Baby shampoos, lotions, powders

Q: Do "baby" shampoos, lotions and powders have fewer harmful chemicals than regular, adult products?
Maddy, CO

A: Unfortunately, no. The tub can be a hazard zone no matter how “gentle” or “natural” your baby products claim to be (and rubber ducky, by the way, probably contains phthalates). The FDA has no special requirements for personal care products marketed to children, says Rebecca Sutton, Ph.D, a staff scientist for the Environmental Working Group. EWG, a non-profit environmental research group, also recently found that half of children’s products labeled “safe” or “non-toxic” actually contained at least one potentially harmful ingredient. To top it off, new research published in Pediatrics Journal suggests that some of these chemicals easily make their way into a baby’s body when products are used. Yikes. It’s enough to make a parent panic.

The good news is that there are plenty of baby products on the market today that don’t contain harsh chemicals, and it’s never too late to make the switch. Check out EWG’s parents’ guide, which lists the safest options, as well as their searchable database, which lists the potential risks of hundreds of baby products on a scale of 1 to 10. (Don’t assume that the brands marketed as “natural” are necessarily better. Both lists contain plenty of surprises.) And another sure way to reduce your child’s exposure to chemicals is to simply use fewer products. After all, babies don’t really need much to keep their skin, well, baby soft.         

- Sarah Schmidt

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