BATHING/Cleaning Up After Baby

Overview

There's no escaping it - babies make messes. They spit up, they have diaper accidents, they drool, and as they grow they throw their food. This makes for a lot of clean-up! 

Hidden Hazards

Cleaning products can contain a wide array of health hazards. You hopefully already know that you can accidentally create toxic gases called chloramines if you mix chlorine bleach with products that contain ammonia. That would be an emergency! Some products contain allergens, phthalates in fragrances, solvents like toluene, and other hormone disrupting or cancer-causing chemicals. Air fresheners in particular have been found to contain allergens. Dryer sheets can contain volatile organic compounds, allergens, asthmagens (such as "quats" or quaternary ammonium compounds). Adding fabric softeners to sleepwear can increase their flammability.

Other Considerations

It's amazing how much clean-up you can do with common household ingredients, like vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and olive oil. 

Recommendations

For babies, it's important to choose fragrance-free (not just "unscented") cleaning products. Remember: the smell of clean is *nothing*. Don't use masking agents, remove the source of the offending odor, or absorb it naturally. 

MADE SAFE certifies the following cleaners:

Meliora

  • All Purpose Home Cleaner
  • All Purpose Home Cleaner Refill
  • Laundry Powder, Unscented

Pure Laundry: Laundry Detergent, Free and Clear

    On a budget? There are also plenty of cleaning products you can make at home with inexpensive ingredients. Women's Voices for the Earth offers a lot of DIY cleaning product recipes. We recommend skipping the essential oils.

    In general, look for products that disclose all ingredients (including fragrances) and choose plant-based products whenever possible. 

    You can cut static electricity and still skip dryer sheets by using wool dryer balls.

    References & Resources

    Women's Voices for the Earth tested cleaning products and has a write-up about dryer sheets.

    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

    FEEDING/Pacifiers and Teethers

    Overview

    Many babies enjoy the ability to suck beyond what they need to be fed, and as teeth start coming in, will benefit from having something to chew on to soothe their gums. That''s where pacifiers (also known as pacis, binkies, dummies, nubbies, and many other odd names) and teethers come in. Many of these are made from plastics and silicone.

    Hidden Hazards

    Some teethers are made out of polyvinyl chloride, which can leach plasticizers. In the past, this included now-banned phthalates. They may also be made with plastics that release bisphenols, antimicrobials, benzophenones, and parabens. Solvent ethylene glycol and styrene have been reported in teethers/pacifiers to Washington State. Teethers can be made of many hard and semi-hard materials. 

    Pacifiers can be made of latex, or plastics, in addition to safer silicone. 

    Other Considerations

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until your baby is a month old before introducing a pacifier, and then weaning them from pacifier use sometime between six months and a year old. Reliance on a pacifier at two years of age or older could harm dental development.  Even if your baby is not allergic to latex, the softer material can tear when used with older babies who have teeth. 

    Pacifiers come in many shapes, and are sized for babies as they grow. Your baby will have their own preferences on style, and these preferences may change as they grow.

    Recommendations

    For pacifiers, silicone is the safer material. If using a pacifier with a plastic shield, make sure it is made without PVC. 

    For teethers, consider skipping synthetic materials (plastic, latex, silicone) all together. A wet cotton washcloth, stuck in the freezer, can offer a lot of relief, as can stainless steel spoons, or unfinished wood blocks (that are not choke hazards). If you do want a "rubbery" teether, consider food-grade silicone.

    MADE SAFE has certified the following products:

    Bioserie

    • Star Teether / Green
    • Star Teether / Orange

    References & Resources

    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

    BATHING/Personal Care Products

    Overview

    Everyone loves a sweet-smelling baby. Fortunately, you don't need any added fragrances from personal care products to achieve this! There are a lot of strongly-scented products available on the market. You don't need much to care for baby's hair and skin. A simple cleanser, moisturizer, balm for rash, and sunscreen can be enough.  

    Hidden Hazards

    The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics identifies key chemicals of concern in personal care products for babies and toddlers. These include formaldehyde releasers (the actual ingredient isn't formaldehyde but the chemicals in the product react to release it into the bottle in your bathroom), 1,4 dioxane, benzophenone, butylated compounds, a variety of carcinogens, ethanolamine, ethyoxylated ingredients, homosalate, and lead and other heavy metals. Baby powders can be made with talc, which has been shown to contain asbestos and to contribute to cancer.

    Other Considerations

    Before you have your baby's (or toddler's) face painted to be a tiger or superhero or fairy, consider that children's face paints have been found to contain a number of chemicals of concern, including heavy metals.

    Recommendations

    The following products are certified by MADE SAFE:

    Alaffia

    • Babies & Up Bubble Bath-Eucalyptus Mint
    • Babies & Up Bubble Bath-Lemon Lavender
    • Babies & Up Shampoo & Body Wash-Lemon Lavender

    MamaEarth

    • Clean Cuties Skin Cleaner
    • Deeply Nourishing Body Wash for Babies
    • Diaper Rash Cream for Babies
    • Gentle Cleansing Shampoo for Babies
    • Mineral Based Sunscreen
    • Moisturizing Daily Lotion for Babies
    • Natural Insect Repellent
    • Natural Lip Balm
    • Nourishing Hair Oil for Babies
    • Soothing Massage Oil for Babies

    Oilogic

    • Ouchies & Boo Boos Essential Oil Ointment
    • Slumber & Sleep Essential Oil Epsom Soak
    • Stuffy Nose & Cough Essential Oil Epsom Soak

    Pleni Naturals

    • Apple + Broccoli Hair & Body Wash
    • Berry + Olive Baby Balm*
    • Cucumber + Grape Baby Oil*
    • Mango + Avocado Hydrating Lotion

    The following are MADE SAFE certified sunscreens:

    * These products are fully fragrance-free.

    You can also use simple materials in place of purchased products: organic coconut oil can moisturize skin; if needed, corn starch in a handy container, can replace baby powders. 

    References & Resources

    Learn more about chemicals in personal care products at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

    Read about chemicals of concern in children's face paints in the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics report, "Pretty Scary 2".

    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

    Questions about fragrances in these products? Learn about MADE SAFE's method for addressing essential oils and other fragrance ingredients.

    FEEDING/Bibs

    Overview

    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.

    Hidden Hazards

    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.

    Other Considerations

    Bibs don't need to be waterproof to be effective.

    Recommendations

    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

    FURNISHING/What you don't need

    There are so many cute things for sale that can clutter up a nursery! Here are some things we think you don't need (and some might surprise you!):

    • A changing table - get a travel set with a thin pad you can use anywhere - and use it at home. The top of a dresser can work well. So can the floor! After all, no one ever fell off the floor.
    • Matching quilt, dust ruffle and valance. They're cute, but the quilt won't be needed - unless you're planning to have a hard floor, want to skip the area rug, but want a soft spot for baby to get some "tummy time."
    • Diaper stacker. We had to look up what this is, and between our staff we've had six children.
    • Too many storage bins or shelves. Baby doesn't need much, and the more storage you have the more you may feel the need to fill the space. 

    CLOTHING/Sleepwear

    Overview

    Your baby is going to spend a lot of time sleeping. Today, sleepwear can go beyond PJs - and now includes swaddling blankets, and "sleepsacks" (wearable blankets).

    Hidden Hazards

    A big question for sleepwear focuses on flame retardancy: Pajamas for babies from zero to nine months do not have to be fire retarded. After that, loose fitting cotton nightgowns and pajamas may be treated with a chemical. Polyester pajamas are inherently flame resistant and appear not to be treated with chemicals. Tight-fitting cotton pajamas are also not treated. Otherwise, sleepwear carries the same potential chemicals of concern as other clothing:  13 chemicals were reported by companies to Washington state, including antimony, nonylphenols, eight phthalates, solvents like methyl ethyl ketone, phthalic anhydride and styrene.

    Other Considerations

    Make sure you don't allow open flames like candles around babies and toddlers in sleep clothing. Modern common-sense methods of preventing house fires like well-maintained smoke detectors are better methods for protecting your children from burns in a fire.

    Recommendations

    Consider close-fitting natural fiber sleepwear. As with all clothing, wash sleepwear before babies use it. Avoid fabric softeners, as they remain on the fabric and can reduce flame retardant properties.  Whenever possible, choose organic textiles for items that will touch your baby's body. Products made of fabric are certified organic by GOTS (the Global Organic Textile Standard). Avoid latex to avoid possible allergies.

    References & Resources

    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

    Greenpeace has a campaign to detox the textile industry, and has a lot of information about the hazards there, including in children's clothing.

    FURNISHING/Window Treatments

    Overview

    Your baby will spend many hours sleeping, and at times will need the room to be dark and peaceful during the day. At other times, you’ll want to let outdoor sounds, light and air into the nursery.

    Hidden Hazards

    Fabric curtains may be treated with formaldehyde to make them wrinkle-free and some curtains may have been treated with flame retardants. Roller shades, miniblinds, and some blackout curtains can be made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

    Other Considerations

    Natural fabrics do break down in UV light but are a less-toxic option. Never place a crib or other item (swing, etc) that babies occupy near a window with cords for blinds or curtains. They are strangulation hazards. Make sure to follow manufacturer's guidelines for keeping cords out of reach of babies, toddlers, and pets. Keep heat sources away from window treatments.

    Recommendations

    For window treatments choose natural fabrics. Cotton, linen, wood and silk all work, but are relatively sheer. Hemp and bamboo shades help to block out the light if baby is sensitive to light and it interferes with sleep. Safer versions include naturally finished wood shutters, aluminum Venetian blinds, and bamboo roll down blinds. The safest option is to make your own black out curtains with pesticide-free hemp fabric. Make sure to choose materials listed as "flame retardant-free." 

    References & Resources

    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

    FURNISHING/Decorations

    Overview

    Expectant parents derive much joy and pleasure in lovingly decorating the nursery while waiting for baby to be born. Nursery decorations can brighten up the room, stimulating a baby’s brain and elevating their mood.

    Hidden Hazards

    Vinyl wall decals or stickers may contain phthalates, which come off and are breathed in by your baby. Phthalates can cause cancer, asthma, developmental and reproductive harm. Wall paint can contain solvents that are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and some can contain per- or polyfluoro alkyl substances (PFASs) (with a claim to be easier to clean), biocides (also known as antimicrobials), and irritants like ammonia. 

    Other Considerations

    Do not paint the room yourself while pregnant. Scraping or sanding the walls may expose you and your unborn baby to lead dust, which can be very dangerous to your baby, and toxic chemicals in the paint can be harmful as well. Have someone else–husband, family, friend, or hired hand– do the painting. Painting should be done at least a month before the baby is due, and should be aired out. You can speed up the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by heating the room above what you'd normally set it to as a living space, using a room space heater, and then increasing ventilation to pull the heated air out of the building.

    Recommendations

    Use water-based zero VOC paint for nursery walls instead of wallpaper with adhesives. Seek reusable, vinyl-free wall decals or stickers colored with lead-free ink. The fabric type is often made of nontoxic, phthalate-free material. A water-based adhesive also has its least-toxic merits. Painting a mural or framing a colorful tapestry or piece of fabric instead of decals is another great way to add color and style. 

    References & Resources

    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

    FURNISHING/Rugs

    Overview

    There are benefits and drawbacks to using rugs in the nursery, or anywhere throughout the house. Although carpeting can accentuate the room’s décor, help insulate and add to a room’s warmth, act as a cushion against breakage or falls, and absorb sound, it can also be made with toxic chemicals, hold dust and dirt, and trap asthmagens or pathogens. Rugs can make a room more difficult to keep clean, contributing to poor air quality. Given that babies and toddlers crawl around on the floor and breathe the air that is closer to the ground, any rug used in the nursery should be toxic-free and easily cleaned.

    Hidden Hazards

    As many as 44 highly toxic chemicals in carpets can threaten your family’s health. These toxins are known to cause respiratory disease, heart attacks, strokes, asthma, and immune and developmental health problems in children. Carpets are often treated with stain-resistant per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), antimicrobials, and flame retardants. These additives are marketed as beneficial, without revealing their toxicity. Carpet backing may be made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) with phthalate additives, or styrene butadiene. Toxic adhesives used to install wall-to-wall carpeting may contain bisphenol A, epichlorohydrin, or nonylphenol ethoxylate. Most carpets on the market today are in some way certified "green" or otherwise publicly rewarded, even though most of them contain toxic substances that are not disclosed to you, the consumer.

    Other Considerations

    It is difficult to have a hypoallergenic home and have rugs. In addition to toxic chemicals, carpeting can be a hotbed of bacteria, pollen, dust, and dead skin. Outdoor debris from clothing and shoes that gets tracked onto a rug becomes trapped in the fibers and is released each time someone walks or crawls on it. Allergens like pollen and dust can cause coughing, sneezing and wheezing when kicked into the air. Dead human skin cells become the primary food for dust mites, a common trigger of year-round allergies and asthma.

    Recommendations

    If you have wall-to-wall carpeting, vacuum often and have your rug professionally cleaned twice a year with a nontoxic cleaner. Area rugs avoid the toxic substances in padding and adhesives, but should also be vacuumed frequently to reduce dust and pathogens. Make sure to find natural-fiber area rugs (wool, jute, sisal, cotton) that have no synthetic backing. Throw rugs and runners can be shaken outdoors and thrown in the washing machine and dryer. When buying a rug, demand information from retailers and manufacturers, and purchase carpets only after getting a full accounting of contents and ensuring that it does not have the toxic chemicals identified in this guide.

    References & Resources

    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

    Healthy Building Network has assessed some of the key chemicals of concern in carpets.

    FURNISHING/Nursery Furniture

    Overview

    There are a lot of things you can buy for a nursery: in addition to cribs, rocking chairs, and clothing storage, there are endless other storage units - shelves, bins, baskets - and stand-alone changing tables, side tables, and more. 

    Hidden Hazards

    Hidden Hazards: Wooden furniture coatings can contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Many of these solvents used in the coating agents are also used in the adhesives that hold pressed or laminated wood together. Changing tables pads are often made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) coated pads made from polyurethane foam. These may release phthalates and flame retardants, if present, and may also be imbued with antimicrobial chemicals.

    Other Considerations

    It’s worth investing in solid wood furniture for baby’s bedroom, especially if pieces are chosen that can be refined slightly for use throughout childhood or beyond. For example, a solid wood changing table with drawers can remain a dresser once the top changing pad is removed. Some solid wood cribs can transform into a toddler bed using the same mattress.

    Recommendations

    When shopping for nontoxic baby furniture, it’s important to select nursery furniture manufactured from solid wood because you don’t want furniture that’s made with glues, formaldehyde, and veneers. Look for real wood (not engineered wood, MDF, composite board, or particle board) without smelly, toxic glues and chemicals. A used, solid wood dresser (as long as it does not have leaded paint) can be a great option on a budget - and can always be painted by someone other than the pregnant mom-to-be to match your room. Another option for baby is to skip the wooden dresser entirely and use square or rectangular baskets woven from natural fiber for baby’s clothes and other gear.

    References & Resources

    Seeking sustainbable wood? Look for FSC (Forestry Stewardship Certified) products. 

    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

    FURNISHING/Nursing Chairs and ottomans

    FURNISHING/Nursing Chairs and ottomans

    Overview

    There’s nothing like a good rocking chair and footrest to sit in while feeding and soothing your little one. Any caregiver can put it to good use; mom, dad, grandparent, sibling or child care provider. Rocking your baby can soothe colic symptoms by mimicking the movement the baby felt inside the mother’s womb. There's an added bonus - you are also improving your abdominal and leg muscle tone and balance while rocking your baby.

    Hidden Hazards

    There may be flame retardants in upholstered chairs and ottomans containing polyurethane foam, especially those made before 2014. Chairs and footrests made of pressed wood can contain toxic adhesives such as formaldehyde and the solvent methylene chloride, which come out of the wood into the air and can be breathed in by your baby and you. Imported furniture made with wood is treated for pests with applications of chemicals like methyl bromide and sulphuryl fluoride, both of which are neurotoxicants and ozone depleters. Methyl bromide is no longer allowed in agricultural uses, but is allowed for "biosecurity" - pest control at national borders.  

    Other Considerations

    Watch for young fingers and make sure they don’t get pinched in the sides of the glider while it’s in motion. Choose one with a stop-lock mechanism that prevents the chair from moving when you’re not using it. Avoid rocking while your baby is on the floor nearby, to make sure little hands or feet aren’t under the moving rocker. Be careful to not trip over the ottoman when getting up to put your baby back in the crib when you’re sleepy after that 3:00 a.m. feeding.

    Recommendations

    To avoid flame retardant chemicals, seek those clearly labeled as flame retardant-free. Polyester fiberfill is inherently flame-resistant, and a lot of manufacturers have avoided added flame retardants by redesigning to have inherently resistant surface materials. It’s also possible to avoid toxic chemicals by using a solid wood rocking chair with polyester fiberfill seat and back cushions. When choosing a wood rocker or ottoman, avoid ones with pressed wood, and if you do choose one with any portion of plywood, MDF or fiberboard, look for the "CARB Phase 2" certification statement to ensure low levels or no added formaldehyde. 

    References & Resources

    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

    PLAYING/Chairs & Exersaucers

    PLAYING/Chairs & Exersaucers

    Overview

    There comes a time in every parent's life when you need to have your growing baby distract themselves for a few minutes safely. You just might want a shower! There are many devices to safely contain and engage a growing baby: chairs with mobiles, "exersaucers" with a hanging seat inside a ring of small toys, bouncy seats, and swings. Whew! You might find that one of these is helpful, but you probably won't want more than two of these items.

    Hidden Hazards

    Flame retardants are used inside electronic devices of all kinds and can be found in recycled plastics or textiles. The plastics used in large items like "exersaucers" are rarely labeled, so it is difficult to identify vinyl, bisphenols, or other plastics of concern. Manufacturers reported to Washington State the use of solvents ethylene glycol and ethylbenzene, and the heavy metal antimony in baby exercisers.

    Other Considerations

    Babies don't need electronic flashes and beeps to be entertained. In fact, those beeps, if too loud, can cause hearing loss, and the rapidly changing sounds and lights can promote later challenges to attention and ability to focus. 

    Walkers and jumpers may also delay balance and walking, and there are additional concerns with physical safety. Walkers let babies move faster and farther than they could do on their own, and could fall down stairs or knock things over.

    Recommendations

    Be selective about which and how many of these kinds of products you need. A fabric seat with a mobile may be enough to give you respite you need. Generally, these items are hard to choose before you know your baby's preferences. Avoid electronic gadgets embedded in the larger toy. Avoid any labeled as being antimicrobial: babies will mouth anything they can.

    References & Resources

    Toy Safety Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics

    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

    PLAYING/Puzzles

    PLAYING/Puzzles

    Overview

    There are two types of puzzles for babies and toddlers - large, foam mats that function as a soft floor surface, and large-piece cardboard or wood puzzles. The former can easily be replaced with an area rug if desired. For the latter - puzzles intended to promote development through gross and fine motor skill - there are a wide array of options and things to consider.

    Hidden Hazards

    Foam puzzles are typically made of EVA - ethylene vinyl acetate - which in itself is fairly benign, though petroleum-based. However, some tests have found that some EVA foam releases formamide, a carcinogen. Puzzles made of wood may contain formaldehyde in the adhesives.  

    Other Considerations

    As always with babies and young children, make sure pieces are large and in good condition so that they are not choking hazards - because babies will put anything they can pick up or reach into their mouths. Puzzles should be kept clean, as household dust can contain a host of hazards.

    Recommendations

    Solid wood puzzles with non-toxic paints and finishes are best for babies. If you choose a puzzle made with plywood, laminate, or MDF, ask about VOCs and formaldehyde - and seek those that are certified to CARB (California Air Resources Board) Phase 2 limits. Shopping on a tight budget? Look for used puzzles made after 2008. Formaldehyde levels drop after six to ten months. 

    References & Resources

    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

    Learn more about the California Air Resources Board's limits on formaldehyde and other chemicals here. 

    Learn more about formaldehyde from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

    PLAYING/Toys

    Overview

    There are a lot of toys on the market made from a wide array of materials. Your newborn won't need many, and in fact, choosing carefully, you can make a few toys go a long way.

    Hidden Hazards

    As reported to Washington State through July 2017, toys and games contained 39 different chemicals of concern, including bisphenol A, cadmium, antimony, phthalates, formaldehyde, methyl paraben, solvents like ethylene glycol, methyl ethyl ketone, methylene chloride, phenol, and toluene, styrene, vinyl chloride, flame retardants, and more. Clear hard plastic toys may contain bisphenols. Plastic dolls may be made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Metal products may include cadmium, mercury, and antimony. 

    Other Considerations

    Simple toys often are engaging and help babies develop best. Parents often find themselves with many more toys than they need - this can start at the baby shower and continue throughout their children's lives. 

    Recommendations

    Choose natural products whenever possible - products made from unfinished or naturally finished wood, cotton, wool, and other textiles. Avoid all used toys made before 2008, when the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act set stricter limits on lead and certain phthalates. This includes older plastics and painted wood, both of which may have high levels of lead and cadmium. 

    MADE SAFE has certified these products from Bioserie:

    • 2-in-1 Stacker
    • Dumbbell Rattle
    • Interlocking disks/Yellow-Blue
    • Interlocking disks/Pink-Green
    • Round Rattle
    • Sorter & Stacker
    • Star Teether / Green
    • Star Teether / Orange

    References & Resources

    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

    Want an even deeper dive? You can find out more details about manufacturer reporting of chemicals of concern to the State of Washington.
     

    TRAVELING/Playards & Travel Cribs

    TRAVELING/Playards & Travel Cribs

    Overview

    Sometimes you're going to want to move around and will need a safe place for your baby to sleep. Playards and travel cribs can be very simple (one level, with a thin mattress and space to sleep or play) or very complex (with added bassinet attachments for use before your baby is rolling over, separate diaper changing platform, mobiles, and more). 

    Hidden Hazards

    Playards may be made with materials, paint or other finishes that contain volatile organic compounds and other harmful chemicals. Rigid plastic support materials may be made with PFAS (Teflon in fibers), bisphenol A (in polycarbonate) or polyvinyl chloride (potentially including phthalates or heavy metals. Mattresses, toppers and padding and other products containing foam may contain chemical flame retardants. Some playard mattresses (or sheets sold for them) may have embedded antimicrobials.

    Other Considerations

    Remember, babies grow fast.  A bassinet or cradle suitable for a 1-month-old may no longer be safe or adequate a couple months later.  Make sure to consider height and weight limits. To avoid physical hazards, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends choosing products certified for safety by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). Consider your specific needs and whether you’ll need a bassinet/safe containment product.  Many come with LED lights for changing baby at night, bouncing, rocking or vibrating options, music, storage areas, easy folding for portability, all of which may add to the cost of the product.

    Cribs, bassinets, or play yards that meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission and ASTM International's safety standards are recommended, using only mattresses that are intended for that specific product. (Note: While this usually means the mattress from the manufacturer, there are some mattresses made especially for specific frames that are made by third parties, including Naturepedic, which is certified by MADE SAFE.)  Soft objects such as pillows, quilts, toys or comforters should not be placed under sleeping infants, even if they are covered by a sheet. In addition, be careful to avoid placing the bassinet/containment area near any potential hazards such as cords and electric wires.

    Recommendations

    Check to see if the label states that the product is compliant with “California flammability standard TB 117-2013" and the box indicating “No added chemical flame retardants” is checked. If you don’t see that label, you can contact the manufacturer.

    If you want to have a mattress made with safer materials, consider the MADE SAFE certified options from Naturepedic.

    References & Resources

    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

    For evidence that some playards may contain the chemicals above, see this patent description.

    TRAVELING/Car Seats

    Overview

    This is one of the strictly required items. You will need a car seat or booster for your growing child from their birth until they are at least eight years old, by law in most states. Many parents like to start with a removable infant seat that can lock into a base that stays in the car, for ease of transporting their child. These infant car seats can also sometimes lock into stroller;  together they're called a "travel system." If you don't mind fastening your baby into their seat in the car (instead of in a building), you could choose to start with a seat that will grow with your baby. To protect babies from neck injuries, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping children in a rear-facing seat until they are at least 2 years old.

    Hidden Hazards

    Because car seats must meet the same stringent fire safety requirements as car interiors do, flame retardant chemicals have been used more in this product category than other baby products. Some manufacturers have succeeded in choosing materials that do not require flame retardants in most components; only one manufacturer offers a product entirely free of such chemicals. In addition, manufacturers reported solvents ethylene glycol, toluene, and ethyl benzene, and metals arsenic and antimony in car seats. 

    Other Considerations

    Finding the right car seat depends on many factors, and high price doesn't necessarily mean safest in a crash or easiest to use properly.  Make sure the car seat comes with instructions for installation and use, and make sure you've properly installed it before bringing your new baby home from the hospital. If you are going to use a second-hand car seat, there are several things to check: the expiration date - the plastics used in car seats can become more prone to breakage after a certain age and cease to be safe in a crash; the manufacturers label with the date of manufacturer and model number - necessary so you can find out if the product is recalled; and if the car seat has ever been in a crash - the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says any accident that is more than minor can compromise the structure, but some manufacturers recommend a new seat even after a minor accident. Never use a car seat that has been recalled.

    Recommendations

    The Ecology Center has identified two products - the Mesa Henry and Jordan car seats from UppaBaby -  that is free of chemical flame retardants, though we don't have full information on other materials (the same is true of other car seats that still contain flame retardant chemicals). Some other brands have reduced flame retardant use through product redesign - for example, by designing seats that rely on flame retardants in fewer parts to meet flammability standards.

    References & Resources

    Ecology Center's Children's Car Seat Study 2016

    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

    TRAVELING/Strollers

    Overview

    Most parents find having a stroller helpful. Like many baby products, the range of features on strollers has expanded significantly in recent years. And you can spend anywhere from $25 for a basic umbrella stroller to over $1,000 for the poshest ride. There are strollers that let a toddler sit or stand, and a baby ride, and  tandem strollers for twins or siblings close in age. Some allow you to attach a same-brand infant car seat as a "travel system."

    Hidden Hazards

    Companies reported to Washington state the presence of solvents like ethylene glycol, ethylbenzene, nonylphenol, phenol, and toluene, formaldehyde, phthalates, and styrene in strollers and their accessories. Clear plastic windows on stroller shades can be made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

    Other Considerations

    The American Academy of Pediatrics and Healthychildren.org recommend the following:

    1. If you use bumpers in your stroller, or if you string toys across it, fasten them securely so they can’t fall on top of the baby. Remove such toys as soon as the baby can sit or get on all fours.
    2. Strollers should have brakes that are easy to operate. Use the brake whenever you are stopped, and be sure your child can’t reach the release lever. A brake that locks two wheels provides an extra measure of safety. 
    3. Select a stroller with a wide base, so it won’t tip over.
    4. Children’s fingers can become caught in the hinges that fold the stroller, so keep your child at a safe distance when you open and close it. Make sure the stroller is securely locked open before putting your child in it. Check that your baby’s fingers cannot reach the stroller wheels.
    5. Don’t hang bags or other items from the handles of your stroller—they can make it tip backward. If the stroller has a basket for carrying things, be sure it is placed low and near the rear wheels.
    6. The stroller should have a seat belt and harness, and it should be used whenever your child goes for a ride. For infants, use rolled-up baby blankets as bumpers on either side of the seat.
    7. Never leave your child unattended.
    8. If you purchase a side-by-side twin stroller, be sure the footrest extends all the way across both sitting areas. A child’s foot can become trapped between separate footrests.
    9. There are also strollers that allow an older child to sit or stand in the rear. Be mindful of weight guidelines and especially careful that the child in the back doesn’t become overly active and tip the stroller.

    Recommendations

    With the information available today, it is difficult to offer specific guidance for avoiding the hazards listed above. Avoid strollers that have a strong odor in the store. Second-hand strollers can help get a full-feature stroller for a lower price; make sure you check for Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalls before you buy.

    References & Resources

    For more information about strollers that are safe from physical hazards, see this Healthy Children Project guide.

    Find out if a stroller has a recall.

    TRAVELING/Carriers

    Overview

    Hands-free baby carriers provide a great deal of convenience for parents but pay attention to weight limits. Be sure to choose an appropriate carrier for your baby’s development and motor abilities. Avoid using a carrier that curls your baby’s body into a “C” shape or where your baby’s head drops forward to a chin-to-chest position; this position can pinch off your baby’s windpipe. Make sure your baby’s head is up and above the fabric, their face is visible, and their nose and mouth are not covered by any part of the carrier or by your body or clothing.

    Hidden Hazards

    Baby carriers are made of textiles, padding, straps, and attachments (like snaps, clips, and velcro). If you choose carriers made with foam, these may have flame retardant chemicals. As with all textiles, they may contain a number of dyes and solvents as finishing and manufacturing chemicals. 

    Other Considerations

    Cost: don't assume that the highest priced model is the best. Pick a hands free carrier based on your comfort as well as one that best matches your anticipated use and needs. Weight limits: if you plan to use one early on for a very young infant, check the lower weight limit as well.

    Recommendations

    Whenever possible, choose organic textiles for items that will touch your baby's body. Products made of fabric are certified organic by GOTS (the Global Organic Textile Standard). As with all textiles, launder with unscented detergent before use.

    References & Resources

    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

    CLOTHING/Basics

    Overview

    It might be an exaggeration to say there are a million choices when it comes to clothing your baby and toddler, but there certainly is a very wide variety. Whether you choose to know the sex of your baby before they are born, there are some simple basics that every baby will need: onesies, leggings, socks, and outerwear for the season. 

    Hidden Hazards

    According to Washington State's database, companies reported the presence of 13 chemicals of concern in clothing, including antimony, nonylphenols, eight phthalates, solvents like methyl ethyl ketone, phthalic anhydride and styrene. In addition, a study that tested 77 textiles and infant clothing pieces detected bisphenols, including BPA, BPS, benzophenones, bisphenol A diglycidyl ethers (BADGEs), and novolac glycidyl ethers (NOGEs). BPA was found in 82% of items tested, with socks containing the highest concentration. Many of these chemicals are left over from processing the fabrics and can be removed by thorough washing (and it's why it's a good idea to wash all new clothing before wearing).

    Other Considerations

    No matter how cute they look, newborns and young babies don't need shoes. It can even harm their foot development if they wear hard-soled shoes like older children wear.

    Recommendations

    Consider organic natural fibers like cotton, wool, and bamboo, with non-toxic dyes.  Whenever possible, choose organic textiles for items that will touch your baby's body. Products made of fabric are certified organic by GOTS (the Global Organic Textile Standard). Avoid latex to avoid possible allergies.On a budget? Well-washed (with unscented detergents) used baby clothes can be a great way to build a wardrobe. Babies outgrow clothes so quickly there is a lot of wear left after the first baby is done with them. Make sure you wash all clothing for babies before they wear them.

    References & Resources

    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

    Greenpeace has a campaign to detox the textile industry, and has a lot of information about the hazards there, including in children's clothing.