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Go green with organic baby products

organicbabyYou want the best for your baby so ditch the nasty chemicals and embrace the eco-friendly…

The ‘green baby’ market is booming, with organic becoming a byword for safety and quality. In fact, parents are bucking the recent trend of a declining organic market – baby food sales were up 10.3% according to organic certifier the Soil Association’s (www.soilassociation.org) most recent annual market report, while sales of other organic products declined by 5.9%. Despite costing 20 to 30% more, organic products now account for just over half the total baby food market.

It’s not just organic food that’s guaranteed free of pesticide residues and artificial nasties – you can fill your nursery with organic and reusable nappies, toys, clothing, bedding, mattresses, skincare products, and even put organic paint on the walls.

Is it better for baby?
But are well-meaning parents shelling out more money for brands that are more about status and being seen to ‘do the right thing’ than real benefits for their children? Some say it is just about personal choice rather than tangible benefits. Brian Ratcliffe, professor of nutrition at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen says a recent independent review of studies by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) (www.food.gov.uk) shows that there’s no nutritional advantage to organic baby foods over conventionally produced products. And while parents may be concerned about pesticide residues in non-organic brands, Brian says all foods have to conform to the same food safety regulations, which set safe legal limits for residues.

However, the findings of the FSA review were hotly contested, says Clio Turton of the Soil Association. ‘There are many other studies showing the nutritional benefits of organic are better in many areas, but it’s about so much more than how much vitamin C is in your food. There’s a growing body of evidence showing the benefits of organics,’ adds Clio. ‘There are the high standards of animal welfare, as well as avoiding hydrogenated fats, additives, sweeteners, genetically modified products, pesticides and so on. For new parents-to-be wanting to give their baby the best start, organic products are the best in terms of avoiding additives and pesticides. Parents also want to bring their
child in to the best possible planet and buying organic contributes to a healthier future for them.’

The choice is yours
When it comes to parents voting with their wallets, organic doesn’t always win the day, says Katie O’Donovan from parenting website, Mumsnet (www.mumsnet.com), which runs product reviews written by parents on everything from baby wipes to high chairs. ‘Some parents enjoy spending money on a product that they think is an investment, and other parents question whether there is any difference in quality with buying organic, but there isn’t a majority view.’ Katie says most parents find organic products to be good quality and the fact they’re organic may be incidental. ‘People want to get what’s best for their children but a lot of people are motivated by what’s good for the environment, too, so some people choose organic for that reason.’

Wearing organic may also offer direct health benefits for sensitive babies. With two to nine applications of insecticides sprayed on a typical conventional cotton crop every season, organic clothing and bedding may help reduce irritation on your baby’s skin and help eczema, claims the clothing company, Green Baby (www.greenbaby.com). Clio adds organic clothes and bedding won’t be treated with the chemicals used on conventional products and will also use environmentally friendly dyes.

Ease the pressure
So if budgets are tight and you can only afford to go organic on a few key items for your child, which should you choose? In their first few years, eating organic as much as possible is a good step to take, says Claire Gillman, author of A Green Guide To Bringing  Up Your Baby (Cico Books, £16.99).  ‘But if you can’t afford it, don’t worry; you are not going to damage your child if you’re not buying everything organic.’ Claire suggests finding out as much as you can about organic clothes and cleaning products. ‘Read about what’s out there and then you can make an informed decision about how far you want to go down the organic route. But don’t let anybody make you feel guilty about your choices – that’s the crucial thing!’


 

This article was first published in at home’s ’Parenting with Jo Frost’ July 2011. [Read the digital edition here]


 Image: Getty

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