Aug 18, 2009

Guest Blogger: Mary Kearns, PhD
The Importance of Natural and Organic Baby Care

Mary Kearns, PhD has spent the last 15 years helping to support wellness in people of all ages. As a developmental psychologist, she has studied the environmental, psychological and emotional influences that contribute to healthy development across the lifespan. She is the owner of Herban Lifestyle, LLC, a handcrafted herbal bath and body product business, and also works as a consultant facilitating the scientific review of cancer-prevention programs. Her company, Herban Lifestyle carries high-quality natural and organic bath and body products for adults, and also offers a line of truly natural baby products, made from organic and natural ingredients (

The Importance of Natural and Organic Baby Care

by Guest Blogger Mary Kearns, PhD

In February 2008, an article in Pediatrics (the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics) warned about the dangers of phthalates in common baby care products. Several studies that the article’s authors had reviewed indicated that, within 24 hours of use, the chemical was measurable in infants’ urine. This is of concern, because of the potential toxic effects to their developing endocrine and reproductive systems. While no studies have definitely shown phthalates to be harmful to infants, they have been found to adversely affect human male reproductive function, and children’s developing systems are usually much more susceptible to most environmental influences than adults.

Because of this, it is always good to consider the safety of body care product ingredients, but it is especially as when choosing the right products for your baby. With a baby’s delicate skin, the word “gentle” appeals to many parents, but the process used to make common chemical ingredients more “gentle” in fact often produces a byproduct that is a known carcinogen. This byproduct, called 1,4-dioxane, is banned from cosmetics and body products in the European Union, and though not considered cause for concern in small amounts, it is present in an alarming number of baby products meant for daily use. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics ( found detectible amounts in 32 out of 48 products they tested earlier this year. To avoid 1,4-dioxane, the Organic Consumers Association recommends steering away from ingredients containing the following in their names: "myreth," "oleth," "laureth," "ceteareth," any other "eth," "PEG," "polyethylene," "polyethylene glycol," "polyoxyethylene," or "oxynol," in ingredient names (

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics additionally tested the baby products for the presence of Formaldehyde (, which is released by some common preservatives like Quaternium-15 when they are stored in a container over time. Formaldehyde is a suspected carcinogen, which can be absorbed through the skin, and causes skin reactions in some individuals. They found Formaldehyde in 23 out of 28 baby products they tested. And 17 out of 28 were found to have both Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane.

Besides 1,4-dioxane and Formaldehyde, there are over 2000 ingredients that are banned in the EU, yet considered safe in the US. For example, phenoxyethanol is considered “safe” in the US, yet is restricted in Japan and considered harmful in the EU ( This is because the FDA does not feel that there is sufficient scientific evidence that these ingredients are harmful to humans.

All of this information may leave you feeling somewhat overwhelmed; after all, if these ingredients are present in almost all of the products you normally buy, how can you avoid exposing your baby – and yourself – to these potentially dangerous ingredients? One excellent resource is the Environmental Working Group’s “Parent’s Buying Guide,” ( which rates the safety level of products based on the European Union’s cosmetics standards and other published safety data. The database contains thousands of entries, and can help parents pick safe and natural products for themselves, too.

Two easy ways to determine which products are safe for your baby are: 1) you recognize all of the ingredients on the label, and would be willing to handle and store them in your own home!; 2) the label indicates that the product is 100% organic, and lists the certifying agency. Choosing 100% organic provides you with the highest level of safety and assurance that there is nothing harmful in the products.

However, if you are still having trouble choosing products, or you’re worried about price, one option might be to just make it yourself! Here are two simple recipes for natural baby products you can easily make in your own kitchen.

Check out her Oatmeal Baby Bath recipe

Check out her Recipe for Homemade Baby Wipes

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