Hundreds of toxic chemicals, including PCBs, DDT, endocrine disrupters, and dioxins — to name just a few — are showing up in mothers’ and their newborn babies’ bodies. These chemicals, found in everyday household products, can get absorbed during a typical morning routine.
Consider this scenario: the pregnant mom awakens after a night of breathing toxic fumes from a mattress containing chemicals like flame retardants and melamine. She showers with synthetically scented soap, shampoo and conditioner, and uses popular brands of body lotion, moisturizer, sunscreen, cosmetics and perfume that contain hundreds of chemicals which have been linked to cancer, hormone imbalances, and other illnesses. These chemicals may be seriously compromising her health, as well as her unborn baby’s.
Want a Non-Toxic Baby? Create a Healthy Nursery
Chemicals can also migrate into a baby through the nursery. New parents, with good intentions, buy new baby furniture, install new synthetic carpeting, and paint or wallpaper the room — all the while creating a toxic environment from airborne chemicals released from these products. Plus, there are toxic chemicals in the poorly-labeled bottles of kitchen and bathroom cleansers, and in bug sprays and air fresheners used throughout the home.
In addition, common infant body care products can be problematic. A Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Institute study reported that babies recently treated with baby lotion, shampoo, and powder, were more likely to have phthalates in their urine than other babies. Phthalate exposure in early childhood has been associated with altered hormones as well as increased allergies, runny nose, and eczema.
Be aware that the FDA does not review personal care ingredients for their safety before they come to market. Manufacturers are free to add almost anything they want into their products, so it’s important to buy safe, preferably organic products from trusted companies. The good news is that it’s easy to create a safe and natural baby nursery.
Top 10 Ways to Make your Baby Nursery a Safe, Healthy Haven:
- Choose a crib mattress made from untreated, nontoxic, natural materials like latex foam rubber, wool and cotton. Use a wool and cotton mattress topper.
- Buy a solid wood crib or cradle/Moses basket instead of one made from fiberboard or particleboard (which contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen).
- Use low or no VOC (volatile organic compound) paint for the walls, or paper-based wallpaper instead of vinyl. Traditional wallpaper paste is better than self-stick, which contains high levels of VOCs.
- Install wool carpet instead of synthetic. Wool is naturally flame retardant and hypoallergenic.
- Stay away from synthetic fragrances in things like dryer sheets, air fresheners and body care products. These contain phthalates — chemicals that interfere with hormones. Use 100% essential oils instead.
- Pick all natural, non-toxic cleaning products or try white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Kill odors with baking soda, lemon juice (or lemon essential oil) and water in a spray bottle. Avoid bleach, ammonia and other harsh chemicals to clean clothes, furniture and carpets.
- Stay away from plastic bottles and food storage containers — they contain chemicals that leach into food and water. Use glass or metal instead.
- Choose wooden toys with nontoxic paints and finishes; and all-natural fibers like cotton, hemp and wool.
- Don’t put electric clocks or cell phones next to the baby’s crib, or use electric heating pads or electric blankets in the crib — these have electromagnetic fields (EMFs) that can negatively impact behavior and health.
- Make your home shoeless — remove your shoes, especially before entering bedrooms, so you don’t track in pesticides and other toxic chemicals from the outside.
The 2010 President’s Cancer Panel study says there’s a link between environmental toxins and disease. For information on ways to change the government regulatory practice to the Precautionary Principle, go to the Center for Environmental Health’s (CEH) website. To learn more about the Safe Chemical Act in Congress, check out the EWG website. For more information on ways to protect children from toxic chemicals visit Healthy Child Healthy World. For resources on where to buy safe, natural baby products, check out my website.
To order an advance copy of my new book “99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Setting Up a Healthy Baby Nursery,” contact me on my website.
Beth Greer, Super Natural Mom™, is the bestselling author of Super Natural Home, host of “Your Super Natural Life” on Clear Channel’s Green 960 Radio, and impassioned champion of toxin-free living who busts open the myth that our homes are safe havens. She consults for restaurants, retreat centers and healthcare agencies. Follow Beth on Twitter. Become a fan on Facebook.