Whether you are a first time mom and are creating a registry, or are celebrating your third bundle of joy - this post is for you. Organic clothing is now becoming popular, but its not just about popularity. Babies and children that struggle with sensitive skin or eczema are more susceptible to being irritated by fabrics that are not organic or breathable. Read on to see why its actually healthier for baby to dress in organic clothing and to select organic fabrics for baby products, over flame-retardant-soaked or polyester-stitched options.
Okay so you've heard it before- you start creating a registry or are looking to buy baby/toddler clothes, and you see terms such as G.O.T.S. certified 100% organic cotton, made from 100% bamboo, latex free, free from flame retardants, free from phthalates, etc. But why are these terms so important and why should you pay attention to them?
“Babies and children have delicate skin. Think about the world around them- what they touch, feel, breathe. Think of their bodies and immune systems as sponges. Their skin is their largest organ. Why clothe them in fabrics that aren't natural and safe?”
Your perfect little babe has been cooking 9 months and is born with the most delicate, beautiful skin. Why wrap them in scratchy, synthetic fabrics that contain harmful toxins when you can opt for natural, organic fabrics? Synthetic clothing/products are often manufactured with plenty of chemicals such as PVC, petrochemicals, acrylic (polycrylonitriles), etc. These chemicals can cause health problems in children including cancer, immune system damage, hormone disruption, and interestingly enough, even behavioral problems. Those are reasons to think about what you're exposing your child to within their environment, from crib sheets to swaddles. Take the time to explore what clothing your are choosing to put on their skin.
Is 100% cotton, that's non-organic, still better than synthetic materials?Fabric finishing found on non-organic cotton and synthetics alike is even more concerning. Certain things can be removed after repeated washing, but permanent press or fire-retardant finishing, never washes out and is known to release formaldehyde. These types of chemicals in clothing can give your sweet little one a rash, or worse, contribute to hormonal disruption. It is best to go organic when choosing baby clothes and products that will come into contact with your baby (bibs, crib sheets, swaddles, play-mats, socks, bath towels, etc.) Organic cotton is made using natural fertilizers, and there is no use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides within the growing and harvesting of the cotton. When buying cotton that is not organic, you are still exposing your child to pesticides. When you are shopping for safe clothing for your baby, keep in mind that choosing clothing made of natural fibers that are colored with non-toxic dyes will minimize their overall contact with harmful chemicals. Key words to look for include:
1. G.O.T.S. Certified Organic Cotton, with use of Non-toxic Dyes and Inks
Look for organic cotton with a label that reads The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). G.O.T.S. is the world’s leading textile processing standard for organic fibers. To be certified, the clothing must be 95% organic and contain no toxic dyes or finishes.nSince cotton is natural, it is non allergenic. You don’t have to worry about baby breaking out in rashes or having eczema or allergy related symptoms. Cotton is also perfect for babies who suffer from asthma or asthma related issues because unlike other materials, it does not release irritating chemicals or fragrances that can trigger an asthma attack. Oeko-Tex 100 Certified clothing is another key word you might come across. This means the natural fibers have been tested for more than 100 harmful substances. When choosing products that are not G.O.T.S. or Oeko-Tex 100 certified, the fabrics can be heavily manufactured with chemicals because many treatments take place after the actual garment is made. Coloring, logos, and finishing treatments are often saturated with scary ingredients including: ammonia, dioxin-producing bleach, formaldehyde (to prevent shrinkage), halogens and bromines, PVC-based ink, azo-aniline and petrochemical dyes, as well as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and phthalates - yikes!!!! This is why its best to choose organic.
2. Bamboo or Hemp
Bamboo (but not rayon made from bamboo) or hemp clothing is also a good choice for babies and children. Bamboo is made from pulp grass, a natural textile. Bamboo is hypoallergenic and antibacterial. It is highly absorbent of moisture, and keeps the skin dry. Hemp clothing is another option in that it is better on baby's skin than synthetic materials. It is naturally chemical free, which means when it is grown, it has no need for chemical pesticides or herbicides. Hemp fibers are actually ten times stronger than cotton, making it a durable choice.
3. Phthalate free, Flame retardant free, and Formaldehyde free
All of these chemicals are toxic, and sadly the addition of them to baby clothing, children's toys, car seats, strollers, baby bottles, etc. is the norm. Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl, which are often added to everything from mac n' cheese plastic bags (which leaches into the food) to makeup, and also sadly, into children's clothes. The CDC states that young children may have a greater risk of being exposed to phthalate particles in dust than adults because of their hand-to-mouth behaviors. Both formaldehyde and flame retardants are added into clothing during manufacturing and finishing processes. After a long list of "safe flame retardants" were released, and then approved for baby clothing, these "safer" flame retardant chemicals were later linked to increased hyperactivity and lowered IQ. It's scary to learn that flame retardants are even found in cord blood, and breast milk because of its exposure to pregnant and nursing women. Read this article from Babylist to learn more regarding the history of flame retardants.
4. Fair Labor Practices
Look for organic fabrics that are made from countries that exercise fair labor laws or safe working conditions, access to healthcare, fair wages, etc. Fair labor practices alleviate poverty in these working countries, and continue to sustain the battle against unethical labor practices. Best of all, they allow the creation of clothing and products that do not harm our environment.
Here's a quick reference list of organic baby clothing and baby products:
Organic Clothing: Kate Quinn Organics, PACT apparel, Monica and Andy (I bought my daughter's Easter dress from here), L'oved Baby, Touched by Nature (love their socks!), Finn and Emma, Penguin Organics (Now Jazzy Organics), Hanna Andersson (they have adorable long toddler pajamas)
Organic Accessories: Cambria Baby (bandanas and bibs), Penguin Organics (baby blankets) Finn and Emma (we use and love their stroller/carseat toys and rattles), Under the Nile (beach hats, swaddles), Burts Bees (burpcloths), Indestructibles (baby books)
Make the better choice and buy organic clothing and products. Organic fabric is easily accessible and sold online. You can even find it in many major stores. Unfortunately, 100% cotton that is not deemed organic can still contain harmful pesticides and toxins, and it may be colored with harmful dyes. It's healthier for your family and also the the environment when you buy organic. 20% of the world's water pollution is due to the manufacturing of non-organic clothing.