Sunday, June 23, 2019

As the summer holidays approached, I received an increasing number of messages from concerned mamas asking for advise on what to do to reduce their munchkin's exposure to harmful chemicals during their time at grandma and grandpa's.

I understand.  As parents we have worked hard to educate ourselves about why it is important to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals at home- and you can't unknown what you already know... which means that it can become extra difficult to turn a blind eye if you are visiting family or friends for the holidays- especially if you are staying at their home.

 Many people from our parent's   generation don't realize the toxic load that our children are born into.... they might tell you "I have never eaten organic in my life and look at me I am in my 70's and healthy".  

Don't despair- grandparents absolutely love and adore and want the very best for their grandchildren.  I truly believe that if you briefly explain to them how important this is for their grand kid's health (explain to them that their generation was not born with over 200 chemicals in their umbilical cord blood, that when they were little there weren't over 82,000 untested chemicals used in daily products in the US and that most personal care products do not have to be tested for safety before they are sold nor do companies that make household cleaners have to disclose their ingredients.  Explain that our drinking water is commonly full of arsenic, perchlorate, a rocket fuel chemical, pesticides, prescription drugs, bacteria etc.) most grandparents will do their best to protect their grand kids.

The key is to make it REALLY simple.   Do not expect a whole house detox- just pick and choose a couple of key switches and suggest them to grandma a couple of weeks before your visit (or when you arrive).  If your parents are open to it- recommend a documentary on the subject or send them a couple of Non-Toxic Munchkin blog posts (or articles from their favorite most trusted news outlet- everyone from CNN, to ABC news, to Parents Magazine, to Fox and even AARP  - am linking some articles- have at some point covered toxic chemicals in everyday products or chemical reform)  Be patient and see which habits stick - on a personal note I have been blown away at how many of these habits have stuck at my mom - and even my in law's houses! 

A visit to grandma and grandpa's house this summer can be mostly toxin free!

Here are some switches my mom has implemented in her house - feel free to send this as inspiration to a loving grandma/grandpa!   IF the list is too long, start with one or two changes and move forward from there- my mom did NOT make these changes over night !!  Also, sometimes all a loving grandma/pa needs is for your to gift them a product to inspire their switch (ie water filter!) 

1.  Shoes OFF

My kids are so used to 'shoe's off' policies in our home and their friends homes, that they automatically take their shoes off when they arrive at grandma's house (or pretty much any house)!  

This is - hands down- the best way to make sure that toxic chemicals (everything from lead and other heavy metals, petrochemicals, pesticides and fecal matter) do not enter your home.  Because kids spend so much time on the floor (especially little crawlers) this becomes extremely important.

Many grandparents, however, cannot be barefoot- it can be painful or just uncomfortable.  When barefoot is not an option suggest grandma and grandpa have 'indoor shoes' and 'outside shoes'.  Slippers with rubber to avoid slips and falls or even a separate pair of athletic shoes kept by the door could be a great gift for them too !

2.  Water filtration
Tap water today is, for the most part, not safe to drink and nowhere close to the tap water our parents grew up drinking.    Industrial chemicals, PFAS (like Teflon and others) chemicals, nitrates, lead, pesticides, arsenic, micro plastics, antibiotics, chlorine etc are all commonly found in the water that comes from our tap.  

While a reverse osmosis filter might be out of the budget for many grandparents, there are smaller less expensive filters available that are great too.

My mother purchased this filter- which I like for grandparents for its ease of use and size

My Amazon Shop has a section on water filters you can browse (and shop!) too. 

3. Open Windows
My mom lives in Miami, so due to the high heat and humidity  it is impossible to get her to open her windows during the summer- but when weather permits she does.  This is important to allow fresh air to circulate and get any toxins out- remember the air inside of our homes is usually much more contaminated than the air outside.   

This simple, free, switch can go a long way to reduce indoor toxins!  Encourage grandparents to open their windows as much as possible when weather permits.

4.  Non-Toxic Toys 
All grandparents want their grand kids to have fun during their visit - which is why most have some toys available for the kids.   Try to suggest  high quality, multi purpose, non plastic toys  to store at grandma's.   I personally love wooden building blocks since both little kids and older kids like them.  Wooden trains and train tracks, puzzles, dolls made of fabric and board games (for older kids) are all great  alternatives (some of my favorites are on my Amazon Shop ).  The key?  Avoid plastic cheap toys and focus on less toys made of better quality.

5. Non Plastic Kids plates and cups
Just a couple of  years ago my mom had her kitchen fully stocked with plastic and melamine kids plates and cups.   The more we all learned about the perils of plastics she has done an amazing job of transitioning away from plastic and now has smaller glass cups for all the grand kids and we all use the same plates.  Outlets like Ikea, Target and Walmart offer affordable and resistant cups and plates that are safer for kids.   

For toddlers and younger kids, stainless steel will last for years at grandma's and wont expose kids to toxins

6. Personal Care Items

Yes we can all bring our own toothpaste, baby shampoo, sunblock, body lotion when we travel- but I love that grandma always has non-toxic shampoos/ bath gels available for my kids when we arrive.   It is one less thing for me to travel with!  

My mom usually calls me and confirms that the brand she is buying is safe and - lucky for us- brands like Dr. Bronners, Honest Company and Babo Botanicals are widely available everywhere from Target, to CVS and Walgreens.

7.  Air Purifier 

I am thrilled that my parents recently invested in an air purifier for their apartment.   While a costly investment (read my detailed article on different types and reasons it is so important here ) it is great for our health and my parent's health too

8.  House Cleaners

This can be one of the hardest switches for grandparents - so many are just programed to think that clean means 'smells lemon or pine fresh' however perhaps showing them that non-toxic cleaners can work just as well as conventional ones (or even better showing them how vinegar and water can clean just as well and cost a fraction of the price as conventional cleaners) could start a healthier habit!

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