7 Nasty Chems to Avoid in Baby Products


iStock_baby in bathBaby bath and body products often contain unsavoury synthetic chemicals just as adult products do.  I am often asked by moms wanting to avoid chemicals with a bad rap, what to avoid in their kids products?

First off, I don’t subscribe to the’ If its allowed to be used, what could possibly be wrong with it?’ line of thought. My personal rule of thumb is if there is even a suspected health issue I will not use it on my kids. I grew up in an era when my parents said over and over again about smoking, ‘We didn’t know’…Science can take decades to conclude ill health effects of products and take action so why wait?

Here are current chemical concerns in common baby and kid products that I choose to avoid:

1) Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservativess such as Quat-15, Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, DMDM Hydantoin

I found Quat-15, in the shampoo my kids were bathed in by hospital staff when they were hours old. I have really never got over the fact that both my babies had a ‘christening’ of controversial chemicals, only hours out of the womb. 

2) Parabens are one of the most widely used preservatives in body care products. Parabens have been linked to ill heath effects, most notably with breast cancer. Some baby products are ripe with this stuff. So make sure you are aware of brands that still see fit to use such unsavoury ingredients in baby products.

3) PEGs (polyethylene glycols) widely used as thickeners, solvents and softeners. There are a number of types of PEG’s used in baby and kid products.  The issue science has found with PEGs is that they are often contaminated with toxic compounds such as ethylene oxide and 1.4 dioxane both possible human carcinogens.  So best to be safe and not use any products containing these compounds

4) Sodium Laureth Sulfate is basically an inexpensive detergent which makes bath/shampoo products bubble and foam up. David Suzuki and others tell us it is ALSO often contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4 dioxane, again both suspected as human carcinogens. So as Sodium Laureth Sulfate is neither gentle on skin nor a safe option, better to avoid it. Check out baby shampoos currently using this.

5) Oxybenzone a very common sunscreen chemical.  Basically THE reason I gave up those conventional sunscreens when I had babies. Oxybenzone is linked to developmental, AND reproductive toxicity, and as if that’s not enough, also linked to endocrine disruption. So why do some products geared toward children still use it in baby sunscreens? And perhaps the most serious situation is by companies that claim to have at least one foot in the camp of natural or ‘better than’ products that use oxybenzone in baby sunscreens…. causing serious confusion in the marketplace.

6) BHT and BHA are closely related compounds which act as preservatives in moisturizers. These are also used as food preservatives most notably where kids are concerned in their breakfast cereals. Research has shown a link to messing up hormone function and both are sadly suspected as a human carcinogens. I find it unacceptable to find such nastiness in kids products at all.

7) Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone are widely used in shampoos and soaps.  As these are known neurotoxins, and are found in some kids products.   These compunds also used used in paper mills to control algae and fungus growth.  Yup, industrial chems. And be aware some ‘natural’ brands use these in children’s nail polish. So research your product ingredients to be sure you are getting something truly safe.

It is not so important what product or brand you use but that it is clean and offers no hint of potential health concerns.  And its good to note, ‘fancy’ brands are often no better. If in doubt, research and ask questions.

A great option to check what is in your products yourself is the Skin Deep database. It a valuable resource to check out ingredients in cosmetic and body care ingredients….even ingredients for which you may have sensitivities or allergies too. And if you find there is any suspected toxicity in an ingredient, of course you can research further.

I always like to say that we all need to become a warrior for our own family’s health. Only you can decide what level of risk you find acceptable where your family is concerned. And I take the stance that its best to figure out what level of risk is associated and then decide what I can live with. Nothing makes me crazier than someone trying to convince me about a particular chemical ‘It can’t be that bad or ‘Studies haven’t concluded…’  A ‘link’ to something horrible is enough to have me seek out alternatives where my family is concerned.


Chia: My Superfood

Mention chia and many people giggle remembering chia pets from the 70’s. Ditto but who knew back in the day that chia is one of nature’s most beneficial foods? Loaded with Omega 3’s, fibre, protein and calcium chia is often referred to as a superfood.

As a mom, I am simply looking for healthier options for my family’s breakfast.  Nutritionally-void, over-processed, chemically preserved foods are not cutting it anymore.

My recent interest was fuelled by the fact that my 4 year old was introduced to little brightly coloured rings of sugar which are boxed up and called a breakfast cereal.  She had never seen these before when they were introduced to her outside my home.  Eventually I was worked over in the grocery store. Every parent knows the scene.

With a little research, I discovered that the breakfast cereal she wanted was known to be one of the sugariest cereals on the planet.  Yikes! And if that wasn’t enough, the cereal also contained the controversial preservative BHT, AND of course food dyes. All which gave me serious cause for concern about what I was feeding my kids for breakfast. So the search started for my superfood: nutritionally sound, no junk AND super-easy to prepare.

I discovered Chia Goodness by Ruth’s Foods of Toronto and haven’t looked back.  No doubt it is not easy to switch a child from sugary cereals to something so less sweet but little by little the palate will adapt, demanding less and less sugar. Read about the potential  perils of too much sugar in our diets and you too may become a breakfast cereal convert.

An added bonus for me was that Ruth’s Foods also offers snack bars with the same nutritionally packed chia and less sugars than conventional bars. As they contain nuts, these bars cannot go to school with my kids but they do enjoy them at home. And my husband has taken to keeping Ruth’s bars in his desk to deal with the ‘afternoon hungries’.

And an added benefit I hadn’t even initially considered, is that my new found Chia Goodness is GMO-free.  Even some of the ‘healthy’ option cereals have recently been criticized for using GMO’s. And as GMO’s are linked to ill health effects, it is an added benefit that I do appreciate.

Chia Goodness comes in 4 flavours Original, Apple Cinnamon, Chocolate and Cranberry Ginger and can be found on-line at Sessabel or at your local health food store. Give it a try, you may also become a convert.

Plastic Beads in Unilever SkinCare Affecting Marine Life

I was shocked, incensed, and disgusted today to read that Unilever has been putting plastic microbeads in its skincare scrubs which are now are in such numbers that they are adversely affecting marine life.

As a resident of this earth where I live, drink the water, eat food including at times marine life, it incenses me that Unilever has been treating the earth as a junkyard.

In a 2008 study, it was found that such microbeads stay in marine mussels for approximately 48 days. This gives ample time for them  to be ingested higher up the food chain.  Yes this includes humans.  And this issues affects oceans and lakes.  As a resident living on a Great Lake, I was intrigued with this blog post I found about these plastic beads being found in the Great Lakes.  So am I drinking theses things??

The microbeads are made from polyethylene and should be noted as such on the ingredient dec. of products in case you want to see if you have any of the suspect stuff.  A quick check of the Skin Deep database will confirm which scrubs contain polytheylene beads.

An issue that is of ‘immediate concern’ according to a CNN report is these plastic particles ability to absorb contaminant chemicals in the water. The plastics have a large surface area compared to their volume so readily soak up other pollutants in our waterways and oceans. The fact marine life ingests these particles laden with all sorts of junk spilled into our waterways create an even greater problem. Who has just lost their appetite for seafood?

A number of years ago, I was at an environmental/sustainability conference in Toronto and one of the ‘high ups’ from Unilever was there touting their environmental initiatives.  As people clapped around the room, the guy speaking beamed as he spoke about Unilever’s noteworthy environmental accomplishments.  Now years later, I feel lied to, bamboozled. Shame on you Unilever for treating our earth and its residents poorly.

Unilever has posted on its site its commitment to clean up its act by 2015. Two years! How much more damage will be done by then?  I have decided I am out for good and will not buy their products anymore.  Speak with your wallet and they may get the picture. Here is a list of Unilever products/brands to help make your buying decisions more informed.

And if you want to know a totally natural exfoliating wash with NO plastic beads, my fave is Cocoon Apothecary’s Petal Purity Exfoliating Cleanser which uses jojoba beads to exfoliate.  The scent is divine and of course the product is all natural.