Archive for March, 2011

Creating a Non-Toxic Nursery

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

creating a non-toxic nurseryWhen you’re going to have a baby, your major concerns are their health and safety. You get a solid crib, you research car seats, walkers, swings, and so on. You make sure those products are the best you can get and won’t harm the baby in any way. But there’s another aspect of a baby’s health and safety that many parents don’t think about – the toxicity of the materials in their nursery.

Toxic chemicals have now been linked to everything from learning disorders and autism to cancer and infertility. Taking steps to create a non-toxic nursery now could have wide-reaching, long-term and even life-changing benefits.

So, what do you do to ensure your nursery is non-toxic? Here are the basics:

§ Start with the crib mattress. Your baby will spend 12 to 18 hours a day on it. You don’t want your baby breathing the potentially toxic chemical fumes that may off-gas from most crib mattresses for 12 to 18 hours a day for the next year or two.

§ Next, ensure your baby’s clothes are made with untreated cotton or other natural materials free of chemicals and dyes. Organic is best – even though organic cotton, for example, doesn’t have any pesticide residue in it by the time it becomes fabric, there are still other potentially dangerous chemicals that could be used to make the fabric and clothes. Organic products should be free of those other chemicals as well. At the very least, go for ‘untreated.’

§ You also want toys that don’t contain vinyl and other harmful plastics, same with bottles and nipples. Here’s what Debra Lynn Dadd, the Queen of Green, has to say about children’s toys: “Most toys sold in major toy stores are made from plastics. Plastic is a major contributor to indoor air pollution, and a roomful of new toys can easily envelop your child in a toxic cloud. Remember that synthetic fibers are plastics, too, so evaluate stuffed animals carefully. While you might not find much that is natural in a toy store, there are many natural cloth and wood toys on the Internet. Many are designed to stimulate baby’s imagination and help them learn skills as well as provide amusement.”

§ The furniture in the baby’s room is another concern – no plywood or other types of building materials containing toxic glues. Instead, choose solid wood, natural finishes. While these more natural products will be more expensive, it is an excellent investment in your child’s well being. There are stores that specialize in this kind of product, you can buy unfinished furniture and finish yourself with non-toxic finishes, and can also order them on the Internet.

§ Repainting a room to turn it into the nursery? Watch out for toxic oil-based or water-based latex paint. Instead, get the low- or no-VOC varieties, now available at almost any store that sells paint. Don’t paint the room yourself if you are pregnant. Scraping or sanding walls may expose you to lead dust and toxic chemicals, which can be very dangerous to your baby. Ask your husband, family member of a friend to do the painting. Painting should be done at least a month before the baby arrives in the house; you don’t want to be painting with a newborn in the house.

§ Flooring and floor coverings can also be toxic. Most carpeting and carpets, for example, are made with synthetics AND treated with other chemicals. Some – not all – new carpeting is toxic. It’s probably best to just go with existing flooring rather than installing something new. Just clean it very well. If you have to put down new flooring, Debra Lynn Dadd suggests a hard, natural linoleum. It provides a solid, durable, colorful, attractive surface that is easy to clean.

§ Of course, any cleaning products and deodorizers should also be natural and non-toxic. No synthetic fragrances. If the label on the bottle says ‘fragrance’, it’s synthetic, and toxic. Essential oils used as fragrance are okay.

If there are questions about whether or not a product is safe, Debra Lynn Dadd suggest you use a natural tool – your nose. “If you can smell it, it probably contains something toxic you don’t want your baby to breathe (with the exception, of course, of natural fragrances). So rely on your own senses–if it bothers you, it will bother your baby, so don’t put it in the nursery.”

Your little bundle of joy is the most precious package you will ever hold in your arms. If you protect your baby from harmful chemicals, you’ll be taking great strides towards ensuring your child is healthy, happy, and has a good start in life.

Do You Know the Next Mom on a Mission?

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Mom on a Mission

Winner - Mom on a Mission - 2010

In 2009, Healthy Child Healthy World created the Mom on a Mission Award. Every year they honor one special and inspiring American woman dedicated to creating healthier and happier environments for children and families. This year’s award could go to you, a friend, or someone in your family. Find out how.

What is Mom on a Mission all about?

Last year’s award went to Penelope Jagessar Chaffer, creator of the film “Toxic Baby”.

Here is the nomination letter from her husband.

“I would like to nominate my wife and mother of my son, Penelope Jagessar Chaffer. When she found out about the issue of environmental chemical pollution, she could have told no one and made changes in our own life. Or only tell our closest friends and family. My wife felt she had no choice but to share this information with anyone who would listen and as an award winning filmmaker, I knew she could do it. The only thing I hadn’t envisaged was how difficult it would be for her to do so.

“For years she worked on the film AND raised our son as a stay at home mom. Editing an entire film in our bedroom whilst looking after a toddler is no mean feat. Through the worldwide financial meltdown and moving house thousands of miles, she kept going and when it became clear that the last thing the world would do in the midst of such financial chaos, is fund an independent film that didn’t feature celebrities or cute animals, she convinced me to sell our home and use the funds to make the film.

“Then tragedy struck. At the end of last year, we became pregnant again after years of trying. The first scan revealed a defect in the baby’s bladder. The day before Christmas Eve of last year, my wife had the second scan to determine how bad the problem was. The scan revealed no heartbeat.

“Later she showed me the research that linked this birth defect, which is on the rise, to estrogenic chemicals in the womb. I know at her lowest point, she thought about giving up. Somehow she kept going. She didn’t start this because we had a child with cancer or autism, she just felt it was the right thing to do. She told me that she never thought we’d end up a statistic of childhood disease linked to chemical exposure. Could we all afford to wait until we all became a statistic? She said whatever it took she was going to do finish the film. And she did.”

Despite this tragedy, the story has a ending – another pregnancy, a new happy, healthy child, and a wonderful film that has helped and will continue to help and inspire people all over America and around the world to do the right thing.

Read the rest of Penelope’s story, see the film, and figure out if someone you know or know about should be nominated for the 2011 Mom on a Mission Award. Don’t delay – submission deadline is April 30, 2011.

Safe, Inexpensive Baby Gifts for the New Arrival

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Phthalates-Free Duckies

Did you know that toy sales in the U.S. a few years ago reached $22 billion! That’s in just one year. Wow. A huge industry. And, when you consider that kids used to go outside and climb trees for fun, it’s relatively new. But how many of those toys are made with potentially harmful chemical materials? Probably a pretty hefty portion.

If you’re looking for safe gifts for a new baby, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) staff recently added a baby to their extended family and they did a little research to find gifts for the new addition. Fortunately, they passed their research onto us. Talk about a time saver!

Here’s their list of suggestions, along with EWG’s special links, where you can get good deals, and have a portion of what you spend go to EWG to support what they’re doing – which is immensely helpful to parents and children everywhere. Check out these products:

Glass baby bottles

BPA-free baby bottles, in case you need to use plastic

A natural wood, unpainted rattle, which could do double duty as a teether

A cuter, safer, version of the traditional rubber duckie, phthalates free

Chlorine-free disposable diapers
or cloth diapers, something all new parents need

A wonderful Dr. Seuss board book to get an early start on teaching the baby the alphabet

Organic cotton onesies, cozy and safe, and also high on the list of required items

All of these gifts are something that parents really need and appreciate. None are expensive, and all are good for girls and boys!

If you’re looking for something a little more substantial, consider getting a Naturepedic organic crib mattress, a baby pillow, or bedding. All made with the healthiest, non-allergenic materials – no potentially toxic fumes off-gassing into the air the baby breathes. What parents wouldn’t appreciate that!?