Did you know that many harmful chemicals that can impact your child’s health can be found in common baby products, like mattresses, toys, and clothes?
1. Flame Retardants: Flame retardant chemicals or chemical flame barriers are known carcinogens. Sometimes mattress companies don’t even have to disclose their flame retardant ingredients if they use a fabric pre-treated with the chemicals. Watch out for “natural” flame retardants as well, as chemical ingredients like antimony (which may contain and mimic arsenic) and boric acid can still cause health issues.
How to avoid: Avoid flame retardants by choosing organic cotton clothes and bedding, tight-fitting pajamas that don’t legally require flame retardants, and Lullaby Earth crib mattresses and accessories. We believe the only safe flame retardant is none at all, and our products meet all flammability standards without the need for flame retardant chemicals of any kind..
2. Heavy Metals: Heavy metals can be found in many children’s products including toys, shoes, and more - and they can even be found in your nursery’s paint or carpeting. Metals like lead and mercury pose a major health risk to babies and children, especially since they may touch the contaminated object or surface before putting their hands or toys in their mouth.
How to avoid: You can purchase lead testing kits to check for the presence of lead in your home. Lead paint isn’t common these days, but if your home was built before 1978 you should check it for lead. Be aware that commonly-used CFL bulbs (which have replaced incandescent light bulbs as a more energy-efficient option) contain mercury and have special procedures to follow if one breaks. Consider skipping the CFL bulbs in the nursery to reduce potential exposure to mercury (and of course, use a non-mercury thermometer).
3. Plastic Additives: The big players in this category are BPA and phthalate plasticizers, commonly found in teethers and pacifiers, plastic toys, and even in waterproofing treatments for crib mattresses. BPA is also found in plastic cups and bottles.
How to avoid: When purchasing plastics, look for BPA-free options. For crib mattress waterproofing, look for food-grade polyethylene, which is the same food-safe plastic used in sandwich and snack bags. To avoid plastic, look for silicone food containers, stainless steel or glass bottles and sippy cups (we love organicKidz), and wood toys with non-toxic paint or polish.
4. Pesticide and Antibacterial Treatments: Did you know that conventional cotton is one of the most highly sprayed and treated crops on the market? And those pesticides don’t go away even if you pre-wash baby’s clothes and blankets before the first use. Many home and nursery products are also treated with antibacterial agents like triclosan. It could be in your linens, mattress, or carpet -- or even in garbage bags, storage containers, and outdoor playground equipment.
How to avoid: Avoid pesticides by shopping for clothing and textiles made from organic cotton or non-toxic synthetic materials made without harmful chemicals. Shop for household products that don’t tout their antibacterial properties (including antibacterial soaps, some of which are being banned by the FDA).
5. Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, and yet it’s still present in common household products - including baby products and furniture. Formaldehyde is commonly found in particleboard furniture (as well as plywood, pressed wood, and fiberboard), paints and varnishes, wallpaper and paper products, smoke (from cigarettes, fireplaces, and wood stoves), wrinkle-resistant clothing and textiles, and cosmetics.
How to avoid: For starters, don’t smoke in the home, and make sure any fireplace or wood stoves are well ventilated and maintained regularly. Opt for solid wood furniture when possible, or shop second-hand for things like cribs and furniture for the nursery to reduce VOC off-gassing in your home, choose low- or no-VOC paint and carpet, and let fresh air in to help reduce indoor VOC levels.
6. Fluoride: Dentists tout the benefits of fluoride for healthy teeth, but some research indicates that fluoride can cause damage to forming teeth and may be toxic in the body with long-term exposure. Fluoride is found in many toothpastes and mouthwashes, tap water, and specially formulated “baby water” with added fluoride. Like any medical application, you should check with your doctor or dentist to make the decision that’s right for your family.
How to avoid: Consult your dentist about when and if fluoride treatments are
appropriate for your child. If appropriate, use fluoride-free toothpaste and mouthwash treatments and choose filtered water without fluoride for drinking and cooking.
7. Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs): Commonly found in stain treatments, nonstick pans, and food wrappers or containers, PFCs have been found to disrupt endocrine function. We’re usually exposed to them after using nonstick cookware (or even certain dental floss made with non-stick coatings!). PFCs are also used in waterproofing technologies and may be in your baby’s waterproof crib mattress. PFCs pollute the environment and our bodies, and they take a long time to break down and be eliminated.
How to avoid: The EPA has been helping to phase out certain PFCs since 2000 but it’s best to choose cast iron or stainless steel cookware to avoid exposure. Choose a crib mattress and other waterproof products made without PFCs.
Now that you’re armed with the knowledge to avoid these harmful toxins in your baby’s environment, you’re ready to create a non-toxic nursery that will help your baby grow up big and strong!
And remember: Lullaby Earth never uses these harmful chemicals in our products. Read more about our healthier crib mattress design here.