As a teenager I babysat all the time. I bathed kiddos in bubble bath with tear-free shampoo, smeared the matching lotion on, added some diaper cream or baby powder, wrapped them in a diaper and thought I had done a good thing. After all, the kids were clean, they smelled good and the parents were happy… right? I have learned so much since then. Now I cringe when I see the “baby care” products being given to mommies-to-be. I want to say, “NO! Don’t put those toxic chemicals on your baby!” None of us would intentionally poison our babies, but we’ve been deceived about what is “safe”. The FDA is touted as our protector. They are supposed to keep us from being harmed by the foods we eat, the drugs we take and the products we use… they don’t. We have trusted them to only allow “safe” baby products on the market, but take a look at the most popular baby-care brand out there…
- Johnson’s baby shampoo has this ingredients list: Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, PEG-150 Distearate, Fragrance, Polyquaternium-10, Tetrasodium EDTA, Quaternium-15, Citric Acid, Yellow 10 and Orange 4. May also contain: Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide.
- The lotion: Water, Propylene Glycol, Myristyl Myristate, Glyceryl Stearate, Oleic Acid, Stearic Acid, Polysorbate 61, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Dimethicone, Isopropyl Palmitate, Sorbitan Stearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Synthetic Beeswax (synthetic beeswax? Really?!), Stearyl Alcohol, Benzyl Alcohol, Carbomer, Fragrance, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, BHT, Sodium Hydroxide, Red 33
- The bath oil: Mineral Oil (okay, whose idea was it to take the useless byproduct of distilling crude oil into gasoline and putting it on our babies?!) and Fragrance
- The baby powder: Talc, Fragrance
What most of us don’t know (and I didn’t know until a few years ago) is that most of these chemicals soak into the skin and enter the bloodstream. From there, they have free access to the entire body. The brain of a baby who has been soaked and slathered in this stuff isn’t somehow protected from the toxicity of the chemicals just because we haven’t directly placed the chemicals in his brain. This is why birth control patches work. Think about that. You put a small patch on your skin that leaches chemicals into your bloodstream, which carries the chemicals to your reproductive organs and prevents them from functioning properly. The same principle applies to nicotine patches and other medications that we apply to our skin. It soaks in. So do the chemicals in everything else we apply.
Back to the baby products. What do those specific chemicals do to babies? The answer is scarier than you might think: they don’t know!
“For 80 percent of the common chemicals in everyday use in this country we know almost nothing about whether or not they can damage the brains of children, the immune system, the reproductive system, and the other developing organs,” said Dr. Phil Landrigan, a pediatrician and director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Most products are declared “safe” only because there has not been conclusive evidence that they cause harm. Few have actually been studied at all. The FDA only gets involved in cosmetics/personal care products if the product is proven to be mislabeled or somehow contaminated. Many of these chemicals build up in the body and harm is not apparent until the product has been used for an extended period of time. In fact, newborn babies have around 300 chemicals in them just from what their moms have been exposed to. (http://www.ewg.org/featured/727)
The specific ingredients above are far from “safe”. For example, methylparabens applied on the skin may react with UVB (from the sun) leading to increased DNA damage. All parabens have a mild estrogenetic effect, but if you’re applying many products full of parabens, the cumulative effect is unknown. There have been elevated levels of parabens found in breast cancer tumors… hmmmm. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12419695) PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate has known immunotoxicity. You can look up all of the listed ingredients MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) for more information.
Apart from the reported ingredients, unreported toxic petrochemicals such as formaldehyde have been found in many baby care products, including Johnson’s shampoo. (http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-03-12-formaldehyde_N.htm) Also, companies can use the word “fragrance” on the label for any number of toxic chemicals. Most perfumes cause harm to the body, but there is no real regulation on the safety of anything under the protective “fragrance” label. That includes the stinky stuff in the baby care aisle.
I suggest you do some research on your own about the supposed “safety” of the baby care products we’ve been trusting with our children’s health, then choose one of the three options…
- Considering the vast number of petroleum-based byproducts on the ingredients list above, you could save time and money by simply dipping your baby in a tub of petroleum every day… (*see note)
- Or you could spend huge amounts of money on tiny amounts of non-toxic baby stuff, which I did with our eldest…
- OR, you could join me for some fun the next two months while I try out non-toxic, budget-friendly baby care recipes in preparation for our new little one coming in November!
*Note: My hubby insists that I point out the obvious: I’m being facetious. PLEASE do NOT dip your baby in petroleum!
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