When we think of baby’s health, we usually think of the food we feed baby, vaccinations (or no vaccinations) for baby or maybe how many hours of sleep little bub should have. It’s not often that household cleaners would cross our mind.
We remember that what goes into baby’s body is important, hence the importance of milk and food. Let’s not forget that babies also often like to put things in their mouths, as they are inquisitive little beings; after all, this is how they learn about the world! Babies would put their own fingers and hands in their mouth, their handkerchiefs, their soft toy, their rattle….just about anything they can get a hold of!
While we may think that their toys are clean, have a think about what the toys have been cleaned with. And when baby goes crawling around, the floors where baby’s hand is always in contact with will be clean…but what with?
Did you know that manufacturers do not have to list the ingredients on household products? It is no wonder then that WebMD lists household cleaners as common skin irritants at home. This encompasses laundry detergents, air fresheners, anti-bacterial cleaners (including toy cleaners, floor cleaners and surface cleaners) and dishwasher detergents.
Skin is the largest organ of our body and has lots of surface area for chemicals to be absorbed into. Any residue from the product, whether on the table, floor, toilet seat, even in the air, will eventually have contact with our body. What more with babies, who have larger surface area to body weight compared to adults. In addition, their skin is three to five times thinner than that of adults’. Therefore, it is much easier for baby’s skin to absorb any nasty chemicals from household products, or indeed any skincare product, into their body.
What sort of nasty chemicals are we talking about? Many ingredients used in household cleaners are known carcinogens. For example, antibacterial sprays often contain sodium hypochlorite, a type of volatile organic compound (VOC) linked to asthma and respiratory problems. Getting that white shirt whiter with the chlorine bleach? Chlorine bleach has been linked to respiratory problems too. Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) have the potential to cause liver and kidney damage. Ammonia is another commonly used ingredient in household products, which if used in too high doses or in unventilated areas can cause burning sensations in eyes, skin, throat and lungs. Chances of getting allergies from household products is high.
It’s not all doom and gloom. With just a few simple changes, you can keep the clothes, floors, surfaces and toys clean without compromising baby’s health. Be wise when you shop for household products. Start by having a closer look at the label. Does it look like the manufacturer has declared all ingredients? Do the marketing claims seem a bit vague or too good to be true? Or, the easiest way would be to choose a product that is certified natural or organic. Look for a reputable certification body, such as ECOCERT, to ensure you are getting a safe product.