As parents, we approach decision making with our children in mind. Before children are even conceived, we crave reliable information to make educated choices to protect our babies. But we’re constantly bombarded with new information. Lately, much of the overwhelming wisdom has to do with environmental hazards, specifically, limiting baby’s exposure to toxins. And all too often the solutions for keeping kids safe can come with hefty price tags, which might leave you wondering if the green movement is worth it. While it is important to keep perspective and not fall prey to alarmist theories (and accompanying high costs), there is too much evidence to ignore the link between toxin exposure and issues like asthma, autism, reproductive problems and cancer.
Chemicals can easily reach higher concentrations in babies’ small bodies than in older children and adults. And because babies put pretty much everything in their mouths, it is crucial to think about the various toxins in your child’s everyday environment. As a bonus, raising children in an environmentally friendly way can help them adopt healthier habits that will stay with them throughout their lives, whether it comes to eating well, living a sustainable lifestyle or being mindful of how to conserve the planet’s resources.
While raising green children, you’ll make smarter choices and get by with fewer things, thereby creating less waste and spending less money. Lastly, living green gives your family a sense of responsibility and a consciousness about how the choices you make today can leave a negative or a positive impact on our natural resources tomorrow.
HOW TO ADHERE TO A GREEN LIFESTYLE WITH BABY
Decide what shade of green is realistic for your family. Looking for simple solutions to lead a healthier lifestyle? Maybe you should aim for pale green. If you’re ready to dive in head first, perhaps dark green makes sense. Even small steps toward a greener life will benefit baby and the rest of the clan. No pressure to turn your life upsidedown to accommodate a new composter in the backyard.
- When baby starts eating food, try to go organic. Organic foods generally contain more nutrients than conventionally grown varieties. Moreover, choosing organic means no pesticide residues, GMOs, artificial ingredients or other potentially harmful chemicals. One study shows that children eating a conventional diet had about nine times the EPA-established safe level of pesticides in their urine compared with children who ate organic diets.
- Provide baby with foods from eight key groups— fruit, vegetables, grains, protein, calcium and vitamin D sources, iron sources, fats and probiotics.
- Scan labels and think twice about buying anything with hydrogenated oils (sometimes listed as trans fats), artificial colors or preservatives.
- Ensure that baby’s food comes in BPA-free packaging. Bisphenol A is a known endocrine disrupter, and studies show it can leach from plastics into foods and beverages. Also opt for packaging you can repurpose or recycle rather than throw away.
- Try making your own baby food with organic produce and foods. It is a lot less work than it seems, and the benefits are evident. Because you pick all the ingredients yourself, you can choose the freshest and healthiest foods available. You can also prepare meals that look and taste fresh to baby’s budding palette.
- Believe it or not, baby can be affected by mom’s beauty routine. Avoid wearing perfume or anything with strong odors. These aren’t good for young children to inhale all day. Also swap out soaps, cleansers, lotions and other beauty products containing parabens or phthalates, which are sometimes disguised as “fragrance.” If aroma is a must, look for products scented with plant-based oils.
- Keep in mind that baby is affected by nearly everything he or she comes in contact with, including a crib, bedding, clothing and toys. Familiarize yourself with options before buying. For example, consider a crib made from solid wood. If you buy pressed wood, look for low-VOC and formaldehyde-free furniture with nontoxic finishes.
- Go green with how you clean. Vinegar and baking soda are effective and safe for everything from cleaning baby’s crib to wiping down the windows. When buying supplies, choose products with natural ingredients and swap disposable supplies like paper towels for rags.