Today’s illuminating article is written by health professional, Marissa Oachs, the 2nd in the series featured on Tiny Green Mom. Marissa offers an engaging commentary on what mothers need to know to make informed choices on common baby products. Another HUGE thanks to Marissa for providing this article for Tiny Green Mom’s readers! Please visit Marissa’s blog for more information:

What Every Mother Should Know…About the Products We Use on Our Children

So…last time I focused on the air our children are breathing in. This time I am going to focus on the products we use on our children, such as lotions, body wash, shampoo, massage oil, etc.

Our children are the most precious gifts in the world ever given to us and it is up to us to keep them safe and healthy! There are a lot of things we have to worry about as mothers, but we shouldn’t let what we put on their skin be one of them!

To help you understand the rest of this article, let’s start with listing the significant offenders that you should look for in the ingredients of your baby products:

Parabens (Propylparaben, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Butylparaben): These are used as preservatives in many of the baby products – lotions, washes, wipes, etc. They can cause allergic reactions, are irritating to skin/eyes, and have been shown to be harmful to human sperm. They are also a concern for reproductive problems and breast cancer. They are readily absorbed through the skin and have been detected in breast tissue and tumors.

1,4-dioxane: is harmful even in trace amounts. It is a byproduct of a chemical processing technique called ethoxylation used to make petroleum based cosmetic ingredients gentler to the skin.

Formaldehyde: this is a probable human carcinogen and is associated with gene damage, mutations, and developmental problems.

Benzethonium Chloride: This is used in some baby wipes and is highly TOXIC. Ingesting even a small amount may cause vomiting, collapse, convulsions, coma, or death

Benzyl Alcohol: moderately toxic if inhaled or absorbed through skin contact. It is a moderate skin and eye irritant and larger exposures can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory distress, and even death. It is found in some baby lotions and diaper rash cream.

PEGs: Polyethylene glycols should not be used on damaged skin due to concerns over kidney toxicity. It is also associated with cancer of the blood and lymph systems. PEGs are found in cleaning products and lotions.

Colorings: FD&C Yellow #5 is an allergen and has been associated with hyperactivity in children. It is added to some bubble baths and baby washes.

Fragrance: this is a catch all term that manufacturers can use without listing specific ingredients. Phthalates are often ingredients in fragrances. These include chemicals that are suspected carcinogens and hormone disruptors.

Here are some other ingredients of concern to keep an eye out for – talc, triethanolamine and cocamide DEA, Isopropanol, 2-phenoyxyethanol, glycerin, linoleic acid, cholecalciferol, 1,4-dioxane and triclosan.

Chemicals such as phthalates, parabens, and sodium lauryl sulfate, have turned up in shampoos, lotions, and body washes. These products may also contain harmful chemical by-products such as 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde, which the EPA classifies as probably carcinogens!

Here is another example – in a recent study involving infants and toddlers, 81% had signs of phthalates in their wet diapers after having had some type of personal care product applied to their skin. Some experts suggest that phthlates, which is also used as softeners in plastic toys and have recently been banned from children’s toys by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, can potentially have negative impacts on the respiratory system, liver, and kidneys!

Also, keep in mind while you read all these facts – a baby’s skin is five times thinner than an adults’, making it even easier for them to absorb all these harmful products! Plus, babies have a greater ratio of skin surface to body weight, so they have a harder time flushing the chemicals out of their systems!

It really hits home to me that this is serious when I see that other countries have banned them out of their products: Formaldehyde is banned from personal care products in Japan and Sweden and the European Union bans 1,4-dioxane from their personal care products at any level and have recalled products that contain the chemical. If other countries can do it, why aren’t we??!!

Here are some quick tips to fight these companies who are killing our children one bath at a time?

  1. Start to be choosy about what products you use. Read the labels on all the baby products you have in the house right now.
  2. Avoid or throw any products away that have any of the ingredients listed above.
  3. Simplify: Select products with fewer ingredients and no sythetic fragrance or dyes, and use fewer products overall
  4. Tell manufacturers that safety is important to you – write major companies that do include these harmful ingredients and tell them that safety for your children is important to you!
  5. Take action: Tell Congress you want safe cosmetics for babies, adults, and everyone in between.
  6. Buy the healthy alternatives. They may sometimes be a little more expensive, but keep in mind you will save money down the road by saving money in health and hospital bills

Marissa has listed some of her favorite alternative brands for different baby products below (some of which have also been featured on Tiny Green Mom!

  • Baby bath/wash: Shaklee, California Baby, Avalon Organics, Yes to Carrots
  • Baby oil/lotion/diaper rash ointment: Shaklee, Earth Mama Angel Baby
  • Baby shampoo/conditioner: Shaklee, Yes to Carrots, Aubrey Organics
  • Diapers: Earth’s Best, Seventh Generation, Tushies
  • Baby Wipes: Tushies, Seventh Generation, Earth’s Best

Please, for the safety of your children, the rest of your family, and the earth we live on, read the labels and choose wisely.