Updated for December 2021. If you’re not looking for baby toys, click here to read about the best toys not made in China.
If you’ve ever had a baby, you know that everything eventually ends up in their mouth. Not just spoons, binkies, and sippy cups, but rattles, balls, books, table edges, elbows, and everything else around the house. And as a parent you’ve probably uttered those immortal words, “you don’t know where that’s been”.
That kind of applies to everything Made in China, doesn’t it? The big toy brands want us to think that their manufacturing facilities are pristine and immaculate and “the same standards as we’d have in our US plants”. Is that true? There’s no way to know.
What we do know is that toys from China have been known to contain lead and other toxins. And this has included both your generic cheap toy, as well as infamous cases involving brands like Mattel (and 15 years before John Cena groveled for forgiveness to the CCP, Mattel was doing it).
You’d think after the high profile debacles with big brands in 2007, America would have woken up and started to insist on more products not made in China. But guess again. When I analyzed the top 100 best selling baby toys on Amazon, guess how many were not made in China? Seven. That’s right. SEVEN out of 100.
What’s worse, there are clear examples where companies that once committed to not making things in China have reversed course. A prime (and heartbreaking) example is the Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack and Baby’s First Blocks Playset pictured to the left (and no, I’m not linking to them because I don’t want you to buy them, and I don’t want to make any affiliate revenue off them). These had been made in Mexico for years. Fisher-Price posted an answer to a customer’s question saying they were made in Mexico. The Amazon product listing says that Mexico is their Country of Origin. But Amazon customers are reporting that they’re getting product made in China.
This is the perfect example of where corporate America counts on American consumers having a short memory. Here’s how it probably went down. In 2007, after the debacle where Mattel had to recall almost a million Fisher-Price pre-school toys because they were poisoning our children, they probably decided that they should diversify their manufacturing. But all the while, they were counting the minutes before the American public would forget, at which time they would move everything right back to China. It’s sleazy, it’s dishonest, but it’s also indicative to which the levels of psychopathy have taken over corporate America.
Similarly, I was excited when I saw that the Amazon listing said that the Munchkin 36 Bath Letters and Numbers Set and their iconic yellow rubber ducky originated in the USA, but Amazon customers pointed out that they all come from China. Heartbreaking to say the least.
And unfortunately, the fault lies squarely on us, the American consumer, who rewards them for these decisions.
How I put together this list
I first put this list together in July 2021 after the painstaking process I described above of going through Amazon’s top 100 selling toys and ending up with only seven. Trust me, it’s a labor-intensive process to click on each product, scan the page for any country of origin information (which will only be there if a customer provided it in the Q&A), and if none if found, scouring the manufacturer’s site to try to locate this information. It’s insulting that Amazon has country of origin information in their systems, but they simply refuse to be transparent with it.
Since then, my go-to site to find toys is Fat Brain Toys. While they do carry toys made in China. They do a great job of weeding out toys that are sold by low quality China manufacturers and sellers (the same ones that Amazon attracts like a magnet). Furthermore, they have accurate country of origin information and even filters that let you find toys not made in China quickly.
The list below includes toys I found in my initial Amazon analysis, along with great best-sellers from Fat Brain Toys. You can trust that these toys will be the highest quality, and safe for your little one. Do yourself a favor and reward these manufacturers who have not bowed the knee to China.
Best Baby Toys Not Made in China – Quick Ranking
|1||Sophie the Giraffe||4.8||View on Amazon or Fat Brain Toys|
|2||Mega Bloks First Builders Building Bag||View on Amazon or Walmart|
|3||mushie Stacking Cups Toy||View on Amazon|
|4||Green Toys Ferry Boat Toy, Blue/White||View on Amazon or Walmart|
|5||Little Tikes Rocking Horse||View on Amazon or Walmart|
|6||teetherpop Fillable, Freezable Baby Teether||View on Amazon or Walmart|
|7||Bluey Bath Squirters||View on Amazon|
|8||Baby Banana Toothbrushes for Infant, Baby, and Toddler||View on Amazon or Walmart|
Sophie the Giraffe had been made in France since 1961, but really took off around 2009 in the US when retailers like Toys R Us and FAO Schwarz rejected it as too expensive at $25 each (take a look at where Toys R Us and FAO Schwarz are today, and compare it with where Sophie is today). Perhaps not coincidentally, this happened right years after toy manufacturers started throwing all of its manufacturing to China, and two years after the lead paint debacle.
Sophie is perhaps the perfect baby toy. Sophie’s long neck is the perfect size for teething. Her limbs give baby something to grasp onto. The squeak starts teaching baby about cause and effect. She’s durable, so she’ll be fine well into the time that baby’s teeth come in–there’s no choking hazard and no chance parts will come off into baby’s mouth. Just wash Sophie with mild soap and warm water and she’ll be fine for years. And importantly, she is made in France, so she’s devoid of the pollution, chemicals, and shoddy quality that is likely to come out of China.
I was pleasantly amazed to learn that Mega Bloks are still made out of Canada, where they were first introduced to the world in 1984. Mega Bloks, of course, were inspired by Lego, but while Legos are really appropriate for kids over 4, and Duplos for kids over 2, Mega Bloks can be played starting around 12 months. They’re bigger, softer, and have less harsh edges, making it perfect for building a dinosour or just for gnawing on.
Mega Bloks aren’t affiliated with the Lego Group (they’re actually owned by a subsidiary of Mattel), but one interesting thing a lot of people know is that you can stack Duplos on top of Legos, and you can stack Mega Bloks on top of Duplos and Legos.
The two sets featured here are pretty much the same; the classic set has blocks in primary colors like red, orange, yellow, and blue, while the pink set comes in pastels.
With a 4.9 rating and over 56,000 reviews on Amazon, Mega Bloks are by far the highest rated toy not made in China.
The next best baby toy comes to us from Denmark. It’s a simple and timeless concept–stacking cups that you can make into a tower or nest one into the other. It’s perfect for kids starting as early as 3 months to start to develop their bodies and their brains, as well as their organizational, language, and fine motor skills. It’s named after the Rundetårn, a landmark in Denmark that’s also a tall tower.
The cups are made of hard plastic but as VPA, PVX, and phthalate-free. There are holes in the bottom of each cup with different patterns like rainbows, stars and swirls (some Amazon reviewers reported that their little children’s fingers were getting stuck, but mushie reacted quickly and improved the design). I can’t help but think that when the child outgrows these, they’d make fantastic little flower pots too.
It has a 4.9 average rating, and over 8,000 reviews. With its muted colors, solid construction, and beautiful design, your baby will be much more sophisticated than those other babies with the cheap plastic toys made in China stacking ups with their gaudy colors and flimsy designs.
Green Toys should be on the top of every parent’s list. All of their toys are made safe in the USA, all of them are made responsibly from former milk jugs, and all of them are fun, sturdy, and practically indestructible.
I grew up in the 1970s. I remember when toys were toys. Made on solid, American steel. I remember one of my favorite toys was a big ol’ Shop-Rite truck with sharp edges that were probably rusty. And yet somehow, my brother, my sister, and I survived.
A generation of lawyers put an end to that, and okay, I’ll admit it was probably for the best. But what ensued was a generation of cheap, namby-pamby plastic toys that broke easily and that children got bored of in minutes. Ironically, the more “fancy” and intricate and involved they tried to make the toy, the quicker kids got bored of them. That’s because toy makers forgot an important thing. No matter how many PhDs their toy designers have, none of them can compare with a child’s imagination.
This Green Toys Ferry Boat is one of many fantastic toys they make. I bought my daughter this tugboat when she was a baby, and we had hours of fun in the bathtub with it (and somehow, we always went back to this one more often than the made-in-China Fisher Price Little People version). On Amazon, their dump truck and sea plane are also big hits.
This Ferry Boat is great fun. It has two cars you can play with and roll onto the ferry for that long journey across the bathtub. The plastic is solid and thick and can withstand anything, even that hurricane that swoops in and dashes the boat into the rocky shoal that is your tiled wall (that’s for parents of boys). You can take it to the pool, to the sandbox, to the beach. When you come home, throw it in the dishwasher and it looks brand new again.
Not surprisingly, fake China brands like FUN LITTLE TOYS have swooped in and are making toys with MORE CARS! MORE COLORS! And Amazon consumers are falling for them, hook, line, and sinker. Tragically, parents aren’t taking the time to see beyond the obvious “I need to get another plastic toy to occupy my child’s time”.
Being a simple toy, you can see your child’s imagination blossom. And as your child gets older, you can start having conversations with him or her.
- “Did you know that this toy was made in California and that by buying this, we helped some great people support their families?”
- “Did you know that this toy was made by recycling the same kind of plastic milk jug that we use every day, and that by recycling we can take trash and make it into cool stuff?”
- “Did you know that this toy is free from BPA, phthalates, PVC, and external coatings?
(Okay, maybe that last one is for a toddler who shows an uncanny early proficiancy to one day be a chemical engineer.)
Bottom line, by buying this toy, you’re not just buying this toy. You’re sending a message. To American manufacturers who look only at the bottom line instead of their countries and their planet. To Green Toys, to tell them to keep up the great work and to resist what must be a daily drumbeat for them to offshore. And most importantly, to your child, who is watching everything you do, every minute of every day, to learn what is important to you.
Little Tikes is another one of those companies that is stubbornly keeping a good chunk of its manufacturing in the USA, despite what must be tremendous pressure not to.
This Blue Rocking Horse (it also comes in pink) is one of Little Tikes’ iconic products. Aside from being a fun way to explore the plains with your child, it’ll help your child develop balance and coordination skills. It supports children up to 50 pounds, and doesn’t require any kind of assembly (which means it’s safer than things like spring horses or electric-powered ride-on toys.
Little Tikes has been based in the heartland of America in Hudson, Ohio since it was established in 1969. Despite being acquired by Rubbermaid in 1984 and then by MGA Entertainment (known for Bratz, LOL Surprise, Num Noms, and Rainbow High) in 2006, it managed to stick to its core of keeping things in the USA. Let’s hope they stay that way for a long, long time.
One thing that I find incredibly disturbing is the sheer amount of pacifiers, binkies, rattles, and teething toys that come from China.
I remember when I visited Beijing years ago, I stepped off the plane and my face was enveloped in a thick layer of smog, smog that you could cut with a butter knife. Everywhere I went, that smog followed. And I thought to myself, that smog is in everything. The air, the water, the dirt.
You’d think after hearing horror stories of lead in China-produced toys and melamine in China-produced dog treats, people would think twice about buying something made in China to put into their tiny babies’ fragile mouths. But no, companies keep producing millions of baby products in China, because between big corporate America and the CCP, there’s enough PR and propaganda power to keep people blind. Marx was wrong. Religion is not the opiate of the masses. Mass media and social media are.
Teetherpop is the answer to many a parents’ prayers. If you’re like me, when your baby’s teeth were coming in, your heart broke because she cried all night and there was nothing you could do about it. I drove from store to store, looking for anything that would help–soft things, hard things, things you freeze, even my own finger (ouch!)
This is an ingenious product that can serve many purposes as teeth come in for babies 6-12 months or toddlers 12-24 months. It’s shaped like a pacifier and has convenient handles for baby to grip onto, so you can use it as a binky in itself. Or, you can fill it with water, breast milk, healthy smoothie, or fresh juice and let baby gnaw on it. Teetherpop’s site even provides healthy recipes to try.
And these things never leave the borders of the United States. They were designed in Austin, Texas and are manufactured in Ashland, Ohio. Even the medical-grade silicone is sourced from the United States.
So forget Philips Avent, Dr. Brown, Tommee Tippee, Nuby–all pacifiers made in China, and support companies like this one (if you want just a pacifier, check out NUK, which is the only brand I could find that seems to be avoiding China).
Bluey is a show for preschoolers that started in Australia in 2018 and is slowly making its way to the States through Disney+.
I’ve always been amazed at how the UK has been able to produce children’s shows that are both adorable and hilarous (Pepper Pig, Thomas, Maisy Mouse, Bob the Builder, Shaun the Sheep, Wallace and Gromit, Mr. Men). Sadly, since we lost Jim Henson, Americans seems to only be able to create children’s shows where the characters are either smart-alecky or who talk down to the kids (granted, maybe it’s the accent–if Barney were to talk with a sophisticated British accent, perhaps I’d respect him a little more).
In fact, when my daughter was in preschool, we watched so many British shows that I thought my daughters whole generation would start speaking with British accents. Even now that she’s older, I’ll hear phrases come out of her mouth (and mine) like “mummy”, “hullo”, “oh dear”, “clever clogs”, “oh calamity”, and many more.
Great Britain seems to have the knack of producing shows that are respectful of parents’ needs and of kids’ intelligence, and which everyone can watch together. I’m thrilled that Australia is following in their steps. Bluey the puppy has an infectious zest for life, the characters exhibit sweet relationships with each other, and Bluey’s mom and dad are actively engaged with their kids. I also like that Disney+ let them keep their original Australian accents rather than dubbing over them with impish American ones.
All my long-winded way of saying, watch the show, and buy these adorable bath toys, which look like they’re made in Vietnam and not China.
8. Baby Banana Toothbrushes for Infant, Baby, and Toddler
If you’re looking for “toothbrushes” for infants, babies, and toddlers, Baby Banana is the only name you should be thinking of.
Their Baby Banana Infant Toothbrush is for infants and babies up to 12 months. The soft silicone bristles help develop good oral hygiene habits early as you gently massage their tiny gums and little teeth.
For babies up to 12 months, the Magical Unicorn and Mystical Dragon Toothbrushes have the same soft silicone brushes to soothe teething gums and new teeth. They both have handles for the little one to grasp onto and lots of textures and surfaces to explore. It’s a great brush to have handy as they look for ways to ease their teething woes.
All of these brushes are decidedly NOT made in China, per the brand’s own comments. As often happens with innovative products like these, almost instantly as soon as they introduced these to the market in 2008, counterfeiters from China swooped in and started to sell knock-offs. So make sure you buy the right brand (Baby Banana) AND check out from “Ships by and Sold by Amazon.com” and you should get an authentic product made in Taiwan, Australia, or the US.
Do you know of other face masks not made in China worthy of mention here? Let us know in the comments!
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