“My baby just ate a diaper. What’s inside of it and will she be ok”? This comment from none other than Jessica Alba, Hollywood star and founder of The Honest Company , although a bit unusual, really got my brain stirring. After all, do YOU know what a diaper is made of?
Eco-friendly. BPA free. Organically grown, locally sourced. Low carbon footprint. Non-GMO. PABA free. Terms like these pervade the landscape of our lives. Turn on the local news, flip through the pages of a magazine, or check out the headlines on NPR.org. Our world is rapidly changing. Technology and science are making astounding leaps. Every time I watch something on The Science Channel my mind boggles at what human ingenuity is creating, modifying and understanding. But we’re rapidly approaching a time (if we’re not there already) where many of these things are beyond the scope of comprehension for an everyday Average Joe like me. So what do you do with this onslaught of information?
I’m thinking specifically about the lengths that parents go to in the interest of protecting their children. When I was little, I don’t remember there being health-food stores. I don’t think there was a single organic item in our local grocery store. I stood next to my dad as he poured gasoline in to the lawnmower and my grandparents let me eat Count Chocula out of a neat plastic dish shaped like a bunny. I think the only time my brothers and I wore sunscreen was when we were going to spend an entire day at the pool. But I see my friends now and the expense and time that they put in to everything that comes into contact with their children and I’ve been a bit of a cynic. Does the baby really need to be bathed with $20-a-bottle body wash? Is there truly an issue with letting toddlers drink from plastic sippy cups emblazoned with Disney Princesses? Up until recently, I thought that a lot of what I was seeing was over-protective bunk. But it’s amazing how something small can change your perspective!
As one of three full-time ambassadors of our new children’s brand, I have been immersing myself into parent/child culture. I’ve found camaraderie in the ranks of mommy-bloggers. I’ve opened the pages of handfuls of parenting magazines. And recently I attended an event called Entrepreneurship for Moms. The event featured a panel of highly successful mompreneurs, sharing their experiences, expertise and advice on running their companies and at the same time maintaining healthy family lives. Inevitably the question was posed to the panel “What inspired you to start your business”? The answers were varied and interesting, but panelist Jessica Alba’s diaper question really gave me pause. If something is ingested, of course you’re going to ask if it’s poisonous. But lots of poisons are inhaled or topical. And if you can’t find out what something as common as a diaper is made out of, what else don’t we know about things we’re ingesting, inhaling or covering our skin with?
It turns out that finding those answers is a big, daunting job. Entire blogs are devoted to single facets of this enormous question. But groups are forming devoted to informing parents and protecting children. Groups like Healthy Child Healthy World are collecting and disseminating information, lobbying for regulations, and raising awareness. It’s a noble cause and an immense challenge and they are far from knowing every answer.
So what’s a parent to do? My (untrained, unprofessional) advice would be to use your common sense! Does the insect repellent that you’re spraying on your two year old actually kill the bugs that come near or does it just smell too strongly of geranium oil for a mosquito to be interested? If you know that antibiotic over-use in illness can cause drug resistance, then does it make sense to feed antibiotic treated food to our little ones (or ourselves) every day? Do myriad health articles in the media today say that Americans are eating way too much sugar and yet are barely eking fraction of the fruit and vegetable consumption that they should? Then maybe it’s time to take the juice box away and hand your kiddo a slice of apple and a glass of water(see the baby-approved apple recipe from FeeFiFoFun Mom at the end of this blog).
Then, when the issue is larger than common sense, use the experts to tell you which paint to use on the nursery walls or whether the water bottles on the sidelines at the soccer game are safe. Want to know what’s in a diaper? There’s information available online, like this great concise article from DrMomma.org. Brace yourself-the answer is a little scary!
Protecting our kids and living safe and healthy lives alongside them is a something that none of us will do perfectly. So use your brain. Use the resources at hand. And then enjoy! While it’s not the best choice in the world, a candy coated marshmallow once in a blue moon is the stuff that visions of sugarplums are made of.
For babies just exploring foods, here’s a quick and simple homemade favorite!
Squash or Kabocha Pumpkin (organic)
Steam apple and squash or pumpkin pieces until fork tender.
Puree in blender.
Freeze in single servings in ice-cube trays.
Serve each portion as is, or mix with 2T. coconut milk (unsweetened) and baby cereal (organic rice or mixed grains) to thicken to desired consistency.