How to make a toxic-free home for your baby

Experts warn against certain chemicals found in everyday mother-baby products.

Having a baby certainly brings change to a household. When Shiri Sarfati decided it was time to be a mom, she turned her home upside down.

“As soon as we started thinking about having a baby, I wanted our home to be free of chemicals,” says the native New Yorker. “When I was pregnant, I became so sensitive to even the smell of Windex, I just couldn’t be anywhere near it.”

Her body also became sensitive to beauty products, too, and now that she’s breastfeeding, she’s extravigilant: “If I eat broccoli and it makes the baby gassy, then [it only follows that] if I use a chemical in a skin care product, it’s going to have an effect,” she surmises.

Annette Rubin, the co-author of “Belli Beautiful: The Essential Guide to the Safest Health and Beauty Products for Pregnancy, Mom, and Baby,” agrees. “Pregnant moms should avoid teratogens — ingredients that have been linked to birth defects. New moms should avoid ingredients that may be harmful to their breast milk supply, and babies should be kept clear of hormone-mimicking ingredients.”

Rubin says that pregnant and nursing moms need to become label-reading experts: “Deciphering the labels on health and beauty products can be a challenge if you didn’t major in chemistry with a minor in Latin,” says Rubin. “You have to review the ingredient research and use that knowledge to change your purchasing habits.”

As executive vice president of her mother’s seaweed-based skin care line, Repêchage, Sarfati knows firsthand about dangerous synthetic chemicals.

“I learned from my mother about what’s going into a product,” she says. “Consumers ask more questions these days and that’s very good. But we need to stay aware.”

What to avoid

Sarfati’s chemical no-no list is long, but these are at the top of it:

The oil industry by-product, listed in the European Union’s Dangerous Substances Directive (UNECE 2004), is linked with breast cancer. “It’s in the leading brand of baby care products and cosmetics. It interferes with the body’s natural moisturizers and makes your skin drier.”

Synthetic fragrance and colors
“These are superfluous. People want bright, pretty colors, but natural pigments create nice shades, too. We are inhaling these toxic fumes in our homes on a daily basis. Fragrances can be a great irritant and cause allergies. Breathing in a toxic cloud is not good.”

BPA (bisphenol A)
“There are so many BPA-free bottles and toys on the market and many retailers banned BPA products. Glass bottles and wooden toys are also available, but not as widely distributed as plastics. Soft toys made from organic cotton are great as well.”

Expert-approved sunscreens for kids

Don’t let all of Mother Nature’s bounty fool you: Ingredients like lavender might be good for aging bodies, but not for young skin, Rubin says. “People have this perception that because it’s natural, it’s great, but we’re trying to debunk that myth,” she says.

She recommends:

  • Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sport Stick SPF 30, $8,
  • Episencial Sunny Sunscreen SPF 35, $15,
  • Dr. Robin for Kids All Natural Chemical-Free Sunscreen SPF 30, $28,
  • Lavanila Healthy Baby Block SPF 40, $20,


Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking


K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.


Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.


Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.


Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…


Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…


Shia LaBeouf disorderly conduct case pushed to September

A judge on Thursday adjourned until September the disorderly conduct and harassment case against actor Shia LaBeouf, who was charged with disturbing a Broadway theater…


2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…


NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…


Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.


Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.


Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.


Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.


Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.