Healthy Baby Guides: Clothing

Dressing your little one can be one of the most fun jobs of a new parent. From onesies to footies, these tiny clothes are so irresistibly soft and adorable. Since clothing is in constant contact with baby’s skin, it is important to choose items made of organic cotton and non-toxic dyes.

What you should know:

The cotton industry uses 10% of the world’s pesticides, including 25% of the world’s insecticides, more than any other crop in the world.1 Insecticide is listed by the EPA as one of the most dangerous chemicals out there.2 With this excessive chemical use, chemicals can end up in the cotton and can be absorbed into baby’s skin as the baby lies against it.3 Other chemicals such as flame-retardants and toxic dyes can then be used in the fabric’s finishing. In 1971, the Consumer Product Safety Commission required that children’s pajamas be treated with flame retardant chemicals. Using clothing made of organic cotton with non-toxic dyes can keep these chemicals from constant contact with your baby’s skin.

Cotton production:

  • The EPA rates 7 of the top 15 pesticides used on conventional cotton as potential or known carcinogens.
  • A drop of the pesticide aldicarb absorbed through the skin can kill an adult, yet aldicarb is commonly used in cotton production.4

Fabric finishing:

  • Children’s clothing can also be manufactured with a variety of other chemicals including flame-retardants, wrinkle resisters, stain repellants, colorfastness treatments, and chemical dyes. Even formaldehyde and PVC are used as fabric finishers.5
  • AZO dyes, used for making bright colors, are toxic and are banned in textiles in the EU but not in the U.S.

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  2. Barnett, Sloan, Green Goes with Everything pg. 122 Data from USDA, EPA, and the American Corp Protection Assoc, cited in “Cotton and the Environment”, Organic Trade Association
  5. Greene Dr Alan, Raising Baby Green. pg. 118.

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