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The Clean Label Project recently released a study of more than 500 infant formulas and baby foods representing 60 brands. The results, which the CLP published as an infographic, look terrifying:

  • 65 percent of baby food and 80 percent of formula contained arsenic.
  • 36 percent of baby food contained lead.
  • 58 percent of baby food contained cadmium.

Myth-busting Snopes was on the case almost as soon as the CLP published its results. The CLP did not publish its findings in a peer-reviewed journal. It did not provide any data to support its conclusions. It did not disclose any conflicts of interest. The Snopes investigation also identified previous controversies with Ellipse Labs, the company that did the product testing for CLP.

This is not the first time critics have addressed methodological problems and conflicts of interest at the CLP. When the organization published results about pet foods earlier this year, its methods drew a great deal of criticism, including a lively Reddit Ask Me Anything in which two of the researchers answered very little.

All of these are reasons enough not to trust the CLP’s findings about baby food and infant formula. But that debunking isn’t necessarily helpful to parents who want to avoid being taken in by the next headline-grabbing “study” of a baby danger.

Here are four research skills to help you digest the CLP’s study of baby food and prepare yourself to be a more critical reader of the next big baby scare.


Just because something sounds dangerous doesn’t mean it is dangerous

The CLP finding you’re most likely to hear about in the news is the shocking conclusion that eighty percent of infant formulas contain arsenic. That’s bound to stick with you, because arsenic is probably the most famous poison.

If you know arsenic to be poisonous, you were probably shocked to learn that the food you’re feeding your baby contains it. The problem here is that many foods contain arsenic, especially rice, which just so happens to be a component of many baby foods. It’s also present in another kid favorite, juice.

The CLP’s arsenic finding is one of many variations on the same rhetorical strategy: name a scary-sounding ingredient, identify a non-food purpose for that ingredient, and voila! You’ve made viral news. It’s the same approach that has worked for the Food Babe countless times…

Subway is feeding you yoga mats! Macaroni and Cheese is stuffing your kids with the same stuff you use to power your car! 

The CLP benefits from our collective chemophobia, such that it can merely mention the name of a scary-sounding chemical in order to stoke fear. Take, for example, the CLP’s finding that 10 percent of its samples tested positive for acrylamide, which, according to its infographic, “is a chemical created during manufacturing linked to brain damage, cancer, and reproductive harm.”

Let’s take those claims one at a time. Although it’s technically true that acrylamide would be created during the “manufacturing” process of some baby foods, that’s only true because “cooking” is part of the manufacturing process. Acrylamide is used in the manufacture of paper, ink, and other materials, but that’s not the use we’re talking about in baby food.

Acrylamide is created during the cooking of starchy foods like french fries and potato chips, as well as some types of crackers. Although the CLP does not name the products that tested positive for acrylamide, it’s reasonable to assume that they were fried or otherwise cooked with very high heat: teething biscuits, puffs, and other crispy snacks.

The second claim, that acrylamide has been “linked to brain damage, cancer, and reproductive harm,” is another one of those true but not true claims. Acrylamide was unfairly maligned as a cancer-causing agent in the early 2000s, but it was found to be a natural part of the cooking process not necessarily linked with human cancers.

Takeaway: If a chemical sounds scary, find out all of its uses before deciding it is scary.

Beware of inappropriate comparisons

Let’s return to arsenic for a moment. It may be true that 80 percent of baby foods tested by the CLP contained arsenic. That finding, however, is not evidence that these baby foods pose danger to children.

The CLP did not compare its results to any arsenic level standard. Instead, it tested for the presence of arsenic and compared products to each other. Because arsenic is naturally present in many foods, it’s reasonable that some products tested positive for arsenic, and that some would have higher levels than others.

Imagine Baby Cereal A and Baby Cereal B. Cereal A was found to have 50 parts per billion (ppb) of arsenic. Cereal B was found to have 100 ppb of arsenic. Is Cereal B dangerous? Not according to the FDA, which recently proposed a limit of 100 ppb for all rice-containing baby cereals.

The CLP, however, would call Cereal B more dangerous, because it places products on a spectrum. Those with less detectable arsenic are “better” than the ones with more detectable arsenic, even if all of the products tested meet the FDA guidelines. The CLP could also claim that the “worse” cereal has 100 percent more arsenic than the better cereal, which makes that cereal sound absolutely terrifying.

Takeaway: When you see scary numbers in the news, look for the comparisons. Beware of dangerous items compared to each other instead of to a standard.

Always search for a methods section

The CLP describes its “unique” methods for obtaining its data as follows: “We do not make assumptions for product recommendations based on manufacturer supplied data, peer-reviewed research reports, or data from other consumer advocacy groups.”

Assuming that “make assumptions for product recommendations” means something like “we don’t allow the following sources to influence our product recommendations,” it’s both reasonable and ethical that neither manufacturer-supplied data nor consumer advocacy group data was included in the study.

Wedged in between those two groups, however, is “peer-reviewed research reports.” The entire notion of scientific knowledge is that it is built, piece by piece, upon the work of previous science. If you aren’t identifying yourself within a particular field, and you’re not building your work on the publications of others in that field, you’re not doing scientific research.

It’s possible for a research method to be “unique,” but the methods section of your study should not be. Researchers include detailed methods sections in their research so that other researchers can replicate those findings. That replication is essential to demonstrating a phenomenon actually exists.

Takeaway: If you can’t identify the methods the researchers used, you can’t reproduce their results. If you can’t reproduce their results, it’s not scientific research.

Ask if the researchers are trying to sell you something

The most concerning issue here is that the CLP is telling parents what to buy.

There is nothing wrong with consumer-advocacy groups recommending one product over another. There is nothing wrong with groups like Consumer Reports or even blogs like The Sweet Home offering detailed reviews of their products. There is a problem when a group claiming to be doing “independent” research is profiting directly off of the results of its research.

The CLP’s website features “buy now” links to all the products included in its reviews. It’s possible that those links represent an undisclosed conflict of interest. The CLP could be a part of Amazon’s Affiliate marketing program. If so, the CLP would earn four percent from the Amazon sales of all its recommended products. The CLP happens to recommend more expensive brands more highly, therefore, with each click of a CLP five-star product, they would be earning more than they would if they had highly rated a cheaper product.

Even if the CLP is not an Amazon affiliate, it has not disclosed sources of funding or possible conflicts of interest, which has been a source of controversy for the organization before.

Takeaway: If the same people conducting the research are also trying to sell you something, be suspicious. If they aren’t telling you how they earn their money, be even more suspicious.

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Sometimes it can feel like toys are a mama's frenemy. While we love the idea of entertaining our children and want to give them items that make them happy, toys can end up taking the joy out of our own motherhood experience. For every child begging for another plastic figurine, there's a mama who spends her post-bedtime hours digging toys out from under the couch, dining room table and probably her own bed.

Like so many other moms, I've often found myself between this rock and hard place in parenting. I want to encourage toys that help with developmental milestones, but struggle to control the mess. Is there a middle ground between clutter and creative play?

Enter: Lovevery.

lovevery toys

Lovevery Play Kits are like the care packages you wish your child's grandparent would send every month. Expertly curated by child development specialists, each kit is crafted to encourage your child's current developmental milestones with beautiful toys and insightful activity ideas for parents. A flip book of how-tos and recommendations accompanies each box, giving parents not only tips for making the most of each developmental stage, but also explaining how the games and activities benefit those growing brains.

Even better, the toys are legitimately beautiful. Made from eco-friendly, sustainable materials materials and artfully designed, I even find myself less bothered when my toddler leaves hers strewn across the living room floor.

What I really love, though, is that the kits are about so much more than toys. Each box is like a springboard of imaginative, open-ended play that starts with the included playthings and expands into daily activities we can do during breakfast or while driving to and from lessons. For the first time, I feel like a company isn't just trying to sell me more toys―they're providing expert guidance on how to engage in educational play with my child. And with baby kits that range from age 0 to 12 months and toddler kits for ages 13 to 24 months, the kits are there for me during every major step of development I'll encounter as a new mama.

So maybe I'll never love toys―but I will always love spending time with my children. And with Lovevery's unique products, mixing those worlds has become child's play.

This article was sponsored by Lovevery. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Summertime is here, mamas! And while we couldn't be more thrilled about beach outings and pool days, both of those activities require one major thing—getting into a bathing suit. No easy feat when you're not pregnant (FYI: we tested many and these are our favorite five), but it's even tougher when you are prego and your body is changing daily.

To help, we've rounded up 15 super-cute maternity bathing suit options for you. From sweet one-pieces (like Old Navy's watermelon-pattered cutie that has matching options for dads, toddlers and girls!) to color-blocked bikinis that will ensure your bump gets nice and tan, we've got something to fit every mama's personal style and body. Because we want you to love your pregnant body and celebrate it—you know the saying: Suns out… bumps out!

The best part? They start at just $22! Happy shopping, mamas.

Motherhood Maternity ruffle front one-shoulder swimsuit with UPF 50+

Motherhood Maternity One-Shoulder Swim

Super flattering with a ruffle and in navy polka dots, this suit will be your go-to all summer long.

Price: $39.98


Hatch Antigua maillot

Hatch Antigua

Did we mention we love ruffles? This beauty from Hatch is sweet as can be, and while it's on the pricier side, the quality is there and it will last you multiple pregnancies.

Price: $218


ASOS Design maternity recycled glam high-neck swimsuit

Asos maternity high neck swim

Who says you need to be in a boring black bathing suit all summer? Let's embrace color (and some sexy drama!) with this high-neck suit that will have everyone asking where on Earth you found such a fun maternity look.

Price: Sale $33.50 (Regularly $48.00)


Motherhood Maternity 'Beach Bump' maternity one-piece swimsuit with UPF 50+

Beach Bump Swim

This suit is anything but plain with it's adorable "beach bump" sign.

Price: $39.98


H&M Mama swimsuit

H&M Mama Swim

Spice up your pool days with this super fun pattern that is also super flattering—after all, it's hard to spot flaws with all that leopard going on. The wrapped top, low-cut back and ruched siding all add to why we love this one so much.

Price: $29.99


Hatch color-block bikini frutto

Hatch Colorblock Bikini

Show off the bump in this color-blocked bikini that looks like something straight out of the 1950s.

Price: $208.00


H&M Mama swimsuit with ruffles

H&M Mama Swim

Bohemian perfection, this suit is perfectly on-trend for the season.

Price: Sale $24.99 (Regularly $34.99)


A Pea in a Pod rib knit striped maternity one-piece swimsuit

A Pea in a Pod Striped Swim

Preppy but also a little bit sexy thanks to the cleavage-baring peephole, this suit screams "summer" in the best way possible.

Price: $98.00


Summersalt Maternity ribbed voyager bikini top + bottom

Summersalt Maternity Ribbed Voyager Bikini

Summersalt is one of our favorite swimwear brands and they just released maternity options! Giving their ubiquitous high-waisted bikini bottoms the prego treatment, this is one suit that will grow with you from first to third trimester.

Bikini top price: $50.00


Bikini bottom price: $45.00


Pez D’or stripe one-piece maternity swimsuit for Nordstrom

Pez D'or Stripe Swim

Love you some stripes? Then you can't go wrong with this halter-neck option that is flattering and cute all at once.

Price: $98.00


Old Navy Maternity halter v-neck swimsuit with UPF 40

Old Navy Maternity Halter V-Neck Swimsuit

We're obsessed with this suite for two reasons: One, that crazy cute watermelon pattern! Two, the halter cut with tiny peephole is perfection and there's lots of support thanks to an extra strap at mid-back.

Price: Sale $22.50 (Regularly $44.99)


Gap Maternity tie-back print one-piece suit

Gap Maternity Tie-Back Print One-Piece Suit

This one-piece is as pretty as can be with it's tiny floral print! We love that the straps criss-cross in the back and that the sweetheart neckline drawcord is adjustable.

Price: Sale $58.99 (Regularly $69.99)


Pink Blush ruffle trim ruched one-piece maternity swimsuit

Pink Blush Light Blue Ruffle Trim Ruched One-Piece Maternity Swimsuit

Oversized ruffle? Check. Removable straps? Check. Ruched siding? Check. Adorable baby blue hue? Check.

Price: $46.00


Jojo Maman Bebe flamingo halterneck maternity tankini

Jojo Maman Bebe Flamingo Halterneck Maternity Tankini

Tankinis for the win! Perfect for pulling up when you want the bump to get some sun, but tugging down when you don't want to show some skin.

Price: $59.00


PregO Maternity Wear roll waist dot bikini set

PregO Maternity Wear Women's Maternity Roll Waist Dot Bikini Set

We love how sporty chic this suit is and that you can wear it after pregnancy, too.

Price: $68.00-$72.00


Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Babies love it when their mamas sing to them, and Carrie Underwood's son is no exception. But does he love his dad's singing? Not so much.

If your mom has a voice like Carrie Underwood's, chances are your lullaby standards are a bit higher than most. And, if a recent video from the singer is any indication, even Dad's singing may not quite make the grade.

The country singer shared a cute video clip of her son, Jacob, reacting as her husband, Mike Fisher, sings him a song. Let's just say the little guy isn't having it: Jacob cries throughout his father's mini-performance...That is until Mama steps in to sing the same song.

The clip shows little Jacob calm immediately when he hears his mom's voice (relatable, right?). Mike takes that opportunity to step back in and resume his vocals...but Jacob begins to cry again. "Everyone's a critic," Carrie captions the adorable video.

But don't take this to mean you have to be a recording artist in order to sing to your children! Even the most tone-deaf among us can (and should!) sing to our babies—not just because it's fun, but also because singing to your babe comes with some pretty awesome benefits. The act may even improve your baby's attention span and increase positive their reactions towards you, as we've previously reported.


While Carrie and Mike opt to belt out the song "I Still Believe" by singer Vince Gill, you don't have to get too fancy. Singing a good old-fashioned lullaby to your kids is a great idea (they work for a pretty good reason). We are fairly certain that most babies out there love the sound of their mama's voice more than just about any sound (with the possible exception of the "Baby Shark" video), so keep up the family singing sessions even if you don't have a hit song on the charts.

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I am generally not considered a sentimental person, and I do not keep a lot of junk. When I moved to college, everything that wasn't part of my closet fit into a single trunk. By the time I got married, I had shrunk those keepsakes down to a single box. When I got pregnant, the box had shrunk down to a tiny container I shoved under my bed.

Then we had kids.

The sheer amount of stuff we received from well-wishers was overwhelming. I figured that we needed most of it—babies are high maintenance, right?—and took comfort in the fact that when our child got bigger, we could ditch the bassinet and the bottles and shrink down our lives again.

I could not have been more wrong. The stuff continued to pour in, and it became impossible to throw anything out. Some of it was useful and consumable, like diapers, and some of it was thoughtful and small, like a special stuffed animal, but most of it was simply too much…like the 1,398 toys that began a procession through our lives over the next three years.

It was nobody's fault. My children have four grandparents, two great-grandparents, and five aunts and uncles within a 20-mile radius. Many of them express their love through purchases. Constant purchases. For Christmas, birthdays, Easter, St. Patrick's Day, your regular Saturday. There was bound to be a build-up.


The problem was that my children received so many presents the gift-giving itself began to lose meaning. Every time a family member came by the house, my 3-year-old expected a treat.

The amount of stuff piling up in our house started to grate on me, but I didn't know what to do. My oldest child has the memory of an elephant: the other day he cried because he couldn't find a specific drawing that he made in preschool 12 months ago. And my family was constantly checking up on their gifts: "Where's the special bear I gave you, little guy? Do you play with it a lot?" I didn't want to offend anyone.

Then I had an evening that changed my life as a mom. We went to a friend's house for dinner; they had young kids too, about a year or so ahead of us. We walked in and I was shocked at how completely their house had been taken over by their kids' belongings. You couldn't see the living room floor because there were toys everywhere—not in use but stacked up to the ceiling. They apologized for the mess, and it didn't seem to bother them, but I was panicking on the inside.

Was this what was in store for me as a parent? Were my children going to accumulate so much that I wouldn't be able to find my own life under all the mess?

We went home that night and put the kids to bed. And I ransacked. Three years of accumulated playthings, old "special" clothes, and my concerns and ideas about disappointing our relatives, were all ruthlessly sorted through.

If I was going to be a good mom, it would have to be on my terms, and my terms included the right to dispose of accumulation. It included the right to gently but firmly inform relatives that we may not have room for the stuffed bear as big as a house as a Christmas present this year, could there be a special place at their house to keep it? It included the right to shape my family's values, even when they clash a little with those closest to us.

I love our extended family very much, and I am glad they shower my children with affection, including gifts. But every mom has her own way of keeping her sanity, right? And for me, the key to a happy household now includes the occasional purge, when the kids are looking away, and knowing inside that your family will love you anyway.

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If you buy Parent's Choice baby formula at Walmart you need to check to see if your product is being recalled.

The manufacturer of Walmart's Parent's Choice Advantage Infant Formula Milk-Based Powder with Iron, Perrigo Company, is recalling the product because it may be contained with metal. There are no reports of babies experiencing adverse effects, but the company says it is proceeding with the recall out of an "abundance of caution stemming from a consumer report."

If you buy this formula look on the bottom of the tub to check the lot code and use by date. If it is lot Code C26EVFV with a "use by" date of February 26, 2021, it is part of the recall. Don't use it and take it back to Walmart for a refund.

These tubs retail for just under $20.

The FDA suggests "consumers with any health-related questions should contact their healthcare provider", and you can also call Perrigo Consumer Affairs at 866-629-6181.

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