5. Go non-toxic
Replace household and nursery items with more natural alternatives.
When Paige Goldberg Tolmach's 8-week-old son Jackson came down with a oozy, painful rash, she took him to 14 different doctors. "I had a team of specialists standing over my beautiful baby saying, 'It's eczema. There's nothing you can do; just put him on steroids,'" Goldberg Tolmach says.
The doctors said the rash was hereditary and was triggered by changes in the weather, and they suggested that she quit breastfeeding. None of this made sense to Goldberg Tolmach, who didn't want to put Jackson on steroids unnecessarily. If it's hereditary, she thought, why didn't she or her husband have it? As for the weather, they live in Southern California, where the climate is relatively mild year-round. And she knew breastfeeding was good for Jackson.
After doing some research, Goldberg Tolmach discovered how many products in her house contained toxic chemicals. For example, Jackson's old crib mattress contained a common flame retardant that can harm the developing central nervous system and brain. And, the latex rubber nipples that came with his bottles contained nitrosamines, a family of chemical compounds shown in animal studies to be mutagens (chemicals that change DNA) and carcinogens.
Seek green baby gear
After some serious sleuthing, Goldberg Tolmach found and ordered an array of all natural, eco-friendly alternatives. She bought an organic wool crib mattress; organic baby clothing; and nipples made from non-toxic, medical-grade silicone. While there's no direct scientific proof that the chemical-laced products caused her son's eczema, when she stopped using them, it started to clear up and was completely gone within four weeks.
Goldberg Tolmach knew that whatever was good for Jackson, now 11/2, had to be good for other babies and the planet, so she and two friends (also moms), Beth Birkett and actress Soleil Moon Frye, opened The Little Seed (thelittleseed.com), a Los Angeles-area baby boutique that carries eco-friendly products.
What you can do:
Check the materials Find out what your baby's toys, gear and clothing are made of.
Suspect everything Research before you buy anything that goes in or is used in your home.
Create a natural nursery Stock your baby's room with organic cotton, flannel or bamboo sheets. Use low or no-VOC paint and avoid installing new carpet. For more ideas, see "Going Green,"
Green Resources For Parents On the Web
•Go to fitpregnancy.com/goinggreen to assess how green you are now (and get to the next level)
•Healthy Child, Healthy World, healthychild.org
•Organic Consumer Association, organicconsumers.org
•Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, The Environmental Working Group cosmeticsdatabase.com
•The Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Living, by Trish Riley (Penguin Group, 2007)
•The Complete Organic Pregnancy: What You Need to Know—From the Nail Polish You Wear to the Bed You Sleep In to the Water You Drink By Deirdre Dolan and Alexandra Zissu (Collins, 2006)
•Healthy Child, Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home By Christopher Gavigan (Dutton Adult Books, 2008)
•In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, by Michael Pollan (Penguin Press HC, 2008)
•Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life, by Ed Begley, Jr. (Clarkson Potter, 2008)
•Organic Baby: Simple Steps For Healthy Living, by Kimberly Rider (Chronicle Books, 2007)