You’re blissfully adding the cutest crib sheets to your baby registry when you realize: wait, are these organic? Should I care? Is it important to my baby’s health?
Getting curious about what makes up the products you’re picking for your baby is an important first step to curating a registry of healthy products. But: It can also lead you down a rabbit hole of time-stealing research, when, frankly, you’ve got a lot of other things to do.
This article can act as a jumping off point for you as you begin exploring baby goods made from healthier materials, and steer you toward the resources and expert product curators that can save you time, and give you peace of mind as you’re filling up your registry with clothes, toys and furnishings that you love.
Experts disagree on the number of chemicals used in the manufacturing of consumer goods, but suffice to say: it’s a lot (to the tune of 80,000). And if you’re reading this article, you may already be keenly aware that regulatory measures in the United States don’t do the most stringent job of keeping potentially harmful ingredients—some of which have been linked to low birth rate, development issues in children, and even cancer—out of the clothes, food containers, and furniture that adults and babies alike use everyday. Regulation of this space is covered by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), but, with its current rate of review, it could take decades for this body to thoroughly evaluate all of the chemicals in production.
Babies are particularly vulnerable when it comes to chemicals of concern, because their bodies and brains are developing, and they also crawl and play on the floor, where chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can settle into dust.
The good news is that there are a plethora of companies making thoughtful products with your baby’s health in mind, taking care to use materials that protect and support the well-being of our tiniest members of society.
Start with the product categories that matter most: Researching every last item on your registry is a tall order, so you might consider prioritizing healthy and non-toxic products that stand to have the biggest impact on your child, from an exposure standpoint. Babies spend the majority of their time sleeping, so focusing your efforts on selecting a verifiably healthy crib mattress, crib and bedding is a worthwhile place to start. From there, you can add items that your baby may have in their mouth, like bottles, pacifiers, and certain toys, or that you’ll put on their skin, like baby lotion and body wash.
You don’t have to start from scratch! Use the product directories below to load up your registry with goods that have already been vetted for health.
For diaper care and body products: The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a trusted resource for sourcing non-toxic products, and their EWG Verified for Baby product directory makes finding diapers, balms and lotions, and baby wipes a cinch.
For bottles (and more!): MADE SAFE Certified products go through an independent third-party review that screens for 6,500 prohibited substances. The MADE SAFE product directory can help you stock your registry with bottles, plus cleaning products, baby oils and more.
For nursery furnishings: Sway vets furnishings and bedding for your baby against rigorous, research-backed standards so that you can focus on picking beautiful and functional items that will make for a cozy nursery.
Strollers and car seats: The Green Science Policy Institute has compiled strollers and car seats that are PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances)-free. PFAS are often called “forever chemicals” because they do not fully degrade from living tissue, or the environment, and are associated with health issues like thyroid disease, asthma and even certain cancers. The Green Science Policy Institute recommends avoiding non-essential use of products with PFAS.
Not all product certifications are created equal. Here are a few trusted seals that you’re likely to see on an array of products for your baby that provide extra assurance of a product’s health focus.
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) for organic clothing and bedding: GOTS includes independent certification of the entire textile supply chain with strict controls on natural and synthetic chemical inputs—with verification and regular auditing to ensure adherence to the standard.
STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX STANDARD for clothing and bedding: Requires testing for up to 350 regulated and non-regulated substances which may be harmful to human health.
GREENGUARD Gold for cribs and nursery furnishings: This standard limits emissions of more than 360 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and chemicals.
Interested in learning more? Turn your focus to the work of these reputable, research-focused organizations.
The terms toxic and non-toxic can feel scary and binary. Knowledge is power. Choose products that align with your values and concerns, and don’t stress about the rest. Use the resources above to build your registry with confidence and joy!
By Jennifer Easton, Founder & CEO of Sway, LEED Green Associate