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Is the nesting urge kicking in? As you set up baby’s nursery, make sure your safety checklist includes steps to create a non-toxic nursery. Environmental toxins, like BPA, VOCs, and phthalates are common in nursery environments, but can have detrimental health impacts, especially during infancy.
Environmental toxins are carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals) and hormone disrupters in our environment. (1) Some occur naturally, like lead, mercury, or formaldehyde, while others are man-made, like BPA or phthalates.
Infants grow and develop at such a fast rate, compared to adults, that they are at an increased risk for developing childhood diseases when exposed to endocrine (hormone) disruptors. (2)
The most common and detrimental environmental toxins found in baby nurseries include VOC’s, phthalates, and BPA.
VOCs, volatile organic compounds, are gases emitted from certain materials like paint, polyurethane, cleaners and air fresheners . The chemicals in VOCs vary, but some cause respiratory distress, headaches, and damage to the central nervous system. Some VOCs are also known carcinogens. (3)
Phthalates, parabens, BPA, and TCC are common additives to personal care products for their plasticizer and antimicrobial properties. Plasticizers provide flexibility and help fragrance stick
The down side: all of these ingredients may throw off the very delicate hormone balance. Balanced hormones are vital for fertility, pregnancy, and overall health. Phthalate exposure adversely impacts male reproductive health and effects from phthalates are far more detrimental during infancy, than in adult years. (2,11)
If the overwhelm is setting in and you’re not sure where to start, take deep breath, you are not alone. To create a non-toxic nursery, focus on healthy sleep environment, baby care products, and any gear baby chews on regularly.
Babies spend most of their time sleeping (even though it may not feel like it) and may have increased VOC exposure from mattresses. Mattresses made with polyurethane foam, which often contains flame retardants, release more VOCs than mattresses made with polyester or wool. (4)
Diving down the non-toxic mattress rabbit-hole is incredibly overwhelming (and expensive). Which is why I am SO thankful for this round-up of the best non-toxic crib mattresses from Scary Mommy. This list includes safer mattresses to meet every budget.
Whether you choose cloth or disposable, choosing non-toxic diaper material is vital. Just like menstrual products, diapers are considered medical devices and ingredient disclosure is not required.
Studies have found that diapers are a significant source of VOC and phthalate exposure. In fact, because of the direct contact with the skin and external reproductive organs, VOC and phthalates may be absorbed directly into the reproductive system. (5)
Cloth diapering requires an upfront investment. However, they are reusable and provide a substantial cost savings in the long-run. Some common materials in cloth diapers may not be ideal; look for cloth diapers made with organic cotton, bamboo or hemp.
Phthalates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals are common in kids toys and teethers. Studies show that saliva and sweat contact with plastics may result in the exposure of a large number of EDCs. (6) Plastic teethers are a well-established source of infant exposure to phthalates. (7) Natural rubber, food-grade silicone, untreated hardwood, or organic cotton toys and teethers are safer options.
Some clothes, primarily pajamas, are also treated with flame retardants. Opt for snug-fitting pajamas as a safer alternative.
Just like with our own personal care products, the products used on baby skin can be a huge source of allergens, EDCs and carcinogens. Luckily, baby’s skincare regimen isn’t quite as complex as a tired parent’s routine.
BPA, fragrance, parabens, phthalates, mineral oil and petroleum products are some of the most common toxic ingredients in baby care products. California Baby, Primally Pure, Beautycounter and Earth Mama Organics all make high quality, non-toxic and safe baby care products.
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