As soon as babies are old enough to reach out and grab things it’s the start of everything going in their mouths to be sucked, chewed on, licked and chomped. There’s no way of stopping them and it will probably last a few years! It’s therefore really important to make sure that everything they are chewing on is totally safe, made from natural materials and free from nasty chemicals.
WHY DO BABIES PUT EVERYTHING IN THEIR MOUTHS?
It’s a great sign and shows that your baby is developing as they should. Babies put things in their mouths for a number of reasons, including: testing and utilising all their senses, including taste and textures, improving their motor development and overall coordination, and often helping to calm and sooth them.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CHOOSING ORGANIC BABY COMFORTERS AND ORGANIC TEDDIES
When my son was a baby we spoke to a sleep expert to try to help with his self-settling. She suggested giving him a comforter as this often sooths and comforts little ones as they feel less alone in their cots (please note, however, it’s recommended not to leave loose items in cots with very small babies, check The Lullaby Trust for more info). We’d been given a number of comforters as presents when he was born, so I chose a lovely soft one from a very mainstream brand and left it with him. When I returned an hour later the comforter had moulted all over his face – there were fur balls up his nose, on his cheeks, in his mouth! I immediately checked the label and it said it was 100% polyester – I was shocked and appalled. To this day I still can’t understand how the regulations allow for polyester toys to be ‘suitable from birth’ when they will almost definitely end up in little mouths.
The dangers of ingesting micro-plastics are becoming increasingly well known and more and more research is being done on the negative effects this can have on hormone balance and long-term health.
The experience I had made me want to protect not just my baby but as many babies as possible from the potential hazards of ingesting plastics from teddies and toys. I was a new mother and I trusted that the regulations would mean that my baby’s toys were safe, but unfortunately this is not always the case and regulations often have a huge time lag behind new research and health advice. Even if you don’t notice the fabrics coming off in large chunks, when fabrics are sucked thousands of micro-particles will come loose and be swallowed. This is why I’m passionate about creating awareness about the potential dangers of polyester toys, and is also the reason why one of our very first products was our organic cotton bunny comforter (see our comforters here ).
WHAT TO AVOID WHEN CHOOSING BABY COMFORTERS AND TEDDIES
1. Polyester – the dangers of ingesting micro-plastics
Polyester is a synthetic man-made fibre which is classed as PET plastic. Let’s take a look at what’s in it; it’s produced from petroleum hydrocarbons through creating a chemical reaction between ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. Well, ethylene glycol is a highly toxic and poisonous alcohol that is used in industrial agents and terephthalic acid appears on many hazardous substance lists. The main petrochemical used is xylene, which causes systemic toxicity if inhaled or ingested. And, aside from the health implications to our babies, these chemicals and processes have a hugely damaging impact on our planet.
2. Other synthetic materials
Synthetic man-made fibres are often made using harsh chemicals and toxic processes. They’re best avoided whenever possible.
3. Chemical heavy dyes
Often the dying process is when even natural fibres such as cotton can become quite toxic. Dyes differ hugely in terms of toxicity and finished fabrics often end up containing lead, formaldehyde and other nasties. These can be hugely damaging for both our environment and our health.
HOW TO CHOOSE A TRULY NON-TOXIC ORGANIC BABY COMFORTER AND TEDDY
Check labels and find out what the fabrics and stuffing are made from. Look for GOTS certified materials as these are certified as finished fabrics, meaning the dyes and any other processing won’t have left behind any toxic chemicals. Oeko-Tex is good too, but look out because it can be misleading! There are 3 classes to the Oeko-Tex rating, and not all of them are good enough for babies. Look for Okeo-Tex Class I for baby items. Toys imported from outside of the EU may also have false or misleading claims to be ‘organic’, so make sure you trust your supplier.
To find out more about our GOTS certified organic cotton comforters and to purchase, click here. We’ll shortly be brining out a range of organic cotton sensory toys too!
OTHER TIPS ON KEEPING WHAT GOES IN BABIES’ MOUTHS SAFE
Aside from taking care of what their toys are made from, make sure you keep things clean. Dust is a major source of toxins as it collects chemicals, such as flame retardants from furniture, from around the house. Keep dust to a minimum and if toys fall into a patch of dust, give them a rinse. The same goes for little hands! Don’t let your babies chomp on any soft plastic household items – as a general rule the softer the plastic the more toxic it’s likely to be. And avoid them playing with any electronics or wires (iPhone, computers, headphones etc.) which often contain toxins, heavy metals and flame retardants.