Friday, December 7, 2007

Safety Recommendations for Parents of Young Children

Recommendations for Parents

A few small, easy changes in the products you buy and use can help reduce your child's exposure to toxic chemicals.

At the store

Choose Safer Toys and Teethers

~Look for "PVC-Free" on the labels or soft plastic toys and teethers. Another class of chemicals shown to disrupt the hormone system- phthalates- is found in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic. PVS plastic is used to make different types of children's products. including some teethers and soft plastic toys. Some manufacturers have removed PVC from their children's products, especially products intended to be put into children's mouths.

~Unfortunately, no law requires or regulates these labels, and few products are labeled as such. When parent's have a question about the chemicals in a product, they should call the manufacturer.

~Choose wooden toys. There are countless manufacturers of high quality wooden toys in the market. Everything from baby rattles to kitchen play-sets are now made out of wood. Some commonly available brands include Plan Toys, Baba, Turner Toys, Selecta, and Holztiger.

Choose safer food packaging and serving containers.

Avoid polycarbonate plastic food containers. Check the bottom/underside of the product. If you see "PC" (usually in or near the recycling triangle) signifying polycarbonate plastic, do not purchase it. Often a number "7" on the bottom in the recycling triangle, by itself, also means the material is polycarbonate, but not always. To be safe, avoid #7 plastic. Choose plastics labeled #1, #2, or #5 in the recycling triangle, but do not heat beverages or food in plastic containers of any kind.

Avoid PVC plastic in food containers. Check the bottom/underside of the product. If you find the number "3" in the recycling triangle, it is made from PVC plastic and should be avoided. Choose plastics labeled #1, #2, or #5 in the recycling triangle, but do not heat beverages or food in plastic containers of any kind.

Avoid canned food: Unfortunately, bisphenol A can leach from metal can lining into the food and liquids contained within. Buy baby food in glass containers, avoid feeding your child food from cans as much as possible. You can often find popular children's food, such as tomato sauce, applesauce, and black beans, in glass jars.

Choose safer containers for sippy cups and water bottles. Look for plastics labeled #1, #2, or #5 in the recycling triangle. As an alternative to hard plastic water bottles ( Such as the polycarbonate Nalgene bottles), try a lightweight stainless steel bottle instead.

Choose glass or safer -plastic baby bottles, Almost all plastic baby bottles are made from polycarbonate plastic containing bisphenol A, but they are rarely labeled as such. With as few as 500-100 washings- even before you see wear- significant amounts of bisphenol A can leach into your baby's milk. For the best protection, switch to using glass bottles for all or most of baby's use. Contrary to claims by the plastic industry, glass bottles are extremely durable and safe (and wash well in the dishwasher). And after all, they were good enough for you when you were a baby! Evenflo is one of the only glass bottle makers around (some Babies "R" Us stores carry them and they are available on-line). A couple of manufacturers make their baby bottles from a safer polycarbonate- based plastic (a softer, opaque plastic)<>

Choose metal feeding utensil and enamel or ceramic plates. While many manufacturers have removed phthalates from products intended to be put into young children's mouths, without prohibiting their use, there is no guarantee that these products, such as soft, plastic-coated feeding spoons, are made without phthalates. Look for PVC-Free labels or buy stainless steel, enamel, ceramic, or glass. (Note that enamel cannot be put in the microwave, and you should not use old pottery that could have lead-based glazes).

Avoid foods wrapped in plastic. Almost all commercial grade plastic cling wrap contains PVC plasticized with phthalates, and other plastic food packaging may be made of PVC, as well. Avoid buying foods wrapped in plastic especially cheeses and meats. Buy deli-sliced cheeses and meats and have them wrapped in paper. If you can't avoid buying plastic-wrapped foods, cut off a thin layer of the cheese or meat when you get home and store the remainder in glass or a less-toxic plastic.

At Home

Use glass to heat food or liquid in the microwave. You should not heat food in plastic containers or on plastic dishware, or heat liquids in plastic baby bottles. Heating food and liquids in plastic containers can cause chemicals and additives in the plastics to leach out more readily-right into baby's food and milk. While some plastic containers are marketed as "microwave safe," it is safest to avoid them for heating.

If you do use plastic bottles, containers, or dishware, avoid harsh detergents or hot water when washing them to reduce exposure. Do not put plastic bottles, containers, or dishware in the dishwasher. Also, throw out any plastic bottles, containers, and dishware that start to look scratched or hazy. Do not let milk sit for long periods of time in plastic.

Avoid letting your child put plastic toys in his/her mouth. Toys designed for older children are more likely to contain phthalates or bisphenol A. It i s assumed that young children will not mouth these toys- such as action figures and Barbie dolls. To be safe, keep all plastic toys out of children's mouths. Call the manufacturer if you want to know if a product contains phthalates or bisphenol A.

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