Choose Healthier Alternatives for Taking Care of Babies

Have you ever gone to a baby shower? Everyone loads up the expectant mother with all of the newest and latest baby gear.

Have you ever sat in a new car? You know that “new car smell?” That is an example of off-gassing from vinyl and plastic products. So is that film that magically appears on the windshield of a new car every few weeks.

All new plastic, vinyl, varnished, synthetic materials emit gas, including new baby items.

Did you get a new crib and mattress? What is in that mattress? Fire-retardant chemicals. Be careful of pajamas, too. Many also contain fire-retardant chemicals.

Are you nursing naturally or buying formula? What kind of formula? Does it contain soy? Are you using tap water or filtered water in your formula? Are you microwaving the formula to heat it up? Are you using plastic bottles to feed the baby? New government regulations require biphenyl A-free plastic in baby bottles but what else is in that plastic that we don’t know about?

What about the paint in the baby’s room? Is it low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds)? Is there wallpaper or new carpet in the room? What about electronics? They can create electromagnetic fields.

How about what we put on our babies? There is a huge market in baby skin care products. Baby shampoo, lotion, diaper rash cream — the list goes on and on. Do babies really need all of these products? The answer is no.

Most of these products contain chemicals and toxins and can be absorbed through the skin. Babies have about double the skin surface per body weight as adults, which means they can absorb a higher ratio of chemicals through the skin. Most baby skin care products are completely unnecessary.

The few that may be necessary from time to time can easily be made with natural ingredients or more natural commercially made products can be purchased.

Our pediatrician recommended we steer clear of diaper cream and use petroleum jelly. Now I know petroleum products may not be good for us. There is a risk of PAHs or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are cancer-causing chemicals found in crude oil and its byproducts.

While there are no studies linking cancer to petroleum products, I think it is better to err on the side of caution, especially when there are natural alternatives available.

How about diapers — disposable or cloth? And diaper wipes are something most of us don’t even think about. These have ingredients that we may not want our baby’s skin. Not only are we wiping these across our child’s skin several times a day, but it’s also remaining on the child’s skin until with bathe them.

This means ingredients are on our baby’s skin almost constantly until they are out of diapers. The same pediatrician recommended that we use water and cloths for the first few weeks of our son’s life. When a mainstream pediatrician is making that recommendation, it makes me think wipes perhaps aren’t as harmless as we think.

Think about your cleaning products. Spray chemicals become airborne and we breathe them in. Did you know babies breathe more air per body weight than adults do? That can increase their exposure to airborne toxins. There are natural alternatives to every cleaning product you are using today.

Be careful about baby’s laundry, too. I am not a fan of conventional baby detergent. How dirty are your baby’s clothes? Use natural laundry only when necessary and skip the fabric softener, which leaves residue and chemical fragrance on clothes.

Vaccinations are another concern for many parents. There has been a lot of news about inoculations in the news in the last few years.

Be aware the vaccination protocol has changed since we were children. In the 1970s, children received 23 doses of seven vaccines by age 6. Today’s 6-year-olds may have received 48 doses of 14 different vaccines, up to eight on a single day.

In the 1970s, the first vaccine was administered at two months old; today it is at 12 hours old. Many health care professionals are concerned about the general public educating themselves about vaccines; however it is your responsibility and right as a parent to do some research and make the most informed decision for your child.

Which first foods are you going to feed your baby? Is it going to be organic? Are you going to start with rice cereal? You might be thinking: Isn’t that what everyone starts feeding their baby? Well, actually no.

Rice cereal is a processed refined carbohydrate. Before processed food and commercial baby food, people fed babies the same type of food they were cooking for the rest of the family. Many parents are returning to this traditional way of feeding baby.

Will you cook your baby’s food in non-stick cookware? Not a good idea.

Are you going to warm your baby’s food in the microwave? Consider the word “microwave” — micro means small, “waves” of what? Radiation. I don’t think radiating our food is a good idea.

We are learning that even after delivery, there are many challenges to keeping our babies safe that continue through infancy into the toddler stage and on through childhood.

These issues are most important for our children, especially babies. Their immune and central nervous systems are immature and vulnerable to exposure from chemicals. Their bodies are not as capable of eliminating toxins. Their brains and bodies are still developing and we don’t know what exposure to these things can mean for their long-term development.

We all know having a baby is a big responsibility and adding this list of items can seem overwhelming.

Just realize that most of these items are choices — choosing a healthier alternative over a conventional one. Once you understand the risks, you are better equipped to make the right choices for you and your little one.

 

Originally published in The News Herald column Food for Thought by Theresa Edmunds.

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