I have three children ages 7, 4, and 2, and all of them eat things that are apparently unusual for other children–kale, swiss chard, broccoli, cauliflower, balsamic vinegar, olives, sheep’s milk feta, etc. When we visited Greece while my oldest was three, he ate little fried fish, heads and tails included. Most impressively, all three children will chew on a fish oil capsule every morning after breakfast.
My husband and I grew up much pickier. I hated olives and feta as a child, something to really be ashamed of since I am half Greek and spent many summers in Greece. I mostly liked things that were creamy and cheesy and vividly remember a one-week family vacation where every night at every restaurant I ordered fetuccine alfredo to be followed by cheesecake. And I washed it down with a virgin strawberry daiquiri. How does a person with a childhood like that end up raising children who will eat fish heads? It turns out, mostly by accident. Continue reading »
I read a couple magazines at the gym tonight and was pleased to see that many of the ones geared towards parents give advice for how to avoid BPA and phthalates. Time magazine also recently published a great article about BPA and how much it increases in your blood from eating canned soup (1200%!!!). When my first child was a newborn in 2005, this information was nearly impossible to find. I’m happy to see it becoming more mainstream.
Speaking of BPA, I posted a year ago that Muer Glen tomato cans were lined with BPA, but that the company planned to phase out those cans (see undated post on their website as well). I bought a can to see and sure enough, the lining is now copper instead of a plastic looking white. Nothing printed on the cans mentions a change, but I wonder if the cans no longer contain BPA.
This is a really interesting article about how American parents should follow the lead of European parents and not be afraid to have a drink or two each night to take the edge off. I couldn’t agree more!
Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo sold in the U.S. has contained known carcinogens for years. Sadly, their formulas sold in other counties like Japan and Sweden do not. Thanks to years of pressure from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, they plan to phase out the preservative quarternium-15 (which releases formaldehyde, a carcinogen) and 1,4-dioxane (also a carcinogen).
Read my post on this issue from March 2009. It certainly took a long time for Johnson & Johnson to yield to the pressure, and I’m grateful to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics for their persistence! Below is a letter they sent to their subscribers.
Are Canadian babies any less deserving of safety than Japanese babies? Is it OK for U.S. babies to share the bathtub with formaldehyde but not for U.K. babies? We don’t think so, and we’d bet most people would agree that all babies should be safe, regardless of where they live.
Yet Johnson & Johnson sells different—safer, formaldehyde-free—versions of its iconic “No More Tears” baby shampoo in Denmark, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the U.K. than in the U.S., Australia, Canada, China and Indonesia. This news was exposed in an analysis the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released Tuesday. Continue reading »
Sand for children’s sand tables and sand boxes is typically silica (silicone dioxide). The National Toxicology Program (NTP) has concluded that silica is a carcinogen. California’s Prop 65 mandates that silica containing products be labeled with a cancer warning. The problem with play sand containing silica is that as a child plays with it, it creates a dust that the child inhales. While workers using silica wear respiratory protection, obviously children do not. Breathing dust that contains crystalline silica particles can lead to a respiratory disease called silicosis. Most children playing in sandboxes will not breath in enough silica to cause disease, but some parents may be concerned about their children breathing in anything dangerous while playing. You’re probably not surprised to find that I am one of those mothers!
Some other concerned mothers in my neighborhood decided to order sand that does not contain silica, so I joined them and got 50 pounds. The company is called Safe Sand and there is a lot of information about sand on their site. The stuff is pricey though, at $1/pound. We have yet to clear out the sand in our sandbox and add the safe sand, but once we do, I’ll try to share some pictures.
It’s hard to find food storage containers that aren’t made of plastic. Especially portable ones for lunches on the go. That’s why I was so excited to see a new vendor at the antique market in my neighborhood. They were selling all sorts of lunch boxes and containers made of stainless steel, glass, and other safer materials.
Here are some of the great finds I got:
- Lunchskins – bags made of frosting piping material. Free of lead, BPA, and phthalates. Dishwasher safe. A great alternative to plastic sandwich bags.
- LunchBots – My sister-in-law gave me one last year and I love it. They make various sizes. I love that they aren’t breakable like many of the glass containers we use at home. Much better for my children’s school lunches.
- Lifefactory sippy cups – These bottles and “cups” are made out of glass, but are protected from breakage by a silicone cover. The sippy cup top is made with plastic #5 (one of the safest options out there) with a silicone stopper to prevent leakage. Continue reading »
A study from UC San Francisco of 25 pregnant women living in California found the highest levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE’s) ever reported in expecting women. PBDEs were banned in 2004 in California, but for decades before that were used in anything with polyurethane foam (couch cushions, crib mattresses, etc.), as well as electronics. PBDE’s affect the development of baby’s brain, liver, and thyroid. While PBDE’s may be banned, they persist in the environment and bioaccumulate in people. Chemically similar substitutes are currently in use.
The best way to avoid inadvertent consumption of PBDE’s is to wash your hands frequently (especially before eating), dust/mop your house frequently, and avoid foam products. Also look for electronics made by companies who have phased out PBDE’s, like Apple and Sony. For more about this study, see this article.
Many people may think reading at the dinner table is rude, but I have to admit that I love it. I like to read personally, and I enjoy it even more knowing that in addition to escaping my children and learning something new, this is actually encouraged by the professionals as modeling reading behavior. So my husband and I like to engulf ourselves in magazine and newspaper articles during mealtime while our children are present.
The best part is when my kids start to mimic this. Tonight, my six-year old got an issue of Your Big Backyard for himself and his three-year old brother. Then we all proceeded to read our magazines while eating dinner. It was the quietest part of my day, and one of the most enjoyable. :)
Any baby product made of foam is likely to contain fire retardants, since the foam is petroleum based and highly flammable. Here is an interesting article about the toxins in baby products like carseats and nursing pillows. This is one of the main reasons why we recently bought an organic crib mattress.
This is a good time to remind parents that flame retardant chemicals are often found in household dust. Since children are on the ground touching the dust and then sticking their hands in their mouths, their exposure to flame retardants is much higher than it is for me or you. Be diligent about washing your children’s hands. I didn’t wash my first born’s hands before eating because I washed them after and it felt like too much hand washing. But now I have three children and I make the time to wash my baby’s hands before every meal/snack as well as after. Also, make sure you sweep and vacuum (with a HEPA filter) regularly too!
It has long been known that the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976 is outdated and ineffective. Most notably, the TSCA does little to protect our most vulnerable–pregnant women and children–from dangerous chemicals in the environment. A company that wants to use a chemical in a product can do so without first testing for, much less demonstrating, its safety. Not until the chemical has been widely used and irrefutabely proved to cause harm can it be banned or its use controlled. The TSCA is so weak that since 1976, only 5 chemicals out of 80,000 in circulation have been restricted. Essentially, our current chemical management policy is that we will test new chemicals on the general public, on our developing children, at no cost to the companies manufacturing these chemicals. We have placed a higher priority on a company’s rights than on an individual’s rights. For this reason, I’m pleased to see that the American Academy of Pediatrics, as of last month, is calling for revision of American chemical policy. Perhaps we can adopt legislation like the EU did (REACH) in 2007. Better late than never, right?