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Green Your Baby

Organic options for babyWith a new tiny addition to the Beauty by Nature team, in December 2009, we have decided to place focus this month on all things “baby”.You will find all our baby products on special until 31st January and some new and interesting products which we have added.

Nothing motivates one quite as much as being responsible for a new being, and having a baby is the moment when many people move from one end of the green spectrum to the other – it's no longer just what you put into and on your body that counts, now that it's a little life that's being affected – it becomes a big deal!

A new baby can create an enormous number of unexpected changes. Along with the little one comes a whole new category of things to purchase, not only the large obvious items like furniture and nappies, but also many unforeseen extras that seem to accumulate. While having a baby is consumer heaven, the key is to not be gulled into an unnecessary buying frenzy, remember that a baby has very minimal needs … here, we give you the low down on how to be more ‘green' when it comes to your baby; how you can treat the planet with the respect it deserves and in doing so, teach your child to do the same.

Whilst many people function on automatic pilot and stock up on disposables as the only sensible approach, the cotton nappy is re-emerging as a far more sustainable, green option.

Did you know:-

  • the average baby uses about 6000 nappies 
  • petroleum-based disposable nappies take 200 - 500 years to decompose 
  • SA is running out of room for landfill sites 
  • disposable nappies contain chemicals banned in the 1980s in women's tampons 
  • the long-term impact of chemicals in nappy production has not been studied 
  • nearly 8 million nappies make it to landfill every day in the UK

Washing cloth nappies does use energy and water, but one study showed that home-washing cloth nappies has only 53% of the ecological footprint of disposables , and if you're using biodegradable washing powder and sun-drying your nappies, the impact is further lessened.

The days of pins and cloth nappies, like your mother used, are over too (although the good old fashioned cloth nappies still work really well). Today there are fitted cloth nappies with velcro or snap fasteners. There are local companies supplying cloth nappies made from eco friendly materials like bamboo, hemp and organic cotton. Not only are they comfortable, practical and absorbent but they look cute too! Use an organic wool cover that is both warm and breathable, minimizing nappy rash and cold bottoms at night. Use either removable or flushable liners and when washing either use a laundering service or wash at home at lower temperatures and use a non-toxic detergent. (Enchantrix Laundry Liquid R41 & Enchantrix Fabric Softener R39)

The food that we feed ourselves and our families contains not only chemical additives like flavourants and colorants, but traces of pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones to name but a few. Many food additives cause allergy, they can tax the immune system, are responsible for hyperactivity or lethargy and can suppress appetite. Studies have proven that long term exposure to these additives and toxins can cause cancer, diabetes and other life threatening illnesses in children and adults.

From about 4-6 months, your baby starts to eat real food- rice cereal and mushy veggies and combinations of fish, meat, eggs, legumes, and vegetables. Buying jars of food is convenient, but as an adult you don't live out of jars, so why should your baby? For those occasional situations, purchase organic or fresh frozen baby foods. Otherwise, make your own. Cook up veggies, casseroles, or lentils, whatever is your thing, and freeze it in tiny containers or ice cube trays ready to take out and defrost when needed.

Whilst one of the most important choices you can make for the environment is to eat organic food, giving your baby organic food is even more vital and here is the reason why:- 

  • its has higher levels of vitamins and essential minerals 
  • there are NO additives, NO pesticides 
  • it is NOT GM (genetically modified) 
  • babies are more vulnerable to developmental damage than adults 
  • immature organs are more susceptible to damage from toxins in food

Learn to read the label! If there's anything in there that you don't understand, then it isn't natural and it probably isn't good for your baby.

Many parents are simply unaware of the fact that products marked ‘baby', ‘mild', ‘delicate' and ‘hypoallergenic' are far from being pure. Many children suffer from skin conditions, skin allergies and asthma, but most parents just accept it as ‘just one of those things'.

Many of these unpleasant and often painful conditions are caused by chemicals and toxins that we use in our homes every day. Our bodies absorb whatever we put on our skins. Go to any baby shower and you're sure to see an array of baby powders, creams and lotions that mothers feel obliged to buy for their newborns – most of them petroleum based.

In Baby products, one of the most common additives is those to make products foam and lather beautifully. These chemicals can be found in baby washes, soaps, cleansers and bubble bath. Chemical dyes are also readily added to products as fragrances. Each synthetic fragrance can contain up to 600 ingredients, with 95% of the chemicals in fragrances being derived from petroleum.

Consider wash and condition your child's hair, your child baths in bubble bath, washes with soap and then, if still in nappies, you use bum cream/vaseline or talc to ensure that no moisture remains. If you child's skin is dry, you apply a lotion and all of this with the utmost love and care. If you consider that you absorb up to 60% of what you put on your skin, you should be very careful about what you use on you and your family.

Keep your baby's skin soft and healthy, look for gentle, non drying cleansers. The best baby lotion is olive oil cheap, natural, and un-perfumed; you can clean your babies bottom with water and cotton wool (camomile tea or rooibos tea makes a good alternative for nappy rash days) and other products need to be as natural, organic and fragrance-free as possible. Watch out for those baby products claiming to be natural and organic – again, read the label.

Choose organic hemp or cotton, bamboo or wool fabrics made without toxic chemicals. These are best against a baby's sensitive skin and last longer with the constant washing.

Choose durable toys made of natural and non-toxic materials such as FSC wood, hemp and cotton. With wood make sure they use non toxic dyes and natural oil finishes. Avoid PVC plastic which may contain phthalates, the suspected hormone-disruptors that have been linked to liver and kidney damage.

Get back to basics and try old fashioned wooden toys and organic cotton or homemade teddies. Because babies put most things in their mouths, go as natural as possible.

As well as being tough, sturdy and functional, make sure furniture is non-toxic. Solid wood, treated with non-toxic varnish, oil or wax is best. Avoid chipboard wood (made using formaldehyde) or furniture plastic or a plastic coating as they may contain harmful softeners.

Babies don't need much—a secure place to sleep, a car seat, a high chair, and a way to be carted around. Purchase high quality, durable pieces of furniture made of sustainable, low-toxicity materials. Think about some alternatives to the regular old wooden baby bed; try using an organic cotton baby hammock or a cot that extends into a bed and lasts 6-7 years.

It goes without saying that alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking while pregnant are bad for a baby. But it is also very important to avoid exposure to the synthetic chemicals contained in everyday products such as paints, carpet, furniture, bedding, and pesticides. When decorating the nursery, use natural and low-VOC paints and don't lay new carpet before the baby is born. Suspicious new items should at least be left outside to off-gas for a few days before bringing inside.

Wipes and liners commonly include propylene glycol (a binder also found in antifreeze), parabens (a family of compounds commonly used as preservatives) and perfume, which can be made from up to 600 different chemicals. Try using good natural organic cotton wool and water and avoid disposable changing mats and perfumed nappy bags.


Take a look at this month specials at Beauty by Nature
...all geared to Green your Baby!
(delivery throughout SA)