Posted by Claudia Grazioso on March 16, 2011
Show me a rubber ducky that hasn’t been chewed on and I’ll show you one that has never been in a bath with a child. A few years ago, before the news about BPA started leaking slowly out to the public, I remember watching my daughter gum her favorite ducky in the tub and thinking it was adorable. I may as well have been watching her eat toxic waste.
BPA, short for Bisphenol A, is used in the almost all things plastic, including baby toys, infant bath toys, bottles and even the inside of cans of infant formula. Since the 1930s it has been known to have estrogenic properties, but it wasn’t until 2010 that the FDA, as always moving at the speed of cement, raised concerns about the exposure of fetuses, babies and children to this chemical. Canada did us one better. They declared it a toxic substance. And use of BPA is now banned in baby bottles in Europe and Canada. In America? Sadly, not yet.
BPA appears to be really bad news. Many studies have linked it to disruptions and problems in the endocrine and reproductive systems. It has even been linked to impaired immune systems. The National Institute of Health recently expressed concern about its effects on the brain development of fetuses and infants. And as always, the youngest among us are the most susceptible to the toxic effects.
Chances are you don’t live in a plastics-free home. So what can you do? Check all of your plastics. Look for number seven in the recycling triangle on the bottom. Seven is far from the lucky number here. It means that product contains a higher level of BPA. If you have any plastic ware in your house with a number seven on the bottom, you should throw it away at the first sign of wear and tear. (Personally, I would just throw it away immediately). Additionally, you can make small changes like switch over to glass food storage containers and glass baby bottles. They aren’t as convenient, and you have to be a bit more cautious about them hitting the floor, but it might be a good choice in the long run.
Second, you can try out baby toys and products that are BPA free. The problem is that according to some very recent studies, those plastics also seem to have some effect on estrogenic activity, too. In other words, they might not be the easy solution we all hope for. And especially when it comes to bath toys, the choices may seem a bit limited. What won’t break into sharp pieces, get moldy or rot? How about simple washcloths. They are great for peek-a-boo and impromptu puppet shows. And don’t forget that all-time baby favorite — splashing. It might get the floor a little wet (think of it as cleaning the floor), but babies love it. And it’s free from toxins.