No one is perfect, and we can’t prevent exposure to every toxin out there. However, we can all do our part to reduce our babies’ exposure to harsh chemicals that could damage their health now and in the years to come. This can start as soon as you are pregnant, no need to wait until the baby is born to reduce the toxins in your home!
According to the Environmental Working Group (2005), newborns’ cord blood contains an average of 200 kinds of chemicals and pollutants! Baby’s first home is the womb. Moms-to-be can eat intelligently for two by choosing organic foods, grass-fed, antibiotic-free meats, filtering water, and avoiding pre-packaged junk foods. Toss the Teflon pots and pans and opt for enamel coated or cast iron. Additionally, expectant moms should avoid phthalate-ridden nail polish, perfumes, body washes, and lotions.
If you’re planning to breastfeed, continue to eat well and cook safely while doing so. Not only will your breast milk remain toxin-free, but it’s better for mom’s recovery and sets a good example for her child as he or she begins to try solids later.
Getting a nursery and layette ready? Don’t wait until the last minute. VOC (volatile organic compound) fumes from paint, out-gassing of carpets and furniture, chemical-laden clothing, and even chipping old lead paint can pose a risk to baby’s health. Use a lead test kit and select paints that are water-based, wash all new clothing and bedding, and allow several weeks of out-gassing time before baby is exposed.
Here are more easy things you can do to avoid toxins:
Have a cat? Don’t scoop the litterbox. This is not an old-wives tale. The bacteria can make your baby sick. Recruit another family member to take over this chore for a while.
Institute a no-clutter policy. Slimming down on “stuff” makes it easier to keep the important objects in your home clean.
Kick the chemical cleaner habit by investing in in cleaners that use natural products. Steer clear of anything that contains ammonia, chlorine, phosphate, and lye. Instead, try using the basic ingredients of baking soda, soap, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and lemon juice to make your own household cleaners. Directions can be found all over the internet. Additionally, investing in a vacuum with a HEPA filter can cut down on allergens.
Got bugs? Try repelling them in and around the home with peppermint essential oil and cedar chips. For your body, you may try citronella, which leave many unsatisfied, or select a stronger product containing soybean oil or lemon eucalyptus.
Toys and gear can harbor hidden toxins, such as PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Avoid toys with the #3 or PVC next to the recycling symbol. Choose toys that say “phthalate free.” You can recognize phthalate by its smell: like a new shower curtain. Watch out for pacifiers containing PVC. Lead is also of concern. Antique toys which have been painted, those manufactured in China or India, or any which have been recalled are usual suspects. Selecting wooden toys and plush organics are a better choice.
In the end, it’s all about reading the fine print and loving our kids. We can all do something.
Rose Hollo lives in the Midwest where she is a freelance writer and runs her business Everything’s Rosy Digital Marketing, http://www.everythingrosy.com and cares for her family including a husband, toddler daughter, and Thai exchange student.
Thanks to Ingrid Franz Moriarty for the amazing image on this blog post!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed by Rose Hollo and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Pregnancy Awareness Month (PAM) or any employee thereof. PAM is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by Rose Hollo. Consult with your own medical provider regarding your individual health questions or concerns.