Unfortunately not all products marketed for children and babies are completely safe for their use. Many may contain toxic chemicals that may have detrimental health impacts for children exposed during critical stages of development.
Toxic flame retardants (or PBDEs) are set of chemicals used to slow the spread of fire in a wide set of consumer products. Levels of these chemicals found in the breast milk of American women and some fetuses are approaching levels shown to impair learning and cause behavior problems in lab mice.
Phthalates are a family of chemicals used in many plastic children’s products to improve flexibility. Adults and children are exposed to phthalates through everyday contact with these products. These chemicals have been linked to premature birth, reproductive defects, and early onset puberty.
Many Baby Products Tested Contain Toxic Chemicals
When seven infant sleep aids and other products were tested for toxic flame retardants three of those tested positive for PBDEs in the foam material. The tests found multiple PBDEs in the foam of: First Year’s Air Flow Sleep Positioner, the Leachco Sleep n’ Secure 3-in-1 Infant Sleep Positioner, and the PeeWees Disposable Crib Mattress Pads.
When 18 bath books, teethers, bath toys, and others were tested for phthalates, 15 of these tested positive for phthalates.
These tests show that some baby products may in fact contain toxic chemicals. Unfortunately, since manufacturers are not required to label their products for these chemicals, parents have no way of knowing whether or not a product poses a hidden hazard.
In the absence of good government regulations, but armed with the knowledge that some chemicals are a cause for concern, parents can take a few simple steps to limit their child’s exposure to these.
At the store, parents should select toys, baby dishware, and sleep aids made of materials that are less likely to contain toxic chemicals.
At home, parents should avoid washing plastic dishware with harsh dishwashing soap and hot water, which may allow chemicals to leach out of the plastic.
Products to avoid:
- Food containers with polycarbonate or PVC plastic
- Canned foods
- Foods wrapped in plastic
- Polycarbonate plastic baby bottles
Choosing safer products:
- Look for PVC Free labels on toys
- Choose wood toys
- Opt for glass: for baby bottles, and food containers
- Use ceramic, metal, or enamel plates and utensils
If you use plastic products:
- Don’t let children put plastic toys in their mouths
- Never heat food or beverages in plasic containers
- Don’t let milk sit in plastic baby bottles for long periods
- Don’t use harsh detergents or very hot water when washing plastic baby bottles. Never put in dishwasher.
- Throw away plastic bottles that look scratched or hazy
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