Archive for January, 2010

Have Your Baby or Child Items Been Recalled for Safety Reasons?

Sunday, January 31st, 2010


Find out about Consumer Product Safety Commission recalls on infant and child products

Find out about Consumer Product Safety Commission recalls on infant and child products

The Babies”R”Us second Great Trade-In Event, the first was in August/September 2009, gives parents the opportunity to get a 25% discount on replacing several types of baby items – cribs, car seats, bassinets, strollers, travel systems, playards, toddler beds or high chairs – that may no longer be safe for your child.

You just take your products into your local Babies”R”Us or Toys”R”Us store and purchase new ones from participating manufacturers at the discounted price. Your products don’t have to have been recalled, and you don’t have to provide proof that your product is faulty.

However, there are probably millions of parents out there who are unaware of the fact that items they’re using may have been recalled.

How can you find out if a baby or child’s product you’re using is potentially dangerous? The Consumer Product Safety Commission has a comprehensive list of infant and child product recalls that provides all the details of each recall, including what to do about replacing the faulty items or parts.

Unfortunately, crib mattresses are not included in the types of items that can be traded in, but if you’re looking for information on what makes a crib mattress safe, you can find it on our site.

Take Advantage of Babies”R”Us Great Trade-In Event to Protect Your Children

Friday, January 29th, 2010


Babies"R"Us Great Trade-In Event - Be Safe and Save

Babies"R"Us Great Trade-In Event - Be Safe and Save

Today marks the first day of Babies”R”Us The Great Trade-In event. You can return as many qualifying items as you want and replace them with new items from participating manufacturers or brands. This gives consumers a break on replacing recalled items or older and used baby items that are “potentially unsafe for a variety of reasons, including damage or lack of compliance with recent advances in product safety standards.”

We contacted Babies”R”Us to find out if the event includes crib mattresses – there has never been a recall on waterproof crib mattresses containing phthalates, for example. Unfortunately, crib mattresses are not on the list: a sure sign that awareness of unsafe chemicals and consumer demand for safer materials needs a boost.

That said, the safety issues regarding the trade-in are vital to resolve. The majority of recalls were for things like crib sides that could fall off because they aren’t properly secured, platforms for mattress that don’t allow the mattress to be lowered to the necessary extent (the baby could fall out of the crib), car seats with bases that ‘fail’ if there’s a collision so the baby isn’t protected, strollers with failing brakes or that kids can easily fall out of, or that amputate fingertips.

So, while you generally don’t have the opportunity to return items that contain potentially hazardous or toxic materials, you do have the opportunity to return a long list of items – cribs, car seats, bassinets, strollers, travel systems, play yards, toddler beds or high chairs – even those that haven’t been recalled, and get new ones at a 25% discount. Any parent concerned about the safety of their children will want to take advantage of this deal.

It’s much easier than replacing faulty parts or waiting for a recalled item to be replaced by the manufacturer (it obviously can’t be used while it’s being fixed). And it’s much safer than continuing to use an older product that may be damaged or not meet current safety standards.

To find out about participating manufacturers and other details, check out The Great Trade-In Event. It ends on February 20th – so don’t delay.

Does Your Baby’s Crib Mattress Have Dust-mites?

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

High levels of dust-mite allergens are present in 50% of American homes – they cause several health problems, and they love to hide in your mattresses.

dustmites2A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Does Mattress Cleaning Treat Dust-Mite Allergies?, prompted this blog post about dust-mites. They really are a big problem – at least half the homes in America contain enough dust-mite allergens to cause health problems. How do you get rid of those allergens? The answer to the question in the headline “Does Mattress Cleaning Treat Dust-mite Allergies” appears to be ‘no.’ And I’ll explain why. But, first, a little info about dust-mites.

Dust-mites are microscopic arachnids (same family as spiders) that live in dust. They hide in dark places like upholstered furniture, dust bunnies under couches and beds, in blankets, sheets, stuffed toys, mattresses – even your baby’s crib mattress.

Although they do bite, they generally they feed off dead skin cells and hair. However, their waste is usually the source of allergic reactions. In fact, up to 30% of people in the U.S. are allergic to this waste and even those who are not allergic can develop a sensitivity if there’s enough of the allergen in the environment. A recent study conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences found that half the homes in the U.S. have enough of these allergens to trigger a sensitivity – which can have the same symptoms as an actual allergy.

What are the symptoms?

  • Asthma
  • Hay fever
  • Eczema
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Persistent stuffy nose or ears
  • Repeated sneezing upon awakening
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose

Generally, the symptoms are worse at night and when you first wake up. And they improve when you’re out of the house.

There are various services available that clean mattresses to remove dust-mites. It costs about $50 for a twin mattress, more for larger sizes. One such service (using ultraviolet light) was tested and found to reduce the mites by 98%.

That statistic sounds good, but it’s only one test and, worse, the mites build up to their previous levels within a month, according to Peyton Eggleston, a pediatric allergist and professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital in Baltimore. At that rate, the average household (cleaning all their mattresses) would have to spend about $150 to $200 a month to get their mattresses cleaned – which is hard to fit into the average budget.

So, what are your other alternatives? For your baby, get a Naturepedic crib mattress with a waterproof covering made with food-grade polyethylene. Dust-mites cannot penetrate this covering, so all you have to do is wipe down the surface.

For your own mattresses, and for bigger kids, get an organic waterproof mattress pad or airflow sheet. These will provide dust-mite protection for the top of the mattress which is where the majority of the problem lies.

There’s nothing worse than sick kids – especially babies. Their under-developed immune systems need all the help they can get. Handle the dust-mite problem, and that will be one less thing you have to worry about.

New Study Links Phthalates to ADHD – One More Reason to Use Organic Crib Mattresses

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010


cdc_logoIt is troubling to see how many children are suffering from ‘learning disorders.’ Parents are tearing their hair out trying to find solutions, and often resort to putting their kids on drugs when they see no other solution. However, a new study linking ADHD to the chemical plasticizers ‘phthalates’ may offer some hope.

The study, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, found that the higher the concentration of phthalates in the urine, the more apt the children were to have ADHD symptoms. The researchers also found “significant relationships” between urine concentrations and errors in continuous performance tests (CPTs), which measure the child’s sustained and selective attention – the ability to focus on the right things at the right times – and impulsivity. CPT is used to support an ADHD diagnosis.

So, where are these phthalates coming from?

According to other studies, it starts in the womb: phthalates in mom’s body transfer to the child. Mom may have gotten them into her body via her hand lotion, nail polish, or a variety of other personal care products, or from food containers and packaging, laundry detergents or even the enteric coating on pharmaceuticals.

So, the kids get off to a bad start. Then, right from infancy, they sleep on crib mattresses with PVC/vinyl waterproof coverings made pliable by the use of phthalates. We’ve never used phthalates in our Naturepedic crib mattresses, and we never will.

From the crib mattress, the very long list of products containing phthalates continues: Plastic toys, building materials, textiles, the same liquid soap and detergent used by mom – it goes on and on.

According to a study published in Atmospheric Environment in 2008, manufacturers produce about 800 million pounds of phthalates each year (those figures are from 2004, the latest available at the time), and they contribute 10-60% of plastic products by weight.

Fortunately, the U.S. government is getting wise to phthalates. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned phthalates in crib mattresses and some children’s products last year – although only three phthalates were banned and several others are still used. Both the CPSC and the EPA are doing further investigation, and the EPA now has a Phthalates Action Plan by which they hope to determine the degree to which these chemicals should be restricted – or perhaps banned altogether.

But, unlike Europe – where phthalates were banned a decade ago – we’re a long way from full protection.

What is the answer? The obvious solution is to avoid them. Fortunately, there are more and more products out there that do not contain phthalates. Look for them. If you have questions about specific products, contact the manufacturer. If they can’t guarantee ‘no phthalates,’ switch to a brand that can.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 10% of U.S. children have been diagnosed with ADHD. Wouldn’t it be great if an environment free of phthalates and other dangerous chemicals could change that?