Archive for the ‘Non-Toxic Toys and Children’s Gifts’ Category

Which Chemicals Should You Avoid to Prevent Behavioral and Learning Problems?

Monday, September 27th, 2010


Are food additives making your child sick?

As you may be aware from some of our other blogs or research you’ve done, several studies have shown links to exposure to toxic chemicals and the symptoms known as ADD, ADHD, autism and hyperactivity in kids. Unfortunately, the chemicals in question are not esoteric – they aren’t the kind of chemicals you’re only exposed to if you work in certain industrial environments, for example. They are chemicals our kids come into contact with every day – in fact, they eat them, play with them, sleep in them, are dressed in them and, in many cases, are actually born with them in their body.

ADHD and the other symptoms I’ve mentioned are perhaps not the only side effects of toxic chemicals, but they do present a special set of difficulties. These include low self-esteem, nervousness, being disruptive or aggressive with others, and even reading and comprehension problems. These difficulties can really disrupt the lives of those involved and make it very difficult for kids to have a happy childhood.

Also, if your kids do have these symptoms, they may be exposed to even more toxic chemicals – drugs – which may bring on a whole new set of symptoms.

What can you do in addition to avoiding toxic chemicals in crib mattresses, kids toys, clothes, and the home environment?

Eat organically grown foods, including meat from animals grown without antibiotics or hormones, reduce sugar intake and make sure your kids are getting a balanced diet with eggs for breakfast instead of frosted cereals, and really watch out for food additives as covered in the Feingold Diet.

The Feingold Diet consists of a list of artificial colorings, flavorings, preservatives and other food and packaging additives that have specifically been determined to cause the symptoms you want to avoid. Some of these chemicals are even disguised, on the labels, as things that sound good for us. The term ‘anti-oxidants’, for example, which also includes healthy substances like Vitamins C and E and Essential Fatty Acids, can sometimes be used to describe chemicals that prevent the fats in food from ‘oxidizing’ – meaning ‘becoming rancid’. This is a far cry from the role nutritional anti-oxidants play.

In addition to ingesting, absorbing and inhaling untold amounts of chemicals over the last few decades – things we rarely had to contend with in earlier times – food additives have become part and parcel of our everyday diets. Here’s a sampling of Feingold’s take on the differences between what our kids ate in the 1940’s, compared to the present:

In the 1940s kids brushed their teeth with white toothpaste, ate oatmeal, corn flakes or toast and butter with jam for breakfast. Now they brush with multi-colored toothpastes (attained with the use of food colorings), instant oatmeal with additives that can even make the oatmeal turn blue when milk is added, colored cereals and pop tarts. All made with artificial flavoring and coloring. Even cocoa with whipped cream isn’t safe – today it’s topped with Cool Whip.

Is it any wonder that so many kids are having trouble?

If you want your kids to sleep easy and grow up happy and healthy, start with avoiding chemicals and eating well yourself (the chemicals can pass from parent to unborn child), green your nursery with non-toxic materials and a crib mattress that’s certified as not emitting harmful chemical gases, and eliminate food additives as recommended by Feingold Diet. All the info you need is on the Feingold site, including the research.

More Toxic Chemicals Your Baby Can Do Without

Monday, September 13th, 2010


We live busy lives. Moms and Dads are often out to work, even when children are very young. Of course, we look for time-saving products and conveniences – one of which is the disposable diaper. They work, but are they a healthy option?

In case you haven’t looked into it, here are the facts:

Many disposable diapers are bleached white with chlorine. A by-product of the bleaching process, when chlorine is used, is a very nasty chemical known as dioxin.

Continuous exposure to dioxin, with one disposable diaper after another being used for about a year, causes the dioxin to accumulate in the baby’s body.

The Environmental Protection Agency says dioxin is highly carcinogenic and, per the World Health Organization, it may cause skin reactions, altered reproductive and liver function, and damage to the immune system, nervous system and endocrine system.

That’s definitely serious enough to warrant considering other options, but dioxin is only one chemical on the list of those contained in disposable diapers.

For a more complete list of these chemicals, read Chemicals in Disposable Diapers.

Environmentally speaking, disposable diapers are also a problem: About 92% end up in landfills. Estimate for decomposition? 200 to 500 years.

Cotton diapers, on the other hand, are safe, and after about 150 washes, become cleaning cloths. They take a little more effort, but your baby is safe. If you don’t have time for the extra laundry, you might consider a diaper service. They pick them up and drop them off. Just make sure you use a company that cleans the diapers with non-toxic laundry products.

Our Naturepedic crib mattresses help your kids sleep in a healthy environment. Switching to cotton diapers is a fairly easy transition to make to give your kids an even healthier start in life!

Safe Alternatives for Cribs and Other Baby Furniture

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010


toxic chemicals in plywoodIf you’re concerned about the materials used in your child’s crib mattress, you should also have a very close look at the toxic chemical content of cribs, dressers, changing tables, and even outdoor furniture and decking. Fortunately, there are easy alternatives to using these chemicals, including building materials that may have fallen under your radar.

What toxic chemicals do you have to worry about in furniture? One of the primary offenders is formaldehyde.

Plywoods and particleboard, which are often included in furniture even if they don’t comprise the entire structure, are glued together with formaldehyde-based resins or urea-formaldehyde (UF) glue.

Formaldehyde, which off-gasses for years into the air you and your children breath, has been classified by the EPA as a probable carcinogen.

Healthy Child Healthy World recently published a list of alternatives:

Certified-sustainable hardwood cabinets and furniture utilizing traditional joinery and stainless steel drawer bottoms, salvaged wood, UF-free fiberboard, or baked-enamel metal, which emit less chemical vapor into the air. Or, reject permanent cabinetry altogether, and use freestanding hardwood tables, shelves and hooks.

Formaldehyde-free medium density fiberboard (MDF) in place of plywood for outdoor areas. Fiberboard can be made from recycled wood, paper or plant fiber waste, which is compressed and molded into boards without adhesives.

Look for an “exterior glue” stamp on regular plywood, which means it contains phenol formaldehyde (PF) resin, which off-gasses at a much slower rate than UF glues.

If particleboard can’t be avoided, finish with a low-toxicity sealant (latex paint won’t seal in vapors).

With the demand for toxic-chemical-free homes, and in the environment, these materials are becoming more available even in regular stores – especially the wood. If you’re having trouble finding a sealant, Debra Lynn Dadd, the Queen of Green, recommends Safe Seal made by AFM Safecoat. Also, for an excellent in-depth discussion with Debra and her readers about non-toxic baby cribs and where to get them, check Non-Toxic Baby Cribs.

Just think how wonderful it would be to not have to worry about you and the kids breathing formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals! You can rest easy.

Are Your Kids’ Back-to-School Supplies Made with Toxic Chemicals? Read This Before You Shop.

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010


Back to school shopping can be expensive: The average American family spends $606 per child every year. Of course, we don’t mind spending the money on our kids and it can be a lot of fun. But when you consider how many of the school supplies we purchase are made with toxic chemicals, it can take the joy right out of it and make you feel like you’re throwing good money after bad. Do we have alternatives? Absolutely.

For the third year in a row, the Center for Health, Environment and Justice has published their Back to School Guide for PVC-Free School Supplies. This year’s guide covers over 30 categories of products, everything from art supplies, paper clips and backpacks to food wrap and lunch boxes.

Using this guide could help you avoid exposing your children to lead, cadmium, phthalates and other harmful chemicals. Products containing these chemicals can emit harmful fumes into the air that can seriously affect undeveloped bodies.

The guide also offers a lot more information, including how to identify PVC, how to avoid it, a list of product categories that can be harmful and a list of retailers and manufacturers who sell PVC-free products, including the specifics on which ones they sell. A wealth of information.

Some of the suppliers are mainstream – smart retailers are jumping on the bandwagon – so shopping at Staples, Office Depot, Wal-Mart, Target, Office Max and so on is not out of the question. The Guide tells you exactly what products you can buy in which store.

The Guide also has listings for things like eyeglasses, clothing, wristwatches, cell phones and computers. You might be surprised at how many companies are now manufacturing PVC-free products!

Download and checkout the Guide before you go shopping.

By the way, if you’re also looking to save a little money on school supplies, remember that several States have tax-free days this time of year. The goods that are exempt include clothing, shoes, school supplies and more. You can check your State here, or ask the stores. One way or another, they always have good sales this time of year. Maybe you can get some great, healthy products for your kids and save money!

How the Chemicals in Your Life Are Affecting Your Unborn Children

Sunday, May 30th, 2010


eliminate toxic chemicals if you're pregnantIf you’ve been reading our blog, or keeping up with news items (including a piece on 60 Minutes that aired just a week ago), you will know that many of the items in our everyday lives contain potentially harmful chemicals. This is even more of a problem for kids than adults, because kids’ bodies are still developing. But the problem starts long before the kids are born. In fact, it’s immediately after conception. Check out this resource that shows you exactly when and in what part of the body chemicals affect your unborn child.

The resource is a chart on the website of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX). TEDX is a non-profit organization that studies the effects of low-dose exposure to endocrine disruptors, chemicals that effect fetal development and human health. These chemicals include, but are not limited to, bisphenol A (BPA), dioxin, and phthalates.

The chart is called Critical Windows of Development. It lists the various systems, organs and so on within the body and shows the stages of development during each weeks and trimesters in the womb. On the upper right of the chart, it shows checkboxes for ‘All Chemicals’, ‘Bisphenol A’, ‘Dioxin’, and ‘Phthalates’. Check ‘Phthalates’, for example, and red lines appear on the chart that show you which systems they affect, and at what period of pregnancy.

There are also little triangles on the chart that provide the names of studies that support the information.

One thing is clear: If we want to give our kids the best chance at being healthy as children and throughout their lives, expectant Mothers need to be free of these chemicals.

Pass this on to anyone you know who is pregnant, or may be in the future, so they can start doing something about it now.

What do they do about it? Eliminate the chemicals from their lives as much as possible. Many of our blog posts show you how to do that, and Debra Lynn Dadd’s book Home Safe Home has a wealth of information on what chemicals are in what products and suggestions on healthy alternatives. But, basically, just go organic, go toxin-free.

And once your baby is born, make sure you continue your toxic-free life. Get the baby a safe crib and baby crib mattress, made with non-toxic materials, swaddle them in organic cotton, feed them organic food, get them glass baby bottles and diapers and toys that are not made of harmful plastics or other potentially harmful chemicals.