What would you guess goes into making a diaper? What about a bottle? Or lotion? These products are necessities for parents caring for a baby and the list of ingredients going into them seems to be getting longer. More parents are looking to go back to basics, but with confusing or nondescript names, it can be hard to tell what is actually in a product.
We've rounded up eight ingredients found in personal care items for babies that have inspired further research into their safety, making major headlines.
Items to Look For
When browsing for personal care products for your baby, it's important to check the ingredients on all products from diapers to wipes and detergent. These products can be made with common allergens as well as chemicals and other materials that do everything from brighten their color to providing their fresh scents. Here are eight ingredients to be aware of:
1. BPA -- Used in the production of plastic products and epoxy resins (which are used as a coating for metal), bisphenol A can be absorbed into the food within plastic and metal containers and consumed by babies. This may result in possible negative health effects.
2. Mineral Oil -- This type of oil is produced from petroleum that can be found in creams for diaper rash. Some components of this oil can cause allergic reactions, inflammation or irritation of the skin and increase sensitivity to sunlight. If ingested, it can cause abdominal pain and digestive issues.
3. Formaldehyde -- Preservatives like quaternium-15 release formaldehyde, which was determined to be a carcinogen in 2011. This means it's a cancer-causing agent. DMDM hyndantoin is another preservative that may be found on a product label that also releases formaldehyde.
4. Heavy Metals -- Found in baby food, these metals can include palladium, cadmium, lead and mercury which an accumulate within the body over time, negatively affecting the brain and other vital organs. Arsenic can also be present when the baby food includes rice.
5. Chlorine -- When you hear of chlorine, you probably think of a pool and the way it smells. Chlorine is used in baby diapers and wipes to bleach them to a crisp white, which we associate with cleanliness. Chlorine may leave behind dioxins, which can cause developmental delays with heavy exposure. This chemical can also be irritating.
6. Phthalates -- These chemicals are used in the making of plastic products to make them more durable. While research is in the early stages to determine the effects of these chemicals on the human body, it's known they can be absorbed into the food packaged in products that contain them.
7. Parabens -- The ingredients used to make health and beauty items do expire, just like food. Parabens are a type of preservative used in these products to extend their shelf life and inhibit the growth of bacteria. While research going back to the 1990s has sparked concern over a possible cancer connection, they're still considered safe. But they can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the skin.
8. Polyethylene Glycol -- Found in skin creams and used as a coating for products, PEG is also a main ingredient in laxatives, which your child may not need to be exposed to.
Scientists continue to examine the effects of these ingredients after short and long-term exposure. While these eight ingredients are common, they're by far not the only ingredients found in baby care products. Latex, dyes and fragrances may also be included. Research the brands you're considering and the specific ingredients in their products. If you can't easily find information on what it is (or can't find a benefit to the ingredient), it's probably best to avoid it.
More Advice When Shopping for Baby Food
When you're first adjusting your baby's diet to include baby food and solid food, weaning them off a bottle, you need to make sure you're introducing the right foods for their stage of development. When looking at jarred baby food, simplicity is key. The best baby foods will have the shortest lists, starting with the main fruit or vegetable and ending with water. Try to avoid preservatives, added sweeteners (either sugar or artificial sweeteners), pesticides, insecticides or other chemicals. Like with processed food for adults, if you don't know immediately what an ingredient is, you may want to avoid it.
More and more natural baby products are becoming available, including food, diapers, wipes, lotions, washes and more. We'll keep you updated on all the latest news and be sure to check out eVitamins' selection of top brands, including Earth's Best and Seventh Generation!