From womb to adulthood, plastics reign supreme in the life of a child. Now, new research has revealed that before a baby is born, they are potentially exposed to microplastics in the womb.
Sadly, by the time the new baby leaves the hospital, their lifelong exposure to toxic plastic has already begun. Even parents with the greatest of intentions to protect their “new bundle of joy” from harm are unaware of the plastic toxins infiltrating their baby. From baby’s first cozy polyester fleece “blanky” to those first cute microfiber footed pajamas, their baby is sure to be wrapped up in synthetic plastic fibers. Then there are the plastic pacifiers and bottles for the baby to suckle on and their first plastic chew teether. Furthermore, from birth, most babies wear disposable diapers/nappies made from petroleum-based products. Baby formula and baby pureed first veggies are stored in single-use plastic containers sure to leach toxins. Even intentional parents aware of the dangers of plastics, cannot escape the toxins entirely. Their baby is surely surrounded by their new “plastic world.” As their baby grows into toddler and childhood, their plastic consumption grows too. Toddlers become enticed by the brightly colored and flashy plastic toys in the store aisles. They become collectors of stuffed animals, in which their favorite teddy bear is made from synthetic fibers. As toddlers outgrow the baby bottle, they move on to the plastic sippy cup continuing their plastic exposure. Toddlers turn into children who want candies wrapped in plastics, and the newest and greatest plastic toy on the market. As children age, they are exposed daily to more and more single-use plastics through school lunches, parties, and prepackaged snacks on the go.

“For children, the exposure from “the parade of plastics”
is endless.”

It is best to give your child the best possible “clean start” in life against toxins. Children weigh much less than adults and cannot process toxins as well as adults can. The “toxin load” of an adult is much different than that of a small child. Children are not finished developing/growing and toxins disrupt their development with future consequences. Furthermore, children absorb toxins from plastics through their mouths and hands, where wetness is. Babies and toddlers who “mouth” their plastic toys and objects, absorb more toxins this way. Plastic toxins are increasingly surrounding our children and as parents, it’s time to act. We are our child’s first line of defense for protection against plastics. Sadly, the production and use of plastics are increasing each year. The new record amounts of plastics each year are being added to our existing mound of plastics here on planet Earth. Plastics do not biodegrade and are eternally sitting in landfills and oceans while they pollute our planet. Plastics leech chemicals into our ground soil, pollute waterways with microplastics, and enter the air we breathe with consequences we do not fully comprehend. Small sustainable changes as a parent, can make big changes in our world. Being aware is the first step any parent can take to make positive lasting changes in their child’s life.

Listed below are 5 ways to reduce plastics for your child.  Most of these suggestions are simple yet sustainable swaps for your child.

1. Choose wooden toys for your baby and child

It’s no surprise to anyone that plastic toys are made with chemicals. No matter how safe the plastics are said to be, they are still a cocktail of chemicals that are unnatural and never biodegradable. Plastic toys are produced using “acceptable amounts” of toxins in the manufacturing process. It is best to buy wooden toys for babies as their systems get overloaded quicker with toxins than adults. They also mouth and ingest toxins more than older children as it is part of their development process. When their hands are wet, the skin can also absorb toxins from plastic toys. Switching to natural or unpainted wooden toys or water-based dyes on wooden toys are best for babies and toddlers.

  • Plastic toys can be made up of a “cocktail of chemicals” Most laws do not ban the use of known toxic chemicals in toys, just allowing “certain acceptable levels.” Phthalates are a chemical for example that are known as endocrine hormone disrupters in children yet they are not banned in toys. The same goes for PVC (polyvinyl chloride) which is a carcinogen linked to cancer, development, and reproductive disorders. There are certain plastics that are deemed safer, however, choosing wooden toys over their plastic counterpart is the safer choice.
  • Wooden toys are more biodegradable and sustainable for our environment. Most often, wooden toy companies promote sustainable principles in their manufacturing processes including packaging and production.
  • To learn more about why you should switch to wooden toys, see my recent blog post at
  • Wooden toys usually don’t require batteries that leech toxins into the environment.
  • Wooden teethers and rattles allow teething babies a safe alternative to plastic types.
  • Wooden toys promote open-ended and creative play, unlike plastic toys with their electronic buttons and sounds. With wooden toys, the child is in charge of using their imagination to make the sound and conversation. Plastic toys with their buttons and lights often dictate and direct how to play. Wooden toys promote cognitive development and creativity and in my opinion, most plastic toys do not. Wooden toys inherently are more simple and promote engineering skills such as building and STEM.

2. Choose 100% cotton bedding for your baby and child

  • From baby’s first hospital blanket and on, choose 100% cotton bedding, sheets, and blankets. Cotton is a natural fiber that is an organic material, biodegradable, and non-toxic. Polyester and fleece are a plastic and petroleum-based product, polyester is non-biodegradable and highly toxic to our planet. The manufacturing process itself requires over 70 billion barrels of oil each year and uses twice the amount of energy to produce cotton. Natural and low-impact dyes do not work on polyester fibers, so harmful chemical dyes are used and later disposed of in our waterways.
  • When you wrap your baby and child in polyester or fleece synthetic fibers, there are chemical-laden fibers present. Most synthetic materials are produced using chemicals. When your child lays their head on their synthetic blanket for the night, they are breathing in tiny particles from the blanket. It is also best for children not to sleep next to their stuffed animals because those cute bunnies and bears are also made from plastic synthetic fibers.
  • Polyester bedding is infamous for leaving us hot and sticky in the night and preventing a good night’s sleep. We certainly do not want to give our baby any additional reasons to not get a good night’s sleep. Also, as a synthetic fabric, polyester is more likely to cause skin irritation, especially for sensitive newborns.

3. Choose natural fiber clothing for your baby and child

  • Cloth diapering is good for babies and the environment. Most disposable diapers/nappies are made from petroleum plastic-based chemicals. Most cloth diapers contain waterproof poly covers, however, they have cotton inserts and are more sustainable.
  • Baby and child pajamas are often made from fleece and polyester synthetic fibers sometimes coated with flame retardant chemicals. It is best to buy 100% cotton pajamas as your child spends 10-12 hours a day in them.
  • Choose cotton, wool, and viscose fibers for all of your child’s underwear, socks, and clothing.
  • Synthetic fiber clothing sheds microfibers into the waterways when you wash synthetic clothing in your washing machine. Natural fibers are non-toxic to our environment and our children. During the manufacturing process chemicals and toxins enter the air and water supply and have been known to cause major problems in villages near the textile plants.

4. Choose sustainable tableware, cutlery, cups

  • Choose glass or stainless steel baby bottles and natural rubber pacifiers/soothers. Avoid single-use plastic table placemats for baby and disposable bibs. Most bibs are made from synthetic fabrics, choosing cotton is best.
  • Swap plastic sippy cups with stainless steel or bamboo wood cups. Stainless steel reusable straws with stainless tumbler cups are great for kids. Bamboo wooden bowls are a great alternative to the breakable glass bowl.
  • Use stainless steel bento-style and hot soup thermos reusable lunch containers for school-aged children. Avoid using single-use plastic baggies and individually wrapped snacks in plastic packaging. Also, consider traditional “brown bags” for sandwiches, snacks, and lunches.

5. Avoid plastic-packaged foods at the grocery store

  • Do not buy single-use plastic water bottles as studies suggest that water in these bottles contains microplastics, as 80% of the plastic water bottles we buy end up in landfills. It takes up to 1000 years for every single bottle of water to decompose. Each bottle leaks harmful chemicals into our environment along the way as it decomposes. Studies show that the toxins decomposing bottles of water leach into our environment cause a variety of health issues including reproductive problems and cancer.
  • A new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers found that participants who drank for a week from polycarbonate bottles, the popular, hard-plastic drinking bottles, and baby bottles, showed a two-thirds increase in their urine of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA).
  • Use a reusable stainless steel water bottle for your child when outside the home.
  • When shopping for groceries, always choose glass, paper, and cellophane packaging over plastic choices. It takes over 500 years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. Unfortunately, the bags don’t break down completely but instead photo-degrade, becoming microplastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment.
  • Buy fruits and vegetables in a loose bulk bin and not the pre-packaged produce items.
  • Purchase meats and cheeses from the deli and butcher who wrap items in paper. Avoid meats packaged in single-use plastics.

In conclusion

My goal of this article was to bring awareness to the dangers of plastic and provide 5 Ways To Reduce Plastics For Your Child. As a parent of 5 children, I believe that it isn’t an “all or nothing” approach when it comes to sustainability and healthy living. Any changes no matter how small, is a “win” in my opinion. Making every change all at once can be overwhelming and may feel unachievable, however, taking small steps each day will lead you in the right sustainable direction. These small changes will be rewarding and give you pride in being a sustainably conscious parent. The ultimate goal as a parent is to keep our kids happy and healthy. Continually making conscious sustainable choices teaches our children the impact of every decision we make. Raising conscious children is a bonus that will impact generations. I hope you have enjoyed my article and best of luck to you on your sustainable parenting journey! Christina

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