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How Toxic Is Your Teether?

10 unexpected dangers for babies

We’re thrilled to have Christopher Gavigan on board as our new Eco Expert, advising us healthy, sustainable living. To celebrate, and in the spirit of Baby Safety Month, we’ve asked the former CEO of Healthy Child, Healthy World (and co-founder of The Honest Company) to reveal the unexpected dangers hidden in things many of us probably consider harmless.

1. Nursing pillow. “I’m a breast-feeding advocate, but those supportive pillows that help position your baby? Not so much. While many manufacturers have started changing their practices, up until now most of that inner foam was required to be treated with toxic flame retardants and filled with polyurethane foam (essential solid gasoline).”

2. Canned formula. “When nursing isn’t an option, formula may be the go-to choice, but buyer beware: formula cans are typically lined with BPA. Opt for dry powdered formula that doesn’t absorb as much BPA, and look for BPA-free cans.”

3. Rubber ducky.
“Everyone agrees this little yellow fellow makes bath time more fun. Just be sure to look for versions that are PVC-free to avoid exposure to lead, phthalates, and other unwelcome unmentionables.”

4. Teething toys. “The handy, squishy soothers can be a real sanity saver, but many are made with PVC plastic. Choose teethers made of natural materials like solid hardwoods, organic cotton, or silicone.”

5. Keys. “Along the same lines, keys may be a convenient emergency distraction or teether, however they often contain lead and other heavy metals in their alloys.”

6. Baby powder/talc. “Your mom may have rolled you in it like she was flouring dough, but when inhaled, talc can irritate lungs—or worse, if toxic chemicals or traces of asbestos are present.”

7. Crib mattress. “Your baby will be nestling her precious little nose into her bed for up to 18 hours a day (if you’re lucky). Make sure the mattress is made of natural materials or cover it with something like a food-grade PET wrap (created for little ones with allergies) to at least help keep dust and off-gassing encased.”

8. A sterile environment. “New parents get a natural urge to clean, clean, clean. Remember those antibacterial cleaners can pose their own unnecessary health risks, though. Regular soap and water is generally sufficient for cleaning hands and most surfaces.”

9. Age-appropriate toys.
“Just because a manufacturer says a toy is safe (i.e., marketed as “6 months and up”) doesn’t necessarily mean it’s okay for a baby to play with it unsupervised. I guard vigilantly against my babies and kids putting toys in their mouths; paints and plastics can be worrisome, amongst other concerns.”

10. Grandma’s heirloom quilt. “It may go without saying, but make sure to give it a good laundering (using natural/non-toxic detergent, of course) before using it with baby—even if it’s been carefully stored in a chest or drawer. Dust mites, moth balls, and the like are not appropriate for swaddling your sweetie.”