5 Cheap and Easy Ways to Reduce the Toxic Chemical Exposer your Toddler is getting from you own home
There are lots of things you can do to reduce the chemical exposure of your home but sometimes it can be SUPER overwhelming, especially when you think it means you have to Re-Paint your entire house in No VOC Paint or have a HEPA filter in every room or your not a good parent.
First of all that's not true! You are awesome for even taking the time to find out and do a little bit to improve your child's quality of life. Children are resilient and we need to find a good balance in the two extreme mentalities of "Must save my kid from everything!!" and "Apparently everything's toxic so why try?" Don't think that you have to do everything! This will just lead to burn-out and you'll end up doing nothing. But don't ignore the potential health threats around you entirely either. Just like the things I share about food on my instagram @hawsbeeshoney it is a life long process not a one time one-and-done thing, so be patient with yourself!
Start with these 5 easy cheap or free steps and see how simple it can be to boost their immune system. You might be suprised at the discoveries you make. Maybe they are sick waaaayy less often or maybe their hair starts to grow in thicker. Here's the list. Find out the WHY below.
1) Wash their clothes before they wear them for the first time.
The majority of clothes you buy are manufactured outside of the US and even clothes that are made in the USA with materials from other countries are processed heavily with chemicals (many prohibited in the United States) for a variety of reasons like keeping them from being wrinkled during shipping or to preserve the colors of the fabric. Washing them will wash off some of the residue of these chemicals and dramatically reduce the immune suppressant affect these chemicals have. You can also but Organic Cotton Clothing. We like the matching #famjams from Burts Bees Baby.
2) Buy Trusted Toys. Just like clothing, toys are often processed outside the country with chemicals to aid in all parts of the process including making the toys durable. Wipe down plastic toys throughly with vinegar or look for 100% Natural Rubber or Wooden Toys that tell you what they're sealed with. Of course you best bet is to buy small because there is more control over production. Etsy and Craft Fairs are awesome because you can usually ask the maker directly about the process. We love Bannor Toys for blocks, Lima Hana for Puzzles and Prickly Pear Lane for Rattles/Teethers, and Stapley Dolls for the cutest handmade Dolls. Of course we have lots of other toys too but we try to buy local and wipe down or wash what we can at least with a wipe (sprayed with a squirt of vinegar is best). :)
3)Think Before You Bleach. I know this is controversial because if we are just looking at what cleans a surface best- bleach really does the job well. Anti-Bacterial Hand-soap and Products do demolish germs but especially for the toddler population, who is constantly putting their hands and other objects in their mouth, this can actually be a risk! Our bodies, and especially digestive tract, are a delicate array of 'good' bacteria. Well, Bleach and Anti-Bacterials don't discriminate between "good" and "bad" bacteria so if your child is exposed to these cleaning products their internal micro-biome can be severely disrupted! Think of it this way- you clean your counters with lysol constantly, and your child inhales while you're cleaning or drinks from a cup that was on the counter while you cleaned. This may decrease the amount of bacteria in your home but it also decreased the amount of bacteria in your child's gut that fights that other bacteria off when they are exposed to it, making your child more likely to get sick when they are exposed to other bacteria at, for example, daycare. (Not to mention the potential for other nasty issues like constipation, food allergies, and more). Sometimes harsher solutions might be better given the alternative risks. I'll let you decide what those might be for your home. But it should be less than the norm and I don't know very many cases that it would be worth it to wash kids toys in bleach.
4)Become a Shoe Free Home! So, if I'm telling you not to constantly kill germs what are you suppose to do? Well prevention is a great method. Because of our over-sanitized culture we have paved the way for super-bacteria - which requires stronger intervention, from which only stronger/mutated strains of bacteria survive and...well, you see the cycle. Prevention is your best chance at avoiding chemical AND bacterial exposure without adding to the problem. One of the number one ways that chemicals enter a home is on the bottom of your shoes, same for unwanted bacteria. Make a cute little sign or just put a paper up in your front window. You would be surprised now many people embrace this regardless of the few who think they're the exception every time they come over. In many cultures this is the norm, but if you feel like this is extreme for you at least consider making a rule for your kids or family or people who spend a lot of time in your home. It is especially worth the need to enforce if you your children spend a lot of time in areas that are heavily treated with weed killer or pest sprays (ie schools, parks, apartment complexes, commercial buildings, stores, malls... wait... so basically anywhere haha).
5) Lastly, one of the most impactful things you can do to decrease your toddlers chemical exposer is to Limit Fast Food! I know! You wanted to cut back anyway right? Well, you're welcome for giving you just one more reason! Many of us have invested in BPA free water bottles and baby bottles and Tupperware galore but did you know just because it's BPA free doesn't mean it's 100% safe. Unfortunately BPA isn't the only bothersome material out there. It just happens to be one that has gotten some press. Similar to BPA are PFAS's (polyfluoroalkyl substances) that can be found in fast food wrappers and carries their own slew of affects too long to list. PFAS's are basically a mix of chemicals made to coat Fast Food Wrappers to make them resistant to the moisture and grease (lots and lots of grease) from your meal. Back when fast food chains first began they used wax paper (go beekeeping!), but obviously that's not sustainable with the amount of fast food we consume now, so cutting back is the most obvious and best solution. I read a study on this a year or two ago and can't find it to link but if you're interested in more scientific research backing up this or any of the above points let me know in the comments and I'll send you some resources to check out!
Happy New Year! <3 Alyssa