Baby toiletries: chemical vs natural?

by Linda Sones on July 4, 2007

in EcoKids

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Babies are helpless little creatures entirely dependent on us to give them the best care we possibly can. There is a wealth of information available to mums about feeding and parenting but when it comes to baby toiletries there is little information given and a bewildering range of products to choose from.

It used to be thought that cosmetics did not penetrate the skin and there were consequently no regulations about what manufacturers put into their products. Adult human skin is thought to absorb 60% of everything it comes into contact with and baby’s skin is about six times thinner and five times more sensitive. Yet when you read the list of ingredients listed on baby products they look much the same as those listed on standard family toiletries. Furthermore there is no independent assessment on the safety of chemical substances used even though there are rising levels of concern about potential harmful effects on both health and the environment. Manufacturers are not required to prove ingredients to be safe. At present 99% of the substances that have been used for years are only tested by the manufacturers. Only if an ingredient is proved to be unsafe is it withdrawn.

Look at the chemicals listed in your child’s toiletry products. Commonly SLS or sodium lauryl sulfate is used in baby wipes and shampoos although it has been linked to skin irritations, diarrhoea, breathing problems and eye damage particularly in small children. In higher concentrations this same chemical is used in household cleaning products. When combined with other ingredients it can form nitrosamines which are carcinogenic. Propylene Glycol this is a surfactant or wetting agent and an active component in anti freeze! Diethanolamine(DEA) Triethanolamine(TEA) and Monoethanolamine(MEA) commonly found in children’s bubble baths combined with nitrosamines they can become carcinogenic. These chemicals have been outlawed in some countries but are widely available in the U.K. There are many many more chemicals such as these and probably the best way of avoiding them is to choose pure and natural toiletries for babies and question which products you actually need at all. Advertisers would like us to think that to be good parents we should cover our babies in lotions and potions from the day they are born, but why expose your child to a cocktail of detergents, preservatives, colourants and fragrances. Avoid products containing potentially irritating or harmful ingredients. Remember young babies are unable to tell you if they are itching so watch for red patches, rash or flaking skin. Above all keep what you use simple and to a minimum.

Grandmother and former nurse Linda Sones sells organic cotton bedding and natural, organic baby toiletries online at SonesUK.

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