm asking now before we have a child is that we are beginning to plan starting a family within a year...ish. Planning ahead We're doing all sorts of research in all sorts of directions. I've been trawling AskMeta and Google about baby costs and budgets and cloth-vs-disposable diapers...everything. So this is just one facet our research.

I accept that it's paranoid, I'm hoping to find out if it's justifiable paranoia. Just trying to do our due diligence with this whole baby thing. I don't yet know what to freak out about and what to let slide.

So far I think my favorite response was "It's my hangup, not yours. Buy whatever you want." from monkeymadness. That may well be what it is, and that's a good perspective to present, I think!
posted by carlh at 8:07 AM on July 5, 2010

Friends of mine spent some time travelling in China and came home with the idea to avoid anything made in China - for a whole variety of reasons. They have been finding it really, really difficult to do. For you, clothing and toys will be an issue. The cost difference is noteable and your future child will be needing wardrobe replacements regularly. A three-pack of sleepers made in China for $9 will look good beside a single one for $24 or $34 made in North America.

Having said that, let your friends know your prefences and beyond that be gracious and say thank you and give a hug. Then read the labels and put away anything that doesn't meet your criteria. (If you're worrying about this already, I'd hate to see you when you actually have a real child. Although once you find Junior chewing on his shoe a few times you may relax a bit.)
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:07 AM on July 5, 2010

Way off base. Be prepared for the response, "but you lynch Negroes." China-bashing is unnecessary, just say you don't want any toys with toxic paint. Or else research it a bit more, and compile a list including Mexico and whoever else has ever exported a bad product.

If it happens, take the toy and throw it out. I give toys to kids who can't find them a week later. Goes with the territory.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:07 AM on July 5, 2010

Best answer: There's lots of camps like this as a parent. There are strict anti-gun toy camps, strict anti-gender stereotype camps, strict anti-television camps, strict anti-Elmo camps, strict anti-marketing to kids on food labels camps.

You can join any of them. They're always looking for new members.

For us, that shit's fucking exhausting. I think dogmatic feelings about parenting; when put up against a screaming baby, cleaning poo, or carrying a hysterical tantrum-y child out of a Macy's the size of a football field; are not a battle worth fighting.

Elmo. For the win.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:09 AM on July 5, 2010 [17 favorites]

Just because it's popular doesn't mean it's right. It is literally the cheapest way to do it; not the best. I have some connection to manufacturing in China through clients and I know that they cut corners wherever they can. I'm not familiar with safety regulations on baby items but I'm starting to do research.

This has nothing to do with safety. If you have standalone moral objections, fine. They're yours. But inasmuch as a safety is a concern, it isn't because you think cheap manufacturing is morally offensive. Again, Chinese origin is not a useful proxy for harm.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:12 AM on July 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

By all means - when you have a child (or are pregnant, and people are starting to buy you stuff for your child) feel free to be very picky about what people buy for your child. Or feel free to throw out (or return) any made-in-china stuff that people buy you. My wife and I have NO guilt about returning presents that we don't need... Our little guy has SO many clothes, that whenever people buy him clothes we just return them for store credit and buy him stuff that he does need. But bear in mind that by putting this restriction on things, you will receive FAR fewer presents. In general, that's probably not a bad thing... My 14 month old son has a giant toybox full of toys, and he's happy enough to play with the box that the toys come in most of the time. :)

However, if you/your spouse are not even pregnant yet, PLEASE don't ask people not to buy you China-originated items. Unless your friends/family are trying to hint that you should start having children by buying you children's toys. :)
posted by antifuse at 8:13 AM on July 5, 2010

Best answer: Is it reasonable to avoid clothes from China too?

I think the main danger from clothes is that of the formaldehyde used in production processes not being washed out properly when you buy them. Formaldehyde is pretty nasty stuff in large amounts, but it's also water-soluble so if you wash and air all clothes before they're worn you should be okay (whether the clothes are for a child or not). I wouldn't bet on there being that much of a difference between clothes from China and clothes from anywhere else.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 8:15 AM on July 5, 2010

I think you're better off mentioning casually to your friends that you've been trying to buy higher end toys made in the US, as you're worried about lead. Many of those who choose to buy presents for your baby will follow suit of their own volition. For those that don't, it's the thought that counts, and if you don't want the present, then return it to Target and buy toiletries with the store credit.

I would be off-put if friends instructed me that I should buy made in the USA presents for their kid.
posted by deadweightloss at 8:17 AM on July 5, 2010

Best answer: One of the reasons people might find the instruction to buy your child things made in N. America or Europe a little obnoxious is that it's much more expensive to buy those things. My mom has made the switch you describe in buying for our children, completely due to her own concerns, and we're talking $25 for a wooden rattle, $20 for a teething toy, rather than $2.50 and $2. So, yeah, if you steer people toward things like that, it can seem a little grabby, in the same way that people don't like it when they see a wedding registry with no items under $100.

I realize it's not at all your intention to force people to spend more money on you, but one way to handle it might be to encourage people to gift clothes instead of toys, and you handle the pricey Swedish rattle purchases. (If you end up wanting only organic cotton clothes from certain countries, I guess this suggestion won't work.)
posted by palliser at 8:17 AM on July 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

One, is this overreacting?

Reasonable people might disagree, but I think so. Other people have made good points about how it's difficult to completely avoid Chinese-made products, about how your Sinophobia might be a little essentialist, and about how you don't actually have a kid yet.

Two, how can I explain it to avoid hurt feelings?

Some people take things personally for no good reason--people sometimes feel that anyone who makes different choices is implicitly criticizing their own. This is especially true with strongly-held opinions on important topics, and childrearing seems to be one of those (especially as it relates to stuff like circumcision, vaccinations, spanking, vegetarianism, etc.) that really brings out these feelings in people. Despite your best intentions, it will probably not be possible to completely avoid hurt feelings.
posted by box at 8:21 AM on July 5, 2010

As far as manners go, you may not ASK for certain gifts unless the giver asks you what you'd like. If you get what you asked for, great. If not, be gracious and donate, return or destroy as you see fit.

I was married to a man for a few years that refused ANYTHING made in China. This lasted for a term shorter than our marriage because it was simply too difficult. (We compromised by not shopping at Wal-Mart.)

You really need to unclench, though. You can't control your unborn child's world. You can control their environment for a few years, but after that you mitigate and manage. The sooner you realize that raising kids isn't about crafting a mini-snowflake, the better at parenting you become.
posted by kidelo at 8:30 AM on July 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: EVERY parent has a few weird, annoying things they try to impose on their friends & family. And most parents do think they're being perfectly sane & reasonable, even as everyone else either rolls their eyes and complies or rolls their eyes and ignores them.

When you have kids, you are fully within your rights to make these decrees and even remind people prior to every gift-giving occasion. I just ask, on behalf of everyone you know, that you have a sense of humor and a sense of compassion in enforcing them.

I guarantee you there will be people who care for you deeply who are pathologically unable to remember these things. And snatching a "made in China" gift out of the baby's hands upon unwrapping while lecturing the gift-giver about House Rules is SO uncool. ...Not that I think you'd do that, but you get the point, right? It's a celebration. Celebrate. Anything unacceptable can be quietly & diplomatically removed/returned later.
posted by Ys at 8:30 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Overreacting? Maybe, maybe not. Telling people right out what not to buy for your kids? I find this tacky, in the same way that I find it tacky when people ask for money instead of wedding gifts. If people ask what you want (and many will), emphasize natural materials, etc., but don't make it a lecture, and be gracious if they happen to give you something that's on your no-no list. You can always return or quietly donate it.

As a related aside, my sister-in-law sent Baby J a stuffed puppy made from "all natural materials" and stuffed with "100% organic cotton." Label says made in China. The two concepts are apparently not mutually exclusive.
posted by sillymama at 8:36 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

As a parent of existing kids, my main complaint about chinese toys is environmental, rather than safety or fair trade. Toys from china are really crappy and never seem to outlast the kids interest in them. Half the time they don't outlast the crappy batteries they come with. our house is a debris field of broken plastic and electronics. And we throw tons away every year. I also don't like that they are intertwined with t.v. and commercials. We are fortunate to have some family members who share our distaste for turning our kids into mass consumers and media slaves, and they work hard findiing the coolest most creative toys for our kids. Not based on the country of origin, but quality and imagination fostering. Coincidentally, they almost never come from china. The origins of plastic and it's end game are ugly for the planet. Go with that angle when discussing toy purchases if you want. Hard to find a snappy comeback to that. Art based toys are always good where ever they come from, and wooden toys can span generations of kids
posted by Redhush at 8:36 AM on July 5, 2010

It might be easier to ask your friends and family not to give your child gifts. Then you can control what they play with (at least until they have play dates or head to daycare/preschool).
posted by cecic at 8:38 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I find it tacky when people ask for money instead of wedding gifts

Not to derail, but nowadays most people tend to live together before they are married, and thus often have many of the traditional wedding presents already (aside from fine china/crystal, maybe). If you don't need anything but money, I don't think it's tacky to ask for money. Particularly in this day and age where a $50k wedding isn't particularly crazy.
posted by antifuse at 8:42 AM on July 5, 2010

We tried...we tried so hard to just buy North American when kidlet was born. (Our goal was to try to buy materials that hadn't had to be shipped all over the planet, so that the environmental footprint of the baby wasn't so big.)

Holy mother of god, did that get expensive fast...and damn near impossible for some stuff. And we found a lot of stuff that was labeled "made in the USA" was actually produced in tropical sweatshops with conditions significantly worse for the workers than Chinese factories. Imperialist Neocolonialism for the lose.

Also, things have been recalled from American factories just as often as they have been from Chinese factories; perhaps even more often. (I don't have stats, just remembering all the recalls I got on things like my all American made, $900 crib that could kill kids. Yay.)

My point is this: We live in a global community. Shopping responsibly does not necessarily mean cutting out a specific country of origin. And no matter how "clean" of these products you keep your house, your kid is going to come into contact with Chinese products at friend's houses, at play groups, at playgrounds, at preschool, etc. You cannot escape globalism. You just can't. Sorry.

Second point: Are you pregnant? Cause if this is just hand-wringing, what-if-the-axe-falls-on-Johnny consumer panic, it's a little weird.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:47 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I will tell you that most of my family and many of my friends, aware of our relatively organic/green leanings (though we are not fanatics), have often chosen "appropriate" gifts for our baby, without us saying anything about it. My brother found a baby boutique in the city where he lives that has funky, US-made clothes and toys and does most of his shopping there; my sister goes online for neat, green stuff; my godfather is a green machine and knows like 800 places to buy that kind of thing. The "mainstream" toys we have are typically toys that other people remember particularly fondly from their childhood, which I totally appreciate. But I'd say most people have been aware of the China manufacturing recalls and so forth, even if they don't have kids, and most people have been pretty careful about seeking out "good" brands or even asking us if plastic is okay, or if Fisher Price is okay, or whatever -- even without knowing us as greenies. People are pretty aware of the safety issues.

And we've always put a ton ton ton of books on the baby's registry/lists (my family is a list family for holidays), and let people who ask know that books are always welcome -- it's hard for anyone to argue against children's books! We'll tell people who ask to get him their favorite book from childhood, even if it's "too old" for him ... we love having a well-stocked library for him as he grows!

As demand for "safe"/green products grows, they're easier to find -- Gerber sells organic onesies at Target; California Baby baby toiletries are at Target; etc.

I am in the camp that it is ungracious to refuse a gift for your child (or imply it isn't up to your standards), even if you later put it away or pass it on because it isn't appropriate (for your child, for your parenting choices, for your kid's age, whatever). But I think you will find there's considerable awareness out there, and most people are not jerks.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:47 AM on July 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

One other thought: You might try re-framing the issue: Not so much, "Don't get stuff from China," more like, "hey, we really want to support economies XY&Z" ...or "green" products, or the economy of Thailand, or cottage industry products, or... Requests to support a cause are generally easier on the ears than idiosyncratic bans.
posted by Ys at 8:48 AM on July 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Somewhat echoing cecic, ask people to give books. If you're that concerned about toys from China, buy them yourself.
posted by fso at 8:49 AM on July 5, 2010

I, too, have small children and watch the toy recalls -- it seems most of the ones recalled are sold at dollar stores/ the dollar section of Target, and all of those toys break quickly anyway, if that helps you explain your wishes to others.

My problem when the kids were itty-bitty was that I was worried about this stuff and so hormonal and living in one room (so NO space with the oldest) that I had a really hard time being gracious -- I wish I'd had my head clear enough to be grateful and convey it -- and then donate anything I didn't want/need. Also, you will regret the $800 stroller or the $250 high chair that converts to a grown up chair -- seriously. Resist. And BumGenius are excellent cloth diapers.
posted by MeiraV at 9:08 AM on July 5, 2010

At least for the first few years before unavoidable marketing kicks in

Just piping up to say that I was determined to avoid the cheap plastic crap from China for my baby, and the kid had his own ideas, well before I was expecting him to. The first play date in a place with the cheap plastic crap from China, he was all over it like the kids who never get sweets at home are all over cookies at their friends' houses. This was before he was six months old. The charming hand-painted wooden toys from Switzerland never appealed to him the way the garish plastic stuff did. Sigh. Just to say you may try, but your child may have other ideas.
posted by ambrosia at 9:16 AM on July 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

Overreacting or not, as a general rule of politeness you shouldn't tell people what kind of gifts to buy for you.

When you register for baby stuff, register for what you want.

If someone asks what you want, tell them.

But just coming out with your list of dos and don'ts is, well, rude.

Good luck navigating the sea of baby and kid crap toys!
posted by thatone at 9:38 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

1. Do a bunch of research and find stuff you do want that is basic, cheap and supposedly China free. Lego was mentioned earlier as being not-from-China. What about Duplo? Make a big list. Make sure there are lots of cheap items on the list too. Find ubiquitous stuff.

2. Once you are pregnant, aquaint your friends/relatives/larger child providing social network with your wish list, couching the items in really positive terms. "Lego is SO educational and we hope to collect lots!" Negative terms will make them feel negative and it will be harder for them to bond with your baby and celebrate your pregnancy.

3. To anyone with crafting skills, make a request like, "If, you know, you ever have time, it would be wonderful if, someday, you could make a wooden/sewn/crocheted toy for our kid because your handmade stuff is so gorgeous." Make it clear that you consider this request to be something of an imposition on your part. Also since Junior is probably going to be buried alive in toys before the fifth birthday, encourage people to form relationships with Junior instead. When Junior is six years old, there is more value to your friend coming over and teaching him/her how to bake cookies in your kitchen than there is to the latest Toy Story IV licensed merchandise. Phrase this as, "Junior would love to see you!" Note that this is not babysitting, this is your friend coming over to hang out with friends of which Junior is one.

4. Be aware that you never really know what horrible secret poisons could be lurking in anything that could harm the baby, but the chances of your kid being harmed this way with you providing minimal supervision are less than those of your kid dying as a result of being bitten by a pig. On the other hand go ahead and take precautions about these contaminants because YOU will feel better if you do. Also be aware that Junior will one day be amused by one of your balled up unwashed foetid socks, and a ring of plastic measuring spoons, provenence not even under speculation because at that moment your desperation is such that you would give her the keys to your Ferrari and all your credit cards and permission to drive to the mall alone if only she were not still in pre-school.

5. When you get the stuff from other people make enthusiastic noises. They have just given you a gesture of love and support. Respond to that. Later vet the presents and decide what you think of getting a Dream-Date-Barbie and a glass baby bottle, provenence unascertainable.

6.From the git-go make it clear to Junior that all gifts will be appropriated by his parents shortly after the visitors leave and will be produced again when and if appropriate. Do not inform Junior that this is so that you can vet them for safety/political correctness. It's so you can put them away. For Junior's own benefit it is good to keep some toys in rotating storage so that ones that haven't been seen in awhile come out from time to time to keep things interesting. Dream-Date-Barbie may never come out again if you decide it is not appropriate. Or she may come out when it is time for you to take a camping trip where she can become the driver of Junior's toy front end loader in a muddy gulch, an experience from which her blonde hair and spangled mini-dress will never recover. It's not like you hugely wanted to keep her. Low value toys can be reserved for high stress play, or alternatively re-gifted.

8. One of the first healthy normal and desirable instincts of a new parent, especially a male one is to become suddenly very defensive and protective of the new baby/pregant spouse. This is a sign that you are likely to bond well with your kid, be committed and be a good parent.

9. An paranoid revulsion for the dirt of other tribes is a natural and healthy instinct, particularly if there is some social tension/competition between your two tribes such as resentment over a huge trade deficit. This is because other tribes and people ARE dirty compared to you. If I were to take a trip to China, I would bring with me any number of cough, cold, disease and parasitic microbes, and in my wake probably leave a throng of sneezing, itchy eyed Chinese. If you don't have previous exposure to the microbes of another society you don't have the resistance either. So what you are feeling, the protective tension that your child could be made sick by contact with Chinese trade goods is a variation of that instinct.

10. So long as you are not acting crazy, distressing other people, or inciting other people to racism, there is nothing wrong with you feeling this way. It is good for you to be in touch with your worries about your kid. You just need practice processing them to decide which ones are worth acting on and which ones are not. This is the first stage in the process where you become comfortable with deciding if Junior can come into bed with you tonight (Yeah, could be sick, easier to keep an eye on him here), if that red bump on Junior's knee necessitates a trip to Emerg (Nope) , and if a third baby bottle full of green Kool Aid on an empty stomach is a good idea or not (Noooo!) , or if Junior is indeed old enough to try out a coaster bike in the driveway. (Yes, but only with helmet and knee pads and only when aimed at the lawn.)
posted by Jane the Brown at 9:38 AM on July 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

What you want for your (theoretical?) kid is to avoid badly made toys, not Chinese toys.

Here's the thing- for the past couple decades, our country has been funded by selling debt. Who bought the debt? China. Why? Because we buy their exports en masse, which has worked out for us because China keeps the value of its currency artificially low. Well, what's happening now is that not only is our debt increasingly worthless, but China is under increasing political pressure to "float" their currency on exchanges like everyone else, which would create, at least initially, a significant increase in value. The upshot is that Chinese goods are going to become more expensive, so American consumer spending needs an adjustment. Enter the sudden spate of Chinese toy recalls in the past few years.

If you're saying to yourself, "that's just a crazy theory", consider the sudden increase in recalls of "badly made" Japanese automobiles just after the collapse of the U.S. auto industry.

carlh: I have some connection to manufacturing in China through clients and I know that they cut corners wherever they can.

This is not a uniquely Chinese problem. See also: British Petroleum. See also: Increasingly common food recalls from American companies.
posted by mkultra at 9:45 AM on July 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

My sister-in-law had all sorts of rules about presents for her kids that were extremely difficult to accommodate. If you didn't buy the right thing or something she already had or too much of something you would hear about it too. Her policy and behavior mostly just alienated people (and ended up hurting my mother who was trying to be generous).

So my advice would be to state your preferences and then accept all gifts graciously. If you receive something you prefer not to keep, donate it to a thrift store or a charity later.
posted by Kimberly at 9:58 AM on July 5, 2010

My sister-in-law has this very restriction. I find it a bit amusingly over-protective, but I honor her request. It doesn't offend me or bother me, but it does make things more difficult. It did open my eyes to how very difficult it is to avoid products made in China. This is her first child. The reason I mention that is that my sister used to leave me four pages of instructions when I baby sat her eldest. Now that I have three nephews to watch, she has lowered her standards significantly. I'm lucky if she tells us when she'll be back now and the multi-page lists are completely out the window. Even my sister-in-law seems to be mellowing as she gets used to the idea that my niece is pretty hard to damage.
posted by Lame_username at 10:09 AM on July 5, 2010

Best answer: You can't control other people, and you should cheerfully accept gifts. Kids have plenty of STUFF and really don't need most of it.

"Dear friends, we're really concerned about Chinese goods. If you were going to buy a gift for Babyh, we'd rather not have goods from China. Please don't feel obliged to bring a gift for BabyH, your friendship is enough. Don't think you're getting off easy: You are required to exclaim about the cuteness and intelligence of our new baby. Thanks."

You'll still get stuff from China. If it's from an interfering Dad-in-Law, keep it on a shelf for his visit. If it's from a neighbor who's probably just re-gifting, exchange it or throw it out. You still have to write a thank You note.

I didn't want my kid to get war toys. I got a ration of grief. (Srsly, my son will be a deranged serial killer if he doesn't have a toy tank???) War toys went straight to Goodwill for families who made different choices. My son is now in the Army. go figure.
posted by theora55 at 10:11 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm in the "you're not overreacting, and it's never too soon to be a paranoid wreck" camp.

When you see recall after recall of toys, cribs, clothes, trinkets, accessories, I don't think it's foolish to try to look for the things the products had in common...if it's country of origin, fine. You're not going to impoverish a nation of billions by your decision to ask for a safer toy.

It does take some planning, though. I'd start researching what toys you could stand for the kid to be around, now. If your potential gift-givers are nearby, order catalogs to show them when they're around; if they're far away, suggest websites. (Catalogs are fun to look at with the kids...we keep Haba, Playmobil, Lego and Plan Toys catalogs around just to keep the consumer juices flowing.) You don't have to make any big rules about what people give you--just encourage them to give you what you'd be comfortable with, and shelve the stuff you're not (after they're gone, of course). No need to alienate anyone.

Clothes, I think, are a little different...they get coated with nasty stuff, but then, you can wash them. Mostly. If you really want to take the paranoia too far, and you've got the money to feed it, you can look at Oeko Tex 100 certification for clothes. The big thing with clothes, to me, is more the "I'd rather my kid not be a walking billboard for your stupid product" thing.

The one thing you can count on, is that most people giving you gifts won't understand. Which is fine, and why you don't want to push too hard about it. If you lecture, you'll get "I grew up bathing in leaded gasoline and it made me the man I am today" and after a few rounds of that, you'll just want to quietly crawl under the crib and gnaw on some unpainted sustainably-sourced rubberwood blocks.
posted by mittens at 10:16 AM on July 5, 2010

Best answer: It sounds like you're doing a lot of research and preparation. Is it possible that you could compile it into some kind of web site format that would actually be interesting to your friends? If so, it might be really helpful to some people if you could make a page, or categorized list, of good sources for things like toys, shoes, etc.

This could be helpful not only for you, but also maybe for friends, people geographically nearby, or on the wider net, who also would like to purchase responsibly but find it (as has been mentioned above) just so overwhelming. The list of "don't" is daunting, but I can well imagine something really great like:
Best Kid Stuff Around
  • local stores - we found three stores near us in NY which carry locally-made or fair trade toys which are Awesome and wonderfully made (and not from China).... We only bought the Helfenguild Set, but the wigii net looks fabulous too (everything's made in Arkansas of sustainably-harvested yucca root, completely safe if unusual)...
  • web vendors - Häba toys are great, and so incredibly cute! Check out these fluffy sheep even if you don't ever come in contact with kids...
  • ...
I think you can see where I'm going with this. Such a site may already exist, which is fine, but you can make it yourself if not. And it might be good for you to make your own anyway -- you'll have a specific aesthetic and set of preferences, and if you include stores near you it makes even more sense.

Then you have a very valid reason for sending a link to all your friends.

It's So much easier to select among "do's" than to avoid a universe of "don't". And seeing such a list (with a note about how you select things) will definitely clue your friends in to how strongly you feel about things.

It would probably be a good idea to include a note about how you understand how difficult it is to only buy "perfect" items, and you understand why most people can't be 100% strict in purchasing decisions -- but maybe your list can help.

* Häba toys are real, I have a very cute sheep from them and no kids. You should check them out. I made up the other stuff.
posted by amtho at 10:19 AM on July 5, 2010

I find it a bit amusingly over-protective

You know what? The more people do insist on toys not made in China, the more toys not made in China will become available. And maybe (?), if there's enough market pressure, Chinese manufacturing practices will eventually have to change. Isn't that worth being a little "eccentric"?
posted by amtho at 10:22 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

There are stores that sell the kind of toys you want. Oompa toys is one online in the US. I started out trying to buy only toys of this type for my friends' babies, and yes - it is WAY more expensive. Ditto clothes, as someone mentioned above.

One option is to try to get used stuff as much as possible, once you identify which things are safe used. There are lots of places to get used baby things, Goodwill, local baby swap shops etc. (Though Chinese stuff is still a lot easier to find used too. Eg, a plastic play stove/kitchen for $5-10, when a new wooden one would be $100-$200.)

I have a friend who had a baby shower where she asked "please don't buy anything, just ask around to see if you know someone who has used stuff" and she still got a lot of new stuff. It's just hard (speaking from the gifter's point of view) because people want to get you a nice-LOOKING gift, and the used stuff or the one small European toy you can buy for the equivalent of the big set of Chinese toys just doesn't look like a nice-enough gift. So, no matter how carefully you put it, you will probably still get Chinese stuff.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:55 AM on July 5, 2010

I just want to add that if you are given a gift you do not want your child to have, please don't throw it out as someone suggested. Donate the toys to a charity that helps children in need. Win/win situation.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 11:00 AM on July 5, 2010

Oh and I meant to say, graciously accept the gift and then donate.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 11:02 AM on July 5, 2010

My sister is pretty hippy-ish, but she got over a lot of these things when she realized that if it wasn't a toy in the mouth then it was a dirty hand or foot or something off of the floor or.... Just sayin'.
posted by anaelith at 11:28 AM on July 5, 2010

Speaking from recent experience. I'm pretty laid-back when it comes to such requests from friends/ relatives, but some others may not be; and I'm with everyone else here that advocates making your requirements known in a diplomatic, appreciative manner - and then being gracious about the outcome, whether or not you receive what you prefer.

When my cousin had her first baby, she had similar stipulations, and most of us that were invited to the baby shower complied. However, at least one or two of her friends (myself included) felt bad because we wanted to be generous but couldn't afford to be. I ended up going off-registry and asking another friend (who already was making things for her own child) to make her some awfully cute baby clothes - for a suitable compensation, of course. Some of the others got her gift cards. The end result was that she ended up with far fewer presents than she normally would have.

I say this with no rancor whatsoever, but my cousin's strict rules kind of bit her in the a**. She and her husband are by no means wealthy enough that they wouldn't benefit from the generosity of relatives and friends who care for her and her family. We try to accommodate her wishes as much as we can out of our own concern for the baby, but it really is expensive and time-consuming to find items that are organic/ green/ made in Europe/US. Personally, I want to take the baby a gift every time I visit, but there's always the tiny thought at the back of my head that I don't have the time or money to stop and look for suitable presents on my way home from work, and just stopping by to give the baby a cuddle. Besides, I do believe my cousin is finding out Chinese-made toys are not the pinnacle of her concerns with her rambunctious, eternally mobile bundle of joy.
posted by Everydayville at 11:38 AM on July 5, 2010

Before having my two kids I had the same sort of worries: no chinese toys, no this no that.

then I had them... and trust me. You'll be more worried about other things.

But: when a toy looks really plasticky and painted and cheap I do toss it.
posted by uauage at 11:41 AM on July 5, 2010

Also, if you do receive toys made in China that you think may be harmful to *your* child, I'm on the fence as to whether you should donate them. While I understand that there are dozens of children out there who do not have toys to play with - I doubt that their development would be significantly affected by the absence of cheaply-made toys in their lives. After all, why would you want someone else's child to have something you wouldn't want your own child to have?
posted by Everydayville at 11:42 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

+1 "as a general rule of politeness you shouldn't tell people what kind of gifts to buy for you" -- the answer is no, you don't get to dictate the terms on which people give you gifts for reasons of etiquette alone.

But. You should be aware that this is a big class issue; it is a middle, increasingly upper and upper-middle, class privilege to raise one's child without made-in-China schlock. I can't see how you would present these concerns to people who did not experience similar privilege in raising their own children without causing offence.

There are a lot of people out there who for various reasons view the teevee-branded tot stuff as "better" than "100% organic hand puppets" and the like (and they will not be swayed by a web site driveling on about the virtues of Haba), and you will hurt their feelings if you suggest to them that the biggest Dora doll on the shelf is somehow not good enough for your offspring. There is just no way to do what you propose to do without being rude.

Asking around for toy store recommendations in another town I once visited it was made obvious to me that there are a great deal of parents who have never set foot in a toy store that carries "100% organic hand puppets" and the like. You want a good toy store? Hey, the [discount dept store] here is awesome, huge selection! Playmobil is effete Euro-weirdness, and who would buy Lego when Mega Bloks are so much cheaper? What idiots! Again, big class divides. "No made in China" would be as ridiculous as "Only Lacoste or Polo branded garments, please" to this crowd; it would mark you as a dreadful, and, in their eyes, clueless snob.

You might like this Consuming Kids documentary. One relevant excerpt: "It's really hard to find baby paraphernalia that's not plastered with media characters. you can find unbranded baby stuff, but you can find it in high-end toy stores. But if you go to places where poor or middle-class families shop, it's all branded."

I once asked, here, about my wooden blocks, and it turned into a MetaTalk talk about these sorts of things...

Anyway. I also want to throw out that you will likely change your mind. Use your own common sense as a guide for toy safety; plenty of paint-chipping-off junk comes from North America, even Denmark occasionally makes stuff that breaks, and, there is a lot to be said for some cheap toys. I have resisted all "middle" stuff and keep the house free of licensed character crap; we are overflowing with Playmobil and Lego here -- but I also like hitting dollar stores here and there, because how can you beat $1.50 for a tuxedo outfit for a teddy bear, or $2 for a neat set of sand moulds? I also have made-in-Austria sand toys that cost @#!* $25. Do you want to lose $25 at the beach? No. So the $2 disposables are a godsend.
posted by kmennie at 12:00 PM on July 5, 2010 [5 favorites]

I too was all "only handmade organic wooden toys (made by blind war-widow elves)" and registered on Kaboodle as such. It was partially environmental and partially aesthetics.

Yeah, I got some of them. But for all that concern, the kidlet was completely disinterested in all of them. ALL OF THEM. He was much more into the plastic crap toys that we had to occasionally pick up (at CVS in the middle of a dinner or outing to the grocery store).

I resold some of them on eBay and to baby consignment shops, but I certainly lost money on it all.

But what I came into here to say is that there is a range of plastic-y crap toys. For example, I've found that Fisher-Price toys are pretty well made and aren't as annoying musically as V-Tech toys are. And, as I mentioned before, the kidlet really prefers them. There is also a range of how ugly those plastic-y toys are. Your living room is going to become a kid mess no matter what you do.

I still do made the occasional expensive indulgent kid toy purchase. But time and time again, he prefers the plastic.

BTW, Eyebrow McGee, once again I totally Nth your answer.
posted by k8t at 12:02 PM on July 5, 2010

"It's really hard to find baby paraphernalia that's not plastered with media characters. you can find unbranded baby stuff, but you can find it in high-end toy stores. But if you go to places where poor or middle-class families shop, it's all branded."

Actually, it's not. That's where we got picky about our selections, and we had no problems finding unbranded stuff that was still stylish. The only brand stuff we did was the Toronto Maple Leafs (I know, I know.). Leaving off Spider Man and whoever else was on clothes at the time wasn't that hard. We didn't do camouflage either, but I'll always remember my brother saying that they didn't allow gun toys in their house until the day their son bit his toast into a gun-shape and shot his brother with it.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:20 PM on July 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Guys and gals this is amazing. I kind of want to go through and favorite every comment in this thread. What a great resource of information you've posted right here - I'm serious. Lots of viewpoints, all valid! This honestly is one of the most productive AskMeta threads I've seen! :)

I'm still reading through the newer comments but all this perspective is wonderful. I'll try not to bug everyone too much with question threads when my wife and I do start our family soon, but I know we'll be in very good hands with all your thoughts and wisdom - and good logical sense, too!
posted by carlh at 12:28 PM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I always think that if I had kids, I wouldn't want them to have very gender-specific toys (there's something weird to my mind about a child looking after a baby doll). My sister wouldn't allow her boys to have guns or war toys. There's nothing wrong with having principles, but no, you can't choose what other people do.

My mother saw me buying organic yogurt (I'm not an organic person but just really like that brand) and told me that our systems have become so used to pesticides that going organic would actually be harmful for us. You'll get similar odd objections if you tell people not to do X for Y reason. And some of this will be because people will wonder why you're making a fuss over something that they're perfectly fine with.
posted by mippy at 12:53 PM on July 5, 2010

At least for the first few years before unavoidable marketing kicks in...

And then maybe you'll have a second child, who will have access to all the nasty toys your older child now owns.

Also, you'll take your baby to the park and he'll shove a handful of bark chips in his mouth, which contain all sorts of chemicals and dyes.

He'll also suck on your watch and the TV remote.

I totally agree with you about not letting kids have toys that look like the paint is going to chip off in their mouth, etc. I throw those away. I don't even donate them if they look really bad, because I feel guilty about someone's else's baby chewing on them. I'm just saying, your child will put lots of nasty things into his mouth, and most of them will not even be toys.
posted by Knowyournuts at 2:48 PM on July 5, 2010

please don't throw it out as someone suggested. Donate the toys to a charity that helps children in need. Win/win situation.
posted by MaryDellamorte

I only said that because otherwise it's like saying, this toy will kill my child, let me give it to some poor kid. I'm kind of assuming that a new toy will be picked out of the "trash."
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:18 PM on July 5, 2010

My sister wouldn't allow her boys to have guns or war toys.

Same here. Or watch TV, or, as far as she was aware of, even know it existed. I think it was at around three years old, when my nephew started pointing bent sticks and saying, "Bang!"
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:23 PM on July 5, 2010

As a human health risk assessor, I usually jump in to tell people to relax, that risk is everywhere, and all we can do is try to be informed and try to balance our risks with our lifestyle choices. When it comes to risk, people frequently focus on one thing (drinking water from their tap) that is usually pretty safe, while ignoring the dangers of the lead paint on their windows. Go in knowing that you can try to educate yourself, but learning everything is impossible, and being too restrictive can turn off the friends and family that want to be generous. You can tell folks that you're trying to be as organic and healthy as possible and use some of the other good tactics mentioned above.

All of that said, the emerging contaminants that gives me the willies on this front are PBDEs. They're the flame retardants that go in most baby clothes, mattresses, upholstery, computers, cars. They're everywhere, and while there isn't enough evidence to prove that their dangers outweigh their important safety function, there's a lot of troubling research. And baby clothes made in western nations are going to include them, too. So if I were in your position, I'd look into used baby items (clothes that are washed many times are great!) or ones that aim for being organic.
posted by ldthomps at 6:15 PM on July 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Just put up some high shelves in the baby's room and put any "un-acceptable" toys up there. Then later you can pass them on however you like.
posted by what-i-found at 6:56 PM on July 5, 2010

The book A Year Without "Made in China": One Family's True Life Adventure in the Global Economy might give you some idea of what would be involved.
posted by Lexica at 7:12 PM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think you're overreacting, especially since you aren't pregnant yet. I definitely understand your impulse to protect your future offspring but I'm reminded of something my boss has said: "I was a better parent before I had kids."
posted by kat518 at 7:51 PM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

My only thought would be that if this is really important to you, provide alternatives at the same time you're making your preferences clear. Find places that sell the kind of things you do want, etc. Maybe suggest handmedowns or "previously loved" items if you're open to those kind of things.

you're going to have people who disregard what you want to do for your baby, whether it's the type of toys or choice of snacks or whatever, because they presume to know better or insist that it didn't hurt them or it shouldn't be a big deal, blah blah blah. Getting used to that idea now can only help you ;)
posted by lemniskate at 5:50 AM on July 6, 2010

I would respectfully suggest that if safety is what you're looking for, you're better off researching the company's practises than insisting on no 'Made in China' products.

For instance: this NYT article describes luxury brands who cut costs by having products made in Italy but done by under-paid Chinese workers. If the company is truly passionate and proud of their product, that's going to translate into every stage of that product, from design to manufacturing to fair pay, no matter where it's designed or manufactured, China and/or otherwise.

You could research a list of companies that make good, certified baby products/clothes and ask for people to gift items from those companies or other known companies because you support ethical and responsible manufacturing. Eliminate the location from your 'baby rules' - if the company doesn't care about it's workers and practises, it doesn't matter where it's made.
posted by zennish at 2:56 PM on July 6, 2010

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