How to protect your baby from toxic chemical exposure, from leaving your shoes outside to using glass bottles

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How to protect your baby from toxic chemical exposure, from leaving your shoes outside to using glass bottles
Using safe personal care products is vital to your baby's health. Crystal Cox/Insider
  • During pregnancy, it's important to try to eliminate toxins from your life.
  • Opening your windows and removing your shoes can make a huge difference.

Natasha Beck went down a rabbit hole of health information when she had her first son. Her eldest spent a brief stint in the hospital as an ailing infant, and Beck soon became hyper-conscious of her children's health.

Beck, a doctor of psychology, came across the Environmental Working Group in her search. The nonprofit has consumer guides for clean skincare, tap water, and food accessible online.

Armed with new resources, Beck launched Dr. Organic Mommy, a widely read blog where she continues to share tips for clean parenting.

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At EWG's latest CleanCon conference, Beck spoke with Ingrid Carney, founder of Ingrid and Isabel maternity wear, about how to avoid exposure to harmful chemicals before, during, and after pregnancy. Here are some essential tips for reducing that risks for your child.

Prepare your home

When people talk about air pollution, you might think of city smog. But the air inside your home can actually be worse for your health than outdoor air, Beck said.

Buying an air purifier before your baby arrives could be a smart move, but the ones Beck recommends (by IQ Air and Austin Air) aren't affordable for everyone.

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At the very least, you can open your windows and leave your shoes by the door to maintain a healthier home environment. Your shoes can track bacteria from outside into the house, where you might breathe it in or a small child could ingest it.

You should also get a filter to remove toxins from your water at home, Beck said. Not all water filters remove lead and PFAS, or "forever chemicals," so make sure to pick a good one. If you can't afford to buy a filter, you can check out EWG's water database to assess the risk in your area.

Set up a toxin-free baby registry

During pregnancy, you can't help but think about what you're going to get for your baby.

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Beck created a registry of non-toxic baby products she vetted and tried herself. The list includes everything from diapers to nipple cream, all made by clean brands committed to eliminating toxic ingredients.

It's particularly important to make sure you have glass bottles and/or jars for storing breast milk or formula, Beck said. Plastic bottles can leach toxic chemicals like BPA into the milk, especially if you put them in the microwave or dishwasher.

"This makes me nauseous," Carney said when Beck brought up plastic bottles. Carney, a mother of two girls, said she remembers feeding her now-20-year-old from a microwaved plastic bottle full of formula.

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Beck told Carney not to worry too much about something she can't change. The body gets rid of some toxins over time, so the best thing you can do is learn from the past and move on, she said.

Don't stress

It can be anxiety-inducing to try to cut out the many chemicals in your life, but Beck emphasized the importance of keeping stress levels low during pregnancy.

"Social toxins can be worse than chemical ones," Beck said at the conference. "Worrying and being overwhelmed by all of the information out there - you don't want that to take over."

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She recommended staying calm by meditating, walking on the ground bare-footed, and setting a natural rhythm to the day. Waking up with the sun and going to sleep when it's dark can help you feel centered, she said.

"When you know better, you do better," Beck continued. "Tackle one thing at a time. Because there's a lot of different things you can always start to change."

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