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When I had Rocky I was at about a 3/10 on my self proclaimed ‘toxin-awareness’ scale. I purchased better nappies and baby wash, but that was the extent of my knowledge when it came to toxins lurking in baby care products. Fast forward 5 years and I only wish, as a first time parent, I had the knowledge back then that I have now. So here’s a list for you of the things to buy for your newborn that are ECO friendly, better for their little bodies, and better for the environment.
We will never ever be able to control all of the toxins, chemicals that are lurking around us. There are pollutants in the air outside, pesticides on the grass in the park, mercury in our fish, VOCs off-gassing from rugs, paint, and new furniture. The world is a toxic place. But one thing we CAN control is what we allow inside our homes. And I love to live by the motto “control what you can control” and don’t sweat about the rest.
As the gatekeepers of our home, we get to choose what enters these doors. And when gathering some supplies for your newest little bundle of joy, here are some swaps to consider:
If you think about the number of hours we spend sleeping, it amounts to over 1/3 of our entire life. And babies spend more time asleep than they do awake in the early months. Once we figured out some healthy sleep habits we transitioned both of our kids out of our beds and into their own cribs when they were ready. No shame if you choose to bed share, room share, or have baby in his/her room from day one. You’re all doing an amazing job and as long as everyone is safe, getting sleep, and waking up happy, then you do what works for you. BUT one thing worth considering is the surface your baby is sleeping on, wherever that might be. So getting started on your list of things to buy for your newborn.. let’s talk about mattresses.
What to look for in a good mattress?
There is some speculation that metal coils in your mattress can amplify electromagnetic radiation (EMR). This guest post in the Scientific American questioned the metal springs in our mattresses as a possible contributor to disease. Is this fact or fiction? I did a little digging and personally haven’t been able to find any science-backed studies. BUT there could be some validity to the claim. Many eco-friendly mattress brands have hopped on board the spring-free bandwagon and have slowly transitioned away from using metal coils in their mattresses.
If I were to purchase a new mattress tomorrow for myself or my kids.. I would personally avoid metal coils. But I’ll leave that one up to you.
Let’s next consider the materials used in the foam and mattress cover.
Most mattresses are made of some type of foam, usually polyurethane, which is a highly toxic foam made from petroleum and other undisclosed chemicals. The cover usually contains some hybrid of synthetic fibre, like polyester, and sometimes (especially in kids mattresses) a layer of vinyl. Most mattresses are also treated with flame retardants.
Have you ever gotten a new piece of furniture or rug and simply couldn’t stand the overbearing smell that filled your house? That’s called offgassing. And polyurethane is one of the materials renowned for the offgassing of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
This study examined infants exposure to VOCs from crib mattresses and they found that polyurethane foam was one of the worst culprits, and emissions were highest around the infant’s breathing area. So what are some safer alternatives?
The best option is a GOTS certified organic latex mattress. Pure natural latex doesn’t have fillers blending in or synthetic components. It’s simply natural foam rubber. Here are my top 3 recommendations:
2) Savvy Rest
Twenty five percent of the world’s pesticides and 10 percent of insecticides are used on cotton crops every year. Cotton is one of the most heavily treated crops in the world. In addition, petroleum scouring agents, softeners, brighteners, heavy metals, flame and soil retardants, ammonia and formaldehyde are used in the processing of cotton once it is harvested.
Your baby is so new. Their skin is thinner, more porous, and has a greater capacity for absorption. Less resistant to bacteria and harmful substances in the environment. It’s important that we protect their delicate skin at all costs.
So what is a safer alternative? — organic cotton.
I’ll be totally transparent with you guys, it wasn’t financially feasible for us to buy organic cotton 5 years ago. We’re all doing our best with the resources we have and I understand that better quality textiles often come at a price. BUT I can also assure you that they last longer and are 100% worth the investment. I would much rather my baby have a capsule wardrobe of 5-8 good quality organic pieces than an entire closet full of synthetic clothing they wear once or twice.
I remember being pregnant with Rocky sifting through lists of ‘must haves’ and ‘things to buy for your newborn’ on popular blog sites. All of the toys to stimulate development, to help with hand-eye coordination, that held promises of creating the next baby Einstein. My mum made a list of all of the top reviewed toys on amazon and sent a box over to Singapore.
He spent months with these toys in his mouth, licking and chewing (because that’s how babies explore their world). And I never thought twice about it. Almost all toys on the market are made from plastic. Why? Because it’s cheap. It doesn’t require any natural resources and can be produced in mass quantities at a mere fraction of the price that it’s sold for. The UN Environment Programme has just published a report that found 25% of children’s toys to be loaded with chemicals that are hazardous to their health. They found additives include plasticizers or softeners, flame retardants, surface-active substances, stabilizers, colorants and fragrances.
These chemicals have been linked to cancer and infertility. Full stop. Kids are expecially sensitive to chemical exposure due to their rapid metabolic rate, high surface-area-to-body-weight ratio, and fast growth of organs and tissues.
Some consider silicone a ‘better’ option to plastic. I’m 50/50 on this one. It’s relatively new to the market and there simply isn’t enough research out there…. yet. Some believe that silicone will be the plastic of the future, and in 5-10 years time the adverse health effects will come to light. Just knowing the way it’s made, similiarly to plastic, it’s hard to say if it’s a safer option. If you’re going to opt for silicone over plastic be mindful not to heat it or to be used in areas of high abraision (like teethers). When you’re considering things to buy for your newborn, the BEST alternative for toys and teethers is a natural, unprocessed wood or rubber. Natural rubber is made from the sap that comes from the hevea tree with no synthetic masking agents. There’s no BPA, PVC, parabens, or phthalates, it’s undyed and minimally processed.
This is one swap we were on board with since day 1. I knew about the chlorine bleaching of diapers and we tried our best to stick with cloth diapering. We lasted about 6 months until I couldn’t keep up with it anymore (huge kudos to you if you’re a cloth bum mama). When you’re writing your lists of things to buy for your newborn, and you’re looking for the absolute best of the best recommendations, look no further than Irina at ireadlabelsforyou blog. She’s complied a complete masterlist of diapers and wipes recommendations. She is the ultimate when it comes to label reading and non tox swaps. We’ve used a myriad of different diapers in the last 5 years some we love, some were so-so. But here are a few that made the cut.
– Eco Boom
Plastic has become so commonplace in the nursery because of its durability and price, and even though most plastic is labelled as ‘bpa free’ and hold other certifications claiming the safety ratings for baby; plastic is plastic. You can’t slap a sticker on a plastic bottle and call it glass. The method of production doesn’t change. It still contains plasticisers (BPA is the most well-known and the largest concern when it comes to plastic) that have been linked to endocrine disorders and even cancer. This article from the breast cancer foundation talks about some of the oestrogenic effects of BPA and how to take steps to avoid this compound.
Regulations in the EU have been cracking down on BPA for quite some time now. It’s been banned in EU baby bottles since 2011, and banned in US baby bottles since 2012. But the problem is, when making plastic you need a plasticiser. And if you remove BPA from the equation it means it’s been replaced by a similar (likely less researched) chemical. I can’t stress this enough, PLASTIC IS PLASTIC. And this is of even greater importance when it comes to surfaces that are being heated and prone to scratching and abrasion, like baby bottles.
What are the alternatives for bottles? Glass & stainless steel.
Here are some of the top recommendations
So there you have it. Five of the top things to buy for your newborn I WISH I would have chosen as a first time mum. But always remember, no matter what you have or what you do, you’re doing a great job as a parent.
And if you’re looking for safer alternatives for bath and body products for your little ones, make sure to checkout our master safe swap grocery list from iHerb!
xx The Well Fam
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