By Fredrica Syren:
With our firstborn, I was so happy to get pretty much everything, including all her clothes, as hand-me-downs, which saved us lots of money and saved the environment. As most parents know, with a baby comes the need to buy lots of things for them: furniture, car seat, diapers, bathtub, clothes, stroller, etc. Buying everything new will have, for sure, a huge negative impact on the environment.
Once my second and third were born and I had read many reports on dyes and pesticides in clothes, including baby clothes, I was horrified. Most baby clothes are made from cotton. Did you know that cotton is one of the most sprayed crops in the world?
Conventional cotton producers are accountable for the use of nearly $2.6 billion worth of pesticides and insecticides, which account for more than 35% of the world’s pesticides and insecticide use. The EPA classifies pesticides used in conventional cotton farming as the most dangerous chemicals: at least five of them are known to cause cancer. There is no doubt that pesticides are extremely dangerous, and in fact the only known poison that we humans release into the environment and our food production. That is dangerous to the health of animals, plants, wildlife and humans. A 2004 science report revealed that pesticides applied to cotton during its production can be detected in cotton clothing and in chemical residues that may affect the health of the person wearing it; and, yes, this also includes babies wearing conventional cotton clothes. Babies’ skin is very delicate and very sensitive. It absorbs toxins and chemicals like pesticides and synthetic colors into the blood stream and internal organs very easily. This means that children are at greater risk for pesticide-related health problems than adults.
So what are the best and safest options? Baby wear made with sustainable fibers with nontoxic dyes are best. Examples are organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, wool or silk. Make sure to check the label for no chemical finishes, nontoxic dyes and inks, and fair labor practices. Some great organic clothing companies are Under the Nile, Kate Quinn Organics, KicKee Pants, Hanna Andersson and Polan o. Pyret.
Now the problem with organic baby clothes is the price. Unfortunately, organic clothes for both kids and adults may come with a hefty price, so how do you find affordable and safe clothing for your kids? First of all, my first baby had way more clothes than she ever needed and, as a matter of fact, many outfits were never worn because she grew so fast. With babies # 2 and # 3, I focused on a few great and versatile outfits, and bought them whenever there was a sale. I invested in only 7-10 outfits from the beginning. This allowed me to choose higher quality options and not go bankrupt. I also found lots of great deals on used organic baby clothes sold on eBay and other sites. Now that my kids are older (3, 5 and 9 years old), I still opt for organic clothing and buy most of it used.
I know that when it comes to keeping our babies safe, the number of hidden dangers there are can be too overwhelming, and it can be hard to know where to start. The basic idea is not trying to change the world on our own, but trying to do the best we can for our babies — or at least giving it an honest effort.