Summer is coming – which sunscreen will you slather on your skin?
Sunscreen is a product that we are encouraged to use to protect ourselves from harmful UV rays while enjoying the outdoors. If you’re a parent, it’s likely you are even more concerned about protecting your children’s sensitive skin and making the safest choice possible.
But what to do we really know about the safety of the products we are choosing – in my research – it seems clear that we don’t know enough.
Note – be prepared when switching to safer sunscreens you are going to move into products that are going to be thicker, whiter and slower to absorb that other sunscreen choices. This is because they rely on a high concentration of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to block the suns rays.
At least 7% zinc oxide or titanium dioxide for UVA & UVB protection.
What to Avoid:
Spray and Powder Sunscreen
Sunscreen insect repellent combo – pesticides absorbing into your body
Ingredients; Oxybenzone or benzophenone-3, skin absorption, allergies, hormone problems
Brands; Coppertone, Banana Boat and Most Neutrogena
From the EWG:
No one understands the health implications of our exposures to complex mixtures of industrial compounds and pollutants: remarkably, federal health standards do not require companies to test most products for safety before they are sold, including nearly all chemicals in sunscreen and other personal care products. Little is known about the safety of most industrial chemicals. In the absence of data the federal government approves new chemicals for the market using computer models to predict if they are toxic to humans.
After 30 years of debate,the government has failed to set mandatory sunscreen safety standards. Companies are free to make their own decisions on everything from advertising claims to product quality. FDA now stands in direct violation of a Congressional mandate requiring the agency to finalize sunscreen safety standards by May 2006, flouting not only Congress but also consumers, who are reliant on sunscreen to protect their health.
EWG’s Top Ten List:
California Baby (SPF 30 or Higher)
CVS (with zinc oxide
Jason Natural Cosmetics – Sunbrellas Mineral Based Sunblock
Kiss My Face – Paraben Free series
Neutrogena – Sensative Skin Sunblock
Olay Defense Daily UV Moisturizer with zinc
SkinCeuticals Physical UV Defense
Solar Sense Clear Zinc for Face
Walgreens Zinc Oxide for Face, Nose, & Ears
After studying the EWG’s extensive list the following products have an EWG score of 0-3 for toxicity. My selections are for individual products, not the brands in general, as brand scores can vary widely.
Jason Natural Cosmetics Sunbrellas: Mineral Based Physical Sunblock SPF 30+
Kiss My Face Sunscreen Spf#30 + With Oat Protein 100% Paraben Free
Nature’s Gate Organics Be Solective Sunscreen for Face, SPF 30
All California Baby Sunscreens
Dermalogica Super Sensitive Face Block, SPF 30
Mustela Sun Cream for Sensitive Areas, SPF 50
Kiehl’s All-Sport ‘non-Freeze’ Face Protector, SPF 30
DDF Organic Sunblock, SPF 30
CVS Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide, SPF 45+
Walgreens Sunblock with Zinc Oxide for Face, Nose & Ears, SPF 45+
Olay Complete Defense Daily UV Moisturizer, SPF 30 – Available at my Target
No-Ad Ultra Sunblock Lotion, SPF 60
If you must use a spray – these are your best bets:
Almay Sun Protector for Body Spray, SPF 30
Dermalogica Waterblock Solar Spray, SPF 30
Banana Boat Ultra Mist Kid’s Tear Free Continuous Spray Sunblock Lotion, SPF 30 – Only SPF 30 the SPF 50 is rated 9!
Shopping at Target:
I was recently at target, they had walls of sunscreen. I could only find one of the above products – After an hour of research using my telephone I was able to find 2 sunscreens that were an EWG 3 and the lowest score for a spray was a 5.
Coppertone WaterBabies Pure & Simple – SPF 50 – oil, fragrance & dye free
Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock Lotion – SPF 60+
Banana Boat Kids Continuous Spray Sunscreen – SPF 50
To learn more:
During the finger food stage of feeding your little one my favorites are (Organic):Puffed WheatPuffed Kamut (related to wheat) – larger and easier for little hands to graspPuffed Brown RicePuffed CornBrown Rice Cakes – Unsalted* Don’t forget the fruits and vegetables. You can cook and chop into small pieces any vegetable or non soft fruit that you might feed them at meal time.
Watching Oprah a while back – I was shocked to hear the story of Kristen Hunter who passed away after contracting MRSA. At one point in the story – as told on Oprah – what concerned me was that she was treated with antibiotics for what the doctors suspected was a virus. Am I accurate in the understanding that an antibiotic will not help a virus? Why are they still being prescribed in these situations?
Dr. Oz went through a detailed graphic on what the MRSA looks like, and how it is different from the other Staph strains, he said that giving the incorrect antibiotic will kill off the other strains and leave the MRSA virus to thrive rampantly. It wasn’t stated, but I couldn’t help but wonder if the incorrect antibiotic could actually create a more favorable environment for this Super Bug.
There is a now a test for MRSA widely available, so it can be quickly and accurately diagnosed.
We are blessed to have wonderful medicine and treatments available to us, but they should not be used without careful consideration or we will find our country facing more and more of these strains that will be deadly because we don’t have anything left to kill them.
The good news for MRSA is that we can treat it when accurately diagnosed.
For more information on MRSA, how to recognize it, and how to prevent it look at:
When to seek medical advice:
My thoughts and prayers are with Kirsen Hunter’s family, for more about their tragic story:
If You Are Formula Feeding – How do you choose the safest option for your Baby?
Use these 3 tips to steer you in the right direction.
1. Choose Organic Formula
If there is ever a time to spend the extra money on an organic, pesticide free options – this is it. If you need to use formula – choose organic for the safest option. The trickier part will be finding one. To my knowledge there are only a few of brands on the market: my favorite Nature’s One, Earth’s Best, Similac Organic, and Walmart’s Parent’s Choice Organic.
2. Avoid Ready Made Formula in Cans
A toxic chemical called bisphenol A (BPA) can leach into liquid formula sold in metal cans. Canadian tests show no BPA leaching into powdered formula. The same brands are sold in the U.S., making powdered formula a low-risk for BPA contamination.
Some liquid formulas are sold in plastic, mostly polyethylene and polypropylene which do not contain any BPA. Avoid any plastic containers that are rigid and transparent, marked with “PC”. All liquid formulas sold in metal cans are lined with BPA-epoxy, which has been shown to leach into the product. If you buy formula in metal cans choose the concentrated type which is diluted with water prior to feeding. Avoid ready-to-eat formula in metal cans, which has the highest BPA leaching potential.
3. Select Powdered Formulas
Powdered formulas are the best choice for parents who want to avoid bisphenol A in their baby’s diet. While powdered formula has not been tested for BPA, it is diluted with much more water than liquid formulas which reduces the amount of BPA that the baby consumes in each feeding. Nestlé has made unsubstantiated claims that they don’t use any BPA to line their powdered formula cans. Nestlé, Enfamil and Similac use a mixed metal and cardboard package with less BPA-coating. Second best are Earth’s Best Organic and PBM’s store-brand powdered formulas that use a fully metal can.
4. Soy vs Milk Based Formula
Of course you’ll want to consult your pediatrician, but unless your baby has a sensitivity to milk proteins and requires a soy formula – stay with milk based formulas. The most significant reason to avoid soy unless you have no other options is because soy can mimic the effect of estrogen when consumed in large quantities.
If you do need to use a soy based formula – be sure to use an organic option to be sure you are getting non GMO soy. Soy is one of the largest GMO crops. Given how little we know about the long term effects of consuming GMO foods. We would be wise to avoid experimenting with our infants!
Even if we are being exposed. The exposures are so limited.
They can’t be of any consequence. Right?
Are you sure?
Toxins are measured in measured in parts per billion.
One part per billion has been illustrated recently by the chemical companies as the equivalent of a single pancake in a stack of pancake 4000 miles high.
Surely limited amount wouldn’t impact our bodies. It’s “too low” to matter the to chemical companies argue.
The EWG studied to blood of an Sustainable Furniture Maker named Jesse who lives in New York.
He is arguably an average American. This is what was found in his blood. Measured in parts per billion (ppb):
The Blood Content of our “Average American”
- 97.5 ppb – Badge 40H (Liner in canned foods)
- 45 ppb – PFC’s
- 21 ppb – Lead
- 1.11 ppb – Mercury
- .29 ppb – PBDE’s
Common Drugs that impact our body, as they measure in our blood as parts per billion (ppb):
- 30 ppb – Cialis (one dose)
- 30 ppb – Paxil (one dose)
- 2.1 ppb – Albuterol (one dose)
- 35 ppb – Nuvaring – birth control
At small doses – Cialis side effects include a sudden decrease in hearing or vision. Users are directed to call their doctor taking Cialis if they get an erection lasting more than 4 hours.
Drugs are effective at the very same parts per billion that the chemical companies claim are inconsequential in their product. Drugs are designed to be effective at low doses.
Chemicals are not tested to ensure their safety or their absence of side effects at low doses.
Chemicals are consumed without unknowingly and we don’t know if we are putting ourselves, our families and our unborn children at risk.
The evidence is gathering that we are putting them at risk.
We are seeing an alarming increase in disease that can’t be explained by better diagnostics:
- Hypospadias has doubled from 1968 – 1993 – 1 in 125 baby boys
- 62% increase in acute lymphocytic leukemia over short period of time
- 40% increase in Brain Cancer – this is not a matter of better diagnostics, we didn’t miss brain cancer in the 1960′s, 70′s, 80′s & 90′s.
- 1-150 Children – if this is due to better or more frequent diagnosis - where are the Autistic adults?
- Fertility difficulties are rising in women under the age of 25.
- We have the highest rate of cancer in the world and if someone moves here from another country their likelihood of cancer increases – according to the American Cancer Society.
Over and above the Human Cost there is a monitory Cost of to Disorder
- $ 43.4 Billion – Lead poisoning
- $ 9.2 Billion – Neurobehavioral disorders, autism etc.
- $ 8.7 Billion – IQ loss from mercury
- $ 35 Billion – Asthma in Children
What can we do daily to lower our exposure?
Kid Safe Chemical Act:
Help Get it passed!
Most of the figures for this article came from a presentation by EWG president Ken Cook ~ 10 Americans. It’s a great presentation, well worth the time it takes to watch.
A study out of UCLA has demonstrated a direct correlation between air quality and and the incidence of ear infection in children.
Another study that demonstrates how our health is impacted by our environment.
Home Remedy for Ear Infection
Lil’ Diva recently had an ear infection that we treated using hydrogen peroxide.
This is how my mom treated many of my ear infections, but I couldn’t find any information to that made me comfortable and my pediatrician advised against it, so I wasn’t sure what to do. Recently I was watching Dr. Oz and he said this was a home remedy that he used in his home for his children.
We take a the lid of the hydrogen peroxide and fill it with the liquid, saturate a cotton ball and squeeze the contents into the ear. If there is an infection you will see bubbling in short order. Lil’ Diva thinks it feels funny.
We then use use a dry cotton ball to absorb the liquid – NO SWABS – ever, ever, ever inside the ear canal!!!
We usually do this 2- 3 times. Morning, midday and before bed.
I am SUPER sensitive to ear issues, having suffered from chronic ear problems, so I really monitor the children if they have an infection. If the pain isn’t manageable with Advil or Tylenol I’ll take them in to the doctor pretty quickly.
It’s worth noting that the current evidence suggests that 8 out of 10 ear infections will clear up on their own without the use of Antibiotics.
Read the Full Study here:
Remember – I am not a doctor and this post should not substitute the advice of a doctor. This is just something that has worked in our home for my family!!!
Worth knowing for nursing mothers, or soon to be nursing mothers!
“Breastfeeding benefits both infants and mothers in many ways as breast milk is easy to digest and contains antibodies that can protect infants from bacterial and viral infections. The World Health Organization recommends that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. This new study shows that certain common antidepressant drugs may be linked to a common difficulty experienced by new mothers known as delayed secretory activation, defined as a delay in the initiation of full milk secretion.
“The breasts are serotonin-regulated glands, meaning the breasts’ ability to secrete milk at the right time is closely related to the body’s production and regulation of the hormone serotonin,” said Nelson Horseman, PhD, of the University of Cincinnati and co-author of the study. “Common antidepressant drugs like fluoxetine, sertraline and paroxetine are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs and while they can affect mood, emotion and sleep they may also impact serotonin regulation in the breast, placing new mothers at greater risk of a delay in the establishment of a full milk supply.””
READ THE FULL REPORT:
BPA Effects: Why We Need to Take Extra Care with Our Babies
The developing fetus and baby are the most vulnerable to BPA and their toxic effects. Sadly, babies are often exposed to more BPA than any age group, studies have even shown they are highly vulnerable during pregnancy.
“Prenatal exposure, even in very low doses, can cause irreversible damage in an unborn baby’s reproductive organs.” According to Marc Goldstein, M.D, director of the Cornell Institute for Reproductive Medicine. He also states “Fertility rates have been declining for quite some time now, and exposure to synthetic estrogen—especially from the chemicals found in plastic products—can have an adverse effect.”
Although completely eliminating exposure to BPA may not be possible, there is good reason to take every step you can to reduce your babies exposure. The FDA estimates that babies have 12.5 times more BPA exposure than adults, and EWG is concerned that FDA underestimates exposures for many babies.
BPA Effects: Where Are Babies Exposed and How to Reduce Exposure?
- Many parents have replaced their polycarbonate baby bottles, but they may be unaware that BPA contaminates liquid baby formula sold in metal cans. For babies not being breastfed formula may make up 100% of a baby’s diet over her first 6 months of life, choose your baby formula carfully in order to minimize potential exposure to BPA’s.
- Glass and Stainless steel are the safest and most durable option. Some metal water bottles are lined with an epoxy-based enamel coating and could leach BPA, as we’ve seen this with the Sigg scandal. Be extra vigilant.
- If you are a nursing mom be aware of potential exposure in your pumping system, be sure the storage you are using is BPA-free.
- Never microwave baby food or drinks in any plastic containers, heating increases BPA leaching.
- Canned foods are one of the biggest sources of BPA exposure – with so much of the exposure on this topic focusing on plastic containers this fact can get overlooked. BPA’s is used in the epoxy liner of most canned foods, be sure to limit the use of canned goods as much a possible. EWG tested 97 canned foods and found detectable levels of BPA in more than half of the foods. Canned meats, pasta & soups fared the worst in testing. Pregnant women and children should limit their consumption of canned foods to avoid BPA.
More About Plastic:
- With BPA in the headline now for some time, most manufacturers now make BPA-free baby plastic bottles. If you are using plastic, be sure the bottles you are using are BPA free.
- Polycarbonate plastics are rigid, transparent and used for food storage containers and water bottles, among other things. Trace amounts of BPA can migrate from these containers, particularly if used for hot food or liquids.
- Avoid polycarbonate for babies food and drinks. This plastic might be marked with the recycling code #7 or the letters “PC”.
- Wash plastics on the top shelf of your dishwasher or by hand. Avoid using old and scratched plastic bottles.
If you must use plastic:
- Plastics with the recycling labels #1, #2 and #4 on the bottom are better choices because they do not contain BPA
- Soft or cloudy-colored plastic does not contain BPA.
A note about sourcing: A good deal of the information in this piece came from the EWG, I went back and just couldn’t find the exact pages. My sincere apologies for not having direct links and let me know if you stumble on it – I’d love to add it/them.
BPA Effects: What Can You Do To Protect Your Family?
The major food manufacturer’s have been marketing food to kids forever.
It may take a little extra effort, but the fact is we can have greater success if we steal a few techniques from the marketing pros. Studies have shown that children will choose a “branded” banana over a plain one. It’s all in how you sell it!
Children don’t have a great sense proportion and portion sizes. As parents we can use this to our advantage.
When serving treats, placing them on a small plate, will make the treat seem bigger and they will think they have a bigger piece.
When serving healthier choices giving them a larger serving may work in your favor. Serving a sizable stack of green beans and having them eat four or five might get them to eat more than if you only give them only four or five beans to start out with.
These same principles work with beverages.
Typically you will want your children to drink a good amount of water – serving it in a large glass – say 12oz. They won’t finish it all, but if they drink half of it it’s still a nice quantity. My two each have a stainless steel water bottle they drink from throughout the day and I refill it as needed.
Juice is a special treat in our home, but if you are a juice family serving the juice in a smaller tall glass they will feel like they’ve had more than a shorter fat glass, when in fact the actual oz will be fewer.
Serving veggies you can get payoff for being creative. In our home I’ve found that food often goes over better if I give it a fun name:
Sweet Potato Circles
Cucumber Spears or Cucumber Squares
Dragon Tails – Asparagus
Frog Feet – Broccoli Stems
Broccoli – Magic Forest
Almond Butter has more nutrients and healthier oils than peanut butter. It’s also allowed in many schools that don’t allow peanuts. My children like both and it’s nice to have the options for variety. In our home the children can choose between the two, but if they choose almond butter then they can have it with fruit juice sweetened raspberry preserves. So almond butter is often the winner. Getting your child to eat alternatives like this is usually a matter of introducing it to them early.
In searching for fun ways to entice children to eat more fruits and vegetables and to fuel my creative juices (it’s hard not to get stuck in a rut!) I found Sheri, a mom from New York who does amazing things with her lunchboxes. She sends her 3 children to lunch with stunning Bento Boxes.
Little Diva drooled over Sheri’s amazing pictures, she wanted to try everything!
Sheri has agreed to share her ideas here at PND and I hope that our readers are inspired her work. Let her ideas inspire you and reach out of your own comfort zone to create better health for your family.
If you live in North America and have an infant, chances are you are using plastics. If you are using plastics there is good reason to be informed and careful in their use.
Whenever you can opt for stainless steel or glass alternatives. That said, I use plastic and you likely will/do to. Let’s be as informed as we can in their usage.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION WHEN USING PLASTICS
- Never microwave any plastic.
- Never cover any food to be microwaved with plastic wrap.
- Avoid storing babies food in plastic.
- Wash plastics on the top shelf of your dishwasher or by hand.
- Avoid using old and scratched plastic bottles.
- Choose Glass or Stainless Steel Baby Bottles – this is your best protection against future headlines! My concern is that we’ll discover down the road that other petroleum made plastics also leach.
- If you are choosing Plastic Baby Bottles, most manufacturers now make BPA-free baby plastic bottles, with all BPA headlines in the news. If you are using plastic – double check to ensure bottles you use are BPA free.
- Choose bottle nipples made from silicon. They are the most durable and inert options. Latex rubber nipples can cause allergic reactions and can contain impurities linked to cancer. The same goes for pacifiers. Throw away any nipple or pacifier that is discolored, thinning, tacky or ripped.
- Liners: Only use if you them if you have a colicky baby and they’ve been advised by your doctor. The soft plastic liners may leach chemicals into formula, especially when heated. They are also a poor choice from an environmental perspective.
- Glass, that is the best choice for storing & freezing pumped milk – if you can come up with a system that work for you.
- The sealable plastic nursing bags designed for storing breast milk are made of polyethylene. Studies published in Early Human Development and Nutrition Review showed no chemical leaching into the milk, but did indicate that milk stored in these bags may lose some nutrients because they cling to the plastic. This is what worked for our family. I would freeze the milk flat on a box, once frozen stand it up and place at the back of the milk inventory. Thawing was very quick in warm water.
- Let me know if you come up with an efficient glass storage method, I’d love to share it with my readers!
- When your infant starts on their first foods, instead of plastic dishes use glass custard cups. They are durable, can be microwaved, and some even have lids. Chances are – at this stage – you’re the one doing the feeding. Why risk exposure at this very early stage?
- Before you know it your baby is going to start eating real food. Chances are you will be serving most of that food on plastic dishes. my children are 3 & 4 years old, so I know why! Plastic is less likely to break when it’s tossed to the floor.
- Don’t store left over foods in the plastic dishes – store the leftovers in the custard cups we were just discussing – in my books. Less time in the plastic = less time for chemical leaching.
- Look for stainless steel or tempered glass bowls to use as snack containers – they are your safest option. We originally purchased plastic bowls for dry snacks and chopped fruit – my understanding is that leaching occurs most with heat and liquids, but if we could do it again, I’d choose a safer material. BTW – plastic bowls break too!
- If you are using plastic dishes – move your children to regular dishes at an earlier age. My 2 year old son eats his dinner on the same plates as the rest of the family and at the dinner table drinks from a glass. We’ve only lost one plate.
- Duralex glasses are extremely durable, they are tempered making them stronger than regular glass. Shopping for glasses look for Duralex if you want to keep them for a while!
- Avoid polycarbonate for babies food and drinks.
- Polycarbonate plastics, marked with a #7 code or PC; they are rigid, transparent and used for food storage containers and water bottles, among other things. Trace amounts of BPA can migrate from these containers, particularly if used for hot food or liquids.
IF IT MUST BE PLASTIC
- Plastics with the recycling labels #1, #2 and #4 on the bottom are better choices because they do not contain BPA.
- Soft or cloudy-colored plastic does not contain BPA.
Check out these plastic alternatives available at amazon:
These dishes are tempered glass:
KIDISHES Kid-Friendly Tempered Glass Bowls, Plates and Tumblers
These look great for on the go lunches:
LunchBots Pico Stainless Steel Lunch Container