Disclosure: Some samples were provided to facilitate this article.
I see memes and articles on Facebook all the time decrying all the info we receive about what we need to do to become better parents and better individuals…
“Eat this and that.”
“You must let your child do this.”
“You must not let your child do that.”
This can be very overwhelming.
As a parent and as an individual, I’m always striving to improve. But that doesn’t mean I need to turn my entire life upside down all at once to do it. That would just be far to overwhelming and the stress involved would be counterproductive to anything I’m trying to accomplish.
Instead I take baby steps. In fact, I can recall when I first began to take these baby steps toward a healthier life. It was almost 8 years ago that I discovered that some of the foods I was eating weren’t the greatest for my health or the health of my kids. I targeted frozen foods and decided to cook from scratch more.
It was shortly after this, when I was pregnant with my second son, that I decided to cloth diaper my babies.
Since then, the snowball has continued to roll as I’ve continued making small changes, bit by bit, to our family’s lifestyle.
If you’re ready to make some changes to your lifestyle, an easy place to begin is with the products you use in your home and for your personal care. Making switches in this area can have long term health benefits as you avoid toxic chemicals that are not only hazardous to your health, but can affect the health of your children, and potentially even alter your DNA to affect your offspring for generations to come in a process called epigenetics.
It is for these reasons, it was worth it to me to make small changes, bit by bit, to my life. Listed below are some commonly used product that are actually quite toxic, and some much safer alternatives to those products.
Easy Product Swaps for a Healthier Life
Throw it out:
Petroleum Jelly (A.K.A. Petrolatum) and any products that contain “petrolatum”: I grew up using petroleum jelly for various skin care needs–we always bought the name brand: Vaseline–but did you know that petroleum jelly and other petroleum derived products disrupt your hormone production? That is a pretty big deal since our hormones play a MAJOR role in how our body functions. Our hormones affect everything from our blood pressure to our sleep to our immune system function.
Waxelene: Waxelene is the first ever breathable waterproof barrier, and it contains no hydrogenated oils or petroleum. Waxelene is made from just 4 ingredients: organic non-GMO soy oil, natural & unbleached raw beeswax, natural vitamin E oil and organic rosemary oil, and is the perfect natural alternative to petroleum jelly. It has soooo many skin uses, too. Waxelene is great for everything from diaper rash, skin conditions, removing makeup, to after shave, and much more. My favorite use for it (because I can use it on a daily basis) is for my chapped lips. It is seriously the longest lasting and softest chapstick I’ve ever used. Gets 5 stars from me!
You can buy Waxelene in a lip balm tube, a larger flip cap tube shown above, or in 2 different sized jars. I’m looking forward to purchasing one of the jars for next winter. My hands crack so bad here in the dry Utah winter.
Throw it out!
Big Brand Children’s Vitamins: There are a few specific vitamins I have in mind, but a general rule when buying food and vitamins is, if it has a recognizable cartoon character on it, it probably isn’t the best for you or your kids. Now that we’ve got that rule down, lets look at some of the ingredients in a certain stone-aged character vitamin. What are hydrogenated vegetable oils, artificial colors and artificial flavors, and aspartame (!!!). Okay, I take issue with the fact that vitamin and food manufacturers think kids won’t eat things if they aren’t brightly colored and sweeter than anything that actually occurs in nature. If you’re not sure why artificial colors have no business in food, this article does a pretty good job of explaining.
Rainbow Light Children’s Multivitamins: Rainbow Light Gummy Bear Essentials® are gluten-free, lactose-free, dairy-free, yeast-free and nut-free. They are 100% natural, containing no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives or additives. We also use Rainbow Light’s Kid’s One food based children’s multivitamin for our boys (I like them too!). Rainbow Light is my favorite brand for multivitamins because they use the form of the vitamin or mineral (natural or synthetic) that is best absorbed by the body.
Where you can purchase: You can find Rainbow Light Children’s Vitamins in many stores around the country. You can also purchase online at RainbowLight.com, Thrive Market, and Amazon.com (<–lowest price).
Throw it out!
Synthetic Mosquito Repellent: DEET use is one place where I would rather err on the side of caution. While I’m not sure the extent of the research done on DEET, a study out of Duke University suggests that prolonged use of and exposure to DEET can cause brain cell death. When it comes to my kids I’d much rather use something less risky.
*I feel like there is a caveat here though. If you are in an at risk group for Zika virus, or live in a place where Zika is prevalent, you should definitely consult with your doctor about which type of mosquito repellent is best for you.
Fairy Tales Bug Bandit Mosquito Repellent: This DEET-free, non-toxic mosquito repellent contains some of the most effective natural alternatives to DEET (lemon eucalyptus oil, soybean oil and citronella), Fairy Tales Bug Bandit will keep the mosquitos away without harming your child. The one drawback to natural mosquito repellents is that you’ll need to reapply as often as every 45 minutes.
Throw it out!
Heavily Fragranced Body Wash and Lotions: America seems to have a fascination with ultra fragranced things. Just look at the success of Bath and Body Works. Indeed, it was my favorite store when I was a teen and young adult…until I learned better. The major problem with synthetic fragrances is that, like many other petroleum derived substances that we put on our body, are endocrine disruptors, same thing I talked about above with the petroleum jelly.
Nubian Heritage Body Wash: I completely fell in love with this brand of body wash when I was sent the Nubian Heritage Abyssinian Oil & Chia Seed Body Wash. This body wash is divine! The plant-derived oil provides excellent moisturization due to its high fatty acid content. My skin is so soft and silky after I use it and it smells gorgeous too. During the drier months, when my skin needs a little extra moisture boost, the Nubian Heritage Abyssinian Oil & Chia Seed Lotion is perfect. Unlike most other lotions I’ve used in the past, this lotion lasts and continues to moisturize and protect for about 8 hours after I apply it! That is pretty amazing!
The fragrance in Nubian Heritage body washes and lotions are created with essential oil blends so you don’t have to worry about effects of synthetic fragrances. The Chia Seeds and Organic Amaranth Extract provide deep nourishment and protection. I love this body wash so much after trying it that I just ordered more for my husband and myself!
Where to purchase: You can purchase the Nubian Heritage Abyssinian Oil & Chia Seed body wash and lotion at ULTA.
Throw it out!
Chemical filter sunscreens: Sunscreens often include ingredients that act as “penetration enhancers” to help the product stick to your skin. Because of this, many sunscreen chemicals are absorbed into the body and can be measured in blood, breast milk and urine samples. Active ingredients in sunscreens come in two forms, mineral and chemical filters. The most common sunscreens on the market contain chemical filters. These products typically include a combination of two to six of these active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. If your sunscreens have these chemical filters, throw them out! These chemical filters can disrupt the hormones in your body (that seems to be a common theme here…). For example, oxybenzone acts like estrogen in the body (!!!), alters sperm production in animals, and is associated with endometriosis in women. You guys, a lot of baby sunscreens contain these chemical filters!
Mineral Based Sunscreen: Our family switched over to mineral sunscreens several years ago when I learned how much safer they were than chemical filter sunscreens. Thankfully, there are a lot of great mineral sunscreens on the market today that you can find in both stores and online. This mineral based sunscreen uses both Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. If you’re looking for a moisturizing sunscreen, check out Naked Turtle Sunscreen. Naked Turtle sunscreen combines sunscreen with powerful moisturizers and skin protecting agents like aloe or Shea butter.