Potentially toxic baby products and alternatives you can try
By Nadine Akra
Babies are synonymous with purity. So when parents are inundated with the long list of chemical-laden ingredients in typical baby products, they worry. We asked local moms to weigh in on the diaper, bottle and baby food debate to see what alternatives they pursued as new parents.
Organic cloth diapers v. disposable diapers
As the diaper debate continues, we set out to see for ourselves what the advantages of using alternatives to disposable diapers were. What we found is that although both cloth and disposable diapers are acceptable for your baby’s bum, the former are better for the environment and contain less harsh chemicals and dyes. Some mothers claim that cloth is more comfortable for babies because of the softer fabric rather than plastic on their sensitive skin. However, disposable diapers are more convenient in that they do not need washed and dried constantly.
The Little Seedling, a local baby boutique, started because of one mom’s desire to provide cloth diapers for babies. Molly Ging, owner of the boutique, wanted to show parents that using cloth diapers is better for the environment, babies and wallet. “When I started, most people had never seen cloth diapers, but we’re finding more and more people who want to,” Ging said. “People don’t think about everything it takes to make a disposable diaper, they only think about what it takes to wash a cloth diaper.” Events like The Great Cloth Diaper Change, which takes place in April, gives parents the opportunity to see healthy alternatives to disposable diapers. Over a 24-hour span, locations across the world try and change as many cloth diapers as possible to put a fun twist on their advocacy.
Where to get it:
The Little Seedling, 355 S. Zeeb Rd., Ann Arbor, 734-418-2392, www.thelittleseedling.com/store
Elephant Ears, 415 N. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor,
Squishy Tushy, 103 S. Lane St., Blissfield,
(Instruction available by appointment.)
Homemade/organic baby food v. processed baby food
Parents are becoming increasingly aware of the processed foods in their own diets for health reasons and the same should be considered for babies. Processed foods are often filled with added sugars, preservatives and other ingredients that can be avoided by providing homemade and organic diets for babies. Using all-natural ingredients has health advantages including eliminating additives, having more control over food choice and lowering food expense. “Natural v. processed is an important distinction when choosing baby food,” said Molly Ging, owner of The Little Seedling. “However, I don’t feel that you need to make everything in your baby’s life organic. If you try to limit the amount of processed foods your children eat, that’s always going to be better.”
Parents who prefer to buy organic food can find them at local markets and homemade baby food recipes are available online on websites such as www.wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com and www.nurturebaby.com.
Where to get it:
Arbor Farms Market, 2103 W. Stadium, Ann Arbor, 734-996-8111, www.arborfarms.com
The Little Seedling, 355 S. Zeeb Rd., Ann Arbor, 734-418-2392, www.thelittleseedling.com
Whole Foods Market, 3135 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, 734-975-4500, www.wholefoodsmarket.com
Glass bottles v. plastic bottles
There is no question that plastic bottles are more likely to survive a baby temper tantrum than glass, but there are other areas of concern when deciding what’s better for your baby. Research suggests that plastic bottles release a chemical, bisphenol-A (BPA), which is linked to some types of cancer and other diseases. Additionally, the dispensation of the chemical is significantly increased when the plastic bottle is heated in the microwave. Parents and companies alike are becoming aware of the health risks and are turning to glass bottles that are free of harmful chemicals. To make glass bottles more practical, manufacturers are including silicone sleeves to help protect them when dropped or thrown. Also, companies are committing to the production of BPA-free plastic bottles, which is a win-win situation for parents and businesses.
Where to get it:
Life Factory glass bottle with silicone sleeve,
prices vary Inno Baby Nursin’SMART-Silicone bottle, $20
415 N. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor, 734-622-9580, www.elephantears.com
Life Factory glass bottles with silicone sleeve, prices vary Squishy Tushy, 103 S. Lane St., Blissfield, 517-682-0935, www.squishytushy.com
Dr. Brown’s 8 oz. glass baby bottles (2 pack) The Glass Baby Bottle, 307-224-4992, www.theglassbabybottle.com
Organic and natural cloth clothing v. chemically treated clothing
One if the most exciting experiences for expecting mothers is picking out adorable outfits for their newborns. But parents should be aware of the clothing that is coming in contact with your baby’s skin. Purchasing natural cloth clothing can reduce the amount of exposure to irritating chemicals such as dyes and fire retardants. The good news is your baby’s fashion sense need not worry, because local businesses like Palumba, My Urban Toddler and Maggie’s Functional Organics sell natural cloth baby clothing that will put your health concerns to rest while babies still look picture perfect.
Denise Ruffing of Maggie’s Organics emphasized the importance of using organic fibers in their products, saying that their production of clothing is based on the idea that is should be “comfortable, durable and affordable,” while respecting the environment and its resources. Their baby socks and bodysuits satisfy both moms and babies due to the comfort and “cuteness” offered to customers.
Where to get it:
Palumba, 221 Felch St., #2C,
Ann Arbor, 734-995-5414,
Maggie’s Functional Organics,
online and sold in various locations,
My Urban Toddler,
7025 E. Michigan Ave.,
As with any decision regarding your child, make sure to contact your physician with any concerns or questions.