From the moment babies are born, we wrap and dress them in blankets and clothing not only to keep them warm, but also for aesthetic reasons. Not that long ago, people dressed their babies in natural fibers like wool, cashmere, cotton, silk, and linen. These days it is different… we are unconsciously layering up our children with harmful substances.
As parents we place a lot of trust in companies who produce baby products. We know our babies are brand new, sensitive, and untarnished and we go to great lengths to preserve this purity. In many cases we analyze labels to ensure our baby’s gear comes from a reputable brand, is organic, or even BPA free (just to name a few examples). However just like with food or medicine, we should be conscious of what makes up our children’s clothes.
What most people do not know is a lot of fabrics commonly used in baby clothing may be harmful to your baby’s skin and health… we don’t even question their safety. However, during the manufacturing process, fabrics such as polyester, rayon, nylon and acrylic are made from and treated with chemicals like formaldehyde, benzidine-based dyes, perfluorochemicals, and phthalates. These chemicals and dyes cannot be washed out and can be easily absorbed by new growing baby skin, often causing mild to severe irritations and allergic reactions. can all irritate a baby’s skin, and in some cases, cause severe allergic reactions.
Our skin is our biggest organ, and because babies skin is so new, sensitive, and ever-growing, it is easy for any chemicals and toxins in the fabric to enter babies’ bodies and difficult for these chemicals and toxins to leave. While super soft wrinkle-free fabric with cute prints may be en vogue is it worth the cost of your little one’s health?
Which fabrics should we avoid?
Here are a few fabrics you should try to avoid using with your little ones:
- Polyester is one of the worst and most widely used fabrics because it is cheap and usually wrinkle-free. Unfortunately, itis made from synthetic polymers or petrochemicals. It also has a large environmental impact as it relies on non-renewable resources for production.
- Rayon is manufactured from recycled wood. However, to break down the fibers, the pulp is passed through a combination of chemicals including carbon disulphide, sulfuric acid, ammonia, acetone and caustic soda, some of which have been linked to severe health issues.
- Polar fleece is also made from petrochemicals and relies on non-renewable resources for production. While it is insulating and light, it does not breathe or absorb water. As a result, if your little one overheats while wearing fleece, the sweat gets trapped inside and their body temperature can rapidly skyrocket.
- Acrylicfabrics look like knitted wool and while they look nice, they feel cheaper and can be abrasive to the skin. Acrylics are made from a combination of toxic chemicals known as polycrylonitriles, some of which have been linked to cancer.
- Acetate and Triacetate are manufactured from wood cellulose and involve extensive chemical processing, leading to severe skin allergies and rashes.
- Nylon is made from petrochemicals and undergoes additional chemical treatments during the manufacturing process. Apart from being known as one of the least eco-friendly abrics, nylon is also linked to skin allergies.
- Fabrics marketed as stain-resistant, wrinkle-free, stain-proof, flame retardant, etc are worth avoiding. These fabrics are often treated with harmful chemicals to achieve the marketed benefits.