The Big 3
Katy Lytal | Ethical Infant
So there I was, every bit of 12 months pregnant with my first child. Ok, a bit hyperbolic, but really, you should have seen me. After parking the car at my 7th stop of the morning, I breathlessly race-waddled into our local, groovy, world market and found the first customer service person that I could. As I approached him, I tried to muster up a pleasant smile, but I’m sure that the look I gave this young man was more like deranged and desperate.
“Excuse me,” I said. “I’m having a bit of an emergency, do you happen to carry organic welcome mats here? I’ll take anything. Hemp… Wool… Bamboo… I’ve looked everywhere, and I really need to get one before the baby gets here.” I tried harder to squeeze my face into a smile, but I’m pretty sure that I just looked extra crazy.
“Um, no.” said the young man. I could tell from his puzzled look, and the sound of his almost laugh, that he was doing his best to take me seriously. “Actually, I’ve never seen an organic welcome mat.” Defeat. “ But we do carry a number of organic items that might have a bigger impact on the health of your baby. You know, clothes, bedding, food… Do you have all of the important things already taken care of?” Genius. Leave it to the customer service guy to talk me out of my hysteria. With a sigh of relief, I paused. He was right. I needed to be focusing my mama energy on the things that were going to have the greatest impact on my little one.
Of course, in the perfect world, all things would be safely, sustainably, and organically produced. Needless to say though, our world is a work in progress. So, until we attain perfection, thoughtfulness will be key in maintaining ones sanity. As we strive to provide our kiddos with the absolute best, a good mama mantra to keep in mind is, “do your best, as often as you can, and remember what’s important.”
When it comes to buying organic products, lets remember what’s important. We mentioned in the last article, “Pesticides Dirty Little Secret”, that there are two avenues by which we can provide protections for little ones, against harmful toxins and chemicals; what goes on them, and what goes in them. Pretty simple right?
Let’s agree that foods, regardless of type, are important to buy in their cleanest form. You (and your baby) are what you eat. If you must pick and choose, or have limited organic availability, checking out a lists like, “The Dirty Dozen”, can help you to decide which foods are must buy organic and which ones may contain fewer pesticides than others. This takes care of the “what goes in them” aspect of protection.
But what about what goes on them? When it comes to prioritizing which products are must buy organic for your little one, let’s break things down a little further. In order to make things simple, we have to first answer a few questions.
- What will your baby have the greatest skin contact with?
- Were will your baby spend most of their time?
By answering these two questions, we are able to determine which items in your home are organic “MUST HAVES”.
We like to call the Must Haves, “The Big Three”.
- Clothing – Your little one will spend roughly 97% of their day in some form of clothing. If you’re like me however, you dream that this number would be more like 70% – I’m sort of a skin to skin junky.
- Bedding – If you hit the mama lottery, and have a good sleeper, your baby could spend up to 75 % of their day in contact with some form of bedding.
- Diapers – Just like clothing, your little one will spend the vast majority of their time with their skin in contact with their diaper.
Because of the unique way in which little ones interact with the world, and the length of time that they are in contact with particular items, we are presented with a distinct opportunity to do a great deal of good for them, with just a few decisions. Yes, of course, things like organic car seat covers are cool, but proportionate to the amount of time that they will be spending in contact with them, it is far more important to consider “splurging” on (VALUING), organic bedding, clothing, and diapers.
We should think again about skin contact. In the same way that we think about their little systems processing nourishment, we too should think about what touches their skin. Remember, their skin is their body’s largest organ, and it too must process what it comes in contact with. This processing includes harmful chemicals that are present in non-organic textiles. Not that I am at all into scare tactics, but I am sure that you are familiar with horror stories that have been in the news; seen the pictures of terrible chemical burns that were left on babies who were exposed to harmful chemicals that were present in the tags of their clothing. So very sad.
Even though non-organic cotton only accounts for 3% of the world’s crops, it uses 25% of the world’s pesticides (Hae Now, 2010). It is the dirtiest crop on the planet! To put this into different terms, this means that proportionate to other crops, non-organic cotton contains 6 times the amount of chemicals per unit of volume. Eek! Even after multiple washes, petroleum based chemicals can be found in our little one’s garments.
All too often the, the ethics of textile production go unnoticed. For so many, it’s an “outa sight, outa mind”, kind of topic. After all, who the heck knows where, let alone how the garment they are wearing was made. The blankets on your bed? Your underpants? Yep, outa sight, outa mind. But tides are turning. There is a movement afoot. Rather than seeking out, “the best bargain” in town, mamas like you and I are seeking out the highest level of safety and quality. A gentle and holistic approach to purchasing is thankfully leading to a greater availability of organic goods.
As a young mother I remember feeling almost frozen by the decisions that I was making for the little person that I already loved so much. Buy a black and white mobile, or colored mobile? Sing to them, or play them classic music? Take a walk, or do prenatal yoga? Thinking back on it now, I am slightly amused. Yes, I have relaxed a bit, and have come have fully embraced the wisdom of the young salesman that I met those years ago. I have decided to focus my energy on that which will have the greatest impact on my child; on that which will make the biggest difference in their wellbeing. I know that I cannot protect them from every thing, but I also know that I can protect them from many things.
Although I would still love to find an organic doormat, for now, I will stick with buying organic for, “The Big Three”. Knowing that we have the power to protect is an amazing thought, and sometimes a seemingly daunting responsibility. But a few deep breaths, an evaluation of priorities, and sometimes the wisdom of a stranger can help us to restore the spirit of joy to our souls when it comes to providing protections to our little ones.
Be well. -Katy
Katy Lytal is a Mompreneur, and Co-founder of Ethical Infant: Organic, Fair Trade, Vegan Fashion for Infants. She’s inspired by thoughtful, crunchy living.
“I adore every minute with my little loves. I truly believe that joy and health go hand in had. Most of the time I try not to drive my hubby crazy with crafts, creations, and chaos- he’s a good sport.”
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Simply Being a Mama – http://www.simplybeingamama.com/pesticides-dirty-little-secret/?v=7516fd43adaa
Organic.Org – http://www.organic.org/articles/showarticle/article-214
Parenting Science –“Baby Sleep Patterns” http://www.parentingscience.com/baby-sleep-patterns.html
Hae Now – www.haenow.com