When choosing beddings for our baby, we usually lean towards those that are soft, cute and that bear “100 percent cotton” and “hypoallergenic” labels. Unfortunately there is more to bedding than that.
Beddings are usually made of polyester/cotton blends or all polyester. Beddings made of 100 percent cotton, hemp, linen or wool on the other hand, are the least toxic. Synthetic fabrics emit low levels of chemicals their entire life. However, typical beddings generally are subjected to several chemical treatments before they reach consumers.
Harmful ingredients that make their way into conventional beddings include: foams, dyes, cotton, pesticides, plastic (polyester), formaldehyde finishes and fire retardant chemicals. Avoid beddings that are promoted as wrinkle resistant or no ironing needed. These wrinkle-resistant fabrics are treated with chemicals that contain formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen and a sensitizer. Likewise, wool blankets are treated with mothproofing chemicals. These treatments are designed to last through the life of the bedding, making it impossible to wash out completely.
Your best option is to purchase cotton flannel or unbleached cotton at a fabric store to make your own baby bedding; fabric yardage is usually untreated. You should also avoid washing your baby’s beddings with conventional detergents, especially scented ones, as well as fabric softeners, since this means your baby is constantly inhaling and touching harmful chemicals.
Here are some things you can do to lessen your baby’s exposure to harmful chemicals yet still be able to protect beddings:
*You can order you mattresses minus the flame retardants if you have a letter or prescription from your doctor.
*To reduce exposure to dust and dust mites in mattresses, you can wrap them in barrier cloths. Untreated 100 percent cotton barrier is good at keeping dust and dust mites out of mattresses, without potential hazards of chemical treatments. Avoid barrier cloths that are made from synthetic materials such as polypropylene or vinyl.
*Lessen exposure to off-gassing from plastics by wrapping a plastic mattress cover with several layers of washable cotton or untreated 100 percent cotton cloth. Cotton sheets with high thread counts (250 or more) can be used in the same way as a barrier cloth.
*If you need to completely avoid plastics but still need to protect baby’s mattress from urine, use aluminum foil paper instead.
To remove excess dyes, conventional detergents, fabric conditioners and some finishes, there are some home-made solutions that you can use:
You can either wash you mattresses and beddings several times with, or soak them overnight in a tub of water with one of the following:
*1/2 to 1 cup vinegar
*1/2 to 1cup pickling salt. Do not soak in an enamel tub since salt will cause the tub to rust over time.
*1/4 to 1 cup baking soda. If you choose to use baking soda, rinse several times to remove residue.
However, as mentioned earlier, many chemical treatments are designed not to wash out. Scented detergents and fabric conditioners also never completely wash out. Chemicals in mothballs are almost impossible to wash out and are highly toxic. However, the solutions above created to reduce chemical residues and smells.
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