Is Organic Clothing Necessary for My Baby?
When we became parents, our perspectives changed. The products we used and the food we ate all seemed up for re-evaluation in the context of raising a happy, healthy child. Like parents everywhere, we just wanted to give our children the best, healthiest start in life.
As our kids grew from babies to toddlers, they developed sensitive skin and allergies. We did the research and discovered that there are real benefits to organic clothing, which is made of natural fibers, and grown and processed without the use of harmful, irritating chemicals. Ultimately, we founded 12|12 because we couldn’t find organic clothing that was soft, comfortable and spoke to our modern aesthetic (but that’s a whole other story).
Since then, the organic clothing movement has started to take off, but we still find that many parents don’t know the facts. We are often asked “how is organic clothing safer for my baby?” and “is it really worth the price?”
So today we’re happy to share with you, from one parent to another, what we’ve learned about the importance of organic clothing. Here are the 3 reasons why we think organic clothing matters to the health of your baby:
Clothing is in direct and constant contact with your baby’s permeable, sensitive skin. Our skin is the largest human organ, making up more than 10% of our body mass. Skin protects us by acting as a barrier, but it’s still vulnerable to irritants and abrasions. It’s also porous, meaning that substances that come in contact with our skin can enter the bloodstream via dermal absorption. The CDC notes that the rate of dermal absorption can depend on the thickness of the outermost layer of the skin and the surface area of the skin that is exposed.1 See where we’re going with this? Now let’s talk baby skin.
Baby skin is different from adult skin. In fact, infant skin is functionally still developing throughout the entire first year of your baby’s life.2 It’s been found that the infant epidermus (outer layer of the skin) is 20% thinner than in adults, while the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the epidermus) is 30% thinner.3 Infants also have a larger skin surface area relative to their weight, which means that any substance that permeates the skin would be more concentrated in a baby’s body versus an adult.4 In addition to its permeability, baby skin is more sensitive than adult skin and is prone to rashes, eczema, and other irritations that can be caused by products coming in direct contact with the skin.
Clothing is in direct and constant contact with your baby’s skin. Think about it –clothing is one of the first products introduced to your baby’s skin – onesies, receiving blankets, newborn hats. Diapers aside, clothing is probably your baby’s most frequently used product and is touching his or her skin nearly 24 hours a day. Also, because our babies can’t regulate their own body temperature, we tend to cover them up with layers of clothing to stay warm. So it matters that we understand what goes into our baby’s clothing and how it is made. Which leads us to our next point.
Conventional cotton is heavily treated with synthetic pesticides, particularly insecticides, during farming. Direct exposure to some of these pesticides has been linked to cancer, adverse reproductive and developmental effects, and other endocrine disruption, such as nervous or immune systems effects. In fact, several pesticides that have been classified by the U.S. EPA as likely or possible carcinogens continue to be used in the conventional cotton industry today.5 6
It doesn’t end there. Other chemicals are introduced during later stages of the cotton value chain – dying, bleaching and finishing processes. What this means is that chemical residue is likely lingering on clothing when you buy it. Chemicals, such as phthalates and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), both known endocrine disruptors, have recently been found on store-bought children’s apparel in a study that included samples from several well-known clothing brands.7
We still don’t know exactly how many washes it takes to fully remove all of these chemicals from our clothing. Buying organic cotton clothing is the only way to ensure that your baby’s clothes have been made without the use of any harmful chemicals.
- Organic clothing is better for the world your baby will grow up in. Buying organic cotton clothing is better for the environment. Pesticide use in conventional cotton farming leads to chemical run-off and contamination of water sources. This destroys ecosystems and endangers the health of people working and living nearby.8 We'll be sending more on how organic cotton farming and processing is better for the environment shortly.
At the end of the day, what matters most to us as parents is the health, happiness, comfort and safety of our children. And whether you buy organic cotton clothing from 12|12 or another brand, we wholeheartedly believe you will be giving your baby its best and healthiest start. Give your baby the gift of organic. It’s a safe-without-question option, finally. It’s another way to wrap babies in love, literally. And it’s one more thing we can check off our list, thankfully.
Do you dress your baby in organic cotton? Tell us why — or why not — using #organicmatters on social; we'll be looking for your input!
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