Many of us go through our entire days without giving much thought to the chemicals we come into contact with, but as soon as a baby enters the picture, it all changes. Suddenly, our focus is on our little one’s health and clearing our homes of toxins shoots to the top of the priority list. “Transitioning to a ‘non-toxic’ home will be different for everyone and it doesn’t have to be hard,” explains Aida Garcia-Toledo, mother of two and founder of Non-Toxic Munchkin. Here’s how you can do it...
The key is to focus on being low-tox rather than no-tox. “Through the years I have come to realize that true non-toxic living doesn’t exist,” says Garcia-Toledo. “We will always be exposed to toxins in modern life and we can’t live in a bubble.”
You can, however, reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals. “For me,” she continues, “a non-toxic product does not contain or expose you to any chemical that is known or is suspected to be harmful in any way, shape, or form.”
Detoxing your entire life can be a very daunting task. Start with the spaces where your baby will spend the most time, like their nursery or your bedroom. “Pay attention to the baby’s crib, furniture, the floor and the air,” Garcia-Toledo suggests. Buy an air filter and clean surfaces and fabric with non-toxic cleansers. (Garcia-Toledo prefers mixing up her own surface cleaner with water and vinegar to avoid unnecessary chemicals.) As for cleaning sheets and clothing, use a non-toxic detergent like Branch Basics, Humble Suds, or Meliora.
If you need to clean toys and other things that your baby puts in their mouth, be sure to avoid fragrances or antibacterial soaps. Instead, opt for the classic Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Liquid Soap and water. If you’re dealing with a heavy duty cleanup after a stomach bug, the flu, or coronavirus, try Force of Nature’s natural, non-toxic antibacterial cleaner.
It’s also important to use clean, organic products on your baby’s skin. Not only is their skin ultra sensitive, topical products can easily end up in their mouths, so you’ll want anything on their bodies to be as non-toxic as possible. Try Mini Bloom’s bathtime products, Fresh N’ Clean and Knots Be Gone, made just for your little ones. And when it comes to products made just for mamas — Mini Bloom’s Hallelujah Nipple Balm is actually safe if ingested as well.
“Basic behavioral changes like opening your windows daily to allow fresh air in and toxins out, and taking your shoes off right when you get home to avoid dragging pesticides, heavy metals, and bacteria into your house are simple steps you can take to stay non-toxic,” says Garcia-Toledo. You can also change your AC filters and use your stove’s hood fan when you’re cooking with gas.
Other genius tips for avoiding chemical exposure? Be careful when choosing common baby essentials like monitors, winter jackets, and bath toys. “Baby monitors can produce high levels of EMF radiation, waterproof clothing and furniture almost always contains PFAS chemicals, and toys made of PVC or other soft plastics can contain phthalates which we know mimic our hormones,” she explains. If you’re not sure about a product or an ingredient, check out Garcia-Toledo’s blog, Non-Toxic Munchkin.
Erin Reimel is a freelance beauty editor and copywriter from the Philadelphia area. She has worked for publications like SHAPE, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Glamour, and Women's Health. She currently works in education teaching beauty communications at her alma mater, Syracuse University, and working in the advancement department of the all-girls high school she attended. When Erin is not at school or writing and editing beauty content, she can be found playing with her brussels griffon puppy, Freddie, and singing show tunes.