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8 Chemicals to Avoid During Pregnancy

Check labels for these hormonal disruptors.

8 Chemicals to Avoid During Pregnancy

We talk a lot about the foods to avoid during pregnancy, but it’s actually just as important to take a look at some of the other non-food products we expose ourselves to every day – think water bottles, sunscreen, pads, hand sanitizer, make-up and shampoo.

Unfortunately, these everyday items have lots of chemicals that can mess with our hormonal systems by mimicking real hormones or blocking them from binding to and communicating with cells. And during pregnancy, these kinds of endocrine disruptions, which have been linked to stress, obesity, PMS, reproductive issues, early onset puberty and immune disorders, can have long-lasting effects on our babies and their development.

While it’s impossible to avoid all toxins, your best bet during pregnancy is to be extra cautious and read ingredient labels on everything. Here are a few key ingredients you’ll want to watch out for.

1. Benzophenone or “benzones,” which is an ingredient used in most sunscreen (including children’s sunscreen). It’s known as a xenoestrogen, which means it mimics estrogen, and when the body thinks there is excess estrogen in the system, it throws off hormone production leading to weight gain and fatigue. For the fetus, too, benzones can pose a risk: studies have linked them with problems in brain development in children.

2. Parabens are preservatives that also mimic estrogen and that have been linked to cancer. You can find them in shampoo, moisturizers and deodorants, among many others. Already banned in Europe, they can accumulate in the body over time and cross the placenta, which can post a health risk especially after high exposure.

3. Phthalates are chemicals added to plastics to soften them and can be found primarily in food packaging. They have been shown to effect sex hormones in men and women and are linked to reproductive birth defects.

4. Bisphenoal A or “BPA” is widely used in plastics, especially food and beverage packaging. It causes high estrogen levels in men and women and in extreme cases has been linked to birth defects.

5. Dioxins are a by-product of the bleaching process conducted on personal care and food items, so check the ingredients on your pads – since they are considered by the FDA to be “medical devices” they are barely regulated. Women who use non-toxic feminine care product report a lower occurrence of vaginal infections and even lighter periods.

6. Artificial fragrances are unfortunately found in almost everything. Ninety-five percent of them contain phthalates and often times “benzones,” so opt for natural fragrance or no fragrance to limit your exposure.

7. Glycol ethers can show up on ingredient labels as polyethylene glycol, ethylene glycol or propylene glycol in items such as medications, personal care products and cleaning products. They have been shown to effect growth rate of the fetus, so it's extra important for pregnant women to be cautious of.

8. Antibacterial agents such as Triclosan are similar in structure to BPA and are commonly found in hand sanitizers. When coupled with alcohol (as they most often are), they are more readily absorbed by the body, and triclosans will disrupt hormones that are responsible for your baby's growth. So if you do use hand sanitizers, opt for an alcohol-free version.

Photo by Mariliana Arvelo of Stylish & Hip Kids.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

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