And now for a little detour into my recent adventures in creating a healthier home...
I've posted before about my attempts to phase out various chemicals from my skin care regimen and our home. I'm not particularly trying to take a moral stand for eco-friendliness or even trying to be one of those weird all-natural people. I just hate being itchy, breaking out, sneezing and dealing with mysterious rashes all the time. (Call me crazy!) I can't imagine our baby-on-the-way will enjoy itchy rashes any more than I do, so I am preparing as though our baby will inherit my sensitive skin (and S's sensitive nose). I know I cannot possibly eliminate all potentially harmful chemicals from our child's existence, but I would like to be as mindful as possible as to what I slather on or rest against our baby's skin for long periods.
Fragrance, for example, which is in nearly every bath and beauty product, is known to cause neurotoxicity, allergies and immunotoxicity according to the Environmental Working Group. We already buy fragrance-free products and detergents for ourselves, and it makes a difference. (Beware of "sensitive skin" products that say they are "unscented" but actually contain masking fragrance so that it appears to be fragrance-free. Jerks!) There are other chemicals I know very little about, though, so my tactic is to just look up any product I'm considering buying in the EWP's Cosmetics Database and choose things with the lowest hazard ratings when possible. It's easy, and so far I've been happy with the products I've chosen this way.
Linens are a whole other story. Organic cotton sounds good in theory--but if you're going to buy organic, what I don't understand is why you then have it dunked in artificial dyes to give it those adorably nauseating baby colors and prints. A lot of dyes--and companies aren't usually clear about what kind they use--contain formaldehyde and other potentially icky substances. Who cares if an item was produced without using pesticides if it's coated in other toxins? It's like buying low-fat diet foots that replace the fat with extra sugar--the classic bait and switch.
So with that in mind, I decided I'd register for undyed, organic, as-chemical-free-as-possible linens (if I could find some affordable ones), since babies spend a lot of time sleeping on them. So after striking out at Target and Amazon, I googled and found that Flannelplanet.com was offering organic, chemical-free, dye-free baby bedding for just $10 per fitted sheet--SO CHEAP compared to everything else out there, let alone these elusive dye-free sheets that I was looking for. But since the website still said they were "coming soon" I decided to email them to find out when they'd be restocked. I got back this kind email from the owner:
Hi Emily,So I guess maybe I am one of those all-natural weirdos after all, since there aren't many people as interested in this as I am--except this one guy and his family. So my search continues. I have read that diluted bleach solutions are actually quite beneficial to eczema sufferers, so maybe bleached white cotton would be fine. But it's just the principle of the thing, you know?
I have to admit that I got only tepid interest in this. I was really disappointed because I thought it was a great product. It certainly isn’t a new idea and flannelplanet is certainly not the pinnacle of marketing prowess, but relative to other products we choose to carry it was sort of a dud. Our 1 ½ year old sleeps on the prototypes each night and my wife has noted that they get softer and softer with each washing. I am bummed, but I can’t afford to hold products that only my baby and wife like. Do you have any ideas?
My conclusion after this little foray into creating a healthier home is that, overall, healthy-sounding things like "organic" products seem to be all about marketing and status and not actual health. Bummer.
Does anyone have any advice for raising a happy, rash-free baby in a world full of chemical irritants?