At Long Last: My Greener, Healthier Baby and Toddler Supply Guide

Many of my friends have asked for the “list” of baby items that we bought based on my research. I’ve finally scraped it together, as a reward for their kindness in pretending to pay any attention at all to my enviro-babble.

There are some healthier baby things now being sold – and there are gazillions of on-line retailers happy to bring these items to you. Below is not a comprehensive list by any means, but it is the things I liked among what we personally have used.

In buying things for our family, I managed to tease out, mostly through trial and error, some overall principles for environmental health in children’s stuff. Some thoughts on what to look for, and what to avoid, are also below.

Before I get to the good stuff, as nerdy as I am, I feel compelled to put some caveats before you:

  1. There are a ton of Web sites for product reviews, including “green” products, with widely varying levels of green-washing and blogger integrity. In contrast, the product list below is stuff I bought and used when Maya was a baby or use now. The links here don’t trigger any commissions or the like – I’m just not that organized. If that ever changes, I will note it here. In the meantime, click away, knowing that I am only rewarded by the pleasure of knowing what I pulled together was of use to you.
  2. Products can change over time – particularly things with ingredients, like wipes and lotions. What I bought and liked may not be what’s being sold today. So for those kinds of things, I would encourage you to double-check for any negative product reviews on the Web sites selling the stuff, as well as with the consumer guides linked to below. (If you see something alarming about any of the items below, please do comment and let me know!)
  3. Generally speaking, I’m not making an environmental sustainability claim for these items, though, as noted, some of them are made by companies with a greener outlook, and ones I’m happier to support. (And I do think it’s important to specify whether we are talking about environmental health or sustainability.) I haven’t investigated what went into their manufacture, or the sources for wood, for example. I’ll also note that being this picky about the stuff we use often means a lot of packaging and shipping, which is not really that great for the planet.
  4. I tend to order stuff from Amazon, due to the free shipping: I’m cheap like that. But I don’t feel good about it, especially given how terrible it is a place to work (I don’t think it’s crazy to assume that this recent Mother Jones article describing a hellish nether-region of robotic inhumanity is about one of their warehouses, though the article doesn’t clearly say so). If you want to be better than me, and it’s not that hard to do, order directly from the companies that make this stuff where you can, or from a “greenie” retailer that doesn’t treat its workers like bots.
  5. Normal concerns about product safety – stuff like choking hazard levels and recalls – are also an ongoing issue. Obviously, if I hear of problems with something, I’ll change the post. But the idea of “endorsing” something still makes me nervous. So of course apply your own judgment and monitor your child’s use of whatever it is carefully.

Lastly, some explanation is needed regarding the consumer guides. There are others out there, but I use three:

  1. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database: They closely examine the safety and health impacts of ingredients in personal care products, including subscreen, lotions, etc. Their scores run 0-10, with higher being worse for you. I try to ensure that everything in our home is a 0 or 1, but this is not easy. The scores are very cautious – for example, even essential oils like lavender are given scores. If allergens are not a concern, you may want to check to see the basis for the score, as some things are upgraded for merely being irritants. If you have chemical sensitivities, obviously, this information is a goldmine.
  2. Good Guide provides an overall score and several detailed subscores for a much more comprehensive set of data points on a wide range of consumer products. Their scoring system includes scores for environmental health, but also corporate sustainability practices and labor conditions. Confusingly, their scores run the opposite way as EWG’s, with 10 as the best score, and 1 the worst. As I care most about environmental health, I tend to look at that particular score first, and then be pleased, as a bonus, if the company overall is doing well. Their overall score may be quite different from the environmental health indicator in many cases. Unfortunately, Good Guide used to, but no longer, rates toys. (We owned several of these very popular toys they found to be toxic, including the Rainforest Jumperoo, which was upsetting. I’ve used the Wayback machine at times to dredge up their old ratings.)
  3. HealthyStuff.org tests toys, clothing and other items for environmental health concerns using an XRF gun (like the one used in your home for lead, if you had it tested, which shows what is in a product several layers down). They test mainly for four dangerous substances, including lead and chlorine, and assign a high, medium or low rating. They maintain a searchable database which may or may not have the toys in your home in it, but even flipping through the listings shows how many times these substances are found in highly common toys.

Now that my throat-clearing is over, here’s some of the fun stuff.

The Quick Version: General Things to Look For

These are good:

  1. Simple, wooden toys (made from solid wood, and not particleboard, plywood, fiberboard or other pressed “wood” products);
  2. Organic textiles (particularly ones that go in the mouth, like loveys, and for bedding and clothing for brand-new babies, whose skin is very thin);
  3. Products that qualify for Oeko-Tex, a fairly protective European textile standard;
  4. Books and musical instruments, including photo albums of family and baby pictures that tell your child’s life story — identity development is a major issue for babies and toddlers. Our “Life with Maya” board book is a huge hit (for a clumsy but functional place to order a board book version of a photo album, see here);
  5. Stuffed animals and dolls that can be thrown in the wash (“surface clean only” usually means plastic pellets inside);
  6. Stainless steel dishes and containers, and glass bottles and containers, for food storage and serving;
  7. Fragrance-free (many fragrances contain untested substances, and include harmful pthalates);
  8. Ingredient lists for products like toiletries that are written in comprehensible English with terms all explained on the packaging;
  9. Buying less stuff, and nicer toys, for the reasons I suggest here — after all, you have to look at them and pick them up a million times a day;
  10. Finding used stuff that fits the above guidelines from yard sales, book sales and thrift stores (a few tips for greener thrift store shopping are here).

These are good to avoid:

  1. Polyurethane foam (to minimize flame retardants);
  2. Electronic gizmos, because they often contain heavy metals (though we have some, certainly, and just try to keep them to a minimum);
  3. Soft, molded plastics (as in bath toys, bibs, teethers and teethable items on toys), because they are usually made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and older ones likely contain pthalates (see more on why to avoid PVC in toys here);
  4. Plastic plates, utensils and cups (including those cute melamine designs), as they go in the dishwasher, and heat makes plastic degrade and get into the food;
  5. In toiletries like lotions and such: parabens (like methylparaben or butylparaben), sulfates (like sodium lauryl sulfate), PEG (which is usually followed by a number), and either a) long, incomprehensible lists of gunk in products; or b) products that fail to list all of the ingredients on the bottle and refer you to some stupid Web site you’ll never get around to checking (like Method does). Talcum powder is also out, because natural talc can contain asbestos, and is an inhalation risk;
  6. Unneeded big hunks of plastic indoors (we do have some of those enormous, ugly plastic vehicles out in the back yard, purchased well used);
  7. Traditional pack-and-plays are a bundle o’ suspect plastics and foams and a pain to pack up; we used a Baby Bjorn travel crib, which is certified compliant with Oeko Tex. It was expensive, but it still works well for traveling;
  8. Stroller covers – they are awful. Most are made of PVC. Babies and children would be far better getting a little wet and breathing outdoor air. Also made of PVC are those cool decorative wall stickers for nurseries, which likely off-gas above the baby for quite some time;
  9. Foam play mats, which, by one manufacturer’s (SkipHop) own admission to me, all contain formamide, a carcinogen created in the foam-making process that was the basis for a ban of the mats in France and Belgium last year. For Maya’s rough-and-tumble period, I used a couple of jute yoga mats (there is a plastic backing on these, but regular yoga mats are all PVC, which is awful when you think about it. Hot yoga, anyone?);
  10. Crocs are made of the same material as foam play mats (called EVA), and the company will not say whether formamide is in them, so I wouldn’t put them on children, certainly;
  11. Art supplies, which can be problematic, particularly paints, markers and white-board pens, and face paint at fairs and used at Halloween is typically loaded with lead and other harmful heavy metals (if you really need some for a costume, try these instead);
  12. I do not use infant or children’s Tylenol. It’s subject to all-too frequent recalls due to manufacturing problems, and the children’s form contains butylparaben. In addition, a meta-review of 20 studies on the issue strongly links aceteminophan to asthma in children. (Yet my own pediatrician still passes out dosage information!)
  13. Heating food in plastic (and I would include the steamer-blender type baby food machines, as being labeled BPA-free doesn’t mean an item is free of plastics or other chemicals that act like hormones). On baby food, actually, you can’t win: some commercial baby food in jars has BPA under the lid, yet most mini-choppers and food processor bowls are polycarbonate, and can contain BPA or similar chemicals. We use either a glass blender or a high-velocity stainless steel mixer from India which will pulverize anything (works like a VitaMix, but for less than half the price);
  14. Cheap children’s furniture, including play kitchens, bookshelves, tables, etc., is often made of pressed wood products that contain formaldehyde, which is linked to leukemia. Solid wood, when you can find and afford it, is far better as it won’t off-gas (ask for a natural oils or beeswax finish in lieu of varnish);
  15. Noxious odors: keep in mind that your sense of smell is a decent indicator of when there are solvents and other harmful chemicals around. If it stinks or is making you woozy, get rid of it.

I’ll also just note that I’m (perhaps unjustifiedly) suspicious of silicone teethers, dishes, food storage, baking items, etc. While the silicone may be inert, I’m not convinced that anyone’s looked closely enough at the plastic additives that give the silicone its color and shape. (If you know more about this, please let me know.)

One overall tip is to look for “Waldorf” items. Whether or not you’re on board with the educational approach, these items are all natural and are often handcrafted and beautiful.

It’s no accident that many of the companies I prefer are European. Under both an agreement on chemicals called the REACH treaty and various country-level rules, they impose more protective environmental standards on textiles and chemicals, among other things.

If you have too much stuff, as we do, you can create novelty (which is a trigger for the brain) by cycling toys. I use cute animal fabric bins (though these are not organic) to take things in and out of circulation, which helps to declutter, keep the sets together, and to maintain Maya’s interest in what we have.

Below, I emphasize the stuff that you can buy for a baby, but that also works for a younger toddler or beyond, so that it’s a better investment.

Companies I like for toys, gear, toiletries and stuffed animals:

Toys and stuffed animals, etc.

Gear

  • iPlay (raincoats that are PVC-free, for example; they still are fairly plastic-y, so there may be better ones)
  • Baby Bjorn (items are Oeko Tex certified)
  • Naturepedic (crib mattress and changing pad)
  • Lunchbots (stainless steel snack containers; plain is best as some complain of chipped enamel on the colored ones)
  • 3 Sprouts Organic (storage bins and hooded towels are organic; other storage may not be)

Toiletries and Cleaners

Favorite Retailers

Here’s the Exact Stuff I Used and Liked:

Nursery

Decorating

  • Mythic Paint (Zero VOC-emissions paint) (goes on smoothly; we painted right before a vacation and still let it air out for more than a week; I still wouldn’t get near it if I was preggo)

 

Infant Toys Only

Infant to Toddler Toys and Stuffed Animals

Toddler Toys Only

Big items

Gear

Newborn Baby Clothes, Swaddlers and Wipes

Toddler Clothing Items

Food-related or Kitchen Gear

Toiletries

Greenish Stuff I Didn’t Love

Pending Attractions

  • I’ll do a future post on formula and its various issues, including the packaging and presence of Bisphenol-A (BPA) and the use of a toxin, hexane, to get DHA/AHA out of seaweed to add it to formula and enhanced milk, a basically unregulated process.
  • I’ll also do a post as well on child safety in cars, including some thoughts on car seats. We use a Britax Advocate 70 CS Convertible Car Seat for its long rear-facing ability and side-impact protection, but it’s not perfect by any means, as I explain in this post. If you want a car seat without any flame retardants in it, Orbit’s is the only one currently on the market, though Britax has committed to a phase-out this year. [Update: see comments on this other post.] To minimize exposures, I used baby slings for shopping, etc., when Maya was little, rather than a removable car seat-type stroller. It did mean I had to wake her up sometimes, which was a drag.

Do you have green products you use and like? Please do tell in the comments, so that everyone can benefit from your experience.

And if you’re looking for something, please let me know, as this is not an exhaustive list…

Sources for more Information on products’ environmental health and safety:

Other sources may be found in the blog links to Eco-Stores Online, in the side-bar. Hope this is useful to you!

37 thoughts on “At Long Last: My Greener, Healthier Baby and Toddler Supply Guide

  1. Hi Laura,
    I am really just writing to say hello, and to thank you for all you have done with this site and for the welfare of the world – you are an inspiration to me, and I am sure to countless others on this path. I wanted to let you know that – after following your site for many years and becoming a passionate crusader against endocrine disrupting chemicals in home environments through my work as a holistic health coach – I have recently launched an online retail website selling a wide array on non-toxic home and personal care goods. Including lots of stuff for the kiddos!
    BeHomeWell (www.BeHomeWell.com) was born out of my frustration at having to send my clients and friends to a dozen different websites to make easy switches to nontoxic goods – which translated into it not happening, because busy parents and working individuals don’t have the time or energy. Of course my intense displeasure at how disturbed the mainstream consumer goods system is, and how little awareness there is even now, was a constant kick in the pants to do something to help, as you have. BeHomeWell is a perfect blending of my personal and professional passions – and I hope it will do a lot of good, positively influence the lives and health of many people.
    Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for all that you have invested from your heart. Know that the ripple effects are probably endless. We CAN change this messed up world, through our combined power and creativity, and make it truly safe for future generations.
    Sincerely, Amanda Greening

  2. Hi Laura! Thanks for everything you do! I am wondering what you would recommend for toy room storage bins. Thank you!!

  3. I really appreciate this wealth of info. Wondering if you have a suggestion for an eating set-up for my 15 month old? I have been using a plastic high chair. I am wanting to move him to a booster seat on a chair but not sure what I could put down on the table for him to eat off. He eats with his hands and smears his food around 🙂 Any thoughts?

  4. Hi,
    My mother washed (in the washing machine) some of my old stuffed animals for my son. They are almost 20 years old. They look like new :). I have no way of knowing what they are made of, can I assume that if there was any off gassing it is gone by now and they are safe, toxicity wise? Thanks 🙂

  5. What diapers did you use? I am pregnant right now with my first child and I am looking for chemical free stuff for my new born. My mother used to use cloth diapers for all of her 6 children but I don’t thinks so I have the stamina for that. Could you suggest something? I couldn’t find anything on skindeep. Your guide is very informative and I think my main shopping list mostly would be from your guide.

  6. Hi Laura! Love your blog! I’ve been referencing this list as I do my shopping for my kids this year… I am looking for a play table and chairs for my boys and found one on Palumba’s website, but I just worry about the durability of the beeswax finish to protect the table from liquids and crayon marks, etc. Do you have any experience with this? You can buy the table and chairs with a varnish instead of beeswax, but then it circles back to toxicity. Ugh! Just not sure what to do. Many thanks for any insight!

    • Hi Beth! Thanks for writing! I think it comes down to whether you will care about the finish and what the kids will use it for. We have that table, and its lovely. I also like that you can get new legs for it as the kids grow. We don’t use it for art projects, though. The kitchen we have with the beeswax finish does show a few stray marks from a green marker or something, but the finish has proven to keep most harm at bay. I’m also not sure what kind of “low VOC” varnish Palumba uses — you might inquire. Most are some version of polyurethane and do off-gas, as you mention. Alternatively, if they really need an art table and you are handy, you could build one from fairly simple hardware store supplies and either paint it with Mythic or another 0-VOC paint or just sand it down and use beeswax yourself. Or you could insist that before the kiddos do art on this nice table, they cover it with a small tablecloth that you cut to fit and you or they clamp on with binder clips. Hope that helps!

      • Thanks for your response, Laura! I decided to take a chance on the Camden Rose table and chairs set with beeswax finish. I want it to be multi-purpose, so arts, crafts, meals are all game for this table. In the end I decided non-toxic was more important to me than anything. So I will try to cover it as you suggested, when necessary, and/or otherwise not try to let crayon marks and the like bother me!

  7. Hi Laura,
    I am looking for a crib mattress, and I saw that you used the organic Naturepedic crib mattress. I am wondering about the food grade Polyethylene in it. Do you still feel this is a good choice, or can you suggest any other brands? I was thinking about getting a Purerest/Ecobaby crib mattress, but then I saw something about how their claims of the natural latex not having harmful chemicals are false. I’m also looking for a new dresser, which doesn’t have to be baby furniture specifically. I was reading that Ikea has European standards for formaldehyde and other things, but then I have heard that this isn’t really true. Any thoughts on this or suggestions for where to get furniture?

    Thanks!
    Maria

    • Hi Maria, Great questions! Thanks for writing. PE is considered one of the safer plastics, and is used in many, if not most, food packages as for yogurt and the like. At least one study has documented that if exposed to heat and over time, it may leak endocrine disruptors into liquids in water bottles, for example, though, so you’re right that it’s not totally inert or completely safe. Still, this was leakage into water after exposure to heat and other stressors, and a mattress won’t experience those in quite that way, so I decided it was safe enough. I’ve also been unable to ascertain, as you say, whether natural latex is safe. As far as I can tell, there hasn’t been much research, and the latex stuff seems a bit green-washy to me. Harvest of the raw materials also happens in parts of the world where workers and the environment tend to be exploited. In terms of the dresser, I would look for a used item on Craigslist that is made of solid wood. Any reasonably priced new furniture is likely to be at least partly made of pressboard or other composite woods with nasty off-gassing and glues. (An exception is bead-board, which seems OK.) You could also check Krrb.com, thrift stores, yard sales, or post a note on your listserv, etc. Painting, as in my two recent posts on chalk painting, is also an option. There are cute designs with different colors or colors in several graduated tones on the front drawers, for example. Hope that helps! Laura

  8. Question from email from a reader:

    I’m writing with a very specific question I was hoping you might be able to answer — and if you’d rather I post it to the blog, I’d be happy to do that. Here’s the question — I would love to buy my son a big stuffed animal, but I’m striking out with finding anything larger than the Miyim 11″ ones. Do you buy Maya any stuffed animals and if so, what brands are ok?

    My reply:

    In terms of your question, which is a good one, there’s not really a great answer. Under the Nile is the best brand in terms of organic options, and they do have some slightly larger items. There are also lovely dolls, including boy dolls, from Palumba and Nova Naturals that are “waldorf” but very expensive. They are made by a fair trade collective and generally awesome though.

    Unfortunately, Miyim took a turn to the dark side — their dyes and stuffings are now polyfill, and not organic materials. Jellycat is another brand that seems better made, but is not at all organic or green. Cute, though.

    I also will buy stuffed creatures that are cool (like dragons) or actually reference the natural world (like turtles) or are puppets from the the thrift store — I only buy ones that are not marked “surface clean only” and throw away any we get with pellets inside, as these are usually PVC. I wash them in hot water and bio-cleaner, and call it good. Not a perfect solution by any means!

  9. I can’t thank you enough for your site! You are my hero!! My husband and I are trying our best to provide a safe environment for our baby and your research and recommendations have been invaluable. We’ve replaced many items, but I’m wondering about a stroller. Do you have a recommendation for one? With gratitude.

    • Hi Nini! Thanks so much for your question. We used a German brand that met the Oeko Tex standard for fabrics and thus likely was free of flame retardants, called the Buggster S. It’s expensive, but no more than the Bob or similar brands at that price point. It weighs only 8 lbs., and folds easily once you get the hang of it. Here’s the link: https://laurasrules.wordpress.com/wp-admin/www.trendsforkids.com/ — Trends4Kids Buggster S stroller (no foam; German-made according to Oeko Tex standards; very cool looking, easy to use and light; no need to purchase expensive newborn attachment, as you can just use a wrap sling or carrier).

      • Piggy backing off this question a little (although I think I already know the unfortunate answer), we recently purchased a jogging stroller/bike trailer combo for a smokin deal…. $20! However, it was so cheap because the previous owners left it outside in the AZ sun for months and months. I was excited about it at first but now am really concerned because the fabric and straps leave debri on our skin & clothes when touched. Is this dangerous to have my toddler strapped inside, breathing these particles in? Do you think there is any way to salvage it?

      • Interesting question. It sounds like the plastic and things have started to break down. I have a tent that this happened to as well, so I know what you mean. It’s hard to say what the health risks are without knowing more about the plastics or materials involved — though PVC is a decent bet. Still, I think you are right to ask about inhalation by your child of the materials that are disintegrating, given that your child will be inside the trailer. Unfortunately, some bargains aren’t worth it, though I certainly sympathize given that I’ve been looking at those and had sticker shock on new ones. Perhaps you could find one on ebay or Craigslist that isn’t this far gone?

  10. Also- Peter rabbit organics baby wash is super safe, and certified free of all the toxic chemicals!

  11. Ugh, it is all so frustrating. I thought I did all the research when my now 4 year old was born, but then you learn you were “duped” – ie: my “Eco-friendly” über-expensive Uppa Baby Stroller that’s laden with flame retardants, my stupid pack and play, which I cannot afford to replace. Ugh. Just ugh. We have lots if toys from nova natural and pablum a, and anything from Germany is safe, because that’s a country where people actually appreciate government regulation to protect their health. Smart people, those Germans. I digress. Two questions: family members who know we only play with wooden toys buy Melissa and Doug. Are these safe for my 15 month old? I’m assuming not. 2) in some post somewhere on your blog which I now cannot find, you recommend a stainless steel blender from India. Is this a good purchase? I hate an never use the $500 food processor from my wedding because of the bpa- bowl. And when our glass osterizer blender died from our green drinks with kale and frozen berries, we replaced it with a high powered blender- all of which only have plastic. Grrrrrrr! I would like to get this stainless steel one if you recommend and aren’t afraid of leaching of plastic into the beverage or food inside. Also, do you have any good sources for an Eco-friendly rug pad? We just learned that has flame retardants as well! Ugh!

    • Hi there — good questions, all! The mixer we use is an Indian brand: http://www.perfectpeninsula.com/PreethiNitro.html It’s mostly metal, but does have a smidge of plastic, and some of the bowls are all plastic, which we avoid. It makes nut butters and the like as well. In terms of a rug pad, I’ll have to get back to you. I’m not sure ours are anything special — carpets are a real problem too! On M&D, it really depends — much of it is composite wood made with off-gassing glues and containing formaldehyde. When I contacted the company last summer, they admitted this, but said the formaldehyde levels “conformed” with CA regulations and EU rules. I think asked the CA rulemakers, but they couldn’t figure out which standard the company was talking about. We have a few of the puzzles, which are hard to replace — all the other brands are also pressed wood. I kept them in the attic, then took them out for a few weeks until Maya mastered them, and now they are put away again, waiting to be given to another family. So we minimized. Maddening, isn’t it? Laura

  12. Hello–I was wondering what made the crib that you selected superior to other cribs on the baby earth website that offer non-toxic finishes but appear to be much cheaper. I know you’ve done a lot more research than I am likely to do, and I was wondering if there was something about the oeuf crib that I should know about when contemplating spending an extra $500. Thank you!

    • Hi Amanda, Thanks so much for your question! I also liked the crib because when I saw it in the Giggle store, it was clearly made of solid wood pieces. Unfortunately, “solid wood” labels do not mean much because pressboard and other composite woods (that are full of formaldehyde and glues which off-gas) can legally be labeled “solid wood.” Much cheaper furniture is made of that kind of material, including stuff we even have in my house! In addition, on the “non-toxic” finish, there were assurances besides the word “non-toxic” about the safety of the finishes, which I don’t now recall. Still, I only paid about $550, and online these cribs can be almost 1K, which is ridiculous. You may be able to find a used one on Ebay or Craigslist — be sure to check! If the cheaper ones are in fact solid wood and not pressboard, they are a good deal! Hope that helps! All best, Laura

      • Thank you so much for your help–I ended up calling a place that sold extremely expensive solid wood cribs, and they referred me to a friend of theirs who was selling a used solid wood crib for an extremely reasonable price. I appreciate your time and advice!

  13. Hello Laura,
    Thank you again for all of this information! I have 2 questions that I’ve been meaning to ask you.

    1. Is polyurethane foam on its own (without flame retardant) toxic? The Baby Jogger strollers have use polyester fabrics and are padded with polyurethane foam.

    2. Do you still trust the EWG database? I find their assessments of product toxicity are sometimes the complete opposite of The Good Guide, which supposedly calculates risk based on ingredients & amounts, versus just ingredients (some of which EWG has limited data on, but says they are high risk). I’ve read some criticism of EWG that states it’s science is not reliable, as it is not backed up by other sources.

    Thank you!!

    • Hi Aarti,

      So nice to hear from you! Whether polyurethane foam is toxic is an open question, I think (though I just ordered a sofa with it in it, rather than latex). If you check out the comments to this post: https://laurasrules.org/2012/04/28/sofa-saga-part-4-success-two-great-sources-for-truly-green-sofas/ — there’s a lot of information from a textiles eco-expert about the issues with polyurethane. The issue is toluene and some chemicals involved in its manufacture. It’s certainly not a “green” choice.

      While I had too many concerns about sitting on latex (I like a sink-in type of couch) to order it in a sofa I would not have a chance to test and had to pay for up-front, I do avoid poly foam when I can, which is one reason that I ordered that German Buggster stroller, which has no foam in it at all. And I don’t like “memory foam” stuff, which are proprietary mixes of who-knows-what-chemicals.

      On EWG, there are big discrepancies between it and Good Guide, which can be confusing. For one, Good Guide weights many other factors besides the toxicity of the ingredients, including transparency and labor practices, for example. Another is the major difference that you note: small amounts of things like preservatives, which are often the source of the toxicity, may be a factor in the EWG score (though sometimes I find, drilling down, that even there, the overall score is considerably lower than the highest score in the ingredients list, taken individually, if that makes sense).

      I like the EWG system a lot, because if they don’t rate a product, I can still look up what’s on the label by individual ingredient, and because I’d rather make the decision myself about the risks of having an ingredient, even if it’s a small amount. Where there is an alternative product without that harmful ingredient, I’ll choose that, even if the amount is small.

      There is a bunch of criticism out there of the EWG approach, but I take that with a grain of salt. There’s a lot of incentive for companies to criticize them, given what’s on the line. After all, they are also flagging uncertainties and unknowns, and that strikes me as highly scientific — we have the known unknowns, exposed.

      Hope that helps — all best, Laura

  14. Correction to the post above: Turns out, MiYim is now using polyester in many of their plush stuffed toys. Ours is organic all through, but no longer. Here’s a comment from a review on Amazon: A year and a half ago, we received a Miyim Andrew the Hippo plush toy as a gift for our new daughter. I was immediately attracted to the organic qualities and the adorable design. We managed to make it a consistent presence for our daughter and she fell in love with him and goes to sleep with him exclusively every night. Since then, we bought 2 more so that if one was lost or in the laundry, we’d have it since she needs it. Since then, we bought 2 more and I was quite surprised to notice that Andrew had gotten more squishy, and not as firm as the original Andrew(s) that we bought. As it turns out, the original Andrew had a cotton filling and our most recent Andrew(s) have a polyester filling. The outside seems to be the same organic material, but it turns out Miyim decided to cheap out and started using polyester to fill their Storybook plush toys. I can only assume that the other Miyim products are using polyester fillers as well. I am extremely disappointed. We’ve been buying these for other new parents, since we thought they were a home run, not anymore. #
    So sad, as Maya really loves her bunny. But I will no longer buy these as gifts, just like that reviewer.

  15. Hi Laura,
    This is a great post! Just thought I’d share some information about 3 Sprouts. Their designs are super cute, but they have recently switched their organic cotton toy bins to be regular cotton and to have a plastic lining. Also (strangely) their hooded towels are organic cotton only on the outside layer, the inner layer is regular cotton. Thanks!

  16. First thanks for the mention! I am impressed with this list! Wow! Great work! The only comment I will make is the California Baby Bubble Bath…we used to love it but they changed the formulation and then lied about it to their customers. They added Sodium Benzoate and a lot of babies had terrible reactions to it. It is still a 1 on the Skin Deep database but I have learned that while it is great as a guide, there are many chemicals that aren’t that great that are ranked pretty safe and others like Aloe that are very benign that are ranked higher that a 0. Great for a reference though. Amazing work and list! Again thanks for thinking of us! We only recommend the absolute safest products we can find on the market that WORK! I personally use many of the products I recommend. ( I can’t own three cribs for example so I haven’t tried them all). It is tough out there to find out what is really safe and good lists like this are invaluable! Thanks! Sad that we are having to worry about BPA free being switched for BPS….it just goes to show you have to buy from companies that disclose what they use…not just that they don’t use X

    • Hi Jennifer! Thanks for the update on the California Baby — I will take it off the list and leave your comment. I’m concerned, now, since that’s what we use. I’ll have to look up what you recommend for bubble bath!!
      It’s always so perilous, as I note, to endorse products, because the ingredients or manufacturing can change. But I don’t like companies that lie to customers, on principle!
      I also agree that Skin Deep is not perfect — and love to hear your thoughts! Please do keep me posted, as your site is a tremendous resource. Cheers, Laura

  17. What about Corelle dishes? I believe they are glass, but a particularly hardy kind. I got these for our daughter (now 2.5) when she was about 2. They’ve held up well and are fairly inexpensive. (We got a set of 4 big dinner plates, 4 salad plates, 4 bowls, and 4 [ceramic, not for kids] mugs for about $35 on Amazon.) Thoughts?

    • Hi there! Thanks for writing with a very interesting and novel question! These are made of pressed together layers of glass and the manufacturer is less than transparent about what’s in it exactly. I couldn’t find any information on what laminate is used, for example, and I would like to know what that is.

      One issue seems to be lead in the decorations, which the company claims is “low” and, according to them, does not leach. I would not be very reassured by this, personally, but I tend to be skeptical of self-serving explanations that claim harmful things don’t migrate. Note that they only say “release is minimized.” IMHO, lead doesn’t belong in dishes. Or really, above the ground at all.

      This page quotes a letter from the company on the subject, with the exact text that I also found several other places on the Web:
      http://wildinthecity.ca/2007/11/19/there-is-no-more-lead-in-my-dinnerware-i-think

      Here’s what Corelle said specifically, according to this person:

      Corelle
      Our specifications are that stoneware products and glazes are made of clay-based materials and glazes used throughout the industry. Decorations, if present, are made from low-lead enamels and fired at temperatures exceeding 1000 degrees F, which binds any heavy metals both physically and chemically so that their release is minimized.

      They certainly are a good deal, though.

      The other issue of concern that I found is that sudden heat can lead to structural damage and cause them to suddenly shatter, not necessarily at the same time. This actually happened to me, back in college, with one of these dishes, which was too close to the stove. It split into probably several hundred splintery pieces at high velocity. If I had been standing in front of it, it could have blinded me. Whatever you think about the lead issue, this safety concern, given your daughter, might be more important to consider.

      All best,
      Laura

  18. Thanks for writing this! I just ordered a new Orbit toddler carseat to replace my aging Britax Regent that has probably-dangerous stuffing coming out of it. Any thoughts on Ikea plastic kidsware, like plates and bowls? I know they’re BPA-free, but I’m curious about how long I should keep them. (My oldest is 9, so you know we’ve had them a long time.)

    • You’re so welcome! I hate to say it, but I do think plastic dishware is an issue, even Ikea. They find endocrine disruptors, and BPA, in items labeled BPA-free. For many kids, and certainly a 9-year-old, they can just use regular dishes. For the younger ones, I would look at the stainless steel options. They go in the dishwasher and work really welll!

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