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olistic Healthcare for Children

Plastics and Children

© Randall Neustaedter OMD

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Holistic Healthcare for Children by Randall Neustaedter OMD. View all columns in series
With all the bad news about plastic, its estrogenic effects and lead-containing paints, many parents are switching from plastic to more natural substances for children’s toys. Is it possible to do this? Maybe not completely, but you can certainly limit the exposure of your children to plastic. This is especially important for items that are put in the mouth and that come in contact with the skin. Since babies put most things into their mouths, substituting wooden and cloth toys for babies is a very good idea. And the age of the Internet makes these available to everyone. See the Mothering Magazine shopping guide

Let’s start with babies. The most dangerous toys are those squishy plastic teethers and bath toys (waterproof books and rubber duckies) that contain PVC and phthalates. Some companies (Disney, Evenflo, The First Years, Gerber, Hasbro Little Tikes, Mattel (Fisher-Price) and some states, have eliminated phthalates from teethers and other toys. Since pacifiers are in baby’s mouths for extended periods of time, they are an important source of concern. Use silicone pacifiers, or even better use natural rubber. Natural sourced pacifiers are produced by Natursutten from rubber trees and available on several websites. Many plastics will leach into foods, so do not put baby’s food into plastic cups, plates, and spoons. Use glass bottles with silicone nipples, not plastic bottles.

Toddlers frequently put toys in their mouths for oral stimulation and play. Giving them toys made from wood and cloth will decrease their exposure to plastic. Avoid plastic sippy cups. Use metal cups and water bottles (made by SIGG or Klean Kanteen).

Plastic manufacturing involves the use of many toxic chemicals and is awful for the environment. Landfills are the final dumping ground for plastic that never degrades. The less plastic we use the safer our world will be. Avoid plastic bags, plastic packaging, and plastic toys as much as possible. And recycle the plastic you do use to keep the world a cleaner place.

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About The Author
Dr. Randal Neustaedter has practiced holistic medicine for more than thirty years in the San Francisco Bay Area, specializing in child health care. He is a licensed acupuncturist and Doctor of Oriental Medicine, as well as education director of the Holistic Pediatric Association, author of Child Health Guide and ...more
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