Three years ago, I had a baby. A beautiful, perfect, amazing baby. Within eight weeks of birth, my perfect baby developed eczema. Extreme eczema. Every doctor on the planet told me that his skin condition was a product of genetics and a reaction to the weather. This seemed odd to me as neither my husband nor I had eczema. Though I continually insisted that my baby must be allergic to something in his environment, the doctors dismissed my notions and explained that there was absolutely nothing that I could do to help him other than using topical and oral steroids to manage his breakouts. If we were lucky, they said, he would grow out of it by age six. They also told me to stop breastfeeding.
This wasn’t good enough for me. In my heart, I knew that they were wrong. I refused to listen and kept on searching for answers. I continued to breastfeed my baby and started doing a tremendous amount of research on eczema, allergies and possible environmental factors that might have played a role. What I discovered was shocking – my home was toxic.
Hazardous chemicals were in all of my household cleaning products. Jackson’s crib mattress off gassed toxic flame retardant. His plastic teething toys and bottles contained phthlates and BPA which were linked to allergic skin conditions and worse. His cotton clothing (everything that he wore) was tainted with residue from the cancer causing pesticides that were sprayed on the crops before they became onesies, towels or crib bedding. Carcinogenic substances such as synthetic fragrances, artificial colors, parabens, mineral oil and/or petrolatum were in all of his bodycare products. Even the products suggested by the doctors to help his eczema!
I could not believe that I didn’t know these things. I felt lied to by every author who wrote every book on pregnancy and child-rearing. I felt betrayed by the many baby stores where I had spent hundreds of dollars on clothing, bedding and bathing products – not to mention toys which went directly in my baby’s mouth and skincare which covered his entire body. I felt tricked by our government who clearly makes us think that all is “safe” for baby. No wonder he had eczema. And worse, I had no idea that I had options.
I immediately threw out everything in my son’s nursery – his furniture, mattress, bedding, toys, bottles, clothing and bodycare. I then searched the planet looking for safe alternatives like toys without lead, clothes without pesticide residue, bottles without BPA and a mattress without toxic flame retardant. This was no easy task. I ordered rattles from New Zealand, bottles from Texas, stuffed animals from Sri Lanka, and clothing from England. I got rid of all chemical cleaners and started using vinegar and water to clean my house. I dressed him in organic clothing and swaddled him in organic blankets. I also paid a visit to my genius acupuncturist who gave me creams to help heal Jackson’s beautiful baby skin that had been ravaged by excessive scratching and bleeding. Within weeks, his eczema went away and his skin began to glow.
I was overjoyed. I wanted to shout my discovery from the rooftops and I knew just where to begin – my own backyard. With my friend, Soleil Moon Frye, I opened a non-toxic and eco friendly baby store called The Little Seed. I didn’t want anyone to have to go through what I did without help or support.
I know that every parent out there wants to make a better world for their little ones. With my new found knowledge I hope that I can be of some assistance along the way. Because, as you know, we are all in this together.