Arkansas, we are officially in the middle of spring — one of the most beautiful seasons in The Natural State and the season of rebirth. In that spirit I thought it appropriate to talk about something so many people love to discuss: baby things! In keeping with my clean living articles, I would like to propose a twist: 

Baby things, but make it cleaner!

As a mother myself, I know the deep, primal need to keep our babies safe at all costs. Please note first and foremost this article is meant to educate and empower parents to ask questions of the products they invest in, therefore leading to the best decision for your family. It is also here to challenge misconceptions fueled by marketing and give parents an understanding of where to ask questions regarding child safety. 

Many baby products on the market today are geared toward giving children the best in safety features. Consider, though, how chemicals are applied to childrens’ products and how those chemicals can impact a child’s long-term health. Our homes are privy to an abundance of toxins that contribute to everyone’s toxic load. Unfortunately, there are still baby-specific products that only exacerbate that. 

Three areas to deep dive in regard to potential toxins:

  1. Flame retardants and VOCs should be avoided by everyone, yet are still found in crib mattresses and sheets, childrens’ clothing and car seats. As a refresher, flame retardants and VOCs are linked heavily to developmental disabilities, endocrine issues, hyperactivity, hormone and immunity issues, cancer and more. 

  2. Plastics are another highly questionable substance. Even products that boast about being BPA-free need to be examined as many BPA substitutes (BPF and BPS) come with their own side effects. Potential BPA side effects include (but are not limited to) early puberty, cancer and behavioral issues. 

  3. Synthetic fragrances often contain hosts of chemicals that do not have to be disclosed by manufacturers and are considered a “trade secret.” Doing away with synthetic fragrance is a great way to keep unknown and potentially hazardous toxins away from baby (and away from the whole family)!

I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to choose the right baby products for your little one. Every child is different, and when coupled with an industry filled with potentially harmful products, it can feel very disheartening to choose the right thing. Here are a couple of ways to choose safer for your little ones without losing your mind:

  • Stay away from anything containing flame retardants. If packaging does not clearly state a product is free of flame retardants, call the manufacturer and ask. Look for Made Safe certified products, which means no flame retardants, VOCs, toxic vinyl or other chemicals known or suspected to harm human health.

  • Choose glass or metal bottles in lieu of plastic ones. Choose wooden toys over plastic options. Avoid plastic toys that could contain BPA, BPF or BPS, or any toys that could off-gas into your home.

  • Choose baby products that are free of synthetic fragrances. Avoid products made with phthalates, parabens, undisclosed fragrance, sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) and petroleum. 

Finally, remember that whether it’s your first child or your fifth, parenting is a hard job. Doing the best you can with what you have is the name of the game, but as the incredible Maya Angelou wisely said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”  


Heather Disarro is the author and creator of Heather’s Dish, a clean beauty educator, a health coach and social media boss. She loves spending time with her husband and two kids doing almost anything outdoors, eating great food, reading and enjoying everything Arkansas has to offer.