Friday, November 23, 2007

What About The Kitchen?

Ok, so here's what we're doing in the kitchen so far...

We tossed the plastic cutting board, we have a glass one but I would like to buy a wooden one (Who ever thought of using glass for a cutting board? It makes a loud noise to cut on it.)

I went through all the baby cups, sippies, etc and according to the ZRecommends site, we have "safe" plastic now, but I'd still like to trade it out for non plastic options. I'm trying to find info on my Gerber bowls, spoons, and some other misc items. I purchased some Anchor Hocking glass juice cups that are just the right size for Lucy, but after 2 days of use she already broke the first one. Good thing they are cheap and I can get them locally at the Pfalzgraph outlet. I'm not sure how well they are going to work, we'll see how many more she breaks I guess. I'm looking for some child sized silverware to replace our plastic and melamine ones. Oneida makes some, I just have to go to some of the big department stores to see if they carry the child size.

I have an Avent pump and bottles that I've used a few times with Lucy. Thankfully I rarely have to pump, so I'm keeping the pump and one or two bottles to pump into, but I'm getting rid of the rest. If we need bottles I would buy glass ones and just pump and pour it into the bottles right away. I have some Gerber breastmilk freezer storage bags which are "safe" plastic, but I'm not sure if I'd be comfortable using them.

Dishes - we have a set made by Gibson (the company at fault in the Utah news story) that we are selling. I'm researching better options and we'll use the money towards a better set and then get rid of our Corelle dishes once we have a safer option.

Melamine kids dishes? Can't find good info on these. I've seen the finish on these get old and crack and peel, so they dont seem safe to me, plus they aren't micowavable, so what about when you put hot food on them? Seems like it might not be safe. I won't buy it, but we do have a cute set I'm keeping and wont use for hot foods.

I got rid of a Nalgene water bottle and a Princess cup, both #7. Plastic utensils and styrofoam cups had to go as well. I'm not sure what we'll do if we have a party? Say "Bring your own silverware?", maybe.

I'm hoping to replace my tupperware/ gladware/ etc with glass dishes. They do have plastic covers, but at least it doesnt touch the food much. I emailed Anchor Hocking about their lids. They are #7, but not polycarbonate.

The code #7 on the plastic storageware lids refers to the recycling code. The plastic lids are made from a combination of LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene) and a material called POE (Poly Olefin Ester). Both materials are Federal Drug Administration (FDA) acceptable. Since more than one resin is used, the only category we could assign, and stay within the labeling guidelines, was the code #7. Please refer to the following website for information regarding the recycling labeling code system:

You will note code #7 states; use of this code indicates the package in question is made with a resin other then the six listed above, or is made of more than one resin listed above, and used in a multi-layer combination.

Again because Low Density Polyethylene and Poly Olefin Ester are used and are two different resins the recycling code #7 must be used.


I'll come back and edit this post later, this is still a huge work in progress. I'm still trying to figure out my pots and pans, tupperware measuring cups, etc.

Correspondence With Sassy Toys

I've emailed Sassy several times about their toys and pthalates/ BPA. Here is the relevant correspondence so far...
Thank you for taking the time to contact us with your concerns.
This year, as Sassy, Inc. celebrates our 25 year anniversary, we look back with pride on the products we have developed. Using Sassy products, parents have played with, fed, bathed, comforted and nurtured their children. Those special times represent the fruits of our creativity and our relentless dedication to safety.
To address your concern: All the material s with which Sassy products are made meet or exceed accepted international and U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) standards and methods. In addition, currently, we do not use any material s that contain detectable phthalates, which acceptable CPSC methods define as 50 parts per million or fewer. Please be assured that the safety of our products and the children using them is our primary concern.
You may know that, prior to the late 1990’s, Phthalate softened PVC was widely used for more than 50 years in toys, building material s, autos, and life-saving medic al devices. Because it was durable and bite resistant, this material was used in Infant feeding and teething items. When PVC softened with phthalates became a concern for some independent organizations, we worked closely with the CSPC. They oversaw an exhaustive study, which concluded that children are not at risk from PVC softened with phthalates. This was affirmed in independent and government sponsored research by Dr. Juberg of the Internation al Center for Toxicology and Medicine in Rockville , Maryland . Non-the-less, due to consumer concern, we opted to use al ternate materi al s to phth al ate softened PVC in Sassy products and continue to do so today.
Sassy has stringent design, development, testing and assurance programs, which include independent third-party preproduction design evaluation and post- production assurance testing to the American Society of Testing & Materials
(ASTM) and European standards. Safety tests are performed by our manufacturer’s quality control staffs and by Sassy’s own QC team in China .
We additionally perform tests intern al ly for each shipment, including use and abuse testing. We are proud to say that our standards not only meet, but al so exceed those set by the CPSP and the ASTM. The safety requirements can be reviewed by contacting the CPSC for a copy or they can be found online at:
We take great pride in our track record, but we aren’t resting on our accomplishments. We continually seek to improve our testing methods and procedures to maintain our high company standards for safety, quality and creativity. Please contact us if we can provide additional information.
Consumer Relations

Thanks for the reply!  Just to clarify... there are no
pthalates in any of your products?  What about the
baby photo album?  I read a review dated 2003 that
said there were pthalates in that one item.  I see on
the packaging it now says pthalate free, when was that
taken out?  (I have an older version I'm wondering
about.)  When exactly did you stop using pthalates in
things (again, I have some older teethers, etc I'm
wondering about)?  Thanks for the help!


All of our products are Phthalate free. Our old book
in 99 was changed.

Shannon Novak

(I emailed about BPA and Shannon asked for me to
name specific toys.)

Ok, how about these, what are they made of?  Thanks!

lively links
fascination station
polka dot rattle
who loves baby photo book
big and small chime ball
circle rattle
hourglass rattle
me in the mirror
ideal temp feeding spoon
coolin teethers - lion
gummy guppy
scoop, pour, strain turtle set with purple hippo and
squirt bug
foam letters and numbers

We may have more, but thats all I can think of for
now.  I really appreciate your replying to me!

The fascination station - the clear plastic ball
The Circle rattle - the clear section with beads
The Hour Glass rattle - the clear section with beads

These are the items that are still made with Polycarbonate.

Shannon Novak

Consumer Relations
2305 Breton Ind. Park Dr. SE
Kentwood, MI 49508
1-800-323-6336 EXT. 3331

More on the Practical Side- Toys

Here are some of the things we are doing as a result of the research published below. I'm using my best judgement as a mama and trying to figure out how to implement what I've learned in my own home. I'm not implying that you need to follow these same exact steps, but I know that it helps to have a practical picture to look at sometimes.


We are getting rid of all plastic baby (infant) toys. I wrote to Sassy about the toys that we own and they replied letting me know that several of them were made with polycarbonate (leaches BPA), I'll post that correspondence separately. I decided that I don't want plastic in my baby's mouth anyway, so we're getting rid of all of them. Julia is getting some Haba toys for Christmas and I have a few organic cloth dolls that I've picked up for her. I am much more comfortable with these options and have a little woven basket I bought just to keep them all in. Viola! Natural baby. If only the rest of it were all that easy....

I'm getting rid of our Mega Blocks, because they contain embedded lead. Even though Lucy doesn't put toys in her mouth, I'm not comfortable with knowing specifically that this toy contains lead. We have plenty of Duplos and as per Sara's Toy Box info, Lego is a company that I respect. So, we're keeping the Duplos, ditching the Mega Blocks.

I went through my two year old's kitchen and pulled out the plastic stuff and am selling a set of dishes but letting her keep some of the baby feeding things she enjoys playing with. She got a nice wooden kitchen for her birthday that came with food and dishes so she's mostly set, I'm looking for a nice tea set to get her for Christmas. (this entails emailing several companies and trying to find a "safe" one... again, probably a seperate post on that)

I'm selling a lot of plastic toys on Craigslist that we had stored in our basement and using the money to buy a few quality things. For fun, I'll add the list of replacement toys I want later. Part of this is just the whole "less is more" and "our house is way to small for all this stuff" idea. I guess all this research and the recalls have made the plastic toys lose their appeal and I'm just ready to get rid of it.

Bath toys - I got rid of some pvc bath books and squirt toys, although I did keep the rubber duckies (what are they made of??). I am ok with the Sassy bath toys since the dont use pthalates. I have a little wooden bath toy boat on my wish list for the girls. I'm not sure about foam yet, like the letters that stick on the wall?

Wooden blocks - we have a large tub of older wooden blocks that I'm getting rid of and going to buy new ones I know are safe. These are such a multi-purpose fun toy to have around that I want to have some safe ones.

So... limiting the plastic we have, no plastic for babies, and buying natural toys from here on out is our game plan. We do still have plastic - Little People, fridge magnets, etc. As far as replacement toys or new toys that we are buying, I am being extremely picky. Melissa and Doug is in question right now as some mamas on MDC seem to have found lead in their toys, they're made in China, and the paint chips off easily. We have the slicing food and puzzles, but I dont think I would buy more of it.

Article on Toys, Lead, and Plastics

What follows is a summary that I've typed up of the current research on lead, toys, and plastics. It is by no means complete, and a much of it is quoting from various websites. As I get time I may come back to it and clean it up some. If nothing else, the links at the end are worth checking out!

I’ve recently become increasingly aware of the dangers of children’s toys. Toy recalls are all over the news, and recent reports by reputable agencies such as the Environmental Working Group are finding toxins in our toys and homes. Although some of this may at first seem to be a big media scare, I’ve come to believe that it is in fact a real concern. published an article in which a family underwent testing to determine what toxins their bodies were carrying. The children “had chemical exposure levels up to seven times those of their parents….He had two to three times the level of flame retardants in his body that's been known to cause thyroid dysfunction in lab rats.” Lead poisoning and other chemicals in our bodies are serious concerns; couple this with the fact that autism is on the rise – 1 in every 150 children is currently being diagnosed as somewhere on the autism spectrum, and you will realize that we are contending with a serious issue. I’m not implying that lead toys are causing autism in children, but I am aware that there are numerous health problems and autoimmune disorders that doctors cannot find a cause for and I do believe that they are related to our lifestyle and environment. Any attempt at making our daily lives safer and healthier for our children is worthwhile and a valuable effort.

Of course this brings to mind the question – are my kids safe? There isn’t exactly a definite answer, as there are many variables, but this question keeps nagging and prompts some action. I’ve spent many hours researching the issues and trying to wrap my head around what is safe and what could be unsafe, and what to do about it. I’ll start with the issues and then try to summarize and explain the position that our family is taking.

The issues:

Recalls – toys are being recalled left and right for lead paint in excess levels. I’m glad that toys are being recalled, but it leaves me wondering what next – do I have a toy that will be recalled next week, leaving my child with lead in her system and a $5 voucher for a replacement toy? Do I have a toy that was overlooked and will not be recalled, but actually contains lead? At the risk of making this article far too long, I’m including a quote from, it’s the best summary of the lead issue that I’ve found so far. This article is from a blog about toys and toy safety that I recently came across; I’ve found it to be very informative and a great resource. Italics are my own added emphasis.

“The risk from lead occurs when a child put a toy in his mouth. This is of greatest danger to children under two because they naturally explore the world with their mouths, and also have fast growing brains. Low levels of lead affect brain development and can cause developmental delays in young children. Lead has also been shown to effect adult brains, is toxic to the kidneys and blood and is a powerful carcinogen. There are no symptoms for lead poisoning, so all children should be tested for lead exposure.

There are two types of lead contamination in toys. Surface (or coated) lead and embedded (or substrate) lead.

Most of the recent recalls are due to surface lead. The Consumer Product Safety Commission regulates surface coated lead and has set the standard at no more than 600 ppm (parts per million). There are no regulations for non-toy products.

Embedded or substrate lead is often used as an additive in such materials as vinyl or plastic, which is why Christmas tree lights now come with a lead warning label. Toys or children’s products with embedded lead meet all federal safety standards. Why? Because there are no safety standards.

Yet, health experts warn that even embedded lead has no place in products for children as even low level exposure poses a health risk. The CPSC reports that a four-year old boy died from lead poisoning after ingesting a jewelry charm with embedded lead. Wal-Mart and Toys R Us voluntarily recalled bibs this year due to concerns regarding embedded lead.

Things to know about lead in toys:

  • Lead is not only a problem with metal toys. Lead can be painted on wood, fabric and plastic as well as injected into plastic and vinyl.
  • Plush Toys are NOT guaranteed to be safe. While most fabric toys do not have lead, you do need to watch out for fabric that has been painted. The recalls of fabric blocks and a plush Curious George doll underscores the possibility of lead contamination in fabric toys.”

For the full article, see:

Mega Blocks have been found to contain embedded lead but have not been recalled.

A Utah news station did some testing and found lead in dinner plates currently being sold at WalMart:

One thing that stood out to me in flipping through the recall list on is the fact that these are toys that I would buy and could easily have in my home. The list of recalls is huge, and these aren’t just about a piece breaking off, most of them are lead related recalls.

Plastics- Plastics have come under scrutiny again lately because of the discovery of a toxic chemical, Bisphenol A, which has been found to leach out of plastic containers including commonly used water bottles and baby bottles. Another concern includes products (children’s teethers and toys) made with PVC including pthalates, chemical compounds used to make the PVC soft which can leach out of the toy and into a child’s body.

Bisphenol A (BPA)- Bisphenol A is an endocrine disrupting hormone that has been found to leach out of certain plastics and the lining of canned foods.

Bisphenol A is a Developmental, Neural, and Reproductive Toxicant

  • Scientists have linked very low doses of bisphenol A exposure to cancers, impaired immune function, early onset of puberty, obesity, diabetes, and hyperactivity, among other problems.
  • For example, in one recent study, a single, low dose of bisphenol A administered to a newborn rat resulted in hyperactive behavior.

Exposure to Bisphenol A is Widespread

  • Bisphenol A is most commonly used to make clear polycarbonate plastic for consumer products, such as baby bottles. Through use, this plastic breaks down and leaches bisphenol A into liquids and food to which it comes into contact.
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found bisphenol A in the urine of over 95% of people they tested.
  • Alarmingly, the median level of bisphenol A in humans is higher than the level that causes adverse effects in animal studies.”


BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics, labeled #7 in the triangle recycling code stamped on the bottom of an item. Most Nalgene bottles are #7 plastic, as are most baby bottles. However, manufacturers are not required to list the type of plastic their items are made of. One website has taken the challenge of figuring out which baby bottles, sippy cups, and pacifiers are made out of this harmful plastic. ( Some companies use polycarbonate in certain products and not others, and other companies will not even respond to inquiries to disclose this information. There are no regulations in place on this issue, so companies could change their products at any time and include polycarbonate plastics even if they currently do not use them. There are a handful of responsible companies who are concerned about the issue and are committed to not using polycarbonate plastics.

Pthalates – Pthalates are found in PVC products and are a human carcinogen. Toy manufacturers have been pressured in the past to stop using pthalates, but it remains in some toys and kitchen plastics and is a danger. Teethers, bath books, and other soft plastics can contain pthalates. Again, companies are not required to disclose the use of PVC in their products. PVC often has lead added for strength, is the least recyclable plastic, and poses numerous risks to the environment and human health.

What to do? When I try to wade through all this information on plastics and what is safe and what isn’t, it starts to get a little crazy! For example, one website lists that Glad Cling Wrap and Saran Wrap are supposedly safe, but one should avoid Reynolds Wrap because it is made of a different type of plastic…. and so on. I’m in the process of trying to figure out which plastics in our kitchen and toy box are safe and what isn’t. Many items aren’t labeled and that requires trying to contact the company for information on what type of plastic certain items are made of. I’m left wondering if the other types of plastic in my home are actually safe, or if the toxin just hasn’t been identified yet. Plastics are petroleum based and are filling up our landfills and oceans, which is another reason to avoid them. I’ve referenced an article below that talks about the sheer mass of plastics in the ocean and how its harming wildlife and humans.

This brings me to the practical steps that our family is taking. Research in these areas is ongoing and confusing at best. However, there are real dangers involved. We will continue to research and educate ourselves on these issues. Ideally, changes need to be made on a corporate level, but in the meantime we’ll start at home by making the best decisions we can based on the information we have. Some of these are clear choices, and some are goals that we are working towards. Replacing every plastic item in our home is unrealistic. Taking a closer look at what plastics we use in our kitchen and the toys that our children play with seems like a logical first step.

Kitchen- As far as kitchen plastics, we have removed numbers 3, 6, or 7, and will not be using items with those numbers. Plastics should not be used in the microwave, and we are looking into alternates for food storage containers, such as glass. Cling wrap is best avoided as well. I’m still trying to figure out which type of plastic many of our baby items are (bowls, soft tip spoons, cups, etc). We will be replacing anything that is found to be PVC or #7 plastic, and any future purchases (sippy cups, bibs, etc) will most likely not be plastic to avoid this issue entirely.

Toys- Based on what we have learned, we would like to avoid purchasing plastic toys altogether. We have already started eliminating some of what we have. While we are not throwing everything plastic out the window, in the long run we would like to be able to provide safer alternatives. Although this means that practically everything at places like WalMart and Target is off limits for our home, we are finding that this is a step that more and more families are taking given the recalls and the possible dangers (embedded lead, surface lead, PVC with pthalates, BPA).

Aside from eliminating plastic toys due to safety hazards, simplifying our lives a bit more by having less is another reason. We have a small living space and often feel cluttered as it is. Replacing a large number of plastic toys with a few higher quality play things will help us in more ways than one. Several brands offer non-toxic products, most of which are made of wood and other natural fibers. Some can be found at specialty toy stores and most can easily be ordered thru online retailers. Items such as books, music, and art supplies can still be purchased locally.

We are constantly researching and making the best decisions we can for our family. We appreciate your help and understanding as we work through all of this.


CNN article on body burden testing:

Article on PVC and pthalates:


BPA in specific sippy cups and bottles:

Plastics Guide:

More about plastic containers, including specifics on what products to avoid:

Plastic Oceans:

Why Not to buy from China:

What to Do (specific steps to take in avoiding harmful plastics):

Sara’s Toy Box:

Sara’s Toy Box article on gift ideas from super stores:

Article on Natural Toys

Toy Websites:

A quote from “Toys made from natural materials such as wood, silk, wool or beeswax have a warm and honest quality. For example, a doll with a woolen body becomes warm in the embrace of a hug while synthetics remain cold. A wooden block has the weight that one expects to encounter when lifted. It tells a truth about the nature of the object whereas a plastic toy gives a false impression of weight and mass. Young children are learning about our world through their senses. It is our responsibility to provide an environment that tells the story of our world honestly.”

Thursday, November 22, 2007

One Little Word She Knew, Mama

"One little word she knew, 'mama, mama', to me it meant I love you."

We used to have a record that sang this song. I remember listening to it as a little girl, holding my dolly and thinking of the day when I would be a mama. This song has a slow, sweet melody and was always special to me. I'm now a mama of two little girls and this is my story. Being a mama has changed me in so many ways and I hope to share that journey with you.

(Here is a link to the lyrics.)