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You'd make a big mess, too, if you were learning to eat while also still figuring out how to make your arms and hands go where you want! Bibs can help save clothing from excessive drooling during teething, and food as babies start to explore different tastes. Bibs are also fashion statements, and there are a huge variety of choices out there.
Washington State's database of chemicals of concern disclosed by manufacturers reports a surprising number of chemicals of concern in bibs: acetaldehyde, acrylonitrile, antimony, phthalates, and solvents such as ethylbenzene, ethylene glycol, methyl ethyl ketone, phenol, phthalic anhydride, styrene and toluene. Most of these have no purpose in the final product. After mainstream media started covering phthalates in baby products and their potential health effects, many companies stopped using vinyl to make bibs waterproof. Now many waterproof bibs use polyurethane coating.
Bibs don't need to be waterproof to be effective.
Regardless of the bib you choose, the fact that there are so many reports of chemicals of concern as contaminants means you should thoroughly wash all washable products for your baby, bibs included. Note that in some cases antimony was added as a flame retardant, something entirely unnecessary in a bib. Snaps for holding the bib to around baby's neck may contain metals like antimony - consider snap-free options. You can bet that at some point, your baby will likely chew on those snaps. Choose solid natural materials like cotton. If possible, choose GOTS certified organic cotton. As with all textiles, wash with unscented laundry detergent before use with baby.
References & Resources
Learn why Washington State includes the chemicals it does in its mandated reporting program.
Learn more about the hidden hazards by reviewing the glossary or take a deep dive by reading Safer Products for Babies and Toddlers: Resources and Recommendations for Retailers.