The green baby industry is booming. As more and more organic baby products become available, new parents are increasingly going organic for their little ones. The term “organic” sounds good, and many are willing to pay more for certified organic products, but are these products really better for babies or the environment?
Organic baby food might provide the biggest benefit for both babies and the environment. Studies have found many pesticides in commercial baby food. Safe levels of pesticides have not been specifically established for infants, so there may or may not be harmful effects. Whether or not trace pesticides harm infants, food that is certified organic is produced without these potentially harmful chemicals. Organically farmed food also provides a benefit for the natural world by eliminating the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides which can damage ecosystems.
It’s not likely that baby clothes made from traditionally-farmed cotton retain pesticides, despite the claims of some purveyors of organic clothing. However, even if organic cotton clothes aren’t better for the baby, they are better for the environment. Traditional cotton farming accounts for 25% of all pesticide use worldwide. Many of the pesticides are known carcinogens, and even if the cotton doesn’t retain them, the environment often does.
Organic cotton bedding can be beneficial to the environment for the same reasons as organic clothing; bedding choices could also potentially affect babies’ health. Whether it is made from natural or synthetic fibers, bedding often contains chemicals such as fire retardants and formaldehyde-containing anti-wrinkle agents. These chemicals are released into the air over time. Bedding made from polyester releases more chemicals than natural fiber bedding, but the only way to ensure that no chemicals have been used to treat infant bedding is to find organic bedding specifically labeled “untreated”.
Not all green products are necessarily better for babies or Mother Earth, but by using certified organic options for food, clothing, and bedding, parents may help ensure better health for their babies and the world in which they live.