What’s in a diaper? Ask Jessica Alba!

“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.

Apple-Squash Puree
For babies just exploring foods, here’s a quick and simple homemade favorite!

Ingredients:
Apple (organic)
Squash or Kabocha Pumpkin (organic)

Directions:
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.

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Painting Recycling by Numbers

I asked my mom, “Mommy, what do the numbers mean on the bottom of this water bottle.” She was drinking bottled water.  But my teacher Miss Lemon says, “when you really think about it, if everybody’s mommy drinks a bottle of water a day, that’s a lot of bottles that need to be recycled.” Miss Lemon says recycling is good, but it still uses energy, which is not so good.  So I think maybe a nice pretty glass of water, like Gran drinks would be better.  Or one of those hard ones I like to drum on that my teacher uses, but she doesn’t like me to drum on it even though it makes a good sound.

“Mama,” I said, (if she doesn’t answer to Mommy, I say Mama), “do you see these numbers on the bottom of the bottle, what is it?  Why is it a 1?  Why isn’t it 5?  Or ten? What’s the number for?  M- u – m – m – ee-e-e-e-e!”

My mom says the number means that the bottle needs to only go through one process (that means you only have to do one thing to it) to recycle.  She said that some things have bigger numbers, like 9.  So does that mean you have to do something 9 times to make some things okay again? That sounds weird.  Why don’t they just melt it, like I do with the marshmallows I’m not supposed to put in the fireplace.  So I asked Miss Lemon again.  She told me that a lot of people think the numbers are for the times it takes to recycle something, but that’s not really true.  The numbers are a secret code, well, she didn’t say they were a secret code, but I like the idea of it being secret.   So for all of you moms and dads and even teachers that don’t really know what the Recycling by Numbers is, here’s what Miss Lemon says:

1  is for PETE or PET, short for Polyethylene terephthalate

These are used for polyester fibres, thermoformed sheet, strapping and soft drinking bottles (like the one my mom has).

2  is for HDPE, short for High-density polyethylene

These are used for Bottles, grocery bags, milk jugs, recycling bins, agricultural pipe, base cups, car stops, playground equipment, and plastic lumber (plastic wood? if it’s plastic, it’s not wood. silly grown ups).

3  is for for PVC or V, short for Polyvinyl chloride

These are used for Pipe, fencing, shower curtains, lawn chairs, non-food bottles and children’s toys (like Baby Dolly, or at least her arms and legs).

4  is for LDPE, short for Low-density polyethylene

These are used for Plastic bags, 6 pack rings, various containers, dispensing bottles, wash bottles, tubing, and various molded laboratory equipment. (I asked Miss Lemon what a 6 pack ring is, she said she thought it was to hold soda cans together and that they’re not very nice for birds. Do birds drink soda?).

5  is for PP, short for Polypropylene

These are used for Auto parts, industrial fibers, food containers, and dishware.

6  is for PS, short for Polystyrene

These are used for Desk accessories, cafeteria trays, plastic utensils, toys, video cassettes and cases, clamshell containers, packaging peanuts, and insulation board and other expanded polystyrene products (e.g., Styrofoam)

7  is for OTHER or O, short for a lot of things: acrylic, fiberglass, nylon, polycarbonate, and polylactic acid (a bioplastic), and multilayer combinations of different plastics.

These are used for Bottles, plastic lumber applications, Headlight lenses, and safety shields/glasses. (More pretend wood again.  But I like the Headlight – is that a light I can put on my head? Wow. I think I need one of those).

8  is for…. oh, there isn’t a number 8.  Oh silly grown ups. You didn’t learn your numbers very well.  The number 8 comes after 7.

So these aren’t used for anything, because they forgot the number 8.

9  is for ABS, short for Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene

These are used for High-impact and chemical-resistant extruded or molded objects.  I don’t know what this means, and neither does Mommy or Miss Lemon, or Daddy, so if YOU know, please write to me.

Well, these aren’t secret codes, but I think the codes for plastic are really very complicated, so it doesn’t matter if it’s not a secret because I don’t think very many people know what any of it means.

I’m going to paint now.  Not paint by numbers, because I’m Nell, and I like to make my own paintings.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle