How To Vet Products For Your Baby Registry

By Marilee Nelson |

featured image: How To Vet Products For Your Baby Registry

When you're expecting a baby, your whole world opens up to new products - some you didn't even know about before a baby was in the picture! 

Unfortunately, just googling "non-toxic" or “natural” products doesn't actually make you feel confident in purchasing and item. It's tough to decipher what baby products are non-toxic and safe. 

In this article, we want to encourage you to advocate for yourself and your baby by learning how to thoroughly vet the products you bring into your home. We're breaking down what to avoid, why avoid it and sharing a sample email you can send out to companies to learn more information.

What To Avoid

Synthetic flame retardants

Exposure to flame retardants has been linked to reproductive toxicity, adverse effects on fetal and child development, cancer, impacts to the immune system, neurologic function, endocrine and thyroid disruption.  Flame retardants have been found to bioaccumulate and buildup over time in the body.

This applies to car seats, mattresses, bedding, pajamas, stuffed animals, and more. You can inquire if a product has any flame retardants and what type. We don’t consider any synthetic flame retardants acceptable, only a material that is inherently protected through the nature of the material. For example, wool is naturally flame resistant.

Note: We recommend that you get written confirmation that the company is not using flame retardants of any kind by emailing them and asking directly. Scroll down to see the sample email we've drafted for you to copy and paste. 

There are several categories of flame retardants: 

  • Halogenated flame retardants - Brominated Flame Retardants (BRFs) and Chlorinated (CFRs)
  • Phosphorus flame retardants (PFRs) 
  • Nitrogen-based flame retardants (NFRs) 
  • Inorganic flame retardants and mineral compounds

Formaldehyde 

Formaldehyde is a carcinogen and lung irritant found in baby furniture made of pressboard or medium-density fiberboard (MDF), mattresses, and even wrinkle-free sheets and clothing. 

BPA and Phthalates 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that BPA (bisphenols) used in hard plastics, polycarbonate plastic containers, linings of aluminum cans and other products have been associated with obesity, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, hormone disruption, behavioral disorders, reproductive health concerns, and diabetes.

Phthalates (also known as plasticizers) are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. They have been linked to brain, gender, reproductive, respiratory, allergy, and developmental issues in children. They are found in soft plastic-containing products like baby changing pads, mattresses, mattress covers, diapers, pliable plastic toys, etc.

PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride 

 Look for toys and products that are PVC free. Plastic labeled with an SPI code of 3 is made with polyvinyl chloride. Babies put everything in their mouth and this kind of plastic should not come in contact with a baby’s mouth or food items. Toys made of PVC that are proudly labeled phthalate-free give people false security as there are other toxic issues. In fact, PVC is known as the “poison plastic” because it is hazardous from production to disposal. PVC may contain lead, cadmium, and/or organotins which affect the central nervous system, skin, liver, immune system and reproductive system.

Harmful VOCs

Volatile organic chemicals have an odor and typically dissipate with time. Paints, flooring, rugs, baby changing pads, textiles, toys, and more may have harmful volatile organic compounds that can cause lung irritation, kidney damage, liver damage, and a host of other problems. It is important to vet all products thoroughly and to understand that all new products brought into the home may need a time of outgassing before you bring them into your baby’s room. Even if completely non toxic, all products may pick up VOCs from storage and shipping that should be outgassed and free of odor.

SVOCs

Semi-volatile organic (SVOCs) compounds are chemicals that ride on dust, have no odor, and many are designed to last the life of the product (they will not dissipate over time). Avoid products with toxic red flags stating it is flame retardant, anti-microbial, microbe-resistant, anti-mite, anti-fungal, mildew resistant, mold-resistant, wrinkle-free, permanent press, water and/or stain-resistant.

Electromagnetic Field Radiation (EMFs/RF)

Every electronic device in the baby’s room will emit some level of electromagnetic field.. aby monitors, clocks, smart meters, and different smart devices emit high frequency fields (RF) and should especially be cause for concernsince they’re considered a class 2B (possible) carcinogen. Plus, children’s brains have been proven to absorb significantly more electromagnetic radiation than adults, putting them at greater risk. Additionally, research has linked excess exposure to EMF/RF to cognitive changes, behavioral problems, asthma, sleep problems, and even bigger health issues.

Toxic Personal Care Items

No petroleum ingredients, pesticide preservatives, ethoxylated ingredients, fragrance, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, etc. See Our Favorite Personal Care Products that include options for your baby.

Fragranced Laundry

We also want to mention that it is important to wash everything that is washable with a safe laundry solution that doesn’t include any fragrances or irritating chemicals. A load with the combination of Branch Basics Concentrate (straight or mixed in the Laundry bottle) and Oxygen Boost works great for this.

Additionally, air out everything in the sun as much as possible to get rid of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and that straight-out-of-the-package smell. There are many benefits to airing out your new purchases. This may seem like an unnecessary and/or cumbersome step, but it makes a huge difference in terms of lessening toxicity and once it’s done, it’s done! Better to do the legwork upfront, if possible. 

How To Ask The Right Questions

We strongly advise you to be your own advocate and don't be afraid to reach out to companies and ask them about their products! We've created a sample email that you can copy and paste when sending out emails - all that is needed is a few tweaks for personalization!

Sample Email

Hi Customer Service Team, 
I am considering purchasing your [product name] but I have a few questions I’d like answered first. 
1. What materials are used for the entire product (you can ask specifics i.e. for a crib you would ask for the mattress materials as well as the frame)
2. If a wood product, what type of wood is used?
3. Are the finishes low-VOC or zero-VOC?
4. Has the product been tested and found to be formaldehyde free?
5. Are any flame retardants used in any of the materials in this product? Can you please verify in a written format that there are none of the following flame retardants?
  • Halogenated flame retardants - Chlorinated (CFRs) and Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) 
  • Phosphorus flame retardants (PFRs)
  • Nitrogen-based flame retardants (NFRs) 
  • Inorganic flame retardants and mineral compounds
6. What are the fabrics made of? (Of course, an organic natural material is optimal, but not likely.)
7. Are the fabrics/materials in your product treated with any chemicals to make them stain, water, or wrinkle-resistant? Does your product have any PFAS chemicals? Please send a written guarantee that there are no stain, water or wrinkle resistant PFAS treatments in the materials. If there are stain, wrinkle, or water-resistant materials that are not treated with PFAS, what chemicals are used? 
Thank you so much in advance. 
Best,
[name]
 

You can do it!

There you have it! Props to you for becoming your own product advocate... and your baby's as well. It can be daunting and confusing to start your non-toxic journey, but it does get easier - and it's well worth it! 

Marilee Nelson

Marilee Nelson

Marilee Nelson is an Environmental Toxins expert who has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the chemically-sensitive and chronically-ill. She is a Board Certified Nutritionist, Certified Bau-Biologist and Bau-Biology Inspector and specializes in Food As Medicine. She has helped thousands of families and individuals identify, heal and recover from toxic exposures and is on a mission to revolutionize the way American families view their health.