What We’ve Learned About Babies’ Health and Cleaning ChemicalsThe first few months of babies’ lives are critical to the development of their respiratory and immune systems. They can be extra-sensitive to ingredients that you and I might think nothing of, so taking extra care when selecting the right cleaning products for homes where babies live is crucial. Fortunately, it’s a highly researched subject, so we’ve learned a lot about how exposure to household cleaners can impact little ones both immediately and as they grow up.
Asthma and AllergiesWe have, by far, the most research on the link between cleaning chemicals and asthma in babies, and what researchers have found is pretty scary. Childhood asthma has steadily become more prevalent over the past few decades, and today’s makes it clear that frequent exposure to cleaning chemicals in early life, especially within the first three months, is associated with an increased risk for asthma by age 3. Another study found that kids with greater exposure to cleaning products were 35% more likely to develop chronic wheezing and chronic allergies than children with the least exposure. Babies’ delicate and growing respiratory and immune systems simply can’t handle the chemicals the way our adult bodies may be able to. Clearly, some serious changes need to happen in the cleaning category! But it might not be enough to simply trade out traditional cleaning products with better-for-you options once the kiddos come along. According to research, kids faced a 71% increased risk of asthma if their mom or dad worked a job that regularly involved handling cleaning agents, even if the parent quit the job years before conceiving. While it’s not necessarily direct causation, this startling data suggests that cleaning agents have a direct impact on the reproductive system.
Babies’ Vulnerability vs. Adults and Long-Term EffectsToxic chemicals aren’t doing anyone any favors, but they can be especially harmful to babies, who are much more vulnerable to environmental toxins than adults. What makes them so susceptible? The list is long.
- 1. While babies’ cells multiply and divide quickly and constantly, cell division markedly slows down in humans at older ages.
- 2. At birth, babies’ body systems, including their respiratory and immune systems, haven’t fully formed, so their growth can be impacted by environmental factors.
- 3. Babies breathe much more rapidly and take in more air than adults in proportion to body size.
- 4. Babies’ metabolism is higher and they eat and drink proportionately more than adults.
- 5. They have very different behavior patterns, including crawling and touching more household surfaces, and placing foreign objects in their mouth.
Cleaning Products to AvoidThe big takeaway from all of this research is that by identifying and eliminating exposure to toxic cleaning chemicals and finding healthier alternatives, you can keep your babies safe and reduce their risk of allergies, asthma, wheezing, and even cancer. Want to know where to start? Consider that research showed that asthma risk was notably higher for kids in homes that often used air fresheners, dusting sprays, plug-in deodorizers, oven cleaners, and antimicrobial sanitizers. Trade these out if they’re one of your go-to’s, and swap them for natural alternatives.
Toxic-Free Cleaning Tips to Keep Your Babies HealthyParents know: babies are always touching and tasting things – especially things they’re not supposed to. It’s how they experience this brand new world, and they don’t quite understand the meaning of “no.” We know how much you want to keep the surfaces and items your little ones come into contact with safe, hygienic, and free from toxic chemicals – and we’re here to help! Use these tips to keep your babies protected without sacrificing a clean home:
- 1. Use a toxic-free cleaning product that doesn’t include (or smell like) chemicals. Force of Nature starts with just salt, vinegar, and water, no scary chemicals needed. The appliance uses electricity to convert these 3 wholesome ingredients, along with your trusty tap water, into a super effective cleaner, deodorizer and disinfectant. It’s also certified 100% skin-safe and best for sensitive skin by SkinSAFE, Mayo Clinic’s allergy rating system. Plus, Force of Nature is an EPA-registered disinfectant that kills 99.9% of germs and is EPA-approved for use against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, so you can trust it to get the job done.
- 2. Skip antibacterial soap. In the long run, it may increase the risk of creating tougher, more resistant bacteria.
- 3. Minimize dirt before it comes in to lessen the cleaning load by having family members and guests take shoes off at the door.
- 4. If you need to refresh the smell of your home, open the windows. Make a deliciously fragrant simmer pot with your favorite fruit, spices, and herbs; if you want to diffuse essential oils, use them sparingly and talk to a pediatrician first, because natural fragrances can be as toxic as artificial fragrances.