Baby 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.