Did you know that your baby’s changing pad could be exposing them to harmful chemicals every time you change them? Conventional changing pads use harmful chemicals linked to health problems such as BPA. The solution is a changing pad made with environmentally kind and kind materials. Here is what you should know about changing pads.
What is a changing pad, anyway?
A changing pad is a thick, soft, sometimes contoured pad, often with a waterproof covering. The pad is placed under your baby when you change a diaper. While a changing pad can be used on with a changing table, it can also be used anywhere else you change your baby.
Here are some benefits of using a changing pad:
- A changing pad can save space, as you won’t necessarily need a changing table.
- If you change your baby on a hard surface a changing pad will feel better. While it’s possible to use a towel underneath your baby when you change them, a changing pad is just more comfortable.
- A changing pad helps keep things clean. It protects the surface underneath your baby from leaks, whether that's the bed, a changing table, the sofa, or anywhere else.
However, since newborns need a diaper change every two to three hours, using a conventional changing pad can expose your baby to a lot of harmful materials through the course of the day.
The dangers of conventional changing pads
Babies are particularly sensitive to chemical exposure, and conventional changing pads are usually made of polyurethane foam and vinyl. They also contain harmful chemicals such as BPA, flame retardants, and phthalates.
BPA stands for bisphenol A, which is an industrial chemical used in certain plastics and resins since the 1950s. Research links BPA exposure to a slew of health issues, which include problems affecting the brain and prostate gland of fetuses, infants, and children.
BPA can also affect children’s behavior. There's a possible link between BPA exposure and increased blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering adding BPA to its Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) list.
Flame retardants keep a product from bursting into flames. Some studies link children’s exposure to flame retardants with thyroid hormone disruption, while other studies link it to social behavior problems.
Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more durable. Studies show that exposure to phthalates can interfere with normal infant development, while other studies link it to an increased risk of allergic diseases with phthalates exposure.
Polyurethane foam is synthesized using polyol and diisocyanate, which are toxic chemicals that can affect the respiratory system. Diisocyanate can also cause skin irritation. During the production of polyurethane foam, workers wear respirators and full-body protective gear.
Changing pads also contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is toxic for your baby and your household. PVC has been linked to cancer, birth defects, reproductive and developmental disorders, premature puberty, and liver problems.
Changing pads not only pose a threat to your baby but the environment. PVC is created by a chemical reaction between ethylene, chlorine, and carbon. Ethylene is produced from petroleum or natural gas, which are fossil fuels. As you undoubtedly know, fossil fuels contribute to climate change.
And that isn't the only environmental issue with PVC. The U.S. exports plastic waste to countries such as Malaysia for processing. This results in an environmental justice problem, as petrochemical facilities that manufacture PVC cause pollution in communities of color.
You don’t have to settle for harmful, conventional changing pads. You can keep your baby safe by choosing a kind option. Here are better options for your baby and the environment.
Better options for your baby
Bamboo is a popular option for non-toxic changing pads. It also happens to be an environmentally-friendly choice for several reasons:
- Because it grows quickly, it's very renewable. It only takes three to five months for bamboo to regenerate, making it the fastest-growing plant on the planet.
- It needs very little water, and doesn’t need pesticides or fertilizers to grow.
- It releases 35 percent more oxygen into the atmosphere than trees of similar size, and absorbs carbon dioxide.
- It is strong and durable, with a tensile strength of around 28,000 pounds per square inch — which makes it 5,000 times stronger than steel.
- It is naturally anti-bacterial.
When looking for a bamboo changing pad, make sure that the inside is also made of bamboo or of non-polyurethane foam.
A changing pad made from wool is also a solid choice. A study linked lamb’s wool and weight gain for premature newborns. Wool has properties that make it great for changing pads:
- It's naturally flame retardant.
- Wool can soak up moisture but not feel wet. In fact, wool can hold as much as 30% of its own weight in liquid before it feels wet to the touch.
When looking for a wool changing pad, look for one that doesn't not contain a plastic cover.
PVC-free waterproof covers
There are changing pads on the market with PVC-free waterproof covers. Look for those that are also free of phthalates, vinyl, and flame retardants.
When you look for a non-toxic changing pad, there are third-party certifications that ensure companies don’t use toxic ingredients in their products. Here are the certifications to look for when shopping for changing pads:
- GreenGuard certification means the product is certified for indoor air quality and low chemical emissions.
- CertiPUR-US certification means the foam has been tested for heavy metals such as mercury and lead and has low chemical emissions.
- Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification means the fabric used in the changing pad is from organic natural fibers.
Environmentally Kind changing pads benefit both your baby and the environment
Your baby will need frequent changing, which makes it important to choose a non-toxic changing pad that's also good for the environment. Couple the changing pad with a DYPER™ subscription -- which sends you diapers that are remarkably absorbent, soft, and made without latex, alcohol, perfumes, or phalates!