Bringing Up Baby Organically
There's a movement under way to go green – starting from the first days of life.
Seeking Greener Pastures continued...
In addition to any long-term health risks associated with early chemical exposures, evidence is mounting of more immediate threats, including environmental asthma.
"If a child is susceptible and easily irritated by chemical exposures, the ongoing inflammation in their lungs caused by these exposures can trigger an environmental allergy," says NYU pediatric allergist Jonathan Field, MD, director of the allergy and asthma clinic at NYU Medical Center/Bellevue in New York City.
Toss in a genetic background with a potential for allergic reactions, and mitigating circumstances such as a premature birth requiring ventilator use as well as parents who smoke, and, Field says, environmental exposures become an even greater threat.
"If parents are trying to narrow the playing field as to what their children are exposed to at an early age -- when lungs are developing -- there is something to be said for less exposure to these irritants," says Field.
Going Organic: What You Should Know
For many parents, the decision of whether to go organic is more one of economics than eco-conscience. Simply put, products that carry labels such as "organic" or even "natural" can be a lot pricier.
According to a recent analysis in Consumer Reports, organic baby food costs about 25% more per jar than the nonorganic type -- an increase of about 17 cents per 2.5-ounce jar.
Likewise, a case of 144 Huggies disposable diapers sells for about $35.00 -- while a case of 152 "green" diapers by Tender Care sells for $55.00, a difference of about 12 cents more per diaper.
Price discrepancies are even greater for "soft" goods -- like baby clothes and nursery-wear. For example, Toys "R" Us sells a baby towel set for $9.99 and an "organic" one for $22.99.
What's a parent to do? One solution, according to Consumer Reports, is to shop around and, when you find a good deal, buy in bulk, particularly when it comes to organic baby food. Some companies, such as Earth's Best, discount prices if you purchase baby food by the case -- offering up to 5 cents less per jar when you buy 24 jars at a time. Other companies offer similar savings.