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Monday, August 10, 2009

Safer Kids Products

Like any mom, I have always been especially careful (and I'll admit sometimes a bit paranoid) about what I feed my daughter, or what toys she gets to play with. I breastfed, made home made purees, kept harsh chemicals to a minimum, and put all my plants outside. I read reviews for 3 months before picking out the baby gear I finally settled on. I checked all the safety standards of everything that has ever affected her existence in any way (including reading up on keeping my cats). The only thing I didn't do, was think twice about what I put on her.

Before I had Addie, I went out and bought a huge bottle of Johnson's & Johnson's Night Time bath soap and lotion, just because I have always loved the smell of it. Despite blowing off everyone's advice (do you notice a pattern here??) about not using too many products on baby's skin and slathering her with lotion after a "smell-good" bath every night, she had amazingly clear, smooth skin for the first two months. I thought I was in the clear, and basically told everyone I knew that they were full of it. Boy was I wrong.

Addie soon came down with a pretty bad case of infant eczema (also called atopic dermatitis), which causes a dry, itchy, red rash, usually on the face, arms, and legs, but can appear anywhere on the body. It can be the result of an allergic reaction (even though it is not a direct symptom of an allergy), or it can be aggravated by the heat or irritants that come in contact with the skin, such as itchy fabrics, or chemicals in lotions, soaps, and detergents *.

When I learned this, I started looking into every product I used, trying to find out what we could do better. Let me tell you, most of you would probably be surprised at what is in our baby products.

More than half of the soaps and lotions on the market for babies today have been found to contain traces of two chemicals. 1,4-dioxane or formaldehyde, or both have been found in some of the biggest names out there, claiming to be "gentle" and "pure". These chemicals, according to the EPA, are characterized as carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals) **. Now, I know what some of you are going to do, you're going to go pick up that bottle of baby shampoo and start reading the label, right? Don't bother. These chemicals aren't intentionally put into the products, and aren't listed as ingredients. They are apparently by-products of the manufacturing process, created when the chemicals break down over time, or when two chemicals combine.

To make matters worse, the laws governing chemicals in products (The Toxic Substances Control Act) only helps to keep tabs on new chemicals. There are thousands of chemicals already in products that do not need to be tested. This just doesn't cut it, if you ask me, and since you're reading my blog, let's assume you did ask me.

I must say that the idea of bathing my daughter every night in a bath full of toxic chemicals, no matter if it's a safe amount or not, has lead me to pay a bit more attention to what products I buy to put on my daughter, as well as in her. I have just become so passionate about this, and I feel that, while maybe every parent won't feel as strongly about this issue as I do, we all at least deserve to know. For those of you that now want to do something, you can visit the Parent's Magazine website and fill out a form letter to send to your senators and congressmen to let them know that the Kid Safe Chemical Act (being reintroduced this summer) is important to you, too.




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