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By Farhana Kassam, Itsabelly Vancouver Baby Planner/Owner

A new baby brings overwhelming feelings of over-protectiveness – this dire need to keep your little one safe at all costs. We spend hours researching the perfect car-seat, the safest crib and baby proofing our homes to no end to make sure baby is safe from harm. Many of us even go so far as to make sure our children only eat home-made organic food, to expose them to the least number of toxic pesticides and chemicals that we possibly can.

I thought I was aware of so many of these things before my daughter was born but I realise everyday how incredibly clueless I am. I was so clueless that I assumed baby products had to be made according to safety regulations that the government must be setting for our precious little bundles. I started my little one off using regular drug store soaps, creams and diapers. Was I ever wrong! The cosmetic industry is totally unregulated meaning that there are NO safety regulations for the manufacturers to adhere to. The skin is the largest organ of the human body and there are no safety regulations protecting any of us from all the toxins and chemicals that are put into so many of these products. If you already know that there is lead in lipstick; 1, 4 dioxane in baby soap; and coal tar in shampoo then you are miles ahead of where I was. If you already know that studies done by the US government of 2,983 chemicals in cosmetics showed that 884 were shown to be toxic. 33% contain ingredients linked to Cancer, 45% contain ingredients harmful to the reproductive system or to a baby’s development and 60% contain ingredients that can act like estrogen or disrupt hormones. [1]

After months of researching the crazy chemicals I had been unintentionally exposing my daughter to, I learned that finding safe products for children is not nearly as easy as we would hope. There are tons of products out there, they just require a little bit of leg work to find! Fortunately, living in the wonderful city of Vancouver means there is a natural food store in every neighbourhood and every one of them carry some natural cosmetic products including products for children. Companies like Kiss my Face (www.kissmyface.com), Aubrey Organics, California Baby and Burt’s Bee’s produce products that the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetic database deems as being safer than most products available in mainstream stores. This database has been an invaluable resource to me over the last few months and I would highly recommend that you check out the products you are using not only on your children but on your own skin too to make sure you are protecting yourself as much as you possibly can from chemicals that have been proven to increase the risks of developmental disabilities, reproductive problems and a number of different types of cancers.

For those of you who may not be in a city that is as “green” as Vancouver, I recently made two very cool finds…. First, Burt’s Bee’s products are sold are Sears (www.sears.ca) stores! Can’t get more accessible than that! And secondly, The Body Shop, a store that is very well known for its support of fair trade and not testing their products on animals, has developed a line of baby products. As they put it, the products are free of “nasties”. This does not mean that the rest of the Body Shop’s products are safe. Products for adults still contain many of the chemicals and toxins shown to be harmful with prolonged use, but the Buriti Baby line is a safer mainstream alternative for concerned parents who may not have easy access to health food stores.

I strongly encourage all of you who are concerned about this toxin issue to take a look at www.ewg.org, Environmental Working Group’s website. There is a lot of very insightful information pertaining not only to the health of our children but also some real eye openers with regards to the products we all use in our every day lives for cleaning, deodorizing, nourishment and beautifying. We all have to start somewhere and the more we know the safer we can make our children’s worlds.

[1] Malkan, S. Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry. British Columbia, Canada: New Society Publishers; 2007.

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