A Non-Toxic Home for Baby: 9 Steps to Jumpstart your Journey by Aida Garcia-Toledo
Babies are precious, chubby, smell so good and they are tiny, oh so tiny.
Not only are they tiny in size, but they are still developing, even after they are born. It is this small size and the fact that they are still developing, that also makes them especially vulnerable to toxic chemicals. In fact, tiny amounts of toxic chemical exposure, some of which they could be receiving through everyday ‘ baby’ products, can and do affect their develop- ment resulting in everything from asthma, allergies, and even hormonal, reproductive and neu- rological diseases later in life.
But as a parent, you are most probably really busy and really tired and researching every single thing your child comes into contact with can seem extremely daunting. Here is the good news: jump-starting your journey to a cleaner healthier and less toxic life for your baby does not have to be that hard.
The first step? Be realistic. Understand and accept that you do not live in a non-toxic bubble . Your child will come into contact with chemicals everyday (outdoors, in school, at grandma’s etc) however if you make changes at home it will have a big positive impact on your child’s long term health – and you won’t be driven crazy when they eat that non organic snack in a plastic plate at the next birthday party. It is all about balance!
Next? Try to incorporate some (or all!) of these tips at home:
1. Take your shoes off, and leave them by the front door. Your shoes bring in petroleum byproducts, pesticides, lead, fecal matter etc. Young children play, crawl and sometimes even sleep on the floor, touching these pollutants and ultimately ingesting them when those little hands head towards their little mouths. Shoe-free living is a must with young children.
2. Stop using toxic conventional cleaning products and switch to safer brands or try making your own. Mixing 50% white vinegar with 50% water and a couple of drops of tea tree oil will give you an antibacterial all purpose cleaner that is safe for your children to touch, inhale and even lick any re- cently cleaned surface.
3. Avoid synthetic fragrance in personal care products like shampoos, moisturizers, soaps, bubble baths, etc, since these are loaded with unknown chemicals and hormone altering chemicals. Fragrance can also be labelled as ‘unscented’ or ‘parfum’. Instead, switch to all natural products that contain organic essential oils or are labelled ‘fragrance free.’ Pure castile soap for old- er family members is a great alternative, as is coconut oil for moisturizing.
4. Stop exposing plastic to heat in the microwave and dishwashing machine, since this accelerates the leaching of endocrine disrupting chemicals into the your food.. In fact, use less plastic and instead consider switching to glass, stainless steel, bamboo and silicone especially for food storage and children’s meals and snacks.
5. Save the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list of fruit and produce with the highest pesticide levels on your smartphone or print it and have it handy in your wallet when shopping, and refer to it when deciding what fruits and veggies you should buy organic and which you can opt out of. Pesticides used today in produce can contribute to neurological issues like learning, memory and attention impairments. This is especially problematic for children because due to their small size they are less capable of processing chemicals that enter their small bodies and they eat a lot of fruits and vegetables – especially as first foods.
6. Donate or throw out children’s loose fitting flannel pajamas and start using tight fitting pajamas which do not contain flame retardants (these will always have a yellow tag that specifies the item does NOT have flame retar- dants on them, and thus should fit snuggly).
7. If you are still using plastic baby bottles or sippy cups, make the switch to stainless steel or glass(with silicone covers) for daily use.
8. Make sure mattress protectors in young children’s beds and cribs are not vinyl. Opt for safer plastics or, even better, wool.
9. If you are pregnant or have small children in the house it is a good idea to get your home water tested to determine if you should consider purchasing a home water filter. Remember your children also ingest water during bath- time, teeth brushing and through any food that is prepared with or cooked with water. At a minimum, if you live in an older home (pre 1978) then consider purchasing a basic NSF 53 Certified lead filter from your local hard- ware store. If you want more filtering (which I do recommend) look for a solid carbon block filter certified to NSF/ANSI 42, 53 and 401(and 58, if you would like to add reverse osmosis)
Aida is the founder of Non-Toxic Munchkin, a non-toxic living blog and consulting company who’s mission is to educate parents about the hazards of daily exposure to toxic chemicals and help them transition to a healthier and less chemically dependent lifestyle. All, while finding a balance between healthier everyday choices and living a modern day, stylish, life.
“It is not a diet. It is not a detox. It is a new way of life.”