Phthalates in Baby Care Products: How to Avoid Toxins without Losing Your Mind

When you have a baby, you’re always hearing about the latest hidden dangers and toxins lurking in almost everything you own.  Since my baby was born, I’ve been learning more and more about harmful chemicals in plastics.  The most recent panic-inducing study, published in this month’s issue of Pediatrics, proves that using baby bath products increases the amount of phthalates in babies’ urine.  Phthalates, found in many plastics, can affect reproductive development and play a role in allergies, runny noses, eczema, and even the concentrations of your baby’s hormones.

Baby bath
Was I just awash in toxic chemicals?

Yikes!  This information is enough to cause even the most laid-back parent to freak out.  (MSN’s headline, “Babies Awash in Toxic Chemicals,” didn’t help.)  You may have been lathering the baby up with baby wash and sprinkling him with powder since day one.  Now what?  According to, “Parents who want to decrease their baby’s exposure to phthalates should limit the amount of baby care products used on the infant, and apply lotions or powders only if medically indicated.”  I have decided not to freak out over the possible phthalate exposure of the past–instead, I’ll just work on limiting possible future exposure.

Limiting Baby Care Products.  Most pediatricians recommend using just water to wash a baby.  The great thing about this advice is that it’s easy and actually cheaper than using all those creams, soaps, and potions.  It’s difficult to know which products contain phthalates and which do not–at this time, companies are not required to include this information on their labels.  Burt’s Bees is one known safe choice.  Mama Rose’s Naturals produces baby care products from organic ingredients and essential oils which can be ordered online.  Although I haven’t purchased many baby toiletries for my daughter,  I am happy to know that my Earth-saving parenting tip to bathe your baby less often has another advantage: I am limiting her exposure to toxins.

For parents, there is always going to be something to worry about.  Maybe next year a new study will reveal that phthalates aren’t as terrible as everyone suspected.  Still, I figure it’s not a bad idea to reduce the amount of phthalates swimming around in my daughter’s urine.  Not only am I protecting her health, I’m looking out for the wellbeing of our planet, which doesn’t need another chunk of plastic filling up a landfill–phthalates or no phthalates!


  1. The Environmental Working Group has conducted a study on the safety baby care products and compiled the results is one place. This is a great way to check what you are using and to find safer alternatives:

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