Photography by: Dominick Guillemot
1. Steer clear of chemicals Environmental toxins pose unique threats to little people. “Children’s developing brains and hormone systems are more vulnerable to toxic chemicals, and their bodies may not process them as readily as adults’,” says Jane Houlihan, senior vice president of research for the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in Washington, D.C. Indeed, in a 2008 report on bisphenol A (BPA), a petroleum-derived compound that mimics estrogen in the body and is most commonly found in a wide range of plastics, the National Toxicology Program listed concerns about the potential effects on the developing brain, behavior and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and children at current human expo sure levels. Meanwhile, phthalates—found in products including toys, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and cleaning supplies—have been linked to breast and liver cancers and the disruption of male and female reproductive systems. Pesticides on foods, flame retardants (found in foam furniture and even pajamas) and a whole host of other chemicals pose similar risks. You may not be able to avoid toxins altogether, but you can limit your family’s exposure to them by taking several important steps. Atop the EWG’s list: Look up personal care products at cosmeticsdatabase.com and avoid those that list the ingredients triclosan, BHA, fragrance and oxybenzone; buy organic produce whenever possible or visit foodnews .org to find out which fruits and vegetables have fewer pesticides; avoid clear, hard plastic bottles marked with a “7” or “PC” and choose BPA-free or glass baby bottles; stay away from plastic toys marked with a “3” or “PVC” and use frozen washcloths instead of vinyl teethers; and choose snug-fitting cotton pajamas rather than ones containing flame retardants (also replace worn-out foam furniture and other items). For more suggestions, visit ewg.org/parentsgreenguide.