Could your home be exposing your child to harmful toxins? Five easy switches to clean up your kids' environment

Having kids makes you worry about things you had never thought about before, doesn’t it?

Before having my two, it never crossed my mind that the products I bought for my home could cause long term health problems. The safety of products sold in the shops are rigorously safety checked and regulated by law, right? WRONG.

I first became concerned about this issue when I was pregnant for the first time and cleaning my bathroom. At a time when I was careful about eating the right foods, it suddenly dawned on me that I was breathing in some pretty strong-smelling chemicals. What effect were these having on my unborn baby? Would it be safe to continue using them around the baby once he/she was born?

It turns out that cleaning products are not the only concern when it comes to our little ones’ health. Skincare products, bedding, dinnerware, toys. These products are being sold on every high street yet can contain harmful toxins which have been shown to cause health problems. With frequently little to no regulation to inform parents about which products are safe, it can be a minefield to work out how to protect our kids.

At Green Monkeys, we are passionate about spreading the word about the harmful effects of some children’s products and, more importantly, the amazing natural alternatives out there for your precious little ones. Below, we share five of the key switches we have made.

1. Ditch the chemical cleaners and use natural alternatives.

Certain cleaning products have been linked to miscarriage, decreased male fertility, birth defects and asthma in children. Others have not been tested for resulting health problems at all. Pretty alarming stuff, especially given that expectant mothers are biologically programmed to frantically 'nest' and clean ahead of the birth and parents of small children spend half their life cleaning up after them.

Feel confident cleaning around your baby by buying natural cleaning products such as Ecover or Method. Or save yourself a shed load of cash and make your own. A simple solution of one part white vinegar to one part water works well as a general purpose cleaner for cleaning windows, surfaces and floors. You can always add some lemon juice or lavender to add a nice scent too. Baking soda is a good scouring powder for baths and sinks.

This is a great site which we use to find our natural cleaning recipes:

2. Opt for natural fibres for your child’s mattress and sleepwear/clothing.

The average new born baby sleeps for up to 17 hours a day and breathes in double the amount of air for its body size compared to an adult. Yet mattresses are commonly coated in fire retardant chemicals and other chemical additives which are proven to be harmful to health.

Similarly, non-organic cotton used to make clothing such as sleepsuits and baby blankets is covered with pesticides during the manufacturing process. Synthetic materials are even worse as they are made of petrochemicals and plastics that have been linked to endocrine disruption, hormone imbalance and even certain types of cancer.​

At Green Monkeys, we stock a beautiful range of certified organic cotton sleeping bags, pyjamas, sleepsuits, baby blankets and towels from Little Green Sheep and Sleepy Doe. See our Baby and Child Sleepwear collection

We bought our little ones’ pram, cot and junior mattresses from The Little Green Sheep as well. Their mattresses are made of 100% natural products, including wool which is a natural fire retardant so still meets the same stringent fire regulations as other mattresses (The Little Green Sheep mattresses).

These products give us peace of mind that our kids are sleeping in as pure and natural an environment as possible.

3. Replace chemical laden baby bath products and choose natural brands instead.

My general rule is that the fewer ingredients in a shampoo or wash the better. Have a read of our previous blog on easy switches you can make to minimise the toxins your child is exposed to during bathtime: (The hidden toxins in your child's bathroom)

You will see that there are some serious health concerns surrounding the chemicals often used in children’s baby shampoos and body washes, as well as

the use of harmful PVC in baby bath mats. Choosing natural brands such as Weleda and Jack N’ Jill means that you can enjoy the fun of bath time with complete peace of mind. We stock Jack N' Jill at Green Monkeys

4. Choose toxin free bamboo for your child’s dinnerware and food storage containers.

Plates, cups, cutlery and food containers, which are in such close contact with our kids’ food and mouths, must be made of the safest material possible for our children. We love bamboo products which are both sustainable and safe. Have a read of our blog on why you should make the switch to bamboo dinnerware for your little ones "Why we've chosen bamboo dinnerware".

At Green Monkeys, we stock some beautiful bamboo dinner sets from koko kids which are safe, fun and stylish. koko kids bamboo dinnerware

5. Start to buy some wooden rather than plastic toys, especially for toys your babies will put in their mouths.

We know that it is almost impossible to eliminate the plastic completely when it comes to kids’ toys. However, wooden toys are not only healthier but also more sustainable. With wooden toys, there is no risk that they contain harmful toxins such as BPA or phthalates which have been linked to a range of health problems including the malformation of reproductive organs and delayed language development. At Green Monkeys, we have sourced some beautiful and fun wooden toys from Kids Concept which are 100% non-toxic. View our collection here, Toys & Games.

To view our full collection of natural products for babies and young children, click here.