Infants and Children
The health and development of children is most critical during the first years of life. It is important for them to eat healthy, be physically active, and most crucially, to avoid chemicals and toxins that could cause damaging health effects.
Knowing that a product contains potentially harmful chemicals is not the same as knowing that those chemicals are harming you, but that it only makes sense to choose safer products if they are available. For example, it has been documented in animal studies that bisphenol A (BPA) exposure in utero or around the time of birth can cause changes in mammary tissue. What affects animals does not necessarily affect humans, but does raise concern.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), in a report titled “Safety Guide to Children’s Personal Care Products”, children are exposed on average to 27 personal care products a day.
Source: EWG’s Safety Guide to Children’s Personal Care Products (PDF)
What You Can Do to reduce exposures and raise your children “green”
On average children will go through about 5,000 to 8,000 diapers before they are toilet trained. That's a lot of diapers to be sending to the landfills, but the alternative choice is cloth diapers. Many would flinch at the idea of using them, but they have come a long way and are sold in a variety of styles and sizes. If selecting a cloth diaper, you will also need to use a liner and cover. Liners provide extra absorbance for overnight. Covers protect clothing and the child's bed from wetness. How often you do laundry influences the number of diapers you will need. Healthy Child, Healthy World recommends starting with three to five dozen, which range from $2.00 to $15.00 a diaper. Presoaking is not necessary for cloth diapers; just put the diaper, after flushing the feces down the toilet, in a bin and wash within two days to prevent mold growth. To prevent odors in the bin, use baking soda, vinegar, or borax. If you prefer disposable diapers, buy chlorine-free disposable diapers.
Breastfeeding provides the best possible nutrition that a new mother can give her little one. Breast milk contains all the nutrients an infant needs to thrive plus antibodies which protect against common childhood diseases. Breastfeeding has positive effects into adulthood as well. Breastfed children often have lower blood pressure and cholsterol, are less likely to be obese, and less likely to suffer from type-2 diabetes as an adult. It is not always possible to breastfeed or a mother may have to supplement with formula. Seek formulas that provide the best organic choice for infants with packaging free of bisphenol-A (BPA).
Many infant and child personal care product brands are coming out with natural lines, but buyers beware that these lines may still contain toxic chemicals. Labels that say eco-friendly and natural are marketing terms, not legal standards. When buying personal care products for your baby read the labels and avoid products that contain fragrance, parabens, phthalates, and triclosan. Purchase products that are plant-based and have the fewest and safest ingredients. Remember don't over expose your child to products such as nail polish and makeup; they will have time for that as they get older.