Modern inventions have greatly facilitated our everyday life but have often come at the cost of introducing more toxins and pollutants to our environment and in our homes. Reducing toxins exposure to our children has become a hot topic.
It’s common for women to stop using hair dye, nail polish or industrial beauty products during pregnancy to reduce the foetus’ exposure to chemicals. Unfortunately, we should continue being vigilant about toxic compounds even after birth. With their immune system and organs still developing, babies and young children are most susceptible to environmental toxins. How can we do our best so our kids aren’t harmed?
Toxins are everywhere
Formaldehyde, phthalates, arsenic, parabens, triclosan…. The list of toxins in our everyday life keeps growing. From carpets, paints, cookware, cleaning supplies, beauty products and even in our food… toxins have invaded every part of our homes.
Why are toxins harmful?
Toxins can act as endocrine disruptors, which means it interferes with our natural hormones. This can result in symptoms that can easily be treated but in worse case scenarios it can create long term developmental defects and diseases. Some common symptoms of toxin exposure in children and adults include:
- Neurodevelopmental disorders
- Asthma, allergies and eczema
- Gut issues like constipation, diarrhoea, poor digestion
- Difficulty concentrating, attention deficit hyperactivity and IQ loss
- Sleep disorders
- Obesity in babies and young children
- Precocious puberty
How do toxins affect your child’s development?
During their first years, babies develop neural connections at an incredible rate of 1 million per second. These connections create what the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child calls “the architecture” of your child’s brain, a foundation with lasting effects on every child’s life.
A number of experts concur that before and after birth, exposure to toxic chemicals and pollutants dramatically increase your infant’s risks for neurodevelopmental disorders. Of course, there can be other causes to developmental issues or diseases than toxin exposure, but it is one of the most preventable.
A simple guide to reducing toxins exposure for your baby
There’s a number of switches we can make to reduce the amount of toxic compounds arounds our kids. Here’s a few things to be aware of:
- If you have some budget for organic produce, focus on the ones that absorb more pesticides, such as apples and spinach, and get the other ones in the regular section.
- Feed your baby cereals that are naturally low in arsenic, such as oatmeal and multigrain.
- Choose rice-free snacks. Arsenic can be found in minuscule amounts in most foods, but the crop with the highest amount of inorganic arsenic in rice.
- Focus on variety when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Some fruits and vegetables have higher levels of toxins than others and your child also needs variety in terms of vitamins and nutrition.
Personal care products
- Lotions: avoid ingredients like parfum or fragrance, petrolatum or petroleum by-products like propylene glycol, polyethylene glycol (PEG) and polypropylene glycol (PPG) and preservatives like parabens.
- Soaps and shampoos: watch out for sodium laureth sulphate (SLES) and sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), paraben, artificial fragrance, petroleum by-products like propylene glycol, PEG and PPG.
- Baby wipes and diaper creams: nasty ingredients you can spot on the labels include triclosan, propylene glycol, PEG and PPG, parabens and artificial fragrances, boric acid and BHA.
- Hand sanitizers: triclosan is the main toxin in hand sanitizer due to its antibacterial effect but it’s not the only one. Typically you will also find artificial fragrances and petroleum by-products. Soap and water are a healthier option.
For moisturizing, healing and care, use Petit Jovial for the entire family. All of our products contain NO detergents, SLS, alcohol, parabens, sorbates, silicones, sulphates, preservatives or artificial fragrances.
Cleaning & home products
- Detergents and cleaners: all mainstream detergents contain sulphates like SLS and SLES, which act as foaming agents. You’ll also find parabens (like methyl, propyl, isobutyl) and phthalates. Chemicals commonly found in cleaners include ammonia, chlorine, hydrochloric, phosphorous acid and ethanolamines.
- Air freshners, paints and polishes: an important source of air pollution in your home. These have a cocktail of harmful chemicals including formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds that get into our lungs. These can chemicals can irritate our eyes, nose, throat and cause skin irritation.
- Cookware: from the plastic in your containers to your teflon pans, with heat even more chemicals get into food.
A few easy things to do for reducing toxins exposure:
- In most cases, you can start by reading labels to check the ingredient list. Use an app like Yuka to quickly scan and check products while doing your shopping.
- Air out the house everyday. Keep your windows open for a good 30 minutes daily. By changing the air in your home, you are also reducing the contraction of pollutants in the air you breathe.
- Let new items like plush toys, pillows and fabrics air out for a good two weeks before using them. Sometimes you can tell by the smell, many products are sprayed with chemicals to keep them from molding or aging while being shipped around the globe or stored in warehouses. It’s not just for fabric items either and it’s rarely with healthy compounds.
- Green plants can remove toxic chemicals including formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide from the air. Keeping your house filled with plants is one of the easiest ways to help your health.
- A great alternative to most cleaning products is actually quite simple. White vinegar, baking soda and essential oils mixed together will clean, disinfect and deodorise most surfaces in your home.
- In the kitchen switch from plastic containers to glass and steel. Try beeswax fabrics for wrapping foods instead of plastic wraps. Ditch your teflon pans for steel or cast iron.
There’s tons of natural and safe alternatives when we take the time to look for them, even for something like baby eczema.
Until next time, Tania xx