Updated for July 2023. Since I created this list, I’ve seen comments that certain toys like Sophie the Giraffe have some units made outside of China, and others made inside China. This is a disturbing development, especially since many manufacturers have been LEAVING China. That a brand as iconic as Vulli and Sophie and Giraffe are cutting their costs to go to China manufacturing is disturbing for two reasons: one, that Vulli is more focused on profits than our childrens’ safety and two, that consumers are blindly continuing to support them.
Unbelievably, when I look through the top selling baby toys on Amazon, it took me until #XXX to find one that wasn’t made in China. Companies like Sassy, Vtech, Bright Starts, Frida Baby, The First Years, RaZBaby, Munchkin, and Infantino have all stubbornly remained in China, paving the way for fake China-based brands like “Smily Mia”, “CozyBomB”, ALASOU, BUNMO, YeaYe to take over many of the top spots. Sadly, as what happened with clock radios and alarm clocks, you can be sure China manufacturers are in the process of stealing the intellectual property of these US-based companies and will one day decide to “cut out the middlemen”, including all the brilliant executives, marketing managers, and product mangers who made the decision to offshore to China. It is disturbing how the executives at these toy companies are so blind or evil that they do not see this.
Worse, many companies such as Nuby continue to misrepresent—evidently for years now—that their products are made in the USA, only for parents to find that they were made in China with little recourse but to leave an Amazon review (which Amazon surprisingly has not censored—yet). It used to be that this could be chalked up to counterfeiting, but it’s clear that this is deliberate misrepresentation by the brand.
Not coincidentally, they have quietly also added this disclaimer to their Amazon product page.
IN NO EVENT, REGARDLESS OF CAUSE, SHALL Kids Toys Online BE LIABLE FOR ANY INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OF ANY KIND, WHETHER ARISING UNDER BREACH OF CONTRACT, TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE), STRICT LIABILITY OR OTHERWISE, AND WHETHER BASED ON THIS AGREEMENT OR OTHERWISE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.
What is most sickening of all about the complete takeover of the best selling baby toy list in the last two years is that new parents are completely oblivious to what happened in 2007, despite the fact that lax manufacturing practices, poor environmental protection, and subhuman worker conditions continue in China. It seems that if you can get your $5 teething toy, none of that matters.
I’m, going through the list to validate that my original selections from 2021 are still valid, I’ve added additional products to the list, and I’ve removed or updated ones like Sophie the Giraffe that fall into more of a grey area. Thanks to all who left comments, and please keep them coming!
Original post follows:
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 of how much psychopathy has 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 just accepts these decisions. We have a voice–our wallets. We need to start using that voice, and we do that by buying stuff not made in China and letting our friends, our followers, and our corporations know why.
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.
https://www.fatbraintoys.com/toy_companies/fat_brain_toy_co/lamaze_soothing_heart_panda.cfmUPDATE for July 6, 2023 – With the demotion of Sophie the Giraffe and Mega Bloks from my list, Lamaze Toys are now my #1 recommended baby toys not made in China. Remember that Lamaze and Tomy still make a lot of toys in China, but there are some that are being made in Vietnam. As a communist nation Vietnam is not the paragon of human rights either, but at the very least they provide some diversification.
FatBrain by far has the best product filtering to find products not made in China, so give your money to them instead of Amazon. They have this cute panda which is perfectly for lulling baby to sleep. Using their filters, you can find other Lamaze toys that aren’t made in China, including this cute elephant, these blocks, and Sprinkle the Jellyfish.
Original review follows:
Lamaze was one of the first brands to go all-in on China. By 2006, 92% of their toys were made in China–a shocking figure when you consider that the very next year was the one where every toy brand had to recall their toys en masse for lead and dangerous chemicals. The Lamaze name is licensed by Lamaze International, the same organization that came up with the Lamaze natural birth techniques. So Lamaze toys have always been positioned as education and scientifically based, although in reality that may be more marketing hype than reality. Still, these toys are definitely solidly made and tremendously appealing to toddlers.
In 2011, Lamaze was acquired by Takara Tomy. I was pleased to see a few Lamaze toys on Fat Brain that were made in Vietnam. There’s the Dump Truck you see pictured here, as well as a cute Push N Go Airplane.
My guess is that Tomy read the writing on the wall with the 2018 tariffs and started diversifying its supply chain, about 12 years too late, but letter late than never.
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. On Fat Brain, you can find some more advanced options like this Rescue Boat and Helicopter.
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.
4. The Teething Key and Comotomo
As I said in the intro, I was originally thrilled to see that Nuby’s plastic key teether was made in the USA, only to be horrified to find from Amazon reviews that they’re made in China. Similarly, I was happy to find on FatBrain that there was a teether called “Nogi” that was supposedly not made in China, only to realize it was a mistake on FatBrain’s part. And of course, you have companies like Sweetbee who still think that “Designed in the USA” is fooling anyone.
Amazingly, every teether I see from a US-based company, from Dr. Brown to Nuby to Infantino to RaZbaby to Frida to Munchkin to Baby Einstein is now made in China. And these are products that babies put in their mouths at an age when they are most susceptible!
I had to search and search, but I found these two products that were not made in China.
The Teething Key, believe it or not, does NOT even show up prominently on Amazon when I search for “The Teething Key”—China companies and US companies that offshore to China have manipulated Amazon search results to THAT extent. But this is a great product that is made in the USA out of high-quality, food-safe silicone.
Comotomo is a teether that’s adorable, easy to hold, and also made of durable, high-quality, food-grade silicone. Comotomo is made in South Korea. For those of you who don’t know Asian geopolitics, South Korea are “the good guys”. They’re a first-world constitutional republic that unlike China, Vietnam, and their neighbors North Korea represent one of the most advanced and free democracies in the world, with freedom of religious and the press (some of the most faithful Christians I know are from South Korea).
They are the ONLY surviving brands I could find, and because they do not come up on the top in the Amazon best seller lists (shame on the parents who continue to subsidize the other brands), they have to PAY Amazon extra to show up in paid ads. Let’s send the world a message by buying these and sending them to the top of Amazon’s best seller lists.
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.
Is your child a fussy eater, and has he already figured out that when you make those airplane sounds that the fork with the peas on it is NOT actually a real plan? Here comes Fat Brain Toys to the rescue. This is a super-cool set of utensils (plate also available, sold separately) that look and (kind of) work like real construction vehicles.
You have a bulldozer to push piles of mashed potatoes and peas, a “Fork” lift to raise it into your mouth, and a front loader spoon to shovel it all in. It’s so cool, I kind of want a set for myself.
Best of all, it’s made in the USA, and free from BPA, PVC, Phthalates, lead, and everything else you want to avoid and which you simply can’t trust China to protect you from. It’s something that can turn mealtime from the usual knock-down, drag-out fights to a pleasant and fun experience, with every piece of food ending up in a mouth vs. the chair, the floor, the shirt, etc.
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).
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.
UPDATE for July 6, 2023:
I originally listed Mega Bloks as my #2 recommendation. Since my original review in 2021, I see that Amazon has listed “Made in China” on their product page, likely a result of their corporate parents Mattel/Fisher Price telling them to boost their profits on the backs of us consumers by closing their Canadian plant.
It appears that as I was publishing my review, Mattel was already in the process of shutting down their plant in Montreal and outsourcing to Mexico and China. Mattel is one of those companies that are returning to the pig trough of China despite being one of the companies burned in 2007 by China’s dangerous manufacturing practices. They are hoping we will forget. We did not forget.
I was hoping that Mattel had learned its lesson, but it did not. As such, I will be removing Mega Bloks as a recommendation and adding Duplo. Yes, Lego does manufacture some of its products in China, but it is very transparent that products intended for the US and European markets are manufactured locally. That’s good enough for me. I wouldn’t suggest these for babies, but for toddlers starting at 1 1/2 years old, these will work great.
Original review follows:
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.
UPDATE for July 6, 2023: Katrina and others have told me that they were sent units that were made in China and adding insult to injury, they were sent in a box that said “Made in France” with a sticker covering it saying made in China.
I’m keeping this on the list, only because in my own research when shopping at brick-and-mortar locations I see units that were made in France. But it was once the #1 recommended product, but I am moving it down. My advice to you: if you want one of these do NOT buy online, but but in a brick-and-mortar baby store where you can read the box for yourself.
Original review follows:
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.
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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