In honor of National Baby Safety Month, pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene shares three ways to keep your baby safe from common but unseen chemicals and household toxins.
There are about 80,000 chemicals in the marketplace today -- more than enough to make parents who are concerned about chemicals pull out their hair. Simplify and pay attention to just three ways your child might be exposed.
1. What goes in the mouth.
Choose clean food and drinks, and pay special attention to the plastics that go in the mouth, especially those used to store, heat, or serve food and drinks. Chemicals in the plastics can leach out and enter your child. Notice the recycling symbols on the bottoms of many plastics. Opt for symbols 1, 2, 4, or 5. Or choose brands like BornFree, where the entire line of toddler sippy cups, pacifiers, baby bottles, and plastic water bottles are free from BPA, phthalates, and PVC. Or skip plastic, and go with something like glass or stainless steel.
2. What goes on the skin.
Chemicals in lotions and creams can be absorbed through the skin. We read the ingredients on food; it's time to learn to read ingredient lists on skin products as well, and choose those you trust. Sunscreen is a great place to start. I prefer sunscreens that rely on minerals, like zinc or titanium, rather than relying on chemicals that might act as hormones in the body.
3. What goes in the nose.
Clean air may seem overwhelming. After all, you don't have much control over other people's exhaust pipes and smokestacks. But the air that matters most is the air in your own home, where your child sleeps at night. Indoor air is usually more polluted than outdoor air, so you can often make a big difference just by opening the windows. Replace cleaning products that have harsh fumes or artificial fragrances (anything that says, "Use in a Well-Ventilated Space" probably isn't good for your child). And you might consider houseplants or an air filter to help clean your air.