Gearing up for a newborn? We’ve got tips for safer baby essentials that will help you navigate the must-haves with an eye toward healthier products for your little one.
1. From crib to sheets, make a healthy bed for your baby.
Start with a solid wood crib, unfinished or finished with low-toxic paint or sealer. When choosing a crib mattress, look for materials such as wool, cotton, and natural latex—avoid polyurethane foam, PVC/vinyl, and antibacterial treatments. Protect your mattress with wool puddle pads, or mattress pads made from cotton with a polyethylene layer. Again, avoid PVC/vinyl waterproofing materials along with antibacterial or stain treatments. For sheets, choose natural fibers and steer clear of “no-iron” permanent press bedding which may emit formaldehyde.
2. Use fewer baby personal care products.
Most babies don’t need suds or lotion on a regular basis, and plain water is effective for washing. When you do use soap or shampoo, look for fragrance-free and dye-free products, and skip anti-bacterial ingredients. If you use baby oil, choose plant-based oils. Avoid baby powders which can easily be inhaled and irritate lungs. For laundry care, use fragrance-free and dye-free detergents.
3. Green your diaper bag.
- Use less toxic chlorine-free and fragrance-free disposable diapers, or better yet choose cloth diapers.
- Choose PVC-free diaper covers made of wool, PUL fabric (polyurethane laminate), PEVA plastic, or nylon.
- Making your own baby wipes can be as simple as a damp washcloth, or use fragrance-free disposables.
- Choose a changing pad without polyurethane foam or PVC/vinyl; instead, look for wool, cotton, or polyester fill materials, and a polyethylene or PUL surface. Or, forgo a changing pad and use a washable towel.
4. Choose a nursing pillow without toxic flame retardants.
Look for fill materials like cotton, wool, buckwheat, or polyester instead of polyurethane foam due to concerns about toxic flame retardants. Avoid pillows labeled as meeting California flame retardant standard TB117.
5. Buy a car seat from companies that don’t use toxic flame retardants and PVC/vinyl.
Some companies are developing policies to replace harmful brominated and chlorinated flame retardants with safer alternatives. Visit healthystuff.org to see results of car seat testing for toxic chemicals. If purchasing a new carseat, check manufacturers’ current policies on flame retardants.
6. Use safer pacifiers and teethers.
If your baby needs a pacifier, choose clear silicone. For teething, go plastic-free with teethers made from unfinished wood or use a frozen washcloth.
7. Shop for secondhand clothing, and choose certified organic clothes when possible.
Welcome the hand-me downs, and wash new clothes at least once before your baby wears them.
8. Choose a solid wood or hard plastic highchair or booster seat.
Look for models with a simple washable fabric seat. Avoid antimicrobial or stain-resistant treatments, polyurethane foam, and PVC/vinyl in any seat cushion.
9. Stroll safely by avoiding foam padding in strollers, and fabrics with stain resistant or antimicrobial treatments.
Most plastic stroller rain covers are PVC, so avoid as much as possible. Safer all-weather cover materials include TPU clear plastic.
10. Choose glass baby bottles to avoid concerns about chemicals leaching from plastic, and use clear silicone nipples.
If feeding baby with formula, choose powdered; avoid ready-made formula in metal cans.