Children's polyester teddy bears and stuffed animals have harmful chemical additives, and the micro plastics shed from polyester are bad for your kids and the environment. Instead, go for ones made with natural organic materials, such as these ones by Senger, made in Germany.
https://senger-naturwelt.de/en/playtime/cuddly-animals/ (I got mine at https://small-folk.co.uk/)
I recently got rid of all the soft toys in our house and instead bought each of my children one replacement that looks similar, but is very different from a normal stuffed animal.
Regular soft toys tend to be made of polyester, which is a type of plastic. So it’s a product of the petrochemical industry. It requires multiple different industrial steps to get from crude oil to polyester, all reliant on some pretty nasty chemicals. These chemicals end up both as industrial pollution, and in the finished product, alongside industrial softeners, dyes, flame retardants and stain repellents.
Many of the chemicals involved are endocrine disruptors, meaning they can disrupt hormone systems, including sex hormones. Not great if you’re considering future fertility levels.
Polyester also sheds micro plastics, small bits of plastic that can be inhaled or ingested. As well as being terrible for the environment, micro-plastics are thought to damage human cells and the gut microbiome.
Given all that, do you want your children snuggled up to a polyester soft toy all night?
I certainly don’t which is why I went for alternatives made by Senger in Germany. This outer is all organic cotton, the stuffing is either organic wool, or organic spelt chaff. And so it’s biodegradable and a much safer bet for my kids, who love them. They also look and feel great. There are other brands out there doing similar. If you’re looking, just make sure they are made exclusively from organic natural materials, including the stuffing.
I did pay about 3 times the price when compared to a ‘made in China’ polyester soft toy, which I think was more than worth it. Most kids now seem to have endless soft toys, so the price is good motivation to reduce the amount of toy clutter you accumulate, and will help teach kids the value of taking care of a few high quality possessions, rather than encouraging them to have a high turnover of plastic junk, which is bad for them and bad for the environment. Remember - you vote with your wallet.
Long read on polyester: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7787125/
Dr Philip Bosanquet
The Low-Tech Lifestyle Medic