My poor baby! I realized that I have exposed him to way too many flame retardants in his little life. I was buying products that I thought were good and little did I know that pretty much everything he was touching had flame retardants in it.
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Some might say what is the big deal? Well, studies have shown in animals that flame retardants cause those animals to be more anxious, have reproductive issues, gain more weight, and enter puberty early. Other studies have shown that chemical flame retardants interfere with thyroid and sex hormones and in children can cause abnormal brain development, lower IQ and learning problems, behavior changes. In adults, it has been linked to difficulties getting pregnant. On a side note, I know quite a few people who are having to use fertility treatments to get pregnant. Is this the environmental link we have all been wondering about??
Fire retardants are not only absorbed through your skin but inhaled. They also accumulate in the dust on your floors then when you sweep or vacuum they can get in the air again. Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter is important. Also mopping is a good alternative to sweeping.
Baby items I found in my home that have flame retardants:
– Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper. I reached out to the company and they said the newer models do not contain flame retardants. You will have to check the tags under the mattress to find out for sure.
– Beco Gemini Organic Baby Carrier. This made me really sad. My first carrier smelled really toxic. I let it air out for 4 months in our basement and it still smelled. They exchanged it for me and I got a new one. It still kinda smelled but not as bad. I washed it and aired it out. Finally, I emailed the company and they confirmed that they use flame retardants in their carriers. There is NO reason to do this.
– My Breastfriend Nursing Pillow
– Graco Pack N Play
– Chicco KeyFit 30 Car Seat. I will blog about car seats later but most have flame retardants. There are a few companies that don’t.
– Mattresses. The most important purchase you can make based on the amount of time your baby spends sleeping.
– My glider / rocker. I bought a Dutailier glider / rocker. The cushions have flame retardants. I sold my glider and am borrowing a wood rocker from my dad that was my grandma’s. I love the sentimental value of this rocker and I love that it doesn’t have any toxic chemicals.
WHERE TO CHECK FOR FLAME RETARDANTS IN YOUR HOUSE:
– PJ’s. CHECK the tags of your children’s PJ’s. They should say that they must be tight-fitting since they are not flame resistant. This only applies to PJ from 9 months to 14 years old. Under 9 months it is not required that flame retardants be added to PJs. You don’t want your child sleeping in flame retardants all night long! Also you will not find nightgowns in the USA that are made without flame retardants. All flame retardant free pjs must be snug fitting!
– Your furniture. Most likely all of it unless you have a couch or chair that was made before the mid 70’s. Or if you have a wood piece of furniture. It doesn’t matter if you bought a piece that said it was made with eco fibers, like soy, it still has fire retardants it in. Some furniture is now being made without flame retardants. You have to search for main stream retails that are moving this direction. Don’t be fooled by them saying the foam isn’t treated, somewhere else in the furniture might be to pass the standard. I love my organic, truly non-toxic, furniture from Ecobalanza. They offer my readers a 5% discount by telling them my blog name – Natural Baby Mama. Take the first step and get rid of your toxic furniture and mattresses and create a healthy home environment for you and your kids.
– Your mattress. Yes, you are sleeping on mattress filled with flame retardants and other chemicals. So are your kids. With the amount of time you are sleeping in your bed this should be your number one priority for changing in your home. Only buy certified organic mattresses. Soaring Heart is my favorite company. They make them locally in Seattle and everything is certified organic. You don’t want to spend money on an organic mattress and just hope for the best without certifications. A mattress that is “natural” means nothing, you want certified organic! I can not tell you how many times I’ve heard of people getting something natural or non-toxic and finding out later it’s actually not non-toxic and contains synthetics, chemicals or flame retardants. Soaring Heart offers this group 5% off – mention Natural Baby Mama.
– Crib mattress. See above!
– Car seats. ALL car seats have flame retardants. ALL of them. Even the ones that say they are non-toxic and don’t use brominated or chlorinated flame retardants. That means exactly that, they don’t use those flame retardants. There are countless numbers of flame retardants. If you want to help change legislation to remove flame retardants view my post about making change. Kids exposure to flame retardants are much great, their skin is thinner and their bodies can handle less.
How to tell which pieces have flame retardants:
– Check ALL the tags. If it says it complies with Technical Bulletin 117 then most likely it has flame retardants (especially if it is made with polyurethane). I say most likely because most of the time it does. There are a few exceptions though. For example, Bobby does not use flame retardants but does have the complies with Technical Bulletin 117 tag. I will do a post on baby products that are safe / don’t use fire retardants soon.
– Since 2013 a new law was passed that allowed flammability standards to be met by a different testing standard. This has removed flame retardants from a lot of baby products, but not all! It’s best to still reach out and find out if they are used. Also, don’t buy unless you know for certain it was manufactured after 2013 (meaning in 2014).
– PJ’s contain flame retardants unless it says otherwise. If the PJ’s say, must be worn tight-fitting then you know that there are no flame retardants.
Why are flame retardants added to everything?
You can thank California. Back in the 70’s they passed a bill to add flame retardants to furniture. They also have a bill that requires baby items to have flame retardants for children under 3 years old. Since California is so big most companies are not going to make two different products. So they just make all their products with flame retardants. There are many types of flame retardants. Most of which have not been studied before being used on products. Some have been banned and new ones have been developed. One type of fire retardants (tris) was banned in children’s pj’s in the 70’s because it was realized how toxic it was. However, this type of fire retardants is still used in furniture when spraying the foam. Our children sit on our couches. We sit on our couches. Tris has also been found in car seats that claim they do not use Tris (including my own child’s car seat that I tested!).
In 2013 a new flammability standard was passed and has allowed most baby items to no longer be required to have flame retardants. This does not apply to pajamas. You still need to check everything you are about to buy, do not assume something is flame retardant free. Everything I recommend I have verified it is flame retardant free (as well as heavy metal free).
Natural flame retardants:
Wool is a natural flame retardant. Studies have shown that wool or cotton burns just as slowly, if not slower, than foam that is sprayed with chemical flame retardants. It would be so nice if more furniture makers would make naturally flame retardant couches and chairs!
What to do?
I’ve slowly started changing out things I bought that had flame retardants in them. I get to really know the products I am about to buy. I email or call the companies directly to ask them about the chemicals they use. I specifically ask about flame retardants before I buy. I will always mention which products I have found that have chemicals in them so you don’t have to go through those steps. If you use a product I haven’t mentioned I would give the company a call or send them an email. I would love to hear about any other products you have found that have flame retardants.
Pin it for later!
Thank you for your comment. I realized this a couple of days before your post but didn’t have time to update my blog. I have removed them from the list. I think there are still better nursing pillows out there – that use all natural materials instead of a poly fill… but at least they do not add fire retardants! Thanks again.
Thank you for your post! Do you know if the entire pack n play is flame retardant or just the mattress?
I believe it is just the mattress. You can replace the mattress but with the cost of that you could just buy the Baby Bjorn travel crib… unless you already have the pack n play. The other thing I like about the Baby Bjorn is that it is Oeko-Tek certified not to be using harmful chemicals in addition to the flame retardants and we don’t know that for sure about the pack n play. I’m a huge fan of craigslist and I’m sure you can find used ones on there if you are ok buying used.
I do already have a pack and play so I am going to call the company. In the meantime, I did purchase a new mattress for the it so that makes me feel a little bit better at least. In the future I probably will purchase the baby Bjorn although I don’t know how much more we will use the travel pack and play. I hope someday all of these chemicals are phased out
Some have been banned and new ones have been developed. One type of fire retardants “”(tris) was banned in children’s pj’s in the 70′s because it was realized how toxic it was. However, this type of fire retardants is still used in furniture when spraying the foam. Our children sit on our couches. We sit on our couches. quote
There is no tris dibromyl dipropyl phosphate being sold anywhere in the US! It is possible to find it in imported goods but I seriously doubt it. I am in the textile chemical business FWIW
The organic carrier had flame retardant??!! I thought if labeled organic they cannot use chemicals, especially fire retardants.
Speaking of which, I still have not been able to bring myself to purchase the car seat we were discussing (the Clek), I keep hoping something new will pop up that is an even better option; have you heard anything else?
Yep, it did. It made me really mad. You would think that would be the case but organic has really been a “hot” word lately and companies are throwing it all over packaging even if they use toxic dyes, flame retardants, etc.. I realized that you have to literally dig deep into every company until you are comfortable with that company. It really is too bad.
I haven’t heard of anything else. Another poster just posted about a car seat that is Oeko-Tek certified (at least the fabric) by Luna. You may want to look into that. I haven’t had a chance and have no idea where it is made, if the foam is Oeko-Tek, etc.. It took me awhile to purchase my toddler seat too. It so hard but once you do you will be comfortable with your decision.
I also own this item: http://www.soft-gear.com/my-deluxe-changing-mat.php
I called the company and they said no flame retardants are used but that it is UL94 HBF compliant- which I looked up and it is just the rate that the product burns. Any idea if that means it is toxic?
No it just means that it complies without using FR… meaning it burns within the acceptable range. Did they tell you what it was made out of? I like that it is made in the USA which has better standards than China. Is it BPA, phthalate, and lead free?
I will call back and ask. Also, I was given a Peg Perego lounger hand me down- which I thought was nice since it was made in Italy but they even say on their website that they use Flame Retardants. I emailed them asking about it and this was their response:
The Flame Retardant coating used in our car seat fabrics is based on poliurethanic alifatic phosfonate in a water based solution (i.e. no solvents are released in the atmosphere during the process). It is also alogen free and heavy metal free since our fabric suppliers are OekoTex Standard 100 certified.
Do you think it is OK to use? I was also thinking about just removing the fabric part and having a replacement made in organic cotton and filling.
Is the lounger like a bouncy seat or swing? It’s nice that it is made in Italy but they still have to meet our standards so they are going to add FRs to products that are sold here that they might not otherwise. Their response has to do with car seat fabrics so I’m confused as to what that has to do with the lounger? Does it have the TB114 tag on the chair? Is their foam or padding? If there is foam then just removing the fabric part isn’t going to help with the FR.
I just called the Soft Gear company. They are BPA, phalate, lead and formaldahyde free. They said it IS made with a closed cell PVC (not pourous), which is compliant with Prop 65 (CA law meaning it does not contain phalates). Would you be concerned? Thanks!
PVC is most definitely toxic. It doesn’t really matter if it’s porous or not for toxicity. I wouldn’t use this if it were me.
Also, just got this message from Peg Perego:
Our products are also BPA and Phthalate free and there are no known toxins or carcinogens present.
How can they even say that if they say they are literally adding FR’s?!!!
Because it’s all about marketing. Literally the only non-toxic certified car seat on the market is Orbit. If you believe what Diono says about some of their models then that would be second. For a bouncy seat the only one I recommend is Baby Bjorn. I spent many, many hours of research leading me to the companies I recommend on this blog. Sadly, most products are toxic because of the CA TB 114 FR rule. So it’s a shift in the way of thinking. If you have the time to research all your products you should but most of them are going to be toxic (sorry to say). I would either stop using what you don’t need or start looking for some new options. Once my son was mobile I never changed him on a changing pad again because he wouldn’t let me 🙂 I change him while he is standing up but that’s probably not normal. Try looking for a used Baby Bjorn babysitter seat and then buy a naturopedic changing pad. It will take some time to change things over but you will be able to overhaul things slowly. I would start with bedding, PJ’s, toys, etc. The things that are used most. If she spends a lot of time in the car seat then that one too. My son doesn’t even go into the car every day. Focus on the things that are used most often then go from there 🙂
Just wanted to say: you can often find used things that will comply with your requirements. I was able to get a used Naturepedic crib mattress, a used Naturepedic bassinet mattress, a used Naturepedic changing pad, a Baby Bjorn travel crib, a Bjorn bouncer, American Baby pack’n’play sheets for the travel crib, and some clothing (from new, I saved about $590). This is even more exciting because I realized these items retain some of their value, and I’ll be able to sell them later too.
I just haven’t had much luck yet with a glider or rocking chair — apparently Room & Board now sells some chemical retardant free gliders (not sure which ones yet; I’m in contact with their customer service), but the rest of the new flame-retardant-free options (Ekla, Monte Design Group, Viessio, etc.) are WAY out of my price range, as in changing out our couches and chairs (which I’m sure are full of retardants). We may end up with a plain old antique wooden rocking chair; hard to weigh the possibility to weird old additives against new chemical flame retardants. Hmm. Just gotta do what you can and then move on.
I don’t know what weird additives would be in an old wood rocking chair. If it was painted, and painted a really long time ago, you could have lead paint. I would still with a regular old wood rocking chair (not painted). If you want to get a cushion made w/out FR you definitely can get that done.
Yes, I love buying used when I can. I think of it as double the benefit. Non-toxic and reusing things that are already here 🙂
I have been looking for a sleeping solution for my newborn after learning about flame retardants and VOCs in baby gear. We have a pack n play, travel lite crib (graco) and a joovy that we used with my son (who was definitely exposed to all of these things). After my daughter was born I started looking into chemicals in her environment. I have a nontoxic crib and organic mattress but want her to sleep in our room so after research I bought a naturepedic mattress and portable dream on me crib thinking it would be the best solution for now and use when we move in a few months and need a sleep space for her when moving. However, the crib came and looks great but has a strong smell. It says it is made of wood with nontoxic finish but I’m concerned about the mattress board. I don’t want to put her naturepedic mattress on a board filled with formaldehyde. Does anyone have any thoughts or ideas? The mattress would also fit in my pack n play but I think the whole thing has flame retardants.
I’m currently looking into travel cribs now and concerned about polyurethane mattresses that they ALL seem to have. I keep coming back to the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light (http://www.amazon.com/BABYBJORN-Travel-Crib-Light-Silver/dp/B00IM8G038/ref=br_it_dp_o_S_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=7J4PAE53I4R5&coliid=I3CBO14O2HJHSW), which they have told me is not treated with any flame retardants because the mattress is thinner. Assuming this is the case, is polyurethane foam still a problem? Is the main issue with polyurethane foam the fact that it’s usually treated with flame retardants? Thank you so much! You’re such a fabulous resource for parents 🙂 🙂
Thanks, I appreciate it! 🙂 If you asked me this when my son was really little I would say get an organic mattress for it. However, now as I realize how little we would have used it, I would say it’s fine as long as there are no FRs. Polyurethane foam is not ideal for babies to have a lot of exposure too. If you are worried just put a couple of sheets down. I would say if you are going to use it ALL the time then I would consider getting an organic mattress.
My naturepedic cradle mattress says that it complies with the California TB 117. Does this mean that they use flame retardants? I’m upset because everything I’ve read says otherwise. Thanks.
They can comply with the flammability standards without using chemicals which they do. They told me they were GOTS certified. With the GOTS certification NO FRs can be used.
Risa Lamm says
Thank you so much for your wonderful blog. Are Luna products safe to use. The Nuna arena they say it’s free from flame retardants yet it contains polyurethane. Is the baby bjorn better?
Which is the best pack and play that is free of toxins? Thank you so much
genea sobel says
Hi! Wondering if you did any research on the Nook coconut mattress. My baby is currently sleeping on the one below:
I had looked at it but never did any research on it.
Just wanted to say that Naturepedic doesn’t make a mattress that will fit the Baby Bjorn travel crib. But I found purerest.com . They do lots of sizes of organic mattresses. I am confirming they will make the 24 by 41 for the BB.
Dara Macias says
Hi! I purchased a pack n play before realizing the concern with the toxic mattress. I wrote Graco and they said they do not contain flame retardant additives.. It is made of polyester. There is polyurethane foam and polyester batting inside the mattress pad and the board is MDF (medium density fiberboard).
Isn’t polyurethane foam bad for babies? Any advice would be great. Thank you.