- What you need to know
- Many baby products contain toxic chemicals
- The scary facts
- What we can do
- Chemicals to avoid
- Creating a healthy, non-toxic baby registry
- Cribs, cradles, bassinets, co-sleepers, play yards, etc.
- Car seats
- Baby carriers
- Seats, swings, bouncers and blankets
- Breast pumps
- High chairs
- Nursing pillows
- Towels & washcloths
- Healing balm or cream
The months leading up to having a baby are often filled with the anxiety-inducing task of putting together a baby registry. Not only are we trying to grasp the idea of our lives changing forever, but we’re also pressured to “prepare” by buying all the right gear before we’ve even met our little bundles of joy.
I still remember the confusion my husband and I felt after visiting a baby store for the first time. Do we get the infant car seat or the convertible one? The umbrella stroller or “travel system?” Infant bathtubs, bottle warmers, bouncers, play gyms . . . it all just seemed so superfluous. Yet, like many parents, we fell into the consumerism trap.
Given the obscene amount of money required to buy these things, we wanted to do this right. We spent countless hours researching products, reading reviews, consulting with friends and visiting stores to find the best and safest and healthiest products. In the spirit of saving others from burrowing down the research rabbit hole, I’d like to share what I learned to help other first-time parents navigate this complicated undertaking.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Contrary to what the baby products industry would like you to believe, babies actually don’t need much. They need to feel safe, nurtured and nourished. Products just help make our ability to meet these needs a little easier.
While many baby brands have good intentions, they focus on convenience rather than health.
Let me explain.
MANY BABY PRODUCTS CONTAIN TOXIC CHEMICALS
Yes, you read that correctly. I was shocked to learn this as well. Isn’t anyone looking out for our babies to ensure products on the market are safe? Unfortunately, government agencies are not nearly diligent enough. Of the 85,000 synthetic chemicals registered in the U.S., only a fraction have been tested for toxicity. The long-term effects these chemicals – many of which are found in baby products – are unknown.
Why do companies allow these chemicals in their products? Because they have found a reliable and cheap way to make their products work effectively, often at the expense of our babies’ health. They make products that “do the job” with little regard to the negative health effects they can have on our babies.
THE SCARY FACTS
When I was pregnant, a stumbled upon a video called “ 10 Americans.” The video featured a study commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that analyzed the blood of ten different Americans. When the blood samples were taken, 200 toxic chemicals were detected. The most alarming part, however, wasn’t just the mere number of chemicals found. It was that many of those chemicals found in their blood had been banned years prior to the study. How did this happen? Because the chemicals had been passed along to them from their mothers. They had these toxins in their bodies before they were born.
This is what led me to become a “Neurotically Green Mom.” This study forever changed my behavior. We need to do all we can to protect our babies from even more exposure to toxic chemicals.
Here are the scary facts about the impact of our toxic environment:
- Cancer – Childhood cancer is up almost 27% since 1975. The American Cancer Society estimates that environmental factors cause 75% of cancers.
- Asthma – The incidence of asthma has sky rocketed. About one in eleven children under age eighteen had asthma in 2005, up 200% since 1980. Even scarier, the rate is most rapidly increasing in preschool aged children. Indoor air quality is one of the guiltiest offenders.
- Allergies – The number of children with allergies has increased dramatically over the past few decades. One of the most common is allergic dermatitis (itchy rash), which has increased 300% from 1960s to 1990s.
- Mental development – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates at least 20,000 children born each year in the U.S. suffer loss of IQ points because of exposure to methylmercury during fetal development. Other studies have shown strong evidence for IQ lost from PCBs. (See more.)
- Hormone disruption – Endocrine disruptors interrupt the normal function of hormones. They have also been shown to cause birth defects in lab animals. Evidence of human harm is currently unclear, but some types of birth defects appear to be increasing. Hormone disruptors are often found in plastics and cosmetics.
- Obesity – Obesity is an epidemic in America. One in five American children between the ages of six and nineteen are considered overweight. Poor diet and lack of exercise are not the only causes. Studies have found that chemicals like Bisphenol A (BPA) found in some plastics may interfere with normal hormone function, which increases the likelihood of obesity.
Have I gotten your attention yet? Read on.
WHAT WE CAN DO
Exposure to many of these chemicals is unavoidable due to their intrinsic presence in our everyday lives. We breathe in polluted air, we live in homes that release toxins and we eat foods the are grown with pesticides. However, we can take steps to minimize our exposure to unsafe chemicals.
So what can we do? Do our research. Choose safe products. Use our purchasing power to tell companies that we demand healthier products.
There’s no better time to start making smarter choices than when you’re bringing a new life into the world.
CHEMICALS TO AVOID
As you begin to develop your baby registry, you should become familiar with this list of harmful chemicals that are found in many baby products. Avoid these like the plague.
Bisphenol A (BPA) – A commonly-used chemical found in some plastics and resins. BPA can mimic hormones in the body and interfere with reproductive growth. It has also been linked to obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, breast and prostate cancer, fetal brain development and asthma (see recent article).
What is it in? Polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as water bottles. Epoxy resins are used to coat the inside of metal products, such as food cans, bottle tops and water supply lines. Many other products contain BPA, as well as store receipts, dental fillings and sealants, dental and medical devices, sports equipment, household electronics, CDs and DVDs.
How to avoid it:
- Look for “BPA free” claims on foods and products
- Avoid products that have a #7 symbol near the recycling symbol on the packaging
- Buy and store foods in glass containers instead of plastic
- Use fresh, frozen, or dried products versus canned
- Avoid microwaving foods in plastic containers
- Do not wash plastic containers in the dishwasher or use harsh detergents on them
- Choose wooden toys instead of plastic
- Breastfeed or use glass bottles
Flame retardants – Chemicals added to products to reduce flammability. Flame retardants can cause a number of adverse health effects, including lowered IQ in children, reduced fertility and hormone disruption. Studies have found that toddlers have three to four times the level of toxic flame retardants in their bodies compared to their parents. Flame retardants off-gas in our home and settle into dust that is ingested.
What are they in? Products containing polyurethane foam most likely contain them. Furniture, textiles, plastics and baby products such as car seats, changing table pads and many other baby products can carry flame retardants. (See: “These Chemicals Are in 80% of Baby Products”)
How to avoid them:
- Use products that contain natural fibers like down, wool or cotton (preferably organic cotton)
- Avoid foam products, especially those made before 2005
- Look for the TB 117 label, which indicates flame retardants are present. Products made in 2015 and after have a new flame retardant label that provides more information (see details).
- Wash hands frequently
- Minimize dust in your home by using a vacuum with a HEPA filter and a wet mop on floors
- Research products when buying new to make sure they don’t contain flame retardants. Healthystuff.org is a great resource.
Tip: Before buying any gear, it’s worth checking out this study conducted by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH). It grades brands on their level of flame retardants in this flame retardants report card.
Formaldehyde – A colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical that has been classified as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Studies have suggested formaldehyde exposure is associated with certain types of cancer, particularly of the nose and throat. Formaldehyde is most dangerous when inhaled.
What is it in? Building materials (especially manufactured woods), furniture, cars, glues, stains/lacquers, household products, personal care products and cosmetics.
How to avoid it:
- Look for furniture made of certified sustainable wood and solid wood only (no pressed or engineered wood – including particleboard, plywood, fiberboard, and medium density fiberboard)
- Minimize exposure by letting materials “off-gas” outside, reducing humidity with A/C and increasing ventilation inside the home
- For personal care products, look for those with “no formaldehyde,” “non-toxic,” “VOC free” or “biodegradable” on the packaging. Avoid this list of chemicals.
Fragrance – According to federal labelling laws, the word “fragrance” is a generic “catch all” term that includes 3,000 different ingredients. One of those ingredients, called styrene, has been identified as a probable cancer-causing substance according to the National Academy of Sciences. Currently, there is no way of knowing which products with “fragrance” contain styrene. When considering the number of household products that could contain styrene, the amount of exposures to a probable carcinogen is dangerously high. Products with fragrance may also contain phthalates. It is best to avoid fragrances whenever possible.
What is it in? Cosmetics, personal care products (e.g., lotions, shampoos, hand soaps, etc.) and household products (dish soap, laundry detergent, cleaning products, etc.).
How to avoid it:
- Buy fragrance-free products
- Avoid products that use synthetic fragrances
Lead – A heavy metal known as a neurotoxin. No level of lead is safe, especially for children. Studies have linked lead exposure to health problems, including permanent brain damage, lowered IQ, hearing loss, miscarriage, premature birth, high blood pressure and kidney damage. Lead passes through the lungs into the blood where it can harm many of the body’s organ systems. Lead can also enter the body through accidental ingestion (eating, drinking, and smoking) via contaminated hands, clothing, and surfaces).
What is it in? Industrial practices have contaminated our soil and water with lead, and some manufacturers add it to products we use daily. Lead can be found in soil, water, food, paint, jewelry, furniture, keys, toys (especially older toys and those made in China) and many other consumer products.
How to avoid it:
- Wash your children’s hands after outdoor play, before eating and at bedtime to avoid hand-to-mouth transfer of contaminated soil and dust
- Wash toys regularly
- Remove shoes before entering the home
- Have your water tested for lead, and run your water for at least a minute before using if you have older plumbing containing lead pipes or fillings
- Do not allow children to play with keys
- Avoid antique toys made before 1978 and those manufactured in China or India
- Avoid contact with lead-based paint, which as banned in 1978
Parabens – Preservatives commonly used in cosmetics and personal care products, and occasionally used in prepared foods, beverages, and medications. Parabens can trigger skin allergy and irritation, and may be linked to hormone disruption and breast cancer.
What are they in? Cosmetics (make up, styling products, perfume, etc.), personal care products (moisturizers, shampoo, body wash, lotions, etc.), prepared foods, beverages and medications.
How to avoid them:
- Look for paraben-free products
- Use oil-based organic products that don’t contain water (which calls for a preservative)
- Avoid these most commonly used parabens: methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben. These can be found on a product’s ingredient list.
Phthalates – A class of chemicals used as a softening agent that is often combined with PVCs. Studies have linked phthalates to a number of health impacts, including hormone disruption, cancer, birth defects, behavioral problems, premature birth, and respiratory difficulties in children. People are exposed to phthalates in two ways: 1) eating and drinking foods from containers that have come into contact with phthalates and 2) inhaling dust containing phthalates. Children are at higher risk of ingesting phthalates through dust because of their tendency to put their hands and objects in their mouths.
What is it in? Plastic toys, household products, plastic bottles/containers, cosmetics, personal care products, building materials, vinyl flooring, medical devices, backpacks, shower curtains, adhesives, dyes, inks, insect repellents, cars, food and water.
How to avoid it:
- Avoid plastic altogether whenever possible.
- Choose safer plastics; look for those with a “2,” “4” or “5” on the packaging.
- Choose products with “fragrance free” and “phthalate free” claims.
- Do the “sniff test.” The “new car” or “plastic” smell usually comes from phthalates present in the product.
- Do not use hand-me-down plastic toys, teethers, bottles and feeding products manufactured before 2009. Laws were put in place that year which banned several types of phthalates after that date.
- Eat organic meats, produce and dairy. Conventional farming practices can cause phthalates to leach into our food chain.
- Invest in a water filter to remove DEHP, which is the type of phthalate used in water pipes.
PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) – PVC is the most toxic plastic. It is made from the flammable gas, called vinyl chloride, which is a known human carcinogen. PVC releases vapors (called “off-gassing”) that can be inhaled. A softer, squishy form of PVC plastic is often combined with softening agents, called phthalates.
PVC’s manufacturing process also releases dioxins that enter our food chain through animals and accumulate in human fat when we eat meat and dairy products. These dioxins cause a wide range of health effects including cancer, birth defects, diabetes, learning and developmental delays, endometriosis and immune system abnormalities.
What is it in? Items ranging from pacifiers and water bottles to toys, shower curtains and vinyl flooring.
How to avoid it: Stay away from products containing a #3 or “PVC” near the recycling symbol on the packaging. Better yet, avoid plastics altogether whenever possible.
VOCs (Volatile Organic Compound) – Gases that are emitted from certain solids or liquids. Some occur naturally in the environment, but others are synthetic and hazardous to our health. In the short-term, these chemicals can irritate the eyes and throat. The long term impact is more serious. One potential effect is cancer. Some commonly know VOCs are formaldehyde and benzene. Concentration levels of VOCs are up to 10 times higher indoors than outdoors.
What is it in? Cleaning supplies, pesticides, manufactured woods (pressed wood, particleboard/chipboard, plywood, MDF), building materials, paints and finishes, foam furniture, mattresses, cosmetics, vinyl, air fresheners and fuel.
How to avoid it:
- Use low-VOC or VOC-free paint and water-based (vs. oil-based) polyurethane in homes
- Choose solid wood over manufactured woods, including particleboard, plywood and MDF (medium density fiberboard)
- Look for furniture made of certified sustainable wood and solid wood only
- Select carpets made of natural materials and free of chemicals
- Look for safer and healthier flooring options like ceramic tile, linoleum, hardwood sealed with water-based finishes (see tips here)
- Avoid fragrances
- Keep computers and other electronics away from children
Now let’s look at how all of this applies to your baby registry.
CREATING A HEALTHY, NON-TOXIC BABY REGISTRY
As parents, we are born with an intense primal instinct to protect our young. Knowledge about our toxic environment can cause us to go into protection mode and search relentlessly for safe baby products. We want to do all we can to protect our little treasures from unnecessary chemicals. I am here to help you with that quest.
Fortunately, companies are beginning to offering safer, healthier products to meet parents’ increasing demand. Unfortunately, these products come at a high cost. For this reason, you should prioritize your splurges based on what is most important to you (unless money is not a roadblock). Focus on where your baby will be spending the most time (e.g., bed, baby carrier, car seat, etc.) Quell your concerns by recognizing you’re making informed, thoughtful choices.
Mindful buying is also important. Before clicking that “Add to Registry” button, ask yourself if you really must have that product. While many of the baby items available are useful, others release harmful fumes/chemicals into our homes, collect dust, clutter our rooms and end up in landfills. “Buy less” and “buy better” is a smart rule of thumb.
Lastly, try not to let the “stuff” distract you from what truly matters – your nurturing love.
Now . . . on to the good stuff.
Babies only need a few basics during the newborn stage. They will go through clothes so quickly during the first 6 months that you’ll barely even have time to enjoy them. Keep it simple and minimalist at this stage.
- One-pieces (onsies) preferably with snaps or zippers down the front or side for easy dressing
- Bodysuits in short sleeves and long sleeves
- Leggings or pants
- Pajamas (one-pieces)
- A few hats
The number of each you buy depends on how often you intend to do laundry. I recommend a minimum of 2-3 of each type listed above.
What to look for:
Ideally, all of these should be untreated, certified organic cotton. The purer the fabric, the better it is for their sensitive skin. The most eco-friendly choice, though it may not be the most glamorous, is hand-me-downs. Not only are they better for the environment, but they’re also healthier for your baby because repeated washings helps eliminate chemicals that may have been used in the manufacturing process.
When buying new clothes, organic cotton or wool is the best choice. Fabrics made of bamboo, hemp and flax are also good choices, but they tend to be more expensive and hard to find. These fabrics are typically made without chemical treatments.
Realistically, it’s hard to buy all organic clothing because it’s both expensive and scarce. Let’s face it, clothes from Gymboree and Target are adorable and cheap. That said, I recommend splurging on organic pajamas since babies spend the majority of their time in them. When buying “conventional” baby clothes, always wash them with eco-friendly fragrance-free detergent before wearing. This helps minimize the chemicals your baby could be exposed to.
Other certifications to look for:
- 100% organic cotton
- OEKO-TEX® Standard 100, an independent testing and certification system for textiles that ensures the materials and all its components are free of harmful substances.
- The GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) certification. This certification ensures the product is free of toxins and made from fiber and fabrics certified by Europe’s National Organic Program. Products made according to this standard must be made from at least 70% certified organic natural fibers.
- Polyester and polyester-blend clothing (many contain synthetic fabric finishes)
- Harsh dyes
Burt’s Bees onsies ($25 for a set of two) – Soft, simple, affordable and practical infant clothes made of 100% organic cotton.
Under the Nile ($12) – Pure organic Egyptian cotton pieces that are GOTS certified. All clothing is made without harsh AZO dyes, flame retardants or formaldehyde. As an added bonus, they’re available in cute prints and patterns
Hanna Andersson ($20 – $40) – Adorable clothing that is certified by OEKO-TEX® Standard 100. Many pieces are also 100% organic cotton. If you feel compelled, you can buy matching pajamas for the entire family.
Babies spend most of their time sleeping, so a healthy bed should be a priority. Where and what your baby sleeps in is a very personal choice. Some parents co-sleep, others use a bassinet or portable crib in their bedroom, and some use a crib located in separate room. Most parents will opt for a combination of these options. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends sharing a room for 6 months to one year, although many parents choose to move their babies into a separate room at a younger age. Whatever you choose, below is what you’ll need.
- A crib, cradle, bassinet, co-sleeper, portable crib or play yard that meets the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
- A firm mattress
- Fitted sheet designed for that particular product (organic cotton)
Personally, I recommend getting a small, portable crib/bassinet/co-sleeper to place next to your bed during the time you plan on sharing a room with your baby. When you’re getting two to four consecutive hours of sleep per night, wouldn’t you prefer to barely leave your bedside to feed your baby? Exactly. During the first few months, you will want your baby to be as close to you as possible for comfort, convenience and peace of mind. When your baby is older, you can place him/her in a crib in a separate room if that option is available.
Most parents choose to have a bassinet, cradle or portable crib for at least the first few months.
Borrowing a bassinet or cradle is the more practical and eco-friendly option since you only need them for a short period of time. A crib is a longer-term item that can be used for up to 4 years.
What to look for:
- Solid wood
- A water-based, non-toxic finish that contains no VOCs (or, better yet, one that is unfinished)
- Lead, phthalate and formaldehyde-free
- Made in the USA or Europe. Imported cribs, especially those manufactured in Asia (i.e., China, Vietnam, etc.) are not subject to regular third-party oversight or government regulation, so they may not be up to our health and safety standards.
- Engineered wood (also called “composite” wood), including particleboard, plywood, medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and veneers. All of these typically contain added formaldehyde as a bonding agent.
- Glues that contain formaldehyde
- VOCs found in paints, adhesives, lacquers and finishes used on cribs
- Lead and phthalates commonly found in wood finishes and coatings
- Polyurethane found in some wood finishes
Nuna Sena Playard ($300) – This was one of our most-used purchases. It can be used as both a portable crib as well as a “safe” spot to put your baby/toddler when you need some hands free time at home. All fabrics are OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified and free of flame retardants and pesticides. It comes with an organic sheet that fits over a quilted mattress. The platform’s height can also be adjusted to grow with your baby. A bassinet can also be attached, so this is truly an all-in-one product (and less waste.)
Baby Bjorn Cradle ($280 – $350) – Uses quality fabrics and materials that are OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified for baby products. It is lightweight and easy to use.
Monte Design Ninna Nanna Bassinet ($395) – Handcrafted in Canada and made of eco-friendly materials including plant-based foam*, water-based and biodegradable adhesives, OEKO-TEX® certified fabrics and FSC-certified wood. All of their products are free of flame retardants. (It is also a beautiful piece of furniture.)
*Note: “Plant-based” foam is still primarily made of petroleum, which can have adverse health effects. (See below explanation in “Mattress” section.)
Nest Crib by Room & Board ($699) – A solid wood crib with a non-toxic lacquer finish that is free of lead, phthalates and VOCs. Wood is sustainably sourced and carbon negative. We own this crib and highly recommend it. The crib can be converted into a toddler bed, giving you at least 2-4 years of use per child.
(See this post for more info on cribs.)
Mattresses are often the most toxic item in homes. Many contain petroleum-based foams, formaldehyde, heavy metals and flame retardants that are used to meet safety standards. Since the majority of babies’ lives are spent sleeping, it is important to protect them from being exposed to these harmful toxins.
What to look for:
- Organic or natural-fiber mattress made of organic cotton, wool or natural latex (Note: Latex can be sensitizing to people with allergies)
- Third-party certification generated by nonprofit organizations, such as Oeko-Tex® Standard 100, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), and GREENGUARD Gold Standard.
- Flame retardants
- Waterproof mattress that contain a PVC/vinyl coating, which is a probable carcinogen. A better alternative is a Naturepedic Organic Non Waterproof Flannel Flat Crib Protector Pad.
- Antibacterial or stain treatments, typically coated with PFCs, a chemical that is toxic to humans
- Memory foam made of polyurethane, which disintegrates over time and emits VOCs
- First- and second-party certifications that are made by either the mattress manufacturer or trade associations, such at CertiPUR-US (more on certifications here)
Note: “Plant-based foams” sound good, but often the amount of plant-based material in the foam is minimal (under 20%). These foams are still primarily made of petroleum which can affect the nervous and immune systems. Although these products are better than 100% polyurethane foam, be wary of these “greenwashing” claims.
Finding a “clean” mattress is extremely difficult. After an exhaustive search, Naturepedic is my mattress of choice (and this source agrees). They are the most awarded and certified brand than any other mattress company. Other brands worth considering are Savvy Rest and Soaring Hearts.
Naturepedic Organic Cotton Classic 2-Stage Crib Mattress ($299) – Naturepedic makes an organic cotton mattresses that is GOTS and GREENGUARD Gold certified. While the cost for an organic mattress is high, it’s worth its price in gold when you think about how much time your baby will spend on it. Naturepedic’s mattresses are flame resistant without the use of flame retardant chemicals. It also has an easy-to-clean 100% polyethylene waterproof surface to protect against accidents, which is pure enough to meet food standards, We’ve had this one for over three years and couldn’t be happier with it.
Your baby’s bed should have a fitted sheet that fits the mattress snuggly for safety reasons. Similar to the bed and mattress, bedding should be chosen carefully because of the high amount of time your baby will spend on it.
What to look for:
- Organic fibers are best, followed by Oeko-Tex® certified fabrics, and then those produced according to Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).
- If you buy new conventionally grown cotton bedding, simply wash it a few times to get rid of any chemicals that have been applied to the fabric.
- Textiles labelled “permanent press,” “stain resistant,” “antibacterial,” or any other type of signal word that implies the bedding has been treated.
Perhaps the best choice (and budget-friendly) is gently used bedding made of natural fibers. It’s likely been washed enough to significantly reduce any chemical treatments and is better for the environment than buying new. Ebay is a great place to find used bedding.
Gear is quite often the most overbought category. Many parents (including myself) buy gear we don’t actually need.
As a general rule, try to avoid bringing unnecessary plastic and foam that contain phthalates, flame retardants and heavy metals. Wise parents should do their research to help them determine whether the product is something they truly need or just a “nice-to-have” item. The next step is to find the healthiest, most responsible choice.
What do you actually need? A few items should definitely be on your list.
- Car seat – This should be purchased before your baby is born so you can drive him/her home from the hospital and to pediatrician appointments.
- Baby carrier or stroller – Either or both of these items are essential to safely and easily carrying your baby while in transit. Carrying your baby in your arms for long distances, up long stairwells or down uneven streets and sidewalks in not a wise decision. In my experience, a baby carrier was more important than a stroller at infancy. Not only is it easier to transport, but it also allows you to bond with your baby and provide comfort as he/she adjusts during the first few months. Our son preferred the carrier over the stroller until he outgrew it. Our carrier was used much more frequently than our ridiculously overpriced stroller during this time. (Note: The Bugaboo Bee is not recommended).
What gear is unnecessary? That depends on who you ask. Swings, bouncers, rockers and saucers provide convenience and “hands-free” time (which is a necessity). However, each baby has his/her own preferences. Our first son never liked the swing, which was a blessing because it brings in unnecessary plastics and chemicals into the home. Our second son, on the other hand, loved it. We borrowed swings, bouncers and seats from friends to minimize regrettable purchases that end up in landfills. If possible, try to borrow these items so you can get a sense of what works for your baby before buying them.
Personally, I believe the best investment is a soft padded blanket or activity gym. Placing babies on the floor allows them to move their arms and legs freely so they can build strength and mobility. If the floor isn’t working, then a “contraption” may be the next best option if you need some hands-free time. Having a few bouncers or seats in the house to offer relief when you need a moment to go to the bathroom, prepare a meal, get dressed, etc. is extremely helpful.
When buying gear, a list of “green” criteria should be considered. Third-party resources such as HealthyStuff.org, Center for Environmental Health and Healthy Child Healthy World are great resources for specific recommendations and reports.
The first decision to make is whether to buy an infant seat or a convertible car seat. Most people opt for an infant car seat because babies fit more snuggly in them and they can be removed from the car and attached to a “travel system” (e.g., stroller with an adapter.) Others see the advantage of purchasing a convertible car seat because it can grow with the child. The decision is a personal choice. Check out this buying guide for more recommendations on how to choose the best seat for your family.
From a health and safety perspective, safety ratings and toxicity are the main factors to consider when purchasing a car seat. Sadly, nearly all car seats currently on the market in the U.S. contain flame retardants due to government regulations. Most flame retardants fall into these three classes: brominated, chlorinated and phosphate-based. Brominated and chlorinated (also known as halogenated) are the most toxic. Some companies, such as Britax and Clek, have moved away from using this class of flame retardants. However, not all replacements that companies have chosen to use are necessarily healthier options.
HealthStuff.org publishes regular studies on the levels and type of flame retardants in popular car seat brands. The most recent study was conducted in 2016. According to this study, Britax and Maxi-Cosi had the lowest level of flame retardants of all the models tested. Clek and Orbit Baby are also recommended, although this article revealed some deceptive claims made by Orbit Baby. More on these issues can be found in this press release.
UPPAbaby recently released the first flame retardant-free car seat (the MESA “Henry”). Some brands, such as Clek and Nuna, make car seats that use Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 or GREENGUARD® certified fabrics. Both the type of flame retardants present and the fabrics used should be considered when purchasing a car seat.
What to look for:
- Materials that are OEKO-TEX® Standard 100, GOTS and/or GREENGUARD Gold certified
- Car seats made after 2014. Many baby products manufactured after this date were exempted from the flammability regulations, and therefore, contain fewer flame retardants. (From a safety perspective, car seats should not be purchased second-hand. They typically expire about 6 years from the manufacturing date.)
- PVC-free plastics
- Toxic flame retardants (especially halogenated, as noted above)
- Heavy metals like lead and arsenic
- PVCs (used in the plastics)
Britax B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat ($150) – The seat is highly regarded because of its high safety ratings, value and low levels of flame retardants.
Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Seat ($280) – This seat had the lowest level of flame retardants out of those tested in this study. It
also has the latest safety features and is easy to install.
Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 ($225) – This was also a highly recommended seat due to its low level of flame retardants. It is known for its optimal fit and side impact technology.
UPPAbaby MESA “Henry” ($350) – The only flame retardant-free car seat. The UPPABaby MESA “Henry” has a merino wool cover that is naturally flame resistant. Word has already been spreading across the car seat blogs. Big news!
Note: We bought the Chicco KeyFit 30 before doing proper research into the type and level of flame retardants used (see chart above). When I emailed the company to inquire about the flame retardants used, they said, “All Chicco products meet or exceed the stringent safety standards in the US and at an international level. Chicco is committed to constantly improving products and materials in order to provide state of the art items which meet the strictest safety standards and our consumers’ expectations.” I found that answer to be intentionally vague. They ignored my two follow up emails asking them to specify the type of flame retardants they use. We have a right to know what chemicals our babies are being exposed to. I don’t trust this brand.
A stroller is another piece of gear that is used frequently by most parents. Lifestyle, preference and usage should all be considered when making this purchase. For example, if you plan to primarily use your stroller to walk around the neighborhood, size and portability may be of less concern to you than to those who travel often. Something else to keep in mind is that many strollers are made for 6 months and up (due to lack of proper head support). If you plan to use a stroller starting at infancy, you will need to either find one that lays flat or purchase an adapter that allows you to attach your car seat to the stroller.
Finding reliable information on the toxicity of strollers is a difficult task. Some strollers contain flame retardants, and many also contain fabric with toxic coatings (i.e., stain resistance, waterproofing, etc.) and PVC. The only way to ensure many of these toxic chemicals are not in the stroller is to search for the criteria below.
What to look for:
- OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 or GOTS certified fabrics
- PVC-free materials
- Flame retardants, especially polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) which are commonly used.
- Polyurethane foam (most contain flame retardants)
- Toxic fabric coatings often used in waterproof, stain resistant and antimicrobial treatments. Beware of PFCs (perfluorinated chemicals) being used in these treatments.
- Plastics containing PVC, BPA and phthalates
- Vinyl linings and covers (most contain PVC)
This post also provides some findings and recommendations on “non-toxic” strollers, although it was published in 2014. That said, here are some recommendations based on current product offerings and descriptions:
Nuna Pepp ($250) – Made with OEKO-TEX® certified fabric. Lies flat and can be used from infancy to toddlerhood. Easy to maneuver.
Bumbleride ($529) – Made of OEKO-TEX® certified fabrics and PVC-free plastics. Can be used from birth to toddlerhood. Lightweight frame and easy to fold.
Note: We own the BOB Revolution ($380) stroller and it was truly the best purchases we ever made. BOB strollers are not treated with any flame retardants, although it is unclear if the materials are PVC-free. The suspension system is one of the best in class for a smooth ride. The front wheel can maneuver around tight turns or lock when running for extra stability. It has so many smart features like a handle brake and a peep window in the canopy. It’s a perfect running and “around town” stroller.
Baby carriers are not only convenient and portable, but they’re also a great way to bond with your baby while you move about “hands free.” Baby wearing has many benefits to both parents and babies. Most importantly, it gives babies the human contact they need to make them feel safe.
The type of carrier you choose depends on your personal preference. I recommend trying a handful of different ones so you can see what is most comfortable and appropriate for your lifestyle. If possible, borrow one or accept hand-me-downs. It takes time to figure out which one works best for you and your baby. This is a great guide on the latest carriers.
What to look for:
- 100% organic cotton, OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 or GOTS-certified fabrics
- Polyurethane foam found in some fillings, which can contain flame retardants
- Harsh dyes (i.e., azo)
Ergobaby Organic Baby Carrier ($100) A comfortable, stable carrier that supports the natural sitting position of babies and eliminates stress on the back and hips. Made of 100% organic cotton. This is my personal favorite. If you plan on using it right away, you’ll also need the organic infant insert ($36).
Note: The Ergobaby 360 ($135) is an amazing piece of gear. While pricey, it is the only carrier you will ever need. It can be adjusted to four different carry positions (two front positions, hip and back.) The downside is that it only comes in polyester fabric, but you can get an organic cotton infant insert ($35) to help reduce skin to skin contact with the polyester.
Baby Boba Organic Wrap ($50) – This wrap is comfortable, soft, portable and easy once you get the hang of it. This one is 95% organic cotton.
SEATS, SWINGS, BOUNCERS AND BLANKETS
As mentioned above, a blanket on floor is typically the best place to put babies when they are awake. When babies are lying down, they can move around freely which builds their strength and mobility. That said, a “contraption” is sometimes necessary for when he/she wants to be in a more upright position. It’s nice to have several options because babies are often finicky about their positions.
What to look for:
- 100% organic cotton, OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 or GOTS-certified fabrics
- Products made after 2014. As mentioned above, many baby products manufactured after this date were exempted from the flammability regulations, and therefore, contain fewer or no flame retardants.
- Flame retardants
- Polyurethane foam
- Plastics containing PVC, BPA and phthalates
Baby Bjorn Bouncer ($160) – This bouncer is made of organic cotton and OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified fabrics. It naturally helps babies develop balance and motor skills by using their own movements. The design provides proper back and neck support by evenly distributing your baby’s weight. No batteries or plugs required, making this an even more eco-friendly option.
Nuna Leaf Lounger ($230) – This bouncer comes with an organic cotton insert and is made with OEKO-TEX® certified fabrics. It is a “natural” swing that sways on its own with a gentle push. No motor or sounds that require batteries and plugs. Holds up to 130 lbs. It’s a great product but extremely pricey for a chair. Try to find this used for a more reasonable price.
LilyPad Play Mat ($120) – This play mat is OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified and free of toxic chemicals. It is foam free and instead uses a non-toxic air spacer cushion.
Organic Jungle Play Mat my MiYim ($24.99) – This is my ultimate favorite product,but unfortunately it’s no longer available at giggle or Amazon. The play mat is made of 100% certified organic cotton and plant-based dyes that are gentle on your baby’s skin. This plush, super soft mat also comes with a pillow to place underneath your baby’s head or beneath the chest during tummy time. We used this every day when our sons were infants.
Etsy also has some nice options such as this organic padded round rug. More blankets and play mats like this can be found on Etsy.
Hape My First Gym ($50) – This is a great way to spark your baby’s curiosity and encourage movement. It’s made of wood from FSC sustainable forests and all finishes are non-toxic and child safe.
NOTE: We used a few Fisher-Price bouncers that were handed down from friends. Because it was unclear whether the fillings contains flame retardants, we made sure to wash the covers a few times before using them and put an organic cotton blanket on top of the padding as a barrier.
- Diapers (cloth or disposable) to get you through the first month. Aim for 8-10 diapers a day.
- Cotton pads or cloths for the first month. Wipes shouldn’t be used on newborns’ sensitive skin (unless you use Water Wipes).
- A stash of wipes to use when your baby is older than one month.
Since diapers are on to your baby 24/7, your choice should be carefully considered. No matter which option you choose – cloth or disposable – your decision will effect the environment and their health.
Babies will go through 5,000 – 8,000 diaper changes (yikes!). Both cloth and disposable diapers will leave a footprint, but disposables will have a longer-term impact on the environment. An estimated 20 billion diapers end up in our landfills each year, and studies have shown they take up to 500 years to degrade. Although cloth diapers also take their toll on the environment, they leave a lighter mark.
Health and safety factors should also be considered when choosing diapers. In addition to waste, some disposable diapers also contain harmful chemicals. However, few studies have been conducted on the effects these chemicals have on babies, and this article will make you feel a little better about conventional diapers’ safety. However, when it comes our “little treasures,” erring on the side of caution is the path I like to choose.
While cloth diapers are the more eco-friendly choice, most parents choose disposable diapers for practicality purposes. Fortunately, there are healthier and more eco-friendly options available to us these days.
What to look for (if using disposables):
Manufacturers are not required to reveal the ingredients used in their diapers. To avoid harmful chemicals, look for these claims that ensure what is not in them:
- Fragrance, dye and lotion-free
These are the most commonly found, potentially harmful ingredients found in diapers:
- Dioxin – A bi-product of the chlorine used to bleach diapers. According to the World Health Organization, exposure to dioxins may cause skin reactions and altered liver function and impairments to the immune system, nervous system, endocrine system and reproductive functions.
- Sodium polyacrylate (SAP) – A super absorbent chemical compound that was banned from tampons in 1980. These chemicals can also emit gases like toluene, xylene and styrene.
- Tributyl-tin (TBT) – This chemical is extremely toxic to aquatic life and causes endocrine disruptions. Some studies have also shown that they can trigger genes that promote the growth of fat cells, causing obesity in humans.
- Fragrance, dyes and lotions – These are added to diapers for a variety of reasons. Some research has shown that up to 20% of diaper rashes could be caused by petroleum-based dyes used in diapers.
After trying several “green” brands (Honest Company, Earth’s Best, Seventh Generation), Bambo Nature is by far my favorite brand. This guide gives a detailed comparison of several disposable diaper brands, with Bambo Nature listed as the top choice. Bambo Nature is also the top rated diaper in this blog. These diapers rarely leak, fit comfortably and are super absorbent. They are free of harmful chemicals and known allergens. Bambo Nature has several certifications to legitimize their claims, including a hypoallergenic and FSC certification.
Others worth trying:
Broody Chick – Compostable diapers made with plant-based SAP. These diapers are chlorine free, hypo-allergenic, fragrance free and breathable.
Earth’s Best – These diapers are also chlorine free, hypo-allergenic, fragrance free, dye free and latex free. The absorbent material is made out of corn and wheat. We had some leakage problems with this brand.
Honest Company – As much as I wanted to like the Honest Company diapers, they just didn’t work for us. They constantly leaked and ran small. Too bad, because those designs are adorable. Like the other diapers above, these also use plant-based materials in place of some petroleum-based chemicals.
Wipes are generally not recommended to be used until your baby is over one month old. Cotton or cloth should be used instead to avoid irritating their sensitive skin during this period. When your baby is ready, wipes are typically the most convenient and efficacious option.
Many mainstream wipes are full of harmful chemicals like fragrance, alcohol and other irritants. Below are some general guidelines for choosing wipes free of harmful chemicals.
What to look for:
- Fragrance free
- Alcohol free
- Chlorine (used to whiten the wipes)
- 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (formaldehyde releaser)
Water Wipes – These chemical free wipes contain 99.9% purified water and a drop of fruit extract. They’re so gentle that they can be used from birth. Highest rated wipes by the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.
Honest Company Wipes – Biodegradable and plant-based, these wipes are made without alcohol, fragrance and chlorine. They’re infused with pomegranate, chamomile, cucumber & masterwort leaf which makes them smell yummy, too.
Babyganics – Made with plant-based, no-allergenic ingredients without alcohol, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, artificial dyes or fragrances.
Feeding is something you’ll spend the majority of your time doing during the first few months. The right preparation will give you the confidence and resources you need if any issues arise.
- A breast pump
- Formula if needed
- Nursing pillow
Whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, you will want to have bottles and a breast pump on hand for a number of reasons (e.g., low birth weight, latching issues, time away, etc.). It is best to be prepared for any scenario ahead of time.
When purchasing bottles, glass is the cleanest, purest choice. Silicone sleeves can be purchased for most bottles that makes them easier to grip and less likely to shatter. Plastic can also be a safe option, but not all plastics are created equal. “Cloudy” plastics (see below) are safer choices that are typically BPA-free. Nipples should be made of silicone, which is safer and more stable than yellow rubber or latex.
What to look for:
- If buying plastic, choose polyethylene (#1), polyethersulfone (PES) polyamide (PA) or polypropylene (#5)
- Silicone nipples
- Plastics containing BPA or phthalates
- Synthetic rubber (petroleum-based) or latex nipples
Born Free Breeze ($16) – These bottles are available in both glass and BPA-free plastic. They have a modern design, anti-colic vent and breastfeeding-like nipple, but what people love most about is it’s is easy to clean. The nipple is all one piece, so you only need to clean the bottle and top without taking apart a bunch of tiny pieces.
Thinkbaby ($10) – These BPA-free polypropylene bottles have a patented venting system that helps reduce colic. They also have an hourglass shape that make them easy to grip.
Lifefactory ($15) – These no-frills glass bottles come with a silicone sleeve to help prevent breakage.
Dr. Brown’s ($20) – These have been the notorious anti-colic bottles for decades. They have a vent system that helps prevent colic, spit up, burping and gas. Available in both BPA-free plastic and glass.
When choosing a pump, look for BPA and phthalate free options.
Tip: Most insurance plans will cover certain “approved” breast pumps. Although they may not be the top-of-the-line product, they are typically fine and serve their purpose. Purchasing or renting may become necessary if you’re not satisfied with your options or need a stronger, more efficient pump.
This blog shares a list of BPA and phthalate free pumps.
Highchairs are not a necessity, but they help make feeding a bit easier and cleaner when babies begin eating solids (usually anywhere between 4 – 6 months.) Holding your baby in your lap is another option, but it can get messy when they’re eating purees. A highchair that can grow with your baby is ideal. The same chair can last many years.
What to look for:
- Solid wood
- Water-based stains and/or non-toxic paints that are formaldehyde and VOC-free
- BPA, PVC and phthalates found in many plastics
Stokke Tripp Trapp ($249) – Non-toxic, sustainable and made of solid beech wood. The chair is adjustable and grows with your child. It doesn’t have a tray, so your baby is able to sit with the rest of the family at the dinner table (we love this feature).
OXO Tot Sprout ($199) – This chair is designed to grow with your child from 6 months to 5 years. Made of wood, foam cushion, and plastic that are free of PVC, phthalates, and BPA.
Keekaroo ($190) – Solid wood chair with a wood tray and BPA-free plastic cover. The chair is suitable for 6 month olds to adults up to 250 lbs.
Note: We had the “award-winning” Svan Signet chair for our first son. Despite all it’s attractive product features, we were extremely disappointed in the quality and ease-of-use. We’re currently borrowing the Stokke from a friend and could not be more pleased with it.
Nursing pillows are an ingenious invention. They help make breastfeeding more comfortable (and enjoyable) for you and your baby. The last thing you want is to have tense shoulders and sore arms from breastfeeding. Nursing pillows are great to have at home, especially if you’re trying to eat, drink or just relax and stare in awe at your baby while you’re breastfeeding. Most pillows can also be used to help support your baby in a seated position once they have enough core strength to do so.
What to look for:
- !00% organic, GOTS or OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified materials
- Filled with natural (e.g., wool, cotton, buckwheat, etc.) and/or organic materials
- Flame retardants
- Polyurethane and polystyrene foam – these contain VOCs and other chemicals that are suspected carcinogens and neurotoxins
- PVC/vinyl waterproofing
Niche Nursing Pillow ($100) – Made of organic kapok fill and treated with natural zinc to make it anti-mite, anti-mold, anti-fungal and hypoallergenic.
Holy Lamb Organics Organic Nursing Pillow ($115) – This pillow is made with pure organic wool filling and an organic cotton cloth cover. Wool has many benefits. It helps regulate temperature regulation and is naturally antibacterial and flame resistant. This is a lot to spend on a nursing pillow, so I would only get this if you plan to get plenty of use out of it.
Boppy Nursing Pillow ($30) – This is the most cost-effective option. Boppy is the most popular and mainstream option. Although the filling is made of polyester and cotton, you can get an organic cotton slipcover for it. My concerns about toxins were quelled by washing the pillow several times before using it and knowing that my arm was typically a barrier between my baby’s head and the pillow. (Note: Boppy has never used flame retardants in their pillows. See FAQs.)
This blog has more information on organic nursing pillow and recommended brands.
There are different schools of thought on how to best sooth a baby. If you have not already heard of Harvey Karp, you should quickly become acquainted with the “5 S’s.” I highly recommend watching the Happiest Baby on the Block before your baby is born. These tips will come in handy on a daily basis.
Pacifiers can be controversial among parents and pediatricians. Some studies have shown that pacifiers can help reduce the risks of SIDS. Others are concerned that they might interfere with breast-feeding or become habitual. The Mayo Clinic offers some pros and cons.
Sucking is one of the best ways to soothe a baby, whether through breast-feeding, bottle feeding or a pacifier. Many fussy babies will relax instantaneously once they begin to suck. Pacifiers make this calming method easier. Personally, I’m a huge fan of pacifiers.
Silicone or natural rubber pacifiers should be chosen over latex, which may contain harmful chemicals. Look for pacifiers that are BPA and phthalate free. Despite the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s request for American manufacturers to remove phthalates from pacifiers and teethers for children under three, many have not complied. (These companies are seriously sneaky.)
Before buying a bunch of pacifiers, make sure your baby actually likes a pacifier. Babies may have a certain preference, so it is best to try out a few different types before committing to a specific brand.
What to look for:
- Silicone or natural rubber
- BPA, PVC and phthalates
- Chemical softeners
- Artificial coloring
Tip: It’s often hard to know if these chemicals are in pacifiers, so to be sure they are not, seek out brands that specifically state their pacifiers do NOT contain them.
Natursutten ($10) – These pacifiers are made of 100% rubber and contain no BPA, PVC, phthalates, chemical softeners, or artificial coloring. Conforms to pacifier-safety requirements as determined by European standards (which we all know are more stringent than American standards.)
Hevea ($9) – These are also made of 100% natural rubber and are PVC, BPA, phthalates & artificial color free. Their shape gives space for babies’ nose and chin and is soft and gentle on their faces.
More natural rubber options can be found here.
Phillips Avent Soothie ($3) – A personal favorite in our family. These BPA-free silicone pacifiers are used by most hospitals. Although they do contain artificial coloring, they fit little mouths perfectly and tend to be favored by picky babies. Phillips has had some issues in the past, so be sure to stay apprised of the latest product recalls. Both our sons preferred this brand.
When done correctly, swaddling is a great way to calm a baby and help them sleep. Be sure to read and understand all the safety tips for swaddling to get the best results. Once you’re done using them as swaddles, they will continue to come in handy. They can be used as floor blankets, sun shades, breastfeeding cover-ups, spit up rags . . . you name it.
What to look for:
- !00% organic, GOTS or OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified materials
- Natural fibers like bamboo, cotton or hemp
- Synthetic fabrics such as polyester, elastane, spandex, etc.
Aden & Anais organic swaddles ($54.95)- These soft, large and breathable swaddles will be the most versatile pieces you will own. They’re also made of GOTS certified organic cotton. The swaddles can also be used as covers, floor blankets, breastfeeding shields, bolsters, burp cloths, and an organic barrier on any surface. Never leave the house without at least two of them.
Halo Organic Sleep Sacks ($22) – We used these every night! The sleep sack provides a way to swaddle your baby’s upper body while allowing some freedom for the legs to move. They stay secure throughout the night so your baby can sleep comfortably. We loved how easy these were to put on.
Grooming your baby can be intimidating at first. And reasonably so because their bodies are so small and delicate. I was so nervous the first time I bathed both of my sons. Having a safe, supportive infant tub can help ease your fears and allow the experience to be enjoyable for both of you. Although it’s not a “necessity,” it does make bath time safer and easier.
Babies’ bodies should not be submerged in water until the umbilical cord stump falls off (and the circumcision has healed if your son had the procedure), which typically takes about two weeks. Sponge baths using soft, organic washcloths should be given to your baby during that time.
Gentle, non-toxic soaps and creams should be used on your baby’s delicate skin. Much of what is placed on our skin is absorbed into the bloodstream, and babies are especially vulnerable to the chemicals come into contact with their skin. Products should be chosen carefully.
Nails will also need to be maintained to prevent scratching. Babies’ nails grow like weeds and can get very sharp. Emory boards from any drug store will do.
- Washcloths and towels
- Gentle soap/shampoo
- Healing balm or cream
- Emory boards
- Infant bathtub
WASHCLOTHES & TOWELS
Washcloths can be used for bath time, dinner time and wiping mouths and noses. 100% organic, GOTS or OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified materials are best. Below are a few options:
Burt’s Bees washcloths ($5.99 for 3) – 100% organic cotton
Organic Cotton washcloths from Sprout ($16 for 10) – 100% organic cotton in medium weight terry.
This blog has more recommendations (but not all are organic.)
Hooded towels make drying off your baby easier and more efficient (plus, babies look adorable in them). They also help keep your baby warm as you carry him/her into another room. Some good options are:
Burt’s Bees Single Ply Hooded Towel ($12.95) – 100% organic cotton
Sea Lion Hooded Towel from Sprout ($38) – Made with certified organic French terry for a super-soft feel
SOAPS & SHAMPOOS
Gentle, non-toxic soap and shampoo are a must. Not only can chemicals be absorbed by the skin and penetrate into the body, but they can also irritate babies’ sensitive skin.
What to look for:
- Certified organic ingredients
- Environmental Working Group (EWG) Verified™ or a score of 0 or 1 (use their Skin Deep database)
- Fragrance or perfumes
- Toxic dyes
- Parabens (these are the most commonly used in products)
- Formaldehyde (avoid this list of chemicals)
Baby Mantra 3-in-1 Natural Bubble Bath, Shampoo and Soap ($12.99) – This all in one soap and shampoo is made with organic and non-toxic ingredients. It is an EWG Verified™ product, which means it meets EWG’s strict criteria and avoids all of their “restricted” chemicals. The light lavender scent and aloe vera calms your baby and leaves their skin feeling soft and moisturized.
Earth Mama Angel Baby ($8) – The name says it all. This gentle, castile foaming shampoo and body wash is non-toxic, vegan, certified organic and cruelty-free. It’s not a tear-free formula, so you’ll have to be extra careful washing around your baby’s sensitive eyes. I’m a huge fan of this soap, especially the sweet orange and vanilla scent.
HEALING CREAMS & BALMS
Diaper creams and healing balms should be on-hand to treat diaper rashes and skin irritations. Products should be made with organic ingredients and be free of fragrances, parabens and petroleum.
Earth Mama Angel Baby ($10) – This product is made with organic herbs and oils that smell scrumptious. It helps prevent diaper rash and clear up minor skin irritations. This was one of my favorite products. It has a “1” EWG rating.
Honest Company Honest Diaper Rash Cream ($10) – This product is made with organic ingredients (sheaf butter, jojoba, tamandua, and coconut oils) and is hypoallergenic. It works by forming a protective barrier to help soothe irritated skin and reduces the severity of diaper rash. This is another great product that you can feel good about putting on your baby’s skin, and it’s available at many grocery and drug stores.
An infant bathtub can turn a stressful task into an enjoyable bonding activity. When you’re worried about your baby slipping or flopping around, it’s difficult to revel in the playful spirit of a clean, happy baby. That’s why it’s important to get the right tub.
What to look for:
- Safe plastics, such as polypropylene (PP)
- BPA, phthalates, PVC
PRIMO EuroBath ($26) – This is one of my favorite purchases because of its smart design. The tub gently reclines on one side to support infants’ heads and prevent them from slipping. When babies are able sit, the tub can be turned around so they can bathe in a seated position. This tub is BPA, phthalate and lead-free. Made in the USA.
Boon Naked Collapsible Baby Bathtub ($48) – This tub can grow with your baby from newborn to toddlerhood. Its recline position cradles newborns and keeps their heads above water. The basin can then be fully-expanded to accommodate toddlers. It is BPA, phthalate and lead-free.
Both of these tubs are built to last at least two years, unlike some that are only designed for infants. Buying less is always is always the eco-friendlier option.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath. Don’t fret. Preparing for a baby can be extremely daunting and expensive, but your life will get richer in so many ways. Try not to let the “stuff” distract from what truly matters – your nurturing love.
Choose carefully, buy sparingly and reuse whenever possible. The more discerning we become about choosing safe products, the more companies will need to offer products that meet our demands. Our choices and voices can help make change and lead to safer products for everyone!
- Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home, by Christopher Gavigan, April 2008
- Give Your Baby the Healthiest, Safest Nursery Possible
- Reduce You Use of PVC in Plastics and Other Household Products
- What’s An Organic Crib Mattress Anyway?
- 5 toxics that are everywhere: Protect Yourself
Note: Healthy Child Healthy World is undergoing a relaunch. Please note that some links within this post are not currently working due to their website upgrade.