We all want to keep babies safe and healthy. Pregnant women, in particular, are encouraged to adopt a plethora of dietary and lifestyle precautions while their baby is developing in order to do just that. However, once their newborn arrives they are typically inundated with toxic clothes, toys, and baby gear. Rarely discussed is the fact that about 80% of the baby products sold in the U.S. are treated with carcinogenic flame-retardants or how many of them contain BPA, phthalates, or other toxins linked to hormone disruption and cancer. So, loving family and friends (and, of course, unknowing parents) are swept up by the infinite, adorable gifts that are available without realizing how many chemicals they’re exposing the new little one to. From baby bottles to rubber duckies it’s time for us to think twice about what we’re buying and supporting. After all, our shopping decisions not only effect our families, but the families who manufacture these products along with the environment as a whole.
In 2011 I had the chance to really practice what I preach. I became pregnant and incidentally quickly drove everyone around me crazy. I insisted on buying almost everything for the nursery on Craigslist so the crib, stroller, car seat, etc. had already had time to off-gas. I politely requested that people only give us used (or organic) baby clothes and avoid buying me or the baby lotions and potions since that industry is so poorly regulated in our country. As my husband said, “You’re the woman who knows too much.” I really couldn’t help myself though considering my job as a detoxification and eco expert and once I looked into our son’s eyes the need to protect him and other children only intensified. The good news is that whether it was planning an eco baby shower, decorating his room, or giving him his first bath I found ways to cut costs and toxins while enjoying the process and inspiring once reluctant family members and friends to do the same. Are we all perfect now? No, but to me it’s all about striving for progress, not perfection.
So, here are my Top 10 Healthy Ideas for Nontoxic Baby Products to help you and your loved ones along the way:
1. Homemade baby wipes with cotton squares or reusable baby wash cloths. Place a reusable water bottle with a squirt top on the diaper changing station and wet 1-2 wipes as needed. Add a drop of lavender essential oil to the water bottle if you like. Whatever you choose, avoid wipes with “fragrance” listed in the ingredients since that term is a clever way for manufacturers to sneak in hundreds of questionable chemicals.
2. Stainless steel baby bottles with silicone nipples by Pura. Why settle for BPA-free when you can skip the plastic all together?
3. Organic, cotton mittens by Under the Nile to keep baby warm and his or her little face scratch-free, especially while teething. These are also great for public outings when everyone will want to grab those tiny hands without washing theirs first.
4. OXO Brite for the ultimate, nontoxic stain remover and color safe bleach alternative. Use an old toothbrush to scrub out dried stains.
5. Tummy Tub babies love keeping warm in these food-grade polypropylene bath tubs. Plus, the photo ops are priceless.
6. Driftwood used as bath toys (be sure to smooth pieces if needed.) These unique shapes are lightweight, free, and fun without being overstimulating like so many of today’s toys. If you don’t feel comfortable taking these from the beach, or don’t have access to a shoreline, look for other natural objects that makes sense.
7. Green Start children’s books (printed on 98% post-consumer paper with eco inks.) With sweet illustrations, these stories have great themes about nature, gardening, etc. At the very least, look for used books locally or online.
8. Organic, cold-pressed olive oil for cradle cap and baby massage. Keep it simple, nontoxic and affordable when it comes to pampering your baby’s skin. Just make sure you keep any oils out of direct sunlight and use in less than a year since all oils will eventually turn rancid.
9. 100% rubber or silicone pacifiers are extra important since they go right in baby’s mouth. Sometimes just using your clean pinky (with a short fingernail and no nail polish) can be even more practical and comforting for an infant seeking more sucking time. It can also reduce how much air is swallowed which means less gas and fussiness for the little one.
10. All-natural Eco Baby Sunscreen by Eco Logical is a wonderful alternative to the conventional brands that usually contain neurotoxins and other crazy chemicals. It’s easier to apply than many other options and is comparatively well-priced.
Bonus: Wooden teething rings (there are SO many cute options from classic circles to bunny shapes.)
Important: Whenever buying used baby gear make sure there haven’t been any recalls on the items you’re considering and that all the components and structural integrity are intact.