How to shop for eco-friendly baby products

When shopping for your baby, here are a few eco-friendly items that you may want to add to your shopping list.

How to shop for eco-friendly baby products

Buying baby bottles

  • Clear plastic baby bottles are usually made of polycarbonate, a plastic that has been shown to leach out minute amounts of the hormone disruptor Bisphenol A, especially when heated.
  • Polycarbonate is one of several plastics grouped and identified by a number 7 inside the recycling triangle symbol.
  • As an alternative, look for glass bottles or safer kinds of plastics, such as polyethylene (recycling symbol 1, 2, 4) or polypropylene (symbol 5).
  • Contact the manufacturer if you are unsure.

Buying babycare products

  • Baby oil often contains mineral oil, a petroleum derivative.
  • Gentler, more earth-wise choices include cold-pressed vegetable and nut oils such as grapeseed, jojoba, almond and apricot kernel.
  • To protect your baby's skin from the detergents, preservatives and fragrances found in many commercial soaps, shampoos and creams, choose plant-based alternatives.

Buying diapers

  • Even allowing for their manufacture and the necessarily high level of washing required, cloth diapers are generally a more earth-wise choice than disposable ones. If you can't abide the idea of fiddling with safety pins and diaper covers, seek out the diaper systems that consist of a fitted non-plastic, waterproof cover with elasticized legs and waist and Velcro tabs, into which you insert the cloth diaper.

    Diaper disclaimers 

  • Disposable diapers might seem convenient, but they have many drawbacks, so they should be used sparingly, if possible.
  • They are more expensive, both financially and environmentally, than cloth diapers.
  • Most are bleached, a process that yields, as a by-product, dioxins, which are highly toxic and have been linked to cancer.
  • Most contain fragrances and polyacrylate crystals or gel (used to increase absorbency), which are possible irritants to infants.
  • Finally, their disposal presents major environmental problems because they are often made of non-biodegradable plastics, and also because of the sheer number of diapers thrown away.

    Earth- and baby-friendly types

  • If you feel you can't do without disposable diapers, try to find non-bleached, non-gel, natural cotton or wood-pulp ones.
  • You might also consider a diaper system of disposable pads held inside washable pants – these are non-bleached, non-perfumed, non-plastic and fully compostable, although they do contain super-absorbent gel.
  • Look also for the newly emerging disposable diaper recycling services – the paper and plastic in disposables can be separated and reused.
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