Posts Tagged news

Rub a dub dub: ‘No More Toxic Tub’ study sheds light on bath products

There’s a new report out that reveals some daunting information that will make you want to think twice about your babe’s bath products. Oh no, what now, right?

whats-going-onThe Campaign for Safe Cosmetics published a report that says several children’s bath products are contaminated with the cancer-causing chemicals formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane.  This isn’t the first time you’ve probably heard similar information; a study came out in 2008 that focused on organic personal products. However, this new study called, “No More Toxic Tub,” is the first to document the widespread presence of both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane in bath products for children, including baby shampoos, bubble baths and baby lotions. The group says Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane are known carcinogens; formaldehyde can also trigger skin rashes in some children. The report said that unlike many other countries, the U.S. government does not limit formaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, or most other hazardous substances in personal care products.

Just a few of the products tested are:

  • CVS Baby Shampoo (CVS/Pharmacy)
  • Suave Kids 2-in-1 Shampoo – Wild Watermelon (Unilever)
  • American Girl Real Beauty Inside and Out Shower Gel – Apple Blossom (Bath & Body Works)
  • Equate Tearless Baby Wash (Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.)
  • Grins & Giggles Milk & Honey Baby Wash (Gerber Products Company)
  • Huggies Naturally Refreshing Cucumber & Green Tea Baby Wash (Kimberly-Clark)
  • Sesame Street Bubble Bath – Orange Mango Tango (The Village Company)

To see all of the products tested and results go here. Per usual, there’s no need to be alarmed, so don’t go and toss out all of your bath products.  The big picture here is, it’s all about being smarter consumers and to be aware of what you’re buying and using. I mean, who doesn’t want the best for their kid?

Once again, I’ll take the opportunity to tout the awesomeness of natural products. With this latest report, I thought I’d share some alternatives to the more questionable products that were included in this latest study.

These are my top picks:

star-pink-32x32Dr. Bronner’s Baby Liquid Soap
olba16USA Today said that products bearing the U.S. Department of Agriculture Organic seal, such as items by Dr. Bronner’s, were free of 1,4-dioxane. Dr. Bronner’s is one of these products that is truly organic. Their extensive line includes liquid soap and baby wash that both Jeff and I love. We use the Peppermint and sometimes Lavender Castile soap throughout the house, as well as Sal’s Suds for household cleaning. Like Jeff often says, after using Dr. Bronner’s soaps, you smell good and you actually feel clean. With many of those perfumy soaps, there’s so many irritants and moisturizers now, the whole objective of getting clean gets lost in the mix. In addition to the organic composition, the fact that its fair trade and has so many uses, Dr. Bronner’s product line is a longtime staple in our home. In my opinion, it’s one of, if not the greenest, line of soaps out there. For 60 years, Dr. Bronner’s has been at the forefront of the green movement.  So, it’s no surprise that Dr. Bronner’s Baby Liquid Soap is one of my top picks.  The baby soap is mild, contains no fragrance and great for sensitive skin.

star-pink-32x32California Baby
yhst-83878190403399_2045_48046543I’m a big fan of all of California Baby’s products, especially the bubble baths. They’re light, natural and smell incredible.  Calming and Overtired and Cranky are my favorite bubble baths.  Before bedtime, my sometimes overtired and cranky kid loves this bubble bath as part of his nighttime routine, just as much as I do!
I love how they divulge a host of information about their products and ingredients.  Many of the products in question do not have this information readily available. So, in that sense, I appreciate companies like CB for being generous with this information. In addition, their products are free from common allergens, contain organic & sustainably grown ingredients. The company says that many of the plants and flowers that are grown for essential oil distillation are very hardy, do not need pesticides or fertilizers and are by default organic and/or sustainably grown.

star-pink-32x32Seventh Generation Wipes
318g2rssrlThese, in my opinion, are the best wipes out there. These wipes feature Aloe Vera, Vitamin E and are alcohol-free, making them gentle, yet so effective and eco-friendly. Unfortunately, we haven’t used these wipes as frequently as we would have liked since they haven’t been stocked at our local organic store until recently. Good news, though: Seventh Gen has coupons online.
Check them out here.

star-pink-32x32Nature’s Baby Organics Tangy Tangerine Bubble Bath
NB

This is a brand that I recently tried and loved! Jeff brought this home and I plan to do a full blown review, but in the meantime, I love the sweet tangerine smell and the fact that it’s such a gentle bubble bath. We’ve been using this bubble bath for the past few weeks and Jack can’t get enough of the fun bubbles. This brand is out in several stores, but I’ve also noticed that you can get it at Diapers.com. More to come on this great line and product.

star-pink-32x32Trukid Silly Shampoo
sillyshampoo

This is another brand that we recently had the chance to try as well. So far, I’m in love the soap and lotion, but this shampoo is awesome, too. It has a great smell, contains various organic ingredients and is all around a great product line. This is another brand that I plan to do more of a thorough review, so stay tuned for that!

Obviously, there are many more really great products that are worth mentioning, but I can recommend these without hesitation because either we use or have used these in our home! Like most people, we use 2-3 different products, sometimes even more, at bathtime. Not everything we use is natural since we’ve been using good ol’ J&J shampoo among a few others since we received them as gifts, but once those are up, I hope to stick to products that fall under the natural category.

This is how I see it: with healthier, more natural alternatives out there, why go the cheaper, questionable route? If you’re worried about cost, so you buy one less toy, one less electronic gadget—that, right there, would cover the few dollars of the difference in expense. Years ago, many of these brands and options weren’t even available, and if they were, I’m sure these products were only at specialty and organic stores. Good news now is, in addition to a plethora of online outlets like diapers.com, big box and baby stores carry many of these products, such as Babies R Us, Harmon, Target, Buy Buy Baby, Whole Foods.

Before you go putting your baby or kid in a bubble, here are more recommendations from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics:

  • Simplify: Select products with fewer ingredients and no synthetic fragrance or dyes, and use fewer products overall.
  • Choose safety: Search EWG’s cosmetic safety database, Skin Deep, to learn more about the products you use and find safer alternatives.
  • Read labels: Select products for baby and yourself that don’t contain the ingredients listed above, which are commonly contaminated with formaldehyde or 1,4-dioxane.

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Not so sunny days over on Sesame Street

sesame streetAs sit here sipping my coffee while I check emails, like clockwork, between 8-9am, Jack sits next to me and watches his morning installment of Sesame Street to get his Elmo and Murray fix.  But as I read emails and headlines, this one caught my eye:  Recession forcing layoffs at Sesame Workshop.

Is nothing sacred anymore?

I guess this recession is so bad, it’s now going beyond Wall Street AND Main Street, it’s hitting fictitious streets–Sesame Street! That’s pretty bad.

Even though, like his friends and cousins, Jack’s toybox and book basket/shelves are filled with countless Big Bird/Grover/Cookie Monster AND Elmo-themed toys and books, apparently it’s still tough times for the nonprofit producer.  I imagine, in this economy, government agencies and companies that once donated to the Sesame Workshop in the past have scaled back.  On the bright side, since they’ve been filming since the 70s, I’m sure they’re not going to run out of their timeless episodes anytime soon.  Even if they do, I’m sure my 1.5 year old wouldn’t notice.

Today’s just not as sunny after hearing about layoffs over on Sesame Street.  All the news about the economic downturn tugs at my heart, but this news is especially sad!

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The lowdown on phthalates

The safety of toys and children’s products are in the news once again, but this time it has to do with compliance and regulation of phthalates, as well as the enforcement of lead levels in children’s products. Both topics deserve their own separate posts, so look for one on lead levels later.

According to CPSC:

Starting on February 10, 2009 children’s toys and child care items cannot contain more that 0.1% of any of the six phthalates (DEHP, DBP, BBP, DINP, DIDP, and DnOPA) regardless of when they were manufactured.

What are Phthalates?

Phthalates (Pronounced THAL-ates.) are a group of man-made chemicals that are structurally related to the organic acid, phthalic acid. The most important use of phthalates is in plastics, especially PVC, where they act as plasticisers. Essentially, phthalates aid in making certain plastics softer, certain toys like rubber duckies are a prime example.

Source: based on the GreenFacts Digest on phthalates

What’s the big deal about phthalates?
As the EWG describes,

phthalates are ubiquitous in modern society; they are in toys, food packaging, hoses, raincoats, shower curtains, vinyl flooring, wall coverings, lubricants, adhesives, detergents, nail polish, hair spray and shampoo. So the big deal is, Phthalates have been found to disrupt the endocrine system. Several phthalate compounds have caused reduced sperm counts, testicular atrophy and structural abnormalities in the reproductive systems of male test animals, and some studies also link phthalates to liver cancer, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s 2005 National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals.

The regulations are now in effect, what now?
Because the regulation went into effect yesterday, some retailers are prepared and others not so much. Retailers like Toys R Us have set up helpful websites to aid in understanding this topic.  There are also resources such as Healthy Toys that features a database of safer products.  A lot of these products in questions may already be in your home, so it would be at your discretion what you do with them. For us, the questionable plastics continue to be phased out in our home, including bath toys and plastic sippy cups. There are plenty of affordable alternatives, so we opt to go the safer route.  So, we have less plastic toys (as in, we avoid buying questionable plastic toys at all costs) and use mostly our stainless steel sippy cups.

On the other side of the spectrum, smaller retailers, like the local mom and pop stores, could be hard hit with these new regulations.  According to reports, the abrupt change and the lack of guidelines has left many smaller retailers questioning these new standards and compliance, as well as questioning current inventory.

Here’s some helpful information I found on products regarding phthalates:

  • According to the CPSC, stopped using phthalates in teethers in early 1999: ArcoToys, Chicco, Disney, Evenflo, The First Years, Gerber, Hasbro (Playskool), Little Tikes, Mattel (Fisher-Price), Safety 1st, Sassy, Shelcore Toys and Tyco Preschool.
  • Soft Landing has a list of phtalate free bath toys http://thesoftlanding.wordpress.com/2008/03/17/bpa-pvc-and-phthalate-bath-toy-guide/
  • A guide for healthy toys
  • TRU’s link that focuses on safety-related issues
  • Opt for products made with latex or silicone, both of which are resilient for babies
  • Discard any soft, plastic toys that were manufactured before 1999, especially if the ingredients are unknown.
  • Look for toys and furniture that don’t contain polyvinylchloride (PVC) #3. These may contain plasticizers called diisononyl phthalates (DINP) shown to cause birth defects, cancer and organ damage in mice. New PVC products often have a strong odor; if it smells like a new shower curtain, it’s probably PVC.

More resources and helpful articles on phthalates

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Miracle

It’s just about 11pm, and from the sound of it, the helicopters overhead are done for the night.  What a crazy afternoon it’s been.  No need to rehash, as I’m sure by now, everyone has heard about the US Airways plane that crashed in the Hudson River, just a few miles east of us.  Coincidentally, a few of the crash survivors were treated at the hospital where Jack was born.

Before I even started to hear the helicopters this afternoon, I read about the news almost immediately after it happened via Twitter.  As I learned today, or rather, as I’m continuing to learn, it just goes to show you how the delivery of news is definitely changing with the prominence of social media.  On Twitter, with the connection to so many different people—from other moms to other journalists to PR and marketing professionals to college students, you name it—the information that’s shared among others is incredible, to say the least.  I have to admit, the journalist in me felt the intensity and desire to know more.    My adrenaline was pumping, and believe me, if it wasn’t 17 degrees out and Jack wasn’t sick, I probably would’ve walked the few blocks to witness this miracle myself.

Yep, a miracle it was.  Bloomberg and the NJ and NY governors are heralding the pilot’s quick thinking and the sucessful outcome.  As someone who’s covered the maritime industry for years, I have to applaud the expedient efforts of the rescue personnel, from the Coast Guard to FDNY to NYPD to the Circle Line Ferry and NY Waterways crews, today’s plane crash was certainly a “miracle on the Hudson.”

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Forward-facing stroller=stressed baby?

According to a new British study, forward-facing strollers might be stressing your baby.  Because of lack of face to face contact with the parent, babies could end up “emotionally impoverished,” the study says.

“Specifically, the study found that 25 percent of parents using face-to-face buggies actually spoke to their baby, more than twice as many as with away-facing buggies, which are the most common type.”

As with all these reports, take it for what it’s worth.  To me, it all depends on the circumstance—all children and families are different.  What I completely agree with is,

“Parents deserve to be able to make informed choices as to how to best promote their children’s emotional, physical, and neurological development.”

strolling
We are out and about strolling practically every day, sometimes for hours at a time.  When he was a baby, we often used the rear-facing position.  Now that he’s older, Jack enjoys looking out and watching what’s going on in front of him.  The last time we used the rear-facing position was last spring.  But that said, I do love our stroller’s rear and forward facing options.  It was actually one of the requirements when we were researching strollers.  It’s fitting, however, that more and more stroller manufacturers include this option in the latest models.  I’ve compiled just a few below:

Uppa Baby Vista– I’m obviously biased about this stroller because this is what we own, but I can’t say enough great things about it.  It’s durable, extremely maneuverable on all terrains and very practical.  The fact that it’s also an eco-friendly American company was a very high selling point for us.

Britax Vigor- This one is described to be a versatile stroller that boasts various options including the forward and rear-facing positions.

Bugaboo- The ubquitous Bugaboo is said to have made the rear-facing option popular.  This one seems to be a favorite among many families.

Mutsy- This was the stroller we were originally going to go with, until we fell in love with ours.  This stroller boasts an elevated level, allowing the baby to sit a bit higher than other stroller.  I’ve seen this one being pushed around more often in our area, and it’s a sharp looking stroller.

Orbit- This stroller is another sharp-looking vehicle.  It’s futuristic, in that the infant car seat doubles as a basinette.  Its unique design and versatility has attracted popularity in the Hollywood mamas and pappas.  Dwight from the Office famously tested out its indestructibility a few episodes ago.

Stokke Xplory Reversible Stroller-  Another forward-thinking manufacturer, Stokke is known for their great concepts in children’s products, including cribs, changing tables and high chairs, among others.  The stroller also features an elevated seat, and is probably the highest of most other rear-facing strollers.

Rockstar Baby- Another stroller that has gained popularity, the Rockstar Baby stroller offers the versatility of forward and rear-facing options.

A few new models that I’ve seen, but don’t know much about:
Hauck I’Coo Infinity Reversible Stroller
Fisher Price Infant to Toddler Reversible Stroller
Peg Perego Venezia Reversible Stroller

These are just a few of the many strollers out there! As manufacturers continue to meet the needs of babies and parents, the options continue to broaden.

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Motrin ad is a ‘pain’ for moms

Motrin set Twitter ablaze this weekend.  Quite literally, Motrin may need a taste of their own medicine after their latest marketing campaign.  (As of 10pm on Sunday, Motrin’s webpage was down)  Their ad, which was meant to target the mom demographic, ruffled a lot of feathers with their assumption that babywearing is a “pain.”  The ad annotates the dialog and spews absurd statements that babies are “fashionable” and by wearing your baby “you’re officially a mom.”  (because 27 hours of labor wasn’t enough to initiate me into motherhood.)

If this was their way of  “understanding” moms’ “pain,” apparently they don’t understand at all.  I have a laundry list of what’s painful as a mom, and carrying my kid in a carrier was not one of them.  What was probably intended to strike a chord with the mom demographic, ended up being condescending and insulting, and has become quite the headache.

In fact, many moms, babywearers or not, had a lot to say about Motrin missing the mark.  Moms blogged, twittered and even prepared a viral video to voice their opinions about Motrin’s ‘painful’ ad campaign—such is the power of social media.
Since public transportation, and traveling in general, can be so unforgiving to stroller-schlepping, I wore my kid out of necessity, just like many other moms.  I’m anxious to see the outcome of this poorly executed ad, and whether or not Motrin will pull it.  Besides the fact that we have enough Tylenol to last us until 2012 (thanks, Costco), I have no interest in buying their products any time soon.  I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

*Update*  As I was finishing this post, Motrin heard the news and communicated with Katja, over at Ladybug Landings.  According to Katja, Motrin is starting the damage control.  Again, such is the power of social media.

I’ve got plenty of Tylenol, if anyone needs any.

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While we’re talking about mutts

As I was reading news online today, I stumbled upon this commentary, which discusses the President-Elect’s recent press conference.
The first sentence made me chuckle, and of course made me think:

“It must be the first time in recorded history that the leader of the Free World has proudly described himself as a “mutt”

Mutt.  In a way, aren’t many of us mutts as well?  Intrigued by all the attention surrounding the President-Elect’s race and the intersection with our own family, I had to do my usual digging.

College was the first time I really had to “categorize” myself, at least in the multiple choice variety.  I still remember being confused with all the paperwork and then that damn ethnicity question—Am I Pacific Islander, Asian or am I non-Hispanic.  So many choices…ummm…I still get confused.

Poor Jack.  Will he be able to check 4 or more boxes when he’s asked about his ethnicity?

Undeniably, our multiracial and multicultural marriage and now, family, is an aspect of life that has had its own contention along the way.  We often make our very inappropriate jokes to each other about our differences (Don’t get me started on Jeff’s Klassy Asian t-shirt.  And, I mean klassy…), but every now and then, we still get ignorant comments from total strangers.   My favorite recent comment was from a cab driver who initiated small talk with, “Aw, is he yours or are you babysitting?”  BABYSITTING?  Are you kidding me?

I joke about it now, but it’s so not funny.

So, with all the talk about race and to do my part to minimize awkward babysitter conversations, I wanted to share the information that I found on the growth and trends of bi-racial families.

  • The 2000 census was the first census that collected and tabulated data on people reporting two or more races, so there isn’t an exact measure of change in the multiracial population.
  • The Census Bureau research shows that the number of children living in mixed-race families has been increasing in the past two decades.
  • In 1970, the number of children living in mixed-race families totaled 460,000. This number increased to 996,070 in 1980 and reached almost 2 million in 1990. In 1990, children in mixed-race households accounted for 4 percent of all children in households.
  • The Census Bureau’s 1996 National Content Survey and the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 1995 Current Population Survey Supplement on Race and Ethnicity indicated that, nationwide, less then 2 percent of the population self-identified as multiracial.

Number of Children Living in Mixed-Race Families
Year                                                   Number
1970                                                   460,000
1980                                                   996,070
1990                                                1,937,496

Will people who report two or more races be counted twice? (WTF kind of question is that?)

Answer: No. Individuals will be counted only once. However, in tabulation approaches including the 6 race groups shown alone or in combination with one or more other races, respondents will be tallied in each of the race groups they have reported. For example, people who reported “Asian and Black or African American” would be counted both in the “Asian alone or in combination” population and also in the “Black or African American alone or in combination” population. Consequently, the total of the six alone or in combination groups will exceed the total population whenever some people in the group of interest reported more than one race.

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I’m finding this information extremely interesting, y’know, since we have our own ‘mutt’ as Obama described.  I’ll be sure to share more as I dig even deeper.

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