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You wouldn’t think that there could be toxic children’s products on the market today. When we decide to have children, we have all the best intentions for raising them safe and healthy. However, we are really up against it with the slack laws that control what manufacturers can put in our products.
As our babies arrive into the world we do everything we can to give them the best start; delay their first bath, make sure all their clothes and blankets are clean and fresh, keep them away from smokers, get our whooping cough vaccine, keep them indoors, the list goes on!
Unknowingly, we give them their first bath using toxic children’s products and wash their clothes with detergents containing fragrances, surfactants and other chemicals such as DEA all of which, among other things, are skin irritants!!!
We put them in nappies that contain bleach after wiping their soft little bottoms with Propylene Glycol – another skin irritant and powder them up with Talc – a carcinogenic containing small fibres that are also found in asbestos – all more toxic children’s products!
It’s not fair!
When we have a baby, we have so much to think about. It’s scary, exciting but ultimately can be really overwhelming. We really don’t want to be worrying about unknowingly buying toxic children’s products.
On top of that it can get expensive, we don’t want to be buying items that we think are safe only to find out later they are toxic.
(By the way, don’t miss my discount code at the bottom of this post for money off your low tox kids products!)
When you have your first child you don’t know what you need. You spend every spare minute researching what you are going to need to buy, prepare and set up. It seems every time you open a magazine or attend a mum to be class you end up with a whole new list of things to buy – some of which you have no idea what purpose it is even supposed to serve!
The last thing we need is to be lied to by company’s wanting to sell their products. I feel that Mums to be are so vulnerable to these big manufacturers who convince us that to be a good mum we need to have their product.
They all claim their product is the softest, gentlest, most valuable product out there for your precious new arrival but in fact most of them are toxic children’s products.
So, when our brain has information overload and our hormones seem to be attacking our ability to deal with it all how are we meant to know if the hundreds of products we are meant to buy are safe for our little poppets?
11 toxic Children’s products you probably use…
Chemical to Watch For: BPA (Bisphenol)
I find this one of the scariest as some of us use these from the day Baby is born. Bisphenol is the main chemical that leaches out of bottles into the liquid (milk) inside. If you heat the bottle up it will leach Bisphenol A into the milk
Effects: Bisphenol has been linked to a variety of problems such as breast and prostate cancer. Studies have also shown other health problems such as early puberty, miscarriage and other sex hormone effects. So far there is no conclusive evidence about what Bisphenol will do to your baby’s health or development in their early years.
How to Avoid: Most bottles now will be BPA free, it should clearly say this on the packaging or even on the bottom of the bottle itself. Otherwise, you could always use glass baby bottles.
Chemical to Watch For: Lead
One of the last items you think would be on a list of toxic children’s products. Lead can be found in the paint and plastic used to make children’s toys. It acts as a softener to make plastic more flexible and allows it to return to its natural shape. The breakdown of the chemical bond between lead and these plastics forms lead dust, a known health hazard.
Effects: Lead is a toxic chemical that can have devastating effects on the mental and physical development of children. The brain and nervous system of children aged 6 and younger are the most at risk for lead poisoning. Lead has a huge negative effect on the functioning of several systems within the human body.
High levels of lead exposure can cause deafness, blindness, convulsions, or in rare instances even death. Even without severe effects, children exposed to lead are more likely to experience difficulties with reading and vocabulary, attention and focus, and fine- motor coordination.
Even low exposure levels can produce damaging effects ranging from impaired growth and hearing to problems with posture and behaviour.
How to Avoid: Wooden toys are made from a natural source that is not only better for our kids but also the environment. Wooden baby toys that are made from natural dyes and sanded down to a smooth finish pose very little risk to our kids. I got Hudson most of his wooden toys off Etsy.
Chemical To Watch For: Phthalates, Lead, Boric Acid, Antimony (Arsenic), Decabromodiphenyl Oxide (Deca), Ammonium Polyphosphate, Melamine and Formaldehyde. Yikes, so many!!
Effects: All these chemicals are known to be harmful to humans. Possible health effects can include dizziness, blurred vision, headaches, cardiac arrhythmia, breathlessness, chest discomfort, coughing, asthma-like allergic reaction and nausea.
How to Avoid: Choose an organic mattress with safe, natural materials, 100% organic cotton is the safest, most non-toxic mattress material available. Cotton is also firm and breathable and provides a comfortable sleeping surface. Natural latex can also be a safe material, depending on how it’s made. Try to find all-natural latex and stay away from chemical/ natural latex blends.
Some mattresses are being marketed as eco-friendly, or plant-based and have descriptions such as Bio-Foam, Eco Foam, or Soy Foam. What the majority of these manufacturers are actually doing is replacing a tiny percentage of the nasty polyurethane foam with plant-based ingredients. For instance, soy foam is usually polyurethane foam with 12-17% genetically- engineered soybean oil mixed in. These mattresses are unsafe and highly flammable, so they also need fire retardant chemicals to comply with the flammability laws. Don’t be fooled by the play on words. You are still getting a load of toxic chemicals and off-gassing with many of these so-called eco mattresses.
One company that sells safe, natural mattresses are The Little Green Sheep
4. Bubble Bath
Chemical to Watch For: DEA (Diethanolamine)
See also, Fragrance and Soaps below.
DEA is currently being used in hundreds of home and body care products including bubble baths, soaps, cosmetics, lotions, shampoos, conditioners and dishwashing and laundry detergents.
Effects: DEA belongs to a group of chemicals known as alkanol amines and has been linked with kidney, liver and other organ damage according to several government – funded research studies.
DEA has been proven to cause cancer in rats when applied to the skin. Research has found that DEA has low acute toxicity but significant cumulative toxicity. It cannot be easily excreted from the body but instead builds up in the fatty tissues of the liver, brain, kidneys and spleen with repeated dermal exposure. The topical application of DEA collects in the tissues in rodents, which resulted in anemia, kidney degeneration and nerve damage to the brain and spinal cord. What is even more shocking is that several animals actually died before the study finished.
Chemical to Watch For: Dioxin
Dіѕроѕаblе nappies are bleached during the mаnufасturіng рrосеѕѕ. Dioxin, for example, may still be present in the final product and the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that dioxins are “persistent environmental pollutants” that can cause many health problems in children.
Effects: Dioxin can cause many health problems in children which include damaged immunity, developmental delays, certain cancers, and hormone interference. Some nappies release Volatile Organic Compounds such as ethylbenzene, toluene and xylene which may cause decreased immunity, neurological problems and eye irritation. Your child’s skin and mucus membranes are exposed to their nappies all day and all night. While the chance of absorbing any of these chemicals may be small there is still a risk of it happening.
How to Avoid: Cloth nappies are an easy and safe alternative to disposable nappies. They contain no chemicals and will not irritate baby’s sensitive bottom. If you do prefer to use disposable, then go for an organic brand.
For more info check out this post: Best Cloth Diapers (& The Dangers You’re Exposing Your Baby To With Disposable Diapers).
Chemical to Watch For: Talc
Talc is a clay material composed of hydrated magnesium silicate. Talc or Talcum powder is a mineral that is naturally found in nature. Talc is one of the softest known minerals and can easily be scratched with a fingernail. The chemical name for Talcum powder is hydrated magnesium silicate. Talc also goes by the name Soapstone. Most of the baby powders contain talcum powder which can be harmful to health in many ways.
Effects: Even though the powder undergoes various purification processes through crushing, drying and milling, it still contains small fibres which are found in asbestos. The continuous usage of talc on babies included risk of poisoning if it is inhaled or swallowed.
Some of the common symptoms of talc poisoning include breathing problems such as coughing, chest pain, lung failure and shallow breathing. Other effects include throat irritation, jaundice, vomiting, diarrhea and eye irritation. It can also affect the functions of the heart, cause low blood pressure and convulsions.
Manifestations of talc poisoning on the skin include rashes, blisters, yellow and blue skin. There is a serious link between talc and ovarian cancer in adults.
How to Avoid: You can just use plain cornflour (corn starch) out of your pantry.
7. Anything scented. (e.g. Baby powder, shampoo and lotions)
Chemicals to Watch For: Fragrance
Fragrance is added to countless products, either to create a particular scent or to mask the odour of the nasty chemicals used in production. The problem with fragrance is that it’s a generalised term for whatever secret ingredients companies wish to add.
Effects: Fragrance can linger on the skin for hours. It can cause breathing, neurological, skin & eye damage. Evidence has shown that children exposed to fragrances can later suffer from asthma.
How to Avoid: Some products are labelled Fragrance free but be careful as they still might contain some of the other nasty chemicals you want to avoid. It’s always best to go with 100% natural products. Green people or Big Green Smile have some great choices.
8. Baby Wipes
Chemical to Watch For: Propylene Glycol
This chemical is a penetration enhancer that is easily absorbed by the skin and may be carcinogenic. It basically opens up your pores and lets all the other chemicals in. Be sure to also keep an eye out for polyethylene glycol (PEG) and polypropylene glycol (PPG) on the ingredient list too.
Effects: Many people will tell you that Propylene glycol doesn’t have any negative effects on your baby’s health. However, it has been noted that frequent skin exposure can irritate your baby’s skin. Some research also suggests that in high doses, it may contribute to cell death in the central nervous system.
How To Avoid: You can simply use a washcloth and warm water. For my second child I discovered the genius Cheeky Wipes. They have made using washcloths easy by creating a whole pack that includes washcloths, containers to keep both your fresh and soiled cloths in, washing bags to wash the cloths and essential oils to keep the cloths fresh and hygienic.
For further reading check out: Going Green With Kids: Families Trying To Live More Environmentally Friendly
Chemical to Watch For: 1,4 dioxane and ethylated surfactants.
1,4 dioxane has been found to be in 57% of baby soaps. Although you will never see it listed as an ingredient it is a contaminant or by-product that occurs when “ethylene oxide, a known breast carcinogen is added to other chemicals to make them less harsh.
Effects: Can cause skin irritation, redness and kill cells.
How to Avoid: When checking your ingredients lookout for “eth”, seeing this means there is a presence of 1, 4-dioxane. You also want to avoid from polyethylene, plus polyethylene glycol, sodium laureth sulphate (SLS), ceteareth, oleth, oxynol – xynol and PEG. Again, check out Green people or Big Green Smile.
10. Baby Oil
Chemical to Watch For: Mineral Oil
Baby oil іѕ essentially made of mineral oil mixed with fragrance, which is a nasty combination
Effects: Mineral oil is a cheap by-product of petroleum processing and acts as a plastic wrap on the skin inhibiting the skin’s ability to release toxins.
How to Avoid: Instead use natural and nourishing oils such as olive, coconut or sweet almond to massage into your baby’s skin.
11. All Soaps, lotions, washes and creams.
Chemical to Watch For: Parabens
Effects: Parabens are neurotoxins and are linked to the reproductive toxicity, hormone disruption and skin irritation.
How to Avoid: Stay away from anything with “paraben” in its name, as well as benzoic acid and propyl ester. Again, try and choose products that are 100% natural.
Remember, these are only some of the children’s products that are potentially toxic. The best way to know that your baby’s products are safe is by buying natural products or making your own. You can check out my posts for making your own deodorant, non toxic shampoos and chocolate lip balm.
When trying to avoid toxic children’s products and raise chemical-free kids don’t be overwhelmed by all the do’s and don’ts that are constantly being thrown at you.
You don’t have to buy everything before the baby arrives, you can get things after if you find you need them. Nearly every Mum will tell you that they bought things they never even used!
I totally believe that the fact that you are worrying about whether you will be a good mum or not already shows that you will be.
Luckily, we have around 9 months to prepare for our new arrivals so have plenty of time to do research and choose the products we think will work best for raising chemical-free kids.
I would love to hear of any non-toxic children’s products you love… leave a comment below!
Don’t forget to share this post to help others avoid toxic children’s products and help them raise chemical-free kids!