Our tips for creating a healthy environment for your family

Here are some things that we wish we’d known when we had our first baby. Having a newborn is a busy time and there aren’t many minutes left in each day to research this stuff. So we’re sharing what we’ve learnt with you so you can be armed with the information to protect your babies through these simple, everyday and low cost measures. 

Modern day life is laden with synthetic chemicals and fabrics which are putting a huge strain on our health. Until regulation catches up with medical research and bans these toxins from our everyday products, we need to ensure our babies’ exposure is kept to a minimum in order to protect their long term health. 

1. Open windows every day
Even if it’s cold. A few minutes of fresh air will significantly reduce the amount of formaldehyde and other nasties which build up in the air inside our homes.

2. Get houseplants
Particularly in your baby’s bedroom. They help to clean the air and reduce carbon dioxide levels. Be mindful though that some are poisonous to touch, so do your research and keep those ones out of reach of curious little hands!

3. Shoes off at the door
Shoes worn inside the house have been shown to significantly increase the amount of lead and other hazardous substances on floors and in household dust.

4. No sucking on polyesters
Ingesting microplastics is a real and growing health concern which has prompted much research into the subject (currently underway). It’s already been confirmed that this can be hugely dangerous for fish, crabs and other sea life. Its effect on humans is likely to be hugely worrying.

5. No sucking on unknown materials
Don’t let your baby suck on household items if you are not 100% sure they are safe materials. For example, wash bags and DVD cases contain some extremely harmful plastics which have been banned for some time in baby items. If you are unsure it’s best to avoid. It’s great to also read up about the differences between different plastics so you know which ones to be particularly wary of.

6. No sleeping in synthetics
Polyester and other synthetic materials are known to impair the body’s natural ability to regulate temperature, so can cause overheating.

7. Serve food from ceramic, china or wood
Particularly hot meals. And always store leftover food in china, glass or stainless steel. All plastics can leach chemicals, especially if they have been washed at high temperatures or with strong detergents.

8. Choose glass or food-grade stainless steel for drinks
There are loads of great glass and stainless steel baby bottles and sippy cups now on the market. These are much safer than their plastic alternatives, particularly for heated milk or water which is kept in sippy cups for long periods of time.

9. Limit perfumes and scented sprays
Almost all cosmetics, particularly perfumes and colognes, are likely to contain phthalates and other nasties (unless labeled as natural or organic) which babies should be kept well away from. If you must use it, wait until they’re sleeping or spray somewhere they are not going to nestle into. Spraying onto clothes and not your own skin is also beneficial to your own health.

10. Wash hands after the playground
Always wash (preferably) or wipe (at minimum) little hands after they’ve been on the soft playground tarmac. This is not about germs! This is about the ‘rubber mulch’ which is made from recycled tyres and contains a long list of hazardous substances including phthalates, heavy metals, PAHs and others. Multiple studies have confirmed the negative health implications of ingesting even small traces of it from the hands, absorbing these chemicals through skin contact or breathing in the harmful gases given off, especially on hot days.

11. Watch out for hidden BPA
Yes, the stuff which was banned in our baby bottles and sippy cups for being so dangerous hides in a lot of innocent looking places. Most tinned food (chopped tomatoes, pulses, coconut milk) contains it as the cans are lined with BPA. Choose those which say BPA free on the tin or steer clear. Cash register receipts are also lined with the stuff, and it gets into our blood stream in just 26 seconds after handling.

12. Buggy rain cover minimisation
Unfortunately almost all buggy rain covers are made of PVC. Known as the ‘poison plastic’, it’s hugely harmful to human health and the planet. PVC is not only toxic to chew and touch, it is well known to give off up to 160 harmful gasses into the air immediately around it. If you have to use a rain cover, keep its use to a minimum. Better still, invest in a non-PVC cover.

13. Use natural cleaning products around the house
Conventional cleaning products are laden with chemicals. These chemicals remain on our surfaces and floors and are easily ingested by babies via hands, food or toys. There are lots of fantastic natural and affordable options available now, so consider changing to these or just use white vinegar!

14. Top up on fruit and veg
We know you hear this all the time, but the powers of fruit and vegetables on the body really are incredible. Plant-rich diets have been proven to slow the growth of cancerous cells in the body. Be sure to include a wide variety, they all have different magic tricks! When eaten, these super heros rush around our bodies and organs flushing out toxins and replenishing the body with essential vitamins and minerals as they go. Great news for little people whose detox systems are still developing!

15. Avoid the ‘dirty dozen’ if not organic
Buy organic wherever possible, but we know this isn’t always possible. The ‘dirty dozen’ is a list of fruit and veg identified by the Environmental Working Group to have the highest levels of pesticides and toxins in them, when not in an organic form. The chemicals in pesticides actual purpose is to destroy life (insects, mould, rodents). Be sure to avoid these 12 worst offenders which, in order of most contaminated first, are: strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes and sweet bell peppers.