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A New Kind of Tub Toy

Seems like everyone is talking about ridding their lives of plastics, or at least not adding more.  But what about bath toys?  My girls have brought in enamel ware that created an awful rusty mess. Glass-not an option. Wood-also not great. So what next?

Sara writes:

I'm trying to limit the amount of plastic that comes into our house, though I seem to fail regularly in my attempts, especially when it comes to toys!  We would like to buy some new tub toys for my son's 3rd birthday, specifically boats.  Does anyone know of durable, non-plastic tub toys?  Do such things even exist, since they need to be waterproof?


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There is a store around 50th and Division in SE that has all natural wooden toys and I have seen wood boats that are for bathtubs. Sorry I cannot remember there name, it is is a little restored building with a cute clothing store next door

While not specifically boat-like in nature we often raid the kitchen utensil drawer for new tub toys - the turkey baster, the silicon brush, and various stainless steel measuring cups and spoons have all been a hit. Also, those fun bath crayons that allow your child to draw on the walls of the tub and then simply rinse off.

If you are looking specifically for a boat then why not get a plastic one that was previously owned? True you are holding on to something plastic, but at least you aren't purchasing NEW plastic, and you can always pass it along to someone else when you are done.

The store on SE Division is at 60th, the Waldorf one. On the N side of the street, right next door to Twill. I also got a little wood boat that has the balloon attachment and when you blow up the balloon and let the air out the thing puts across the tub. I bet if you dry it off after the tub the wood would do fine. It is designed to go in the water, after all! We like ours. Wash cloth-y things might also work, we have a few little animals that you are supposed to put soap inside that never do get soap inside but are fun animals to play with. Otherwise, we're all plastic!

We got a wooden toy boat from novanatural.com that does great in the bath. It was a Christmas gift and it's been in the tub every nigth since then with no signs of wear. (The trick will be to find non-plastic critters to ride in the boat ...)

We have some plastic tub toys (a few sharks and boats and cups) but I got rid of most everything else, not because of the plastic per se, but because they all had holes in them perfectly designed, it seems, to capture little bits of water to grow mold. Then my kids put them in their mouths. YUK!! I've been wanting to try the tub finger paints I saw at a store recently. I think they would get a kick out of drawing on the wall of the tub.

Kids at Heart on Hawthorne has wooden boats for about $7. What about making a paper boat like Curious George does? Directions are easily found online.

Kids at Heart on Hawthorne has wooden boats for about $7. What about making a paper boat like Curious George does? Directions are easily found online.

About a year ago my husband went to Finnegan's looking for a toy boat for the tub and came back with one of every. boat. from the store. He was met with an eye roll, of course, but he enjoyed them even more than the kids! Today, all the boats have gone by the wayside in favor their Hot Wheels cars, which go everywhere with them. I think they're my favorite bath toy. They don't clutter up the tub because they come out after the bath and thus don't get moldy, and they keep attention like you wouldn't believe. The other one we love is the letters that stick to the tub. Plastic, but such is life.

We are big fans of the bathtub crayons which are also for sale at Kids at Heart on Hawthorne. We found they worked better than the paints. And the Oregon Center for Environmental Health just opened an EcoSafe Home store and are selling real rubber duckies (as opposed to PVC duckies) for $6. Their website is http://www.oregon-health.org.

milagros has a rubber band powered wooden bath boat that we bought for a nephew.

We got those terry cloth finger puppets for the bath, I think at New Seasons?

We also go with kitchen utensils -- measuring cups and spoons, whisks, and sieves are big hits. Also good are the plastic bouncy balls we already have around the house; there's nothing more fun than spinning, dunking, and throwing a ball in the bathtub. Kitchen sponges are good too, as are bubbles.

I'm from Maine originally and there's a great shop there that makes wooden toys, including boats for the bathtub, and you can order stuff from their web site. Here's a link: www.mainetoys.com/Catalog/Bathtub_Boats/bathtub_boats.html.

They've got a great paddle boat that's driven by a rubber band -- fun!

We got our a wooden sailboat for the tub at Mother Natures on 2627 SE Clinton St. They mostly sell cloth diapering supplies but also a nice selection of Haba and Selecta wooden toys and some other natural mom and baby supplies.

The Oregon Center for Environmental Health (OCEH) will be selling natural rubber latex duckies at our booth at the Beaverton Greener Living Summit on Saturday, April 19th at Beaverton City Hall. http://www.beavertonoregon.gov/departments/neighborhoods/news/docs/LivingGreenerflyerwebversion.pdf We have three cute types of little squeakers- pirate ducky, royal ducky and the straight-up ducky. The ducks are $6 each and all sales proceeds go towards supporting OCEH's mission to protect public health and the environment by promoting alternatives to the use, manufacture, release and disposal of toxic chemicals. The ducks and a small assortment of other products are also available for purchase at our office on 48th and NE Fremont. For more information visit www.oregon-health.org or email ecosafehome@oregon-health.org

My mom got my son a great little wooden boat with removable passengers: the Busy Boat from North Star Toys (www.northstartoys.com), a family business with handmade, nontoxic wooden toys. They also have a smaller, less expensive--but also less colorful--boat called "Three Men in a Boat." We haven't give our boat a ton of use (haven't had it all that long and, ahem, don't bathe our 17-mo-old son ALL that often), so I can't speak to long-term durability, but the toy is holding up well so far. I just rinse it and set it out to dry after each bath.

A friend gave us some "squirters" from Alex Toys (alextoys.com)--they are plastic but phthalate-free. Admittedly, the manufacturer doesn't appear to make any other claims as to what's in the product. They come in sets of five according to theme (space, garden, farm, ocean, etc.). They are listed for 6 mos and up, but only an older child would begin to be able to fill and squirt the squirters.

Good luck!

i just had this discussion myself in december! i had gotten rid of all our plastic (mostly)... but still the tub! what to do?!

first, the name of the store on division is the steiner storehouse. another place to look is in sellwood at spielwerk toys. great selection of natural toys. i love the ladies who own the shop. both are moms. in fact, it is sonia who gave me the advice about bath toys.

we have a wooden boat (with rubberband - though its still fun without the rubberband) i also got a tiny metal mixing bowl from village merchants. aaand, yes, we do use glass. in the tub. yep. small ball jars are thick and also the spice jars are thick. with the lid on, you can shake shake shake and make bubbles. my daughter is 4.5 so when my baby is going through the smash/crash/bang everything stage, the glass will probably not be a go, but still no plastic for us.

and as for care for the boat, we've had it for a few years now and it's great. just stand it up after bath and make sure it can dry out. use some olive oil if you want to treat it. or some other natural wood conditioner (it will wash in the tub, right? into the skin...) but honestly, i never have done this and our little boat looks great.

Not exactly a "toy", but my 3 and 5 year old's new favorite bath tub item is ice. Plain ice, colored water ice, ice cubes with small things frozen in them.....

just a comment on bath finger paints--I bought some once & it was pretty useless. My 3 year old had a hard time squeezing it out by herself & it was very weakly colored & runny. My sister found some bath crayons, though, and they were awesome! If only I knew where she found them.
And I second the metal kitchen utensil ideas--strainers, measuring spoons, etc. And, why not go second hand from Goodwill to Village Merchants there's always a box of random utensils looking for a second life!

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