Choosing toys isn't just about finding the most appealing items -- parents need to think about the safest toys for their infants. Rubber can be quite dangerous for infants because they put everything in their mouths, and it can contain a number of chemicals. The safest kind of rubber depends on the infant's medical history and the origins and ingredients of the rubber used.
Types of Rubber
Two products are typically called rubber. The first is natural rubber, which comes from the rubber tree. It is processed into products like latex. Synthetic rubber is the other type. It doesn't actually have any rubber in it, according to the Sydney Children's Hospital. It is made from petrochemicals and many additives, including heavy metals. According to Davidson College, 75 percent of modern rubber is made synthetically.
Phthalates are chemical additives that have been used in making synthetic rubber. These are sometimes listed as DEHP, DBP or BBP on product labels. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission banned these products from any children's toys that can be placed in a child's mouth. However, this means they can be found in toys that are not designed for the mouth or in older toys.
Many individuals are allergic to latex, which comes from natural rubber. A latex allergy in children can be lethal, according to the Fairfax County Public Schools website. Most infants are exposed to latex immediately after birth because of the use of latex gloves at delivery, so the allergy is likely known from that point on. These infants should never use natural latex toys.
Natural rubber is biodegredable and free of petrochemicals, heavy metals and phthalates, but it is dangerous for infants with latex allergies. The safest rubber will depend on the individual, but always choose rubber teething toys that are solid, made in one piece and cannot fit down a child's throat. Teething toys that are filled with liquids can leak, and if they have tiny toys and small parts attached they can come undone. Simple teething rings or similar toys are ideal.