Is Your Baby Lotion Safe for Babies?

Super soft newborn skin is also uniquely susceptible
to absorption of toxic chemicals.

This post is sponsored by Earth Mama Angel Baby and Green Sisterhood.

Like many of you, I started paying attention to the ingredients of common household products after the birth of my first child. When my baby first sucked on our wood floor I wondered, what's in my floor cleaner? When he sucked on my hair I wondered, what's in my leave-in conditioner and is it safe for a baby to ingest?   As I changed his diapers I wondered, what are disposable diapers made of? And as I rubbed lotion into his dry skin I wondered, how safe are the unpronounceable ingredients of this baby lotion?

I think anyone who has ever held a newborn baby in his or her arms cannot help but grasp on an instinctual level how truly vulnerable newborns are.  Unfortunately, one way in which babies are particularly vulnerable is to the effects of harmful chemicals in their environment.

Unique Susceptibility of Babies to Environmental Chemicals

Comparing Brands of Reusable Cloth Training Pants

Update October 2013: Read about our new favorite training pants made by Hanna Andersson in this post.

I bought disposable training pants once when we were traveling and our first child was not yet fully potty trained. I was shocked by how expensive they are! Even if you have never used cloth diapers, consider reusable training pants. They feel much more like actual underwear and provide an excellent contrast to disposable diapers, so your child will fully grasp that this is not business as usual. Your child will also immediately feel when they are wet, and, if the training pants are not completely waterproof, may even end up with damp pants as well (this can be very motivating). And as long as your child's poops are solid enough to roll off the training pants into the toilet, you'll mostly just be washing pee (no big deal, right?).

The following are training pants that we own and have test driven extensively with children from age 9 months on up to 3-years-old. For each set of training pants, I will be addressing:
  • materials
  • absorption
  • how waterproof they are
  • ease of pulling up and down
  • fit/ bulk
  • comfort
  • when we prefer to use each variety
  • price (tip: buy prints you consider gender-neutral to faciliate reuse by other children)

How to Make a Beautifully Risen Loaf of 100% Whole Wheat Bread

I've been reading Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day. I've only made it through the first chapter ("Baking Basics"), but I've already picked up a few tips that have helped me with my bread baking.

1. Use the minimum amount of yeast possible.
Now I use 2T of yeast instead of 2T + 2 t for two loaves. I have been known to fudge up the amount of yeast to try to speed things along. Now I stick with 2 T.

Tips for a Non-toxic Summer

Use effective and safe sun protection.

The best sun protection is to cover up with hats and long sleeves and to seek or create shade, particularly when the sun is most intense. When you do use sunscreen, choose one that does more good than harm. Use lotions or creams that use a mineral sunscreen like zinc oxide (without controversial nanoparticles) to provide long-lasting protection against both UVA (causes skin cancer) and UVB rays (causes sunburn). Avoid retinyl palmitate/ retinol/ vitamin A (found in about one-fourth of all sunscreens), which speeds the development of skin tumors and lesions when exposed to light. Also seek "chemical-free" UPF-rated swim wear that offers UV protection due to the weave of the fabric and not as a result of the use of sunscreen chemicals on the fabric.

UV-Protective Swim Suits and Swim Shirts: Are They Safe?


[Updated May 2016]

Whenever shopping for hats and other outdoor clothing products, I've always steered clear of products with a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating because I've been concerned that the UV-protection might be through the application of chemical sunscreens. Chemicals sunscreens such as oxybenzones are often endocrine disruptors and other undesirables.

This year, however, I needed to purchase a swim suit for my 4-year-old daughter. And it is difficult if not impossible to find a swim suit or swim shirt for children these days that does not advertise a UPF rating. In the past my kids have mostly worn hand-me-down swimsuits and swim shirts. I'm also willing to use second-hand swim shirts purchased at thrift stores. Although I vaguely understood that these hand-me-down and second-hand items most likely were UV-protective I didn't worry too much about it. Now, shopping for swim clothes online, I was confronted again and again with products advertising their UPF rating, so I decided to do some research into how clothing is made UV protective before making a purchase.

What Makes Fabrics UV Protective?

Is Your Garden Hose Leaching BPA, Lead, and Phthalates into Your Water?

With the weather heating up, our old seen-better-days plastic water table is getting renewed attention, particularly from my 18-month-old. I noticed several weeks ago when I would fill it up with water that I would smell this strong synthetic chemical smell coming from the table. I don't know what kind of plastic the water table is, but it has spent a lot of time in the sun, probably breaking down under the UV light, and I began to wonder if it was OK to let my kids continue to play with it.


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