3 Ways to Protect Babies from Toxins
It seems just about everyone I know is pregnant these days, so I thought I’d share a few of the healthy baby posts we’ve had on naturalhomeandgarden.com lately.
1. Create a Healthy Nursery
Your baby will spend the majority of its newborn time sleeping, which makes creating a healthy sleeping space paramount. Babies undeveloped immune systems aren’t capable of fighting off toxins nearly as well as adults’, so they are far more vulnerable to the chemicals that can be offgassed from furniture and paint. Unfortunately, many children’s products–especially the less-expensive ones–contain synthetic fabrics and particleboard, both of which give off fumes that may be harmful to your baby’s health.
To create a healthy nursery, choose cribs, mattresses and bedding made of natural, nontoxic materials such as solid wood, wicker, rattan, wool and organic cotton. Avoid cribs and furniture made of MDF (medium-density fiberboard), plywood and particleboard, all of which often contain formaldehyde. Choose mattresses made of wool to avoid the chemicals in synthetic materials. Here are several resources of retailers who sell healthy cribs and mattreses.
Of course, having a baby is expensive. If you’re looking for a less-expensive alternative, consider used baby furniture (make sure it’s up to current safety standards). Furniture more than a few years old has likely already outgassed any harmful chemicals used in its manufacture. If you must buy materials that may contain VOCs, don’t worry too much: Buy them more than a month before your baby is born, and store them in the garage, under cover outside, or in a room with open windows to allow them to release many of their chemicals before your baby comes in contact with them. You could also consider “sealing in” chemicals that might outgas by covering furniture with a nontoxic sealant, such as those from AFM Safecoat.
Carpet is another source of VOCs. If you already have carpet, it’s likely outgassed many of its chemicals, but if you’re installing new flooring, eschew carpet in favor of wood, cork or natural linoleum flooring. Use natural fiber area rugs to create a chemical-free, washable soft spot for baby to play. Finally, always choose zero-VOC paints when painting your nursery. Nearly every major paint manufacturer offers a zero-VOC line of paints, or you can choose healthy clay or milk paints (see The Real Raw Milk Paint Company or Old-Fashioned Milk Paint. (Read our fun guide to choosing nursery colors.)
The Moby Wrap is available in organic cotton; mobywrap.com
2. Wear Your Baby
In a recent blog, our fabulous contributor Sarah Lozanova, who writes a natural parenting blog at RawMama.org, shares the value of baby-wearing. Baby-wearing is something many of us are probably familiar with, even if we didn’t know it had a name. Walking in my Kansas college town’s quaint downtown, I often see men and women decked out with their strapped-on babies. There is a good reason for the trend: Close physical contact is one of the best ways to help babies adjust to life in the world outside the womb, and it helps them become confident, happy toddlers. For the comfort of both caregiver and child, it’s important to choose the right tool for the job–one that balances the baby’s weight and helps protect her. Sarah offers a couple of healthy organic products, and gives a bunch more reasons to consider wearing your baby in her blog.
Klean Kanteen offers BPA-free stainless steel baby bottles.
3. Avoid Chemicals
Last, it’s vital to avoid putting potentially harmful chemicals into your baby’s body. Plastic bottles often contain BPA (bisphenol-A), a potent hormone-mimicking chemical that can disrupt a child’s developing reproductive system, potentially increase risk of obesity and cause other health problems. BPA is rampant in baby bottles, the lining of baby formula cans and children’s sippy cups. I wrote an extensive blog on avoiding BPA on Care2 recently. Studies have also found that BPA-free plastics can release hormone-disrupting chemicals. Fortunately, you can find alternatives such as bottles and sippy cups made from glass and stainless steel, and powdered infant formula. Many skin-care products also contain potentially hazardous chemicals. For babies’ sensitive systems, choose organic products that don’t contain chemicals such as those from EarthMamaAngelBaby.