Product Review: Baby Cheapskate Reviews Natural Choice “Green” Disposables

Natural Choice “Green” Disposables receive a favorable review at Baby Cheapskate. They also provide a link to a great deal if you’re into these diapers.

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Chemicals Inside and Out, Part 2

We’ve been talking about Bisphenol-A (BPA) a lot these days, but there are other toxins we’re exposing ourselves to more often, that goes for us adults, too, not just our kids. Two big sources are the food we eat and the products we use on our skin.

I remember being a kid and hearing about healthcare professionals and concerned parents talking about the connection between food coloring and Attention Deficit Disorder and hyperactivity. I know that came pretty close to eating my body weight in Fruit Roll-ups as a youngin’ every afternoon after school and being unable to sit still all day long (but maybe I was jonesing for the sugar).

The debate about this connection never really got anywhere, as far as I can tell after a trip to the supermarket revealed a large number of oddly colored kids foods. So, it was exciting to see the article released recently by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), based in the United Kingdom, that said:

Parents of children showing signs of hyperactivity are being advised that cutting certain artificial colours from their diets might have some beneficial effects. The colours – Sunset yellow (E110), Quinoline yellow (E104), Carmoisine (E122), Allura red (E129), Tartrazine (E102) and Ponceau 4R (E124) – were studied as part of new FSA-commissioned research.

The article goes on to say that researchers believe it is the combination with those coloring agents and sodium benzoate, a preservative, that causes the negative effects observed in children. The article also reminds us that all food coloring agents are listed as ingredients, so we health-conscious parents can avoid them. Reading labels is one of the best things we can do for our kids and ourselves… second is getting rid of the bad stuff. 😉 In an inspiring and gutsy move, the FSA is also calling for a European Union-wide ban on these colorants. I wish we were doing things like this in the U.S…..

And on our outsides….

Unfortunately, there is another bad-boy that has not gotten much attention while the BPA debate raged. And his name is Phthalates, an additive used to make hard plastics more flexible and bind fragrances in cosmetics. Phthalates are rarely listed in ingredients on products, but they still find their way into our bodies.

WebMD reports on some new research showing this infiltration in infants.

New research suggests a link between the use of baby lotions, powders, and shampoos and higher levels of potentially harmful man-made chemicals known as phthalates in infants.

Researchers reported that babies exposed to all three products had levels of three different phthalate metabolites that were five times higher than babies whose mothers reported using none of the products.

All the infants in the study had evidence of at least one phthalate metabolite in their urine, even if they had no exposure to baby lotions, powders, or shampoos.recent research

The article also points out that the effects of long-term exposure to phthalates is unknown. Still, researchers encourage avoidance. None of the products that leach phthalates are needed to maintain health. Also, infants are working so hard to grow that the extra energy needed to metabolize chemicals and excrete them is probably wasted energy.

UPDATE: For a nifty, product safety checker, click here.

Chemicals Inside and Out, Part 1

I was ordering replacement cartridges the other night for our mega-water filter at 4 AM, post feeding, and found my way onto the site’s page of water filters for the shower. I said to myself: “The shower?!” Yes, the shower. During the course of the average shower, our skin absorbs approximately 8 cups of chlorinated water. 8 cups!! That’s bigger than my enormous measuring cup. Chlorine is so nasty that it can be used forterrorism. I do not want that on my skin! I realize that the chlorine in our drinking water is far from that chlorine, but it is still really bad for you.

Chlorine in drinking water has been linked to many kinds of cancer, specifically of the bladder and colon, by epidemiologists. Even more concerning than the chlorine itself are the compounds created by the chlorine during its reaction with other things in our water. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as taking the chlorine out of our water. The chlorine is an effective disinfectant, so it stays for now.

However, there are chemicals we don’t have to expose ourselves to. Bisphenol A (BPA) – a compound believed to cause early onset puberty in boys and girls and myriad cancers in lab rats – is a great example. In the past couple of days, we’ve been hearing some rumbling from domestic agencies about the potential harm caused by BPA.

The draft report by the National Toxicology Program signaled a turning point in the government’s position on bisphenol A, or BPA, a chemical so ubiquitous in the United States that it has been detected in the urine of 93 percent of the population over 6 years of age.

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Hopefully, this NIH-sponsored program’s report will get the ball rolling towards a ban on BPA. The report alone won’t be enough because its official stance is that there is “some concern,” but nothing more serious than that. Check out the L.A. Time’s article for more on the report and BPA’s detrimental health effects, click here. (thanks to Z Recommends for this one).

The Canadians feel differently, though. (Why don’t we live there? Gay marriage, social medicine, a potential BPA ban). As the Globe and Mail pointed out, Canada is the first country to label BPA as “dangerous.” If Canada goes on to ban the substance after the (somewhat lengthy) review process, those of us in the U.S. will reap the benefits due to our participation in NAFTA. We shall see… in the meantime, get yourself some BPA-free stuff. Unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid BPA altogether because it is in the lining of formula cans… for now at least.

For a quick guide to safe and unsafe plastics, click here.

Natural Health: Seawater spray cures kids colds-Czech researchers

Long have I been a fan of the Neti pot. If gargling with salt water works for a sore throat, why wouldn’t pouring salt water through your nose help with a sore nose (AKA a cold)?

In late January, a European study was released showing that:

A nasal spray made from Atlantic Ocean seawater eased wintertime cold symptoms faster and slowed cough and cold symptoms from returning among children ages 6 to 10. Click here to read more about it.

Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics have been talking about the possible risks associated with giving cold medicines to children under 2, and the possibility that they might be ineffective altogether in children under 6.

So, why risk using cold medicine if it, a, might not work, or b, might do harm?

Ocean water (saline) sprays are totally safe and totally natural. When prepared correctly, they have a balanced combinations of minerals and micronutrients, some of which might help combat colds. At the very least, the saline washes away mucous, pollution residue, and pollen, so it will likely make breathing easier and more pleasant. These sprays, and Neti pots, flush the sinuses, too. Granted this is anecdotal, I know a number of people who have used Neti pots as part of a regimen that halted years of sinus infections.

It is really important not use the salt in your kitchen to make one of these solutions. It just doesn’t have the same “juice” as the natural stuff. Luckily, the good stuff comes powdered in individual use packetsand handy-dandy booster. Allergy season is upon us, give it a whirl, and don’t forget to try it next cold season, too.

Seaweed Becomes Clothing!!

Tencel is nothing new… wood cellulose turned into a fiber for clothing… but seaweed?! The image conjures some alchemical process in my mind. I can’t even imagine how one goes about turning seaweed into yarn.

And yet, here I am, blogging about SeaCell, a blended fiber of cellulose and seaweed. SeaCell is marketed as an innovation because it has great breathability. The increased airflow is great for the skin, and if you’re cloth-diapering without PUL covers the increased airflow will further reduce risk of diaper rash. The makers of SeaCell also say that the seaweed fibers promote the production of anti-inflammatory proteins in the skin… that sounds a little far-fetched, though. There is also SeaCell Active, the same fiber infused with Silver ions, which have antimicrobial properties.

Even if the claims are bogus, Future Factory Clothing/Baby Elephant has some cute baby basics make of SeaCell. They’re priced well, too. So, if you’re in the market for a cute, breathable, possibly anti-microbial onesie, give one of these a try! You’ll also be doing something good for this fair planet of ours.

Amazon should give new parents a free Kindle, Apple should give them Apple TVs

I love our son. I love him 24 hours a day. I love taking care of him. I do not love the 3am feedings anymore. But what’s a dad to do? I want to look into his eyes, connect. But then I realize after 5 minutes he’s off looking elsewhere, or his eyes are closed.

To get through, I’ve been using my favorite device for these feedings: my Apple TV. I love it. I buy or rent whatever I’m in the mood for and it’s ready to watch in minutes or even seconds. The only problem is, I really miss reading! (I WAS reading The Amazing Adventures of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay)

I’d love to read, but holding a book with my free hand that’s pinned down by my son’s head on my fore arm just isn’t going to work. How would I turn the page?

So I propose that every new parent receive a gift from Amazon: a Kindle. It’s like an iPodfor books. It can be worked one handed, it’s lighter than most books, and you can download books or news right from the device, at 3am, with your child asleep on your lap.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE TV, but it’s time to get back to the books. Including, maybe some baby care books… I think I see a rash….

For Amazon this would be a great way to generate buzz around their new reading gadget, and generate some revenue from book downloads. Parents are great evangelists. If you get them talking about the kindle as a must have, word will get around.

So, Amazon, shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to give you our address. And I promise to post a review on your site 🙂

Amazon\'s Kindle

Bye-bye Nalgene, Hello Metal Water Bottle

After many years of Nalgene use (including the occasional scrubbing under very hot water — eek!), I am jumping ship to safer-water-bottle-land. Nalgene has been an aggressive defender of BPA’s safety, so I’m not too sad to go.

Here are the options I am considering:

  • The Klean Kanteen – Reusable, lightweight, and risk-free 27oz stainless steel bottle comes with your choice of a loop, flat, or sports drinking cap made from safe, non-leaching polypropylene (pp#5). Weighs 8 ounces. About $18.
  • Corn-based Biodegradable 16 Ounce Bottle with Carbon Filter – Buy 4 Get 1 Free at Your Guide to Green @ $8.49 each. These bottles look like your run-of-the-mill plastic bottles, but they’re made of 100% corn plastic. They’re good for 90 uses, and biodegrade in 80 days. An interesting choice if you have access to a compost heap (which all NYC-ers do at their local greenmarket). This would also be a good choice for low-schlepping and lazy days when you’ not ready to give up on the lightweight convenience of bottled water.
  • Sigg. Oh colorful, beautiful Sigg! A one liter bottle costs about $20. Is it worth the extra couple of bucks. I think so. I also know a lot of people who drink from Siggs and no one complains about funny tastes or any of the usual water bottle complaints. Sigg bottles have also done well in consumer testing match-ups with similar stainless steel bottles.
  • There are also great no-name stainless steel bottles out there for less than the Sigg and Klean Kanteen. If you do a search on Google
    you will find lots of these mixed in among the name brand ones.

UPDATE: Via Z Recommends, Nalgene announces plans to offer a BPA-free water bottle. After defending BPA and its use, should we really stick with you, Nalgene?

PS – Check out these great leak-proof, BPA-free food jars at the Two Gay Dads store on Amazon.com.