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Going Green with Baby! Shannon shows us how!By Shannon Choe
If you hadn’t noticed it before you were eating, shopping and living “for two,” you won’t be able to escape the “Going Green” movement as a pregnant mama! On the web, T.V., product labels, everywhere you turn, there are messages about “organic” this and “toxic” that. Is going green the best thing for your family? What does it really mean? …And where to start?!
These are big questions that aren’t quickly answered and that can be really overwhelming to expectant and new parents who already have a lot of new terrain to map out and “homework” to do! Adding to the challenge is that there is little or no regulation of the terms “all natural” and “eco-friendly” and the like, so parents can’t even just make the decision to buy or eat everything that seems to be labeled as “green.”
It’s really essential that parents become educated consumers, learning about what all of the “buzz” is about and how these issues may directly affect themselves and their baby. It's great to have a handful of trusted resources that you feel offer reliable, unbiased information to check in with and become informed about the latest issues and information available. A couple of PBC favorites include: the Healthy Child Healthy World website, the book, "Raising Baby Green; The Earth Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care," by Alan Greene, M.D. We also suggest the Skin Deep website (www.cosmeticsdatabase.com) which has an online database of cosmetics and personal care products that are safe to use as well as the “Learn” tab on www.thesoftlanding.com. There are countless others; Ask friends and colleagues for recommendations as well.
So what’s so important about being green? Aside from benefits to the environment or using sustainable materials and sending less to landfills, we know that chemicals that are inhaled or touched can be absorbed and enter the bloodstream and this can affect us all, from pregnant moms and their babies and everyone else! Studies show that there are several health impacts related to exposure to these toxins over time, such as allergies, asthma, cancers, developmental disorders, and other concerns.
Based on the information available to us today, it makes sense to do our best to avoid chemicals and toxins in baby's environment and make the best selections when it comes to the things baby will breathe, ingest and/or have direct contact with. Here’s a list of items in our homes to start to research and consider if you are expectant parents:
• Nursery paint- Traditional household paints often contain Volatile Organic Compounds. VOCs are cancer causing toxins that can emit years after drying. So new parents who’ll be decorating the nursery will want to research non-toxic nursery paints without VOCs.
• Household cleaning products- Even though we all know to store cleaning products out of the reach of kids for fear of ingestion, parents are often shocked to learn about the contents of the cleaning products already in their own homes and the fact that it doesn’t take ingesting them in large quantities to do harm. Do a little research into why to choose non-toxic, environmentally safe products and which fit that bill.
• Feeding products (and toys!) that baby will have in his or her mouth. There has been a lot of news (and some controversy) about bisphenol-A (BPA) in recent years. Recently the FDA has "suggested parents minimize the BPA-based products that could make contact with foods or drinks that infants or toddlers might consume — especially hot foods and drinks" because "recent studies provide reason for some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children.” This is why we are seeing glass bottles returning to the market. Parents should look for feeding products, pacifiers, and toys made of BPA-free plastics, silicone, or products made with alternatives like glass and wood or, in the case of toys, cloth.
• Cloth diapers- Better for the environment and in some cases, much lighter on the wallet, cloth diapers offer a chemical free diaper option (depending on how they are washed). There are so many cloth diaper options these days, from options with covers and inserts to all-in-one diapers (AIOs). In some areas there are diaper cleaning services that will pick up and deliver to your door, making cloth diapering as convenient as can be.
• Personal care products such as soap, shampoo and baby wash- It's unfortunate and frustrating that parents can't rely on labels. According to the Environmental Working Group, '80% of children's products described as "gentle," "soothing," "hypo allergenic," and "dermatologist approved" contain ingredients linked to allergies and skin irritation.' Unfortunately parents can be mislead by labels since manufacturers don't have to disclose all of their ingredients and the terms such as "all natural" and "eco friendly" aren't regulated, and as a result become meaningless. Parents can check in with the EWG’s cosmetic safety database, Skin Deep, to find safe options.
• Crib Mattress- New parents are usually shocked to learn that most traditional mattresses have a vinyl cover with PVC, which is one of the most toxic plastics, and are foam made from petroleum with the toxic additive polyurethane and that these are tied to respiratory issues and are known carcinogens. Babies sleep a lot and spend a lot of time in their cribs, so the mattress is obviously one of the most important purchases parents will make and they should definitely learn more. There are great alternatives available at varying prices that are made from raw materials, Certified Organic Materials, and/or non-toxic plastics.
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