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5 Rules for an Eco-Friendly Baby


3. Be Picky About Plastic

Plastic is light, inexpensive and doesn't break. The problem is, chemicals used to make them can leach into food and drinks. One of these chemicals, BPA, may present real health hazards. The silver lining of the "BPA cloud" is now it's easy to find BPA free plastics. Most are clearly labeled; another way to tell is by the recycling code: a 7 indicates it may contain BPA. (Not all number 7 plastics have BPA, soif it says BPA-free, it's OK.) Even with BPA-free plastics, it'sbest not to heat them, as heating increases leaching. All plastics are made with chemicals, says Jennifer Lowry M.D., a medical toxicologist at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. "Microwave safe means it's not going to melt down, not that something's not going to leach out of it," Dr. Lowry says.

Best Practices

  • Microwave food and drinks in glass or ceramic bowls and cups.
  • Store food in Pyrex storage containers that can go straight into the microwave, or store leftovers in serving bowls covered with plastic wrap.
  • Provide your daycare with a glass option for warming food. "We send glass Ball jars to daycare instead of plastics since I wouldn't want them heated," says Michelle Edelbaum, mom of a 2-year-old in Charlotte, Vermont. Or heat at home and send foods in a stainless-steel Thermos.
  • Hand-wash plastics instead of putting them in the dishwasher.
  • BPA can also lurk in the linings of food cans, so further reduce exposure by buying food in BPA-free cans (such as most foods offered by Eden Foods) and use fewer canned foods.

4. Go Easy on the Smelly Stuff

While most infant skin-care productsare safe, opt for ones without added fragrance, which could contain questionable chemicals. Even though no federal agency tests the safety of soaps, shampoos and lotions made for babies, "Most of the compounds that are vilified in consumer products [have been shown to be] dangerous only in large exposure over years of repeated use," says Paul Horowitz M.D., founder of Discovery Pediatrics in Valencia, California, and a spokeman for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Best Practices

  • Buy skin-care products without synthetic fragrance, which may contain phthalates.
  • Keep in mind that "a baby's skin generally takes care of itself," says Robert Sears M.D., a pediatrician and co-author of The Portable Pediatrician. "Little dabs of baby shampoo are all that's usually needed."
  • Check out the EWG's Skin Deep database¬†for detailed information on ingredients in skin-care items and toxicity ratings for specific productson a scale of zero to 10, with zero being the best.label lowdown when a label says fragrance-free or unscented. It just means the product doesn't smell. Some synthetic fragrances (which may contain phthalates) maybe added simply to neutralize other odors.