It’s a fundamental fact of human nature that parents want to protect their child and give them the best life possible. Parents want to keep their children safe and healthy so that they may live long lives full of memories and joy. To do this, most parents want to provide their child with a healthy lifestyle, specifically, one free from avoidable toxins.
However, many parents are unaware that several mainstream baby products can contain chemicals harmful to their babies. In this guide, you can find all the information you need to safely navigate the world of non-toxic living for your baby.
You can find a wealth of knowledge spanning from what to look for when choosing organic foods to which chemicals you want to avoid when buying toys. This guide aims to arm you with the knowledge that you need to make safer choices for your baby.
Toxins are harmful to everyone, but they especially pose a threat to babies. Because babies have small bodies, a tiny amount of toxins can cause big problems. Secondly, babies spend an inordinate amount of time on the floor, where dust, dirt, or particles are typically about. Third, they haven’t been around long enough to build up their immune systems to fight off dangerous chemicals.
Their organs and metabolic processes aren’t as developed as those of their adult counterparts, so chemicals that may not harm adults can be catastrophic for children. Finally, because babies try to put nearly anything within grabbing distance into their mouths, they are likelier to consume harmful chemicals and additives.
When you and your baby are out on the town, it can be harder to control what kinds of toxins are exposed to you. Luckily, there are ways to keep your baby safe when at someone else’s house, on a playdate, or at a restaurant. One of the easiest ways to keep your baby safe at playdates is to share information about toxins with other parents.
That way, you can all be on the same page on how to keep a child toxin-free. Or if you’re up to it, you can even share toys or non-toxic bedding (after washing, of course). Protecting your baby outside a controlled environment such as your house or a friend’s house can be tougher, but still manageable. The easiest way to keep a baby from ingesting toxins is to keep them off of the floor.
Contact with germs and particles invites in all sorts of unhealthy things, whether toxins from old cleaning solutions, shoes, or anything else that gets on the floor. To stop your baby from interacting with these contaminants, give them a toxin-free blanket to sit on while they play. This prevents your baby from interacting with any germs or chemicals in their surrounding area, acting like a little toxin-free cocoon.
If your baby accidentally gets in contact with something non-toxic, it’s not the end of the world. In moderation, some contact with toxic or inorganic things can be helpful for babies as it allows them to build up their nascent immune systems. Just make sure the toxins aren’t too dangerous or happening too much.
Additionally, keeping your cool can work wonders in terms of the baby’s mental health. Getting too anxious over every single chemical or toxin can sometimes cause adverse health effects on your child. Obsessing over their every move also isn’t helpful, as children eventually have to grow up and learn to fend for themselves.
Being negative can also be toxic for the baby, especially when paired with the anxiety of trying to get 100% of environmental toxins eliminated. Accept that you can only control what can be controlled, namely, your house, the baby’s room, and all the baby gear you purchase.
The outside world may be less forgiving. Remaining positive in the face of this adversity is not only admirable, but a healthy step for your child. Not only would they grow up in a positive environment with you as a steadfast leader, but they also would be liberated from the insecurities and anxieties associated with negative parenting. Both your mental health and your child’s mental health are as equally as important as physical well-being.
Babies are vulnerable in a number of ways, from their small size to their soft skin. In fact, it seems like the things people love about babies are the same things that make them so susceptible to germs and toxins. Organic baby products lessen their exposure to harmful toxins in a number of ways.
When it comes to skincare and bath products, babies may be more susceptible to chemical exposure than adults on account of their delicate skin. It can be up to five times thinner than adult skin!
Organic baby products lack harmful chemicals like phthalates, which can hurt your baby’s skin, thus why baby-safe clothing, bedding, and toys are made. Fabrics that lack flame retardant coatings can maintain a baby’s silky-smooth skin and keep them healthy for longer.
There are several substances that can be harmful to small children. Be on the lookout for any of the following:
Additionally, you may want to try avoiding products from China, as they may be coated in toxic paint or made with harmful chemicals. It’s harder to guarantee that these products haven’t been in contact with toxins at any point in their production cycle.
List of baby brands to avoid
Here are some baby brands that manufacture their products in China, or can’t be guaranteed to be toxin-free:
Here are some companies that guarantee organic and toxin-free products to protect your baby:
Buying organic food can make a huge impact on your baby’s health, although purchasing everything in organic form is most likely too expensive for the average person. However, choosing the right products can make a big difference in the amount of pesticides or other harmful chemicals your family may ingest. When looking for organic foods to purchase, you may first want to check out meat and dairy.
By law, organic meat and dairy products cannot contain antibiotics or growth hormones. Also, try to avoid any food that contains preservatives, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, added salt, or added sugar. Staying away from nitrates and nitrites can be helpful too, as these curing agents are often found in cured meats such as hot dogs, bacon, or cold cuts.
A majority of products made for body and skincare have at least a few ingredients that may be slightly troubling, though other products may contain chemicals that arouse higher health concerns. The important thing is to be selective when purchasing these items, and if products do contain harmful additives, use them sparingly in order to limit your baby’s exposure.
Baby wipes, diaper cream, shampoo and conditioner, and sunscreen are just some of the many products that often contain harmful chemicals in their inorganic forms. For shampoos or lotions, be sure to inspect the list of ingredients.
Avoid any words that end with “paraben”, as well as imidazolidinyl urea, methylisothiazolinone, and triclosan. Additionally, see if the product contains chemicals with an “-eth” inside of them, like sodium laureth sulfate. Some recommended products include body washes and shampoos from Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Hemp Pure-Castile Liquid Soap, or Paradise Island Organics.
Is a pure, gentle, real castile soap with a light, clean scent that's perfect for sensitive baby skin. It’s made with only organic and natural ingredients. No SLS, parabens or other chemical preservatives, no artificial dyes or fragrances, and no foaming agents. Just pure organic body wash for your pure organic baby!
Babies need time off from their busy schedules. There’s only so much napping, crying, and milk-drinking they can do in a day, after all. They need to play too, and play gear should also be non-toxic. When buying play gear for your child, you want to find bouncers, swings, activity gyms and mats that don’t contain flame retardants.
Bouncers can be fun for your baby and give you some time to get things done around the house. But if a bouncer doesn’t indicate outright that it lacks flame retardant, you may want to avoid it altogether. For quality bouncers that lack flame retardants, look for the Nuna Leaf Curv Bouncer and the Baby Bjorn Bouncer Balance.
The Nuna Leaf Curv Bouncer does not contain flame retardants and it has undergone third-party independent testing to make sure it lacks harmful chemicals like bromine, phthalates, and flame retardants.
It comes with organic cotton, regular cotton, and mesh, each of which is certified safe and toxin-free. Many activity gyms or mats are made with polyester fill or have polyurethane foam inside of them as well as flame retardants. Instead of these problematic fillings, look for natural materials, safe foam, or certified-safe fabrics.
Cotton fills are much safer than polyurethane foams, but phthalate-free PVC foam can work just as well. Brands such as Infantino or Tiny Love produce safe, toxin-free activity gyms and mats free of flame retardants, lead, and phthalates.
For mats, the Panda Mat has an entirely organic cotton cover and its core is only polyester. It lacks any of the harmful chemicals mentioned in this article, giving babies the fun, toxin-free experience they deserve.
When it comes to toys, a good rule of thumb is to avoid dangerous plastic toys. A number of plastic toys may contain harmful chemicals like PVC/vinyl, phthalates, organotins, and possibly chlorine-related carcinogens.
Though recent laws have made it illegal for toys to exceed the phthalate limit of 0.1%, old toys may still retain these toxins. Toxic paints, finishes, or varnishes should also be avoided. Almost any hard-plastic toys or soft toys most likely contain flame retardant, and no federal regulations prohibit its use.
However, toys made from wood and safer plastic can be great choices for your child. Safer plastic choices include toys that are free from toxins like BPA, PVC/vinyl, and phthalates, as well as ones that do not contain toxic paints, glues, or flame retardants. Although for peace of mind, it’s best to avoid plastic toys entirely.
Wooden toys may cost more initially, but they can be easier to find in non-toxic varieties. Make sure the toys are made of unfinished wood, beeswax or food-grade oil finishes, or water-based paints that are free from solvents. Solid wood contains less glue than its engineered wood cousin does.
Some non-toxic toy brands include:
Because of certain federal laws, nearly every US car seat is coated with chemical flame retardants. Luckily, there are plenty of safer choices you can make within these strictures. Some car seats without flame-retarded chemicals are able to make it through safety tests because they use treated fabrics or other non-flammable materials.
Try to avoid car seats that are coated with brominated or chlorinated flame retardants, such as TDCPP and TCPP. Nearly every car seat on the market is treated with these chemicals, but there are some steps you can take to lessen the chemical’s effect on your child.
You can place the car seat outside for a few days in direct sunlight or wash the car seat with soap. While these methods can’t remove the retardants altogether, they can reduce the dangerous effects to some degree. Some brands that offer safer alternatives include Diono, Britax, UPPAbaby, Cybex, Clek, and Orbit Baby.
If there’s one theme for this guide, it’s probably to avoid flame retardants. The same holds true for strollers. Any stroller manufactured before 2010 is likely to contain flame retardants because of a flammability requirement.
Although strollers made after that year may not contain flame retardants, you may want to check with individual brands to ensure they don’t. Just because a company doesn’t list flame retardants on their stroller doesn’t mean the product is always retardant-free.
Similar to car seats, you can lessen the effect of flame retardants on strollers by leaving them in the sun for a few days or by washing them. Bugaboo, Maxi Cosi, Baby Jogger, Bumbleride,and Joovy are a few other strollers that are free of flame retardants.
Several types of baby clothing contain flame retardants, especially fleecy or fuzzy sleepwear. Rain gear or outside wear like rain jackets or boots may also contain PVC/vinyl.
Look for baby clothes made from organic cotton or natural fibers. Organic fabrics can be expensive, but are well worth the price because they minimize the exposure your child receives to harmful toxins.
Cotton is usually cultivated using quite a few synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and then treated with further toxins during manufacturing processes. Organic clothing lacks these toxins, but is also more expensive.
Your baby’s mealtimes are one of the easiest ways for toxins to creep into their bodies. By the same token, having non-toxic feeding products is also one of the easiest ways to prevent these chemicals from being exposed to your child.
The best way to do this is to avoid plastic that contains BPA or phthalates as well as rubber nipples. Old plastic baby bottles may be made of polycarbonate or plastic #7, which can contain BPA or bisphenol A. This chemical may enter formula and breast milk when the bottle contains it.
Most products sold today are BPA-free, but for older bottles or hand-me-downs, be sure they lack BPA. Additionally, rubber latex nipples may contain phthalates and can cause allergic reactions in your child. Breast pumps that do not explicitly state that they don’t contain BPAs or phthalates should also be avoided because they will often need to be washed in hot water.
Search for glass bottles or BPA-free plastic ones. Glass bottles are most likely the safest choice when feeding your baby. By attaching clear silicon nipples to the bottle, you can ensure your baby is not receiving any harmful BPA or phthalates as well. To warm a bottle, always do so on the stove top in a pan of hot water. Microwaving a bottle can heat up the plastic and draw out chemicals from that enter the milk.
There’s no way around it: your baby sleeps a lot. Hours upon hours will be spent in the crib, so finding cribs that use non-toxic woods, glues, and finishes can be extremely important.
Avoid woods like plywood, particleboard, chipboard, or pressed wood, because they’re often fused together using glues or resins that contain formaldehyde. Some wood finishes contain heavy metals or VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
Instead, look for solid wood furniture. Although it’s more expensive, it’s safer for your child and the quality is much better. The next best thing to solid wood is finding formaldehyde-free glues, non-toxic sealants, and non-toxic finishes. It can be tough to determine if older cribs have these chemicals, so buying new may be preferred in this instance.
Household cleaning products are essential but they often contain tons of harmful toxins and chemicals. Many of these products may be marketed as natural or organic when they are in fact not. Read the labels on whichever cleaning products you plan to buy and look out for some of the problem chemicals identified in this article so far, including parabens, phthalates, and the like.
Good home cleaning brands to look for include BabyGanics, Ecover, My Orange House, Biokleen, Attitude, Frosch, Greenmaker Industries, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, Grab Green Home, and Seventh Generation. These trusted brands offer supplies that lack the harmful additives of so many mainstream cleaning supplies.
The healthier your lifestyle, the healthier your baby can be. The road to living a healthy life can be a difficult one to travel. Sometimes the task can seem daunting with having to research so many chemicals, read so many labels, and purchase so many things. But for a child, no sacrifice is too much. A baby is under your care 24/7, especially during the first few years of his or her life.
Every aspect of their day is up to you, from the food you feed them to the blanket inside the crib. Keeping toxins out of your baby’s life can be very important to keeping them healthy. Living a positive and happy life with your baby means doing as much work as you can to keep your house toxin-free, but also eating well, exercising, and maintaining a stable mental health.
You aren’t always going to be able to protect your child from every toxin out there, and you also aren’t going to be able to protect your child from every bad thing lurking in the world. Such is the life of being a parent! The important thing is to maintain your perspective. Realize that there is only so much you can do, especially given the constraint of a 24-hour day and your wallet, and try to retain a positive outlook.
The fact that you’re attempting to give your baby the best life possible is a noble cause. A few toxins here or there may only strengthen your baby’s immune system, too. Enjoy these years, because they can go by awful fast!