In Search of PVC-Free Baby Dolls

October 16, 2008 | 32 Comments

At Safbaby we have been searching for baby dolls free of PVC for the last few months (in the US and Europe), and we have been unsuccessful in finding one.

Since we’ve recently received an email from a mother who’s desperately trying to find a doll for her little girl that is PVC/Vinyl-Free, we now post our research here for all of you.

Even though most manufacturer claim that PVC/Vinyl without phthalates is not harmful, many experts question it’s safety. Please read our informative and insightful interview on this topic in full here.

Here is an excerpt of our interview:

Safbaby:

Some toys are labeled “Phthalate-free”, is this enough or should I only purchase PVC-free ?

Mike Schade from CHEJ (Center for Health, Environment and Justice):

Certainly, phthalate free toys are a step in the right direction, but even PVC toys that are phthalate-free may contain other potentially harmful chemical additives. For example, lead has been found in a number of PVC children’s toys and back-to-school products such as lunch-boxes. Many companies have substituted lead for other “stabilizers” such as organotins which may be harmful over time. Some organotins affect the central nervous system, skin, liver, immune system and reproductive system. Since the organotins are not 100% bound to the polymer, they can easily migrate from within a PVC product to the surface.

The best bet is to look for toys that are 100% PVC-free. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.


Phthalate-Free Baby Dolls

Manufacturers use PVC plasticizers so toys have more resilience to them, and do not break while being played with. There are a few toy manufacturers who sell dolls free of phthalates, but not free of PVC. A few examples of those are:

  • Kaethe Kurse,
  • Keptin-Jr
  • Corolle
  • Zapf Creation

Safe PVC-Free and Phthalate-Free Baby Dolls

Although we weren’t able to find a plastic doll that is completely free of potentially harmful plasticizers, here are some great SAFE ALTERNATIVE soft dolls, your child will absolutely adore.

Paola Soft Doll by Haba

This cute doll has removable clothing, is machine washable. Haba sells a variety of Soft Dolls in different sizes.

We also love the portable Dollhouse and Carrying Cot, perfect for a great gift for the Holidays!

Age 18M and up
15 inches tall
Machine Washable

Available here for $ 45.00

Waldorf Flippippi Fortune Fairy by Kathe Kruse

This beautiful handmade doll carries a four leaf clover adorned by the cutest little ladybug wherever she goes. She is made of cotton and stuffed with sheep wool and quartz sand. Her hair is made of mohair – a silky material made from the hair of the Angora goat. Her face is hand-embroidered and hand-painted.

Age 3 and up
13 inches tall
Hand washable

Available here for $ 85.99

The Earth Friends Doll Raji

Each doll is lovingly handcrafted in the U.S.A. Doll is made of cotton, hemp and soft stuffing from recycled plastic containers. Includes a small backpack with the seed of a tree, vegetable or flower in a cool recycled packaging. Available in other ethnicities.

Age 2 and up
14 and 22 inches tall
Dolls hand washable, clothing machine washable

Available here for $64.00 & $89.00.

BabiCorolle Sorbet Melodie Doll

This pretty soft doll by Corolle makes a perfect gift because it comes in a cute shoe-box style package. Soft and light, this adorable infant first doll will enchant the very young.

Birth and up
16 inches tall
Machine washable

Available for $26.99 here.

Keptin Jr – Organic Cotton Doll

This 100% organic cotton doll is filled with pure wool. The simplicity of the design stimulates the child’s creativity, and the high quality of the product guarantees it will last.

It is squishy soft and tall, so it is perfect for hugging and sleeping with. This sweet girl is wearing a pretty yellow dress and has long black pigtail. Available in other ethnicities.

Birth and up
10 inches tall
Machine washable

Available here for $35.99

Another Sneaky Place PVC May Be Hiding In Your Baby’s Doll

All of our dolls recommended here are 100%-free of PVC. But, just because you’ve chosen a cloth doll, does not mean your choice is free of PVC.

If the doll is stuffed with plastic pellets, please pay attention to what those pellets are made from. Some are made from PE pellets (which are free of pvc and safe for use in the home), others are made from PVC pellets. PE stands for polyethylene, and PVC stands for polyvinylchloride.

Please read your label, or if you need to, contact your doll’s manufacturer directly. Safe snuggles!

Tags: , , ,

Category: 0-1 yr, 1-3 yrs, 3-5 yrs, 5+ yrs, Product Reviews, PVC-free, Toys

  • Rachel

    After reading this article I am either very confused or just don’t get it! Wouldn’t ALL cloth only (no plastic/pvc parts) dolls inherently be PVC-free (including ALL the Kathe Kruse Waldorf dolls and the Potty Barn cloth dolls)???
    Thank you so much for your answer to this simple, yet somehow complicated, question! :)

  • Rachel

    In reference to my previous comment, here are the Potty Barn cloth dolls which includes the company’s toy safety/toxicity statement:

    http://www.potterybarnkids.com/products/hd450/index.cfm?pkey=gthmcipgir&cm_src=hplink

    I appreciate your feedback.

    Best,
    Rachel SHinn

  • http://www.safbaby.com samantha

    Dear Rachel,

    I am not sure if you read the entire article, we say at the beginning “At Safbaby we have been searching for PVC-free dolls for the last few months (in the US and Europe) and we have been “unsuccessful” in finding one.

    Therefor we were looking for some safer alternative to PVC dolls, and feature them here on our article. We like that they are all hand or machine washable and made of safe materials. A lot of cloth dolls are ‘wipe clean’ only, which we do not like. They could also be coated with toxic fire retardants. The companies we listed are known for its safe and high-quality baby dolls.

    These dolls are the perfect Christmas or Birthday gift for any baby or toddler!

    Best

    Samantha & Sandra

  • safbaby

    Dear Rachel

    Thanks for telling us about these Pottery Barns dolls. We like that they exceed the safety standards but dislike that you can only spot clean them. A doll is likely to get dirty on a weekly basis and it’s so important to be able to machine or hand wash it. High quality dolls should be washable, so I would not buy or recommend these dolls.

    Best,

    Sandra

  • http://www.amomsblog.wordpress.com Trisha

    What about the Sweet Dolly by Baby Gund? She’s machine washable and a soft baby. Your comment about being sprayed with flame retardants is very concerning. I can’t believe those would be sprayed on children’s items, but I guess they are.

    Thanks

    Trisha

  • http://www.amomsblog.wordpress.com Trisha

    Oh and what about Madame Alexander’s cloth dolls or Manhattan Toy’s Baby Stella?

    Thanks

  • safbaby

    I am sure there are numerous safe soft baby dolls out there, so I would suggest contacting the manufacturer regarding materials used and safety testings done. Also ask manufacturer if they use safe non-toxic colorings and if soft dolls are free of heavy metals and fire retardants.

    Best,

    Sandra

  • safbaby2

    Manhattan Toy’s Baby Stella is stuffed with PVC pellets.

  • http://safemama.com Kathy

    This is such a great article…. thanks for sharing it!

  • Dana

    Thanks for this great article!

    Reply to Rachel: It says plainly at the end of the article that even cloth dolls can be stuffed with vinyl pellets. A couple of U.S. states (including mine) require that the tag on a cloth doll or plush animal states what materials were used in its manufacture. So just read the tag and it’ll tell you whether the pellets are PE or PVC. You want PE.

  • Lisa

    I think it’s worth mentioning in reference to dolls with wool components that sheep are absolutely loaded with insecticides (which often contain phthalates) prior to shearing, including things like malathion. It would be worth looking into what kind of wool is used in say, a Kathe Kruse waldorf doll, and asking about residual pesticides before shelling out a heap of money for a doll that may contain hazardous chemicals.

    Also, in reference to PVC, not all vinyl is created equal. The softer the vinyl, the more plasticizers (generally recognized as the more dangerous component of vinyl, to my understanding). The Kathe Kruse dolls with vinyl components actually use the (comparatively) safest vinyl available. It’s called Hexamoll Dinch, is German-manufactured, and that which is used in the dolls is extremely hard. Corolle, on the other hand, uses extremely soft, pliable vinyl. We’ve owned one of each, and our Kathe Kruse doll strikes me as being made of a much safer material. We’ve actually given our Corolle doll away because something about the plastic seemed intuitively icky.

  • teresa

    Thank you for taking the fun of giving a child a doll. Plastic dolls have been around for more than 60 years. Now is when you find that they are dangerous and of course this will relieve the guilt of parents who look for any type of reason not to buy a child a doll either because they are too stingy or neurotic.

  • safbaby

    We are just offering the facts here. What ever intentions YOU have behind your actions is strictly UP TO YOU.
    If you are NOT stingy or neurotic, than you very well may take the time to find a doll for a child you love that is healthy and safe for them and the planet (their future).

  • Jessica

    Thanks for this post. My daughter turns 2 next week and we’re looking for a safe doll for her. Do you know if the other Babicorelle dolls are safe (such as the Corolle large rag doll Grenadine), or was it just specifically the Melodie doll that you inquired about? Here is a link: http://www.amazon.com/Corolle-Large-Grenadine-Babicorolle-Collection/dp/B001U3ZGU0/ref=sr_1_94?ie=UTF8&s=toys-and-games&qid=1278045994&sr=1-94. Thank you!

  • Sarah

    Great article, thanks. My daughter has a baby Stella doll & the tag states that she is stuffed with polyethylene (PE) pellets, not PVC.

  • Mia

    I’m looking for a doll for my little girl, who for some reason, has a dislike for cloth dolls. She only wants to play with plastic dolls, which is making me cringe. With that said, on your list of lead free, pvc free, and flame retardant free toy manufacturers the Trudi company has dolls. Are these PVC free also??

  • safbaby

    The dolls are phthalates-free ONLY but not PVC-free, like all other plastic dolls. At this time I do not know of a completely PVC-free doll, so the safest option is getting a plastic doll by Corolle, Kathe Kruse or Trudi.

  • Sunny

    Petitcollin dolls are manufactured in France. Their dolls are also made of phtalate-free vinyl.

  • sylwia

    thanks so much for this article. You mentioned that the cloth dolls listed on this site are free of Lead, PVC and Phthalates. Do you know anything about low impact dies and formaldehyde use on any of these dolls or do you recommend contacting the manufacturer about it?

  • Genya Welch

    I am trying to find a doll that is made out of silicone. I have found some dolls with a vinyl head and silicone arms and legs but none entirely made from silicone. Silicone would be a good alternative to vinyl for lifelike baby dolls.

  • Eileen

    Thanks for this article!!
    So in recently learning about Styrene Ethylene Butylene Styrene (SEBS) I am wondering if any of the manufacturers are making baby dolls of this material without PVC? May be a safer alternative?

  • Christi

    My daughter picked a baby Stella doll to be her “baby” for when her brother arrived and after the conflicting reports about Manhattan toys Baby Stella doll in the comments, I decided to contact the company. They sent me the product safety information of all their product lines. According to the company, the baby Stella line is stuffed with PE pellets AND it is not treated with chemical fire retardants, yeah! It is, however, not machine washable which explains why it is not included on this list. We have a HABA doll as well, and really enjoy it but unfortunately they do not have any baby like dolls and I have yet to find clothing sets for the dolls.

  • Genya Welch

    I have found a PVC/vinyl free doll!!!!! I feel like I have won the lottery! All of the toys made by Battat are PVC/vinyl free, lead free, BPA free, and phthalate free. They make dolls called My Generation that come with a little story and look very similar to the American Girls dolls. The best part is that while American Girls dolls contain PVC/vinyl the BATTAT DOLLS DO NOT CONTAIN PVC/VINYL, LEAD, BPA, OR PHTHALATES!!!

    These dolls are super cute and the best part is they are sold right at Target! All of the Battat toys are sold at Target and on Target.com

  • safbaby

    Thanks Genya for letting us know. I emailed the company to show us lab reports to confirm your statement. Best! the SAFbaby mamas

  • tgh

    how about the miniland dolls?

  • Lina

    OK, I am totally lost. After days of research, I recently bought this Kathe Kruse dog because it was said to be totally organic:

    http://www.amazon.com/Kathe-Kruse-Organic-Cuddle-Plush/dp/B002L5WCEE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326673422&sr=8-1

    Doesn’t it mean that it is NOT loaded with insecticides?

  • Lina

    I realize that if one toy is safe it does NOT mean all toys by the same company are safe but I am wondering specifically about HABA toys. Most of their rag dolls are made of the same or similar materials as Paola. We have HABA Nelly (Nele) and Lucas dolls. From the pictures and descriptions I have been able to find, their bodies and shoes are made of the same materials as Paola while clothes and hair are very similar to hers.

    Also, HABA carries a lot of “stamps of approval” for safety according to European and US standards. I know it is not a guarantee, so when we received the dolls and realized they were made in China, I researched HABA toys “to death” and came to the conclusion that these two are “most likely safe”.

    Would you agree with that? What can I do to be sure?

    Thank you!

  • Lina

    A couple of questions.

    From the info on your website (e.g., the interview with Mike Schade), I am under the impression that PVC-toys contain several toxic chemicals (furans, vinyl chloride, ethylene dichloride, phthalates, mercury, lead, cadmium, and/or organotins), not just chlorine. However, the HealthyStuff.org testing results show only chlorine for several toys discussed here, e.g., Corolle dolls, Bratz Kids, etc.:

    Is it due to incomplete reporting? Could you please explain?

    Some Corolle dolls, like Miss Rose, are made mostly of fabric that seems to be toxin-free and only the face has some chlorine. I think most of the contact is with the body, not the face. So, this may be an uneducated question but don’t the kids get more chlorine from swimming in pools than from a chlorine-containing toy (provided they don’t put the toy in the mouth)?

    Thank you!

  • Lina

    A few more and I promise, I’ll “take a break” after that, :-)

    1. Corolle Babipouce Grenadine 12″ doll is recommended by your “Gift Guide of safe and non-toxic toys for your baby or toddler” as “Made of PVC-free vinyl and cotton”. It is also featured on this page:

    http://www.safbaby.com/dont-give-the-gift-of-lead-poisioning

    among Toys “Safe and Non-Toxic for Baby and Child”.

    However, it is not listed as PVC-free among your “Safe PVC-Free and Phthalate-Free Baby Dolls”:

    http://www.safbaby.com/in-search-of-pvc-free-baby-dolls

    Could you please explain why? Did the manufacturer change the manufacturing process in-between?

    HealthyStuff.org lists it as “Medium risk” because of the doll face containing high level of chlorine but no other toxic chemicals they tested for:

    (As I have already asked, I am not sure if it means that it contains PVC.)

    If Grenadine is recommended, what about other Corolle dolls from the same “category” with “Medium risk” due to similar levels of chlorine but nothing else, like Miss Rose, tested at the same time?

    )

    2. Only Paola doll by HABA is listed among “Safe PVC-Free and Phthalate-Free Baby Dolls” but another HABA doll Nelly is featured on the same page (closer to the top, above Paola) as PVC-free as well.

    http://www.safbaby.com/in-search-of-pvc-free-baby-dolls

    Why is it not listed then?

    I am just trying to understand the “algorithm” behind your recommendations.

    Besides, my daughter has both, Grenadine and Nelly, so I want to be sure about their safety.

    Plus, I have been doing this toy safety research for almost six weeks (since early December) and I would really like some “closure”. :)

    Thank you for all your efforts! I really wish I had found your website sooner.

  • Pingback: Plastic Baby Dolls – Danger, Danger, Danger? | Sara Morris's Weblog

  • Annalora

    Hi. I’m just wondering if you’ve done any research on the vanilla smell that corolle dolls have. I’m nervous that this is some type of added chemical and my daughter is very sensitive to scents. Why do they have to add this smell and what is it made of? Thanks for all this great information.

  • safbaby

    Don’t know. Good question. Will see if I can get it answered.

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