Green Baby Gear

Baby toys can be dangerous...

Baby toys can be dangerous...

Last week, a report by the Michigan-based Ecology Center found more than one-third of toys tested contained toxic levels of lead, mercury, cadmium or other harmful materials.



The ecologists who want to build a toxic-toy database at, tested 1,500 bestselling toys currently on shelves across the USA and  Canada.

Toxic toys tested showed levels of lead far in excess of the 600 parts-per-million laid out by the federal government: some toys contained lead as high at 50,000 ppm.

Mattel has settled a lawsuit brought by 39 states after some its toys were found to contain dangerous levels of lead.

Mattel will make the $12 million payment by January 30, 2009, and it will be divided among all U.S. states.

The settlement also requires that Mattel follow more stringent standards for the use of lead in toys beginning November 30, 2008, as well as maintaining records for four years regarding any subcontractors that manufacture parts of any of its toys.

The toy recall affected about 2 million toys between August 2 and October 25, 2007.

The toys in question carried Mattell and Fisher-Price brand names and were manufactured by contractors in China.

Earlier this year, a report surfaced showing that some deadly toys had resurfaced with new names.


Shiloh Jolie-Pitt and her lovey








If your baby loves something, it’s better to cringe, love, and allow.

Angelina Jolie is one smart mom. I know she has a flock of nannies to take care of her little ones (boy, how I hate the word “brood” that media took to characterize Jolie-Pitt family! They are children! Sons and daughters. Immensely loved ones. Not brood. Ugh.) but still – each of her babes is so happy and well taken care of, only like mommy can do, and no one else. Good job!

Shiloh was born only a few months ahead of my little bundle of joy, and some people comment they actually look alike, and I flourish from pride (neither me nor my hubby are nearly as pretty as Angie or Brad), still, no wonder I can’t help but compare. How fun, we seem to share the taste for low-key practical clothes for our kids (mine are mostly hand-me-downs, too, with occasional eBay purchase or a sale bargain from GAP), we carry them on the same hip, and we let them cling to their security objects.

Angelina Jolie’s choice for Shiloh is a traditional security blanket. Shiloh is rarely seen without her beloved Lovie by SwaddleDesigns. Shiloh has been photographed with green, pink, gray, and fuscia (bright pink) Lovies all around the world. 

And there’s good reason to it. Pediatricians recommend that a young child six months and older be given a security object. SwaddleDesigns’ Baby Lovie is a super soft security blankie with satin trim – perfect for little, delicate fingers to play with and feel.

Lovies (loveys) come in all shapes and textures. Our die-hard lovey is a polar bear by Hallmark. I bought it when I was 8 months pregnant. Ruled by weepy hormones, I bought that sad little bear that was sold on 90 percent sale after a Christmas gift mania in a post office. I sensed that my little one will love him. And she did. She never parted with him for a sec, clinging to him when she was as little one week old. Unfortunately, the bear was a very rare, limited edition, so my hubby and I now scout eBay looking for lookalikes of that wretched bear in case it shrinks one day in a washing machine while we distract our own little lovey from her precious aa-mikkey-aa.

Thousands of toys and children’s costume jewellery items were recalled in Toronto, after Toronto Star investigation found they contained extremely high levels of lead. In some cases, lead levels exceeded legal limits 450 times.

Lead was found in about one in every four products bought at 18 retailers in the Greater Toronto Area.

Most of the toys were made in China.

For example, a scrapbook charm sold at Dollarama was so poisonous Health Canada determined a child could die from swallowing the penny-sized bauble. “Super Dooper Charms” jewellery-making kit was recalled by the government in July 2008 but was sold in stores and online nevertheless.

Another lead-contaminated item was a baby pacifier that was sold at Everything For a Dollar in Scarborough. Who knows how many babies were sucking on lead dummies for months!

A Hannah Montana bracelet bought at Wal-Mart was loaded with lead. Toronto Star tested the bracelet’s rhinestones using two high-tech methods and found lead at 445 times the legal limit.

Toxic amounts of lead were found in “Lead Free” jewellery kits, cuddly stuffed animal dressed as a Mountie, and thousands other toys.

More than 900 of the lead-containing baby items had been distributed nationwide since January 2006.

Health Minister Tony Clement called the Star’s findings “deeply disturbing” and said enforcement of leaded products is not good enough.

Experts say sucking on or mouthing a lead-laced toy can cause lead poisoning. Its symptoms, such as irritability, a drop in IQ and poor school performance, could easily be confused with other ailments.

Repeatedly sucking on or swallowing heavily leaded items can bring on a range of symptoms, from prolonged vomiting, diarrhea and cramping to possible death.

Here’s a part of the list of recalled products, as published by

• An orange mini hockey stick with “Canada” painted on the shaft in black letters. The black paint contained 10 times the legal limit for lead. Health Canada said that since April, 3,240 of the sticks had been distributed to retailers nationwide.

• A jewellery kit bought at west-end toy store Animal Crackers. The kit, billed as “Lead Free,” contained a pendant that tested at nearly double the legal limit for lead in children’s jewellery. The necklace clasp tested at 150 times the limit. Health Canada says 5,940 of the kits have been sold across the country since September 2004.

• A pewter scrapbook charm sold at Dollarama that tested at 77 per cent lead. If swallowed, the penny-sized accessory – which has “laugh” engraved on one side – could be fatal. Health Canada said that 11,776 of the items hit Dollarama shelves starting in May 2007.

• A pacifier from the My Baby brand sold in Everything For a Dollar. The orange plastic mouthguard of the pacifier contained more than 10 times the proposed legal limit of lead. Health Canada announced that as a precautionary measure, importer OPC is extending the recall to include My Baby pacifiers with guards of all colours. About 10,000 of the pacifiers were sold from April 2007 to October 2008.

And current Canadian legislation does nothing to protect the children from lead.

Recalls are voluntary and it is up to the offending companies and parents to keep the dangerous items from children.

Health Canada has not punished a company for selling, importing or manufacturing dangerous children’s products in more than a decade.

As a Canadian expat, I am furious. There’s tolerance, frugality, and diversity, and there’s health and safety. Sometimes such things do not coexist.   

[This post has been previously published on Toronto Fashion Monitor. I am a freelance contributor to TFM. ]

The chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, found in plastic products, including baby bottles, is now linked to heart disease and diabetes.

The study by British researchers in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that among 1,455 U.S. adults, those with the highest levels of BPA were more likely to have heart disease, diabetes and liver-enzyme abnormalities than those with the lowest levels.

But U.S. regulators said on Tuesday they still believe it is safe.

“We have confidence in the data that we’ve looked at to say that the margin of safety is adequate,” FDA official Laura Tarantino said.

“But we have not recommended that anyone change their habits or change their use of any of these products because right now we don’t have the evidence in front of us to suggest that people need to.”

Maybe bisphenol A has already damaged her brain?

Bisphenol A is used in plastic food and beverage containers and in the coating of food cans. It’s most commonly found in baby bottles made of plastic #7 (polycarbonate).

Until now, environmental and consumer activists who have questioned the safety of BPA have relied on animal studies.

However, the human studies showing that BPA is damaging our liver and heart are downright scary.

And the worst thing is, FDA is doing nothing to acknowledge the danger. Well, to think that in 70 years of FDA’s existence this agency banned only nine toxic substances, it’s not really surprising.



Californian greenest governor Arnold Schwarzenegger just proved that he played Kindergarted Cop just so rightfully!

California may ban Bisphenol A from all baby items including bottles and toys, it has been reported by AP.

The new bill would require that all products or food containers designed for children 3 years and younger contain only trace amounts of the chemical, bisphenol A.

Following the recent findings of toxic chemicals in baby products, California lawmakers may enact statewide restrictions on a chemical found in plastic baby bottles and infant formula cans.

The new bill would require that all products or food containers designed for children 3 years and younger contain only trace amounts of the chemical, bisphenol A.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Toys “R” Us Inc. say they will stop selling baby bottles made with the chemical next year, and the maker of the hard-plastic Nalgene water bottles announced in April that it would stop using the chemical.

Canada has announced it intends to ban the use of Bisphenol A in baby bottles.

Bisphenol A can disrupt the hormonal system and cause changes in behavior and the brain, and that it may reduce survival and birth weight in fetuses – even at very low doses.

Bisphenol A is found in dental sealants, the linings of food cans, CDs and DVDs, eyeglasses and hundreds of other household goods.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration opposes the bill saying that there was no reason for consumers to stop using products that contain the chemical.

The American Chemistry Council also has been lobbying against it. “Many common, everyday products could disappear from grocery stores all across California,” says a mailer sent out by the council.

At least 11 other American states have considered bills to restrict it.

Manufacturers of baby food and beverages intended for young children would have to reduce the chemical in their packaging to 0.5 parts per billion by 2012, a standard now being met in Japan.

Baby bottles and cups could have just 0.1 parts per billion or less of the chemical beginning Jan. 1.

Gov. Schwarzenegger signed legislation last year banning a common chemical known as phthalates in baby products and toys.  

The Schwarzenegger administration created a “green chemistry” initiative in 2007 to study how California should regulate chemicals, an approach favored by industry and many scientists.

All new moms make the mistake of following those New Baby Checklists and buy more stuff than their baby will possibly use in her first year. I have yet to see a pregnant woman who wouldn’t have a hefty stash of diapers, diaper creams, baby lotions, wipes and bath foams by her seven months into pregnancy. More often than not, this mom will end up using one or two items, letting the rest stay unopened well until the holidays to make nice stocking stuffers.

            In general, all babies and toddlers need just three basic items to stay clean and rash-free:

  •             Multipurpose bath product that can be used on hair, bum and body
  •             Baby wipes
  •             Diaper rash cream or oil

            Some products, such as dusting powder, bathing powder and massage body oil are nice to have but are not absolutely essential. When your baby is six months old, you can start using a mineral-based, good quality sunscreen in the summer, preferably with SPF 30. Choose formulations with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, because they provide all-round protection and are less likely to trigger an irritation.

            There are many wonderful all-natural baby products that work even better than their synthetic counterparts but do not cause any unwanted effects. Homemade recipes for a baby’s care will give you peace of mind in knowing what exactly goes in them, and the ingredients are many times right in your kitchen.

baby in bed

Movie merchandising is a good thing, I guess. Until it kills children.

Today I have learned that a pirate-themed chest bed killed a toddler in Roseville, California.

Bayside Furnishings has announced a recall of about 9,350 boat and pirate themed children’s beds, sold at Costco and elsewhere, in cooperation with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

CPSC has received one report of a death involving a 22-month-old boy of Roseville, California. He was strangled by the lid of the boat bed’s toy chest when it fell on the back of his head and trapped his neck. [Source: news]

The beds in question are LaJolla boat bed and the Pirates of the Caribbean bed. Both beds include a toy chest attached to the foot of the bed. The toy chests that come with the beds are designed in the shape of a ship or boat’s “bow” and attached to the beds as a footboard.

The lid supports on the toy chests fail to prevent the lid from closing too quickly, putting young children at risk of getting trapped and strangled by the lid.

Both are twin size trundle beds made of hardwood and heavily decorated.  They were sold at Costco,, and furniture retail stores for between $700 and $1,400.

Surprise, surprise: both beds were made in China.

Don’t get me wrong: there are thousands of perfectly safe and solid toys and other baby items coming from China. I guess the blame is on the designers of these stupid beds and on equally thoughtless parents who are carried away by this entire movie extravaganza. I truly doubt that a 22-month toddler would insist on his parents buying a pirate-boat-shaped bed. At this age they are more about toy trucks, teddy bears, and Thomas the Train, at most.

So what makes a perfectly safe baby bed? Here are some ideas.

If possible, go second-hand, vintage, or handmade. Brand-new baby furnishings made of MDF or glued together with conventional furniture glues are most likely to off-gas formaldehyde which is linked to abnormal hormone “mimicking” and developmental defects.

Second-hand or older cribs will have already off-gassed harmful fumes. But if you feel uncomfortable about the safety of an older crib, buying an unfinished hardwood version is the healthiest choice. Better yet, find a local craftsman and get a crib made to order. It will make an adorable family heirloom and will serve many generations of kids, provided that you pass it along to the young family when you are done using it.

Look for cribs made from certified, sustainably-forested hardwoods, which can be converted to a full-size junior bed as baby grows. Here’s what to check for in any crib, new or used.

• No missing, loose, or broken screws or brackets.

• No more than two and three-eighths inches between crib slats.

• No corner posts above the end panels.

• No decorative headboards or footboards with large openings.

• No cracked or peeling paint or splinters.

• Drop-side latches that remain at least four inches above the mattress when lowered

Babies spend in bed half of their life. Isn’t that a good enough reason to make it as safe as possible?

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