Moms strive to make child’s play safe

By Karen Billing

Staff Writer

Two area women are doing what they can to shape a healthier playtime for children. Through their company Blue Dominoes, friends Debbie Lindgren and Linda Manaster launched their first all-natural Safe Art product, the activity dough, in May.

The dough is organic, lead-free and made without the eight most common allergens for children. The product also uses all-natural coloring, which appeals to parents with children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism, who can be sensitive to the chemicals in food coloring.

Additionally, the dough is also gluten-free, helpful for autistic children on gluten-free diets and children with celiac disease.

“We really want to make sure we put the best product forward,” said Lindgren, who lives in Rancho Santa Fe.

Manaster said the feedback on the dough so far has been really positive.

“A lot of parents are really thankful and appreciative,” said Manaster, a La Jolla resident.

Nine more child-safe products from Blue Dominoes are on their way, including finger paints and bubbles. Their next launch is targeted for September.

Before designing their line of toys, the two women started the

Web site in 2007 as a way to help parents understand lead poisoning and how it relates to ADHD. The Web site also helps parents provide a healthier, safer and greener life for their children.

“We really want to be the go-to resource for parents and teachers to help keep their children safe,” Manaster said.

Lead poisoning is something that Lindgren found out about the hard way, when it struck her youngest son.

As a young child, Mark Lindgren was frequently very sick. His speech was slurred and he had a hard time understanding what people were saying. Some of his symptoms were similar to ADHD, but not the physical symptoms.

Debbie Lindgren said she noticed that Mark cried every time he played with the yellow clay. When she asked her son why, his answer shocked her: “He said, ‘The yellow clay makes my brain hurt,’ ” Lindgren said.

Lindgren had read that lead poisoning can resemble ADHD in its symptoms and had him tested. Mark tested positive for lead poisoning-it had caused him to have severe reactions to unnatural colors, such as the one in the yellow clay.

Now 7, Mark still needs some therapy but is doing very well and working hard to overcome the lead poisoning, Lindgren said.

After testing everything in her home with a store-bought lead testing kit, Lindgren found of all things, the lead was in her dinnerware.

“I thought I could be angry or I could be motivated,” Lindgren said. “I decided to be motivated and help other parents.”

In trying to track down where Mark got lead poisoning, she found that art supply products do not have to list their ingredients at all.

Lindgren said that is scary when you think about how children play with toys, sometimes putting them in their mouths.

Blue Dominoes is one of the only children’s art products that lists all the ingredients on its packaging.

“We’re really proud of that because I know it’s safe and that’s a great feeling,” Lindgren said.

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