Taylor Hanson said, “Having a baby is a life-changer. It gives you a whole other perspective on why you wake up every day.” I’m sure that as a parent, you agree with this statement 100%! However you were leading your life earlier, once you become a parent, your priorities change. You start looking into every detail of every aspect of raising your baby with eagle eyes. After all, you won’t risk anything when it comes to the apple of your eye!
That is exactly why we began using organic products in our home, and started the organic range at Little Moppet Foods too. I know many of you have done the same. We take the utmost care about every ingredient that goes into our baby’s food. We sterilize utensils, wash our hands, use sanitizers and what not!
All this is very good, but this only deals with what goes inside our babies. What about what we apply on the outside? Yes, we’re talking about the much-used baby soap, talc, shampoo and similar products. We often tend to trust a certain brand blindly, usually going by the ones our parents used or the ones with the best ads. We don’t generally bother to read the label or find out the ingredients that go into these products. But in the process, we may actually be causing our little ones a lot of harm.
Are your Baby Products Safe?
You’re probably wondering how reputed brands that manufacture products exclusively for babies can have toxins in them, right? Unfortunately, it’s the truth. A group named Campaign for Safe Cosmetics conducted a study on personal care products and found that more than half of soaps, shampoos, lotions etc. meant for children were found to contain 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde, probable carcinogens. These are products banned by the European Union as well as in Japan and Sweden.
However, there are no such regulations in India, due to which nearly all baby products you see on shelves today contain a terrifying amount of harmful chemicals. But for a person like you and me, decoding the ingredient labels on baby products can be a difficult task and not always practical when you’re a busy Mom. But this quick guide here will help us understand what some common ingredients actually mean.
Common Toxins in Baby Products
Parabens are among the most commonly seen ingredient on personal products across the world. They work as preservatives and can be found in soaps, baby shampoos and lotions. However, they are neurotoxins, linked to tumors in the breast, reproductive problems, hormonal imbalances and skin trouble.
PEG refers to poly ethylene glycols, a family of chemicals that are derived from petroleum. It is found across lotions, creams and shampoos and is highly carcinogenic. PEG tends to reduce the skin’s natural moisture, making it age faster and leaving it vulnerable to infection.
3. Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
This is another common chemical in most ingredient lists of baby care products. SLES is responsible for that delightful foam and is essentially a detergent. SLES or its variant, SLS, can cause allergies and have been associated with an increased incidence of cancer, reduced immunity and nervous system disorders.
This is one of the ingredients that was banned by the EU based on the study by CSC. It has also been labelled as ‘cancer-causing chemical to humans’ by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Formaldehyde has also been given the highest score for its negative health impact by The Environmental Working Group (EWG).
Fragrance is a very vague term that can contain any mixture or amount of scent chemicals. It is found in nearly all kinds of baby products like baby powder, baby wash, shampoo, lotion, diapers and many others. There have been many associations between fragrance and asthma, neurological disorders, skin and eye problems as well as respiratory issues. Fragrance is also called perfume or parfum.
6. Mineral Oil
Mineral oil is a cheap by product of petroleum processing and acts exactly like plastic wrap on skin. Most baby oil brands use mineral oil in combination with fragrance, and blocks the skin’s natural ability to get rid of toxins.
Fragrances often contain Phthalates, and it’s rare to find them explicitly listed in the ingredient list. However, they can be extremely harmful to the kidneys and liver and can also mess with the reproductive system, causing birth defects, decreased sperm counts and early breast development.
These are just some of the many, many toxins commonly found in baby products. Here is a look at some popular baby product brands and their ingredient labels:
Why are these toxins harmful?
The first three years of a baby’s life are the most critical, and during this period the immune system is still developing. As a result, babies are extremely vulnerable and every thing that goes into or on their bodies can have a significant impact on their health. By looking at the toxin list above, we can see that nearly every product that a baby uses on a daily basis is full of harmful chemicals. Just think of the amount of toxins absorbed by your baby’s body in the course of a month, let alone a year!
So what is a parent to do? First of all, take a quick look at the ingredient list and see if it contains any mention of the toxins mentioned above. Opt for natural, organic baby products that have as few ingredients as possible. Follow the same rule you would follow with food – if you can’t read or understand an ingredient, toss the product. They probably won’t smell the same as the usual baby products you’ve been used to all this while, but trust us, you’re doing your baby a huge favour!
At the end of the day, all that a parent wants is for her child to grow into a healthy, happy and balanced individual, with a healthy, happy successful life ahead of her. The foundation for this is set in infancy, and it is up to us to keep a close eye on everything that our baby comes in contact with – her food, toys, furniture and personal care products. So, get smart and #readthelabel – our kids’ lives depend on it!