There's a lot of baby products out there claiming to be BPA free. What is BPA and what harm can it cause? Are all baby products BPA free? These were some of the questions in my mind when I first had a baby. After some research I realised that all baby bottles and cups were BPA free but not necessarily everything else. The potential harm of BPA encouraged us to start using less plastic feeding utensils for the kids and since we have started our journey towards a plastic free life and zero waste life. Here's a brief background on BPA.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is often used with other materials as an industrial chemical to make plastics used for water bottles, coatings of metal food containers and bottle tops. BPA may leach in small amounts into food and drinks stored in materials containing the substance. The safety is widely disputed. In 2011 and 2012 The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the United State’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) respectively banned its use in baby bottles, infant sippy cups and later, in the lining of infant formula packaging (although this was done out of abandonment rather than safety concerns).
Even though both authorities continue to support its safety in low levels exposed from food there have been increasing expressions of safety concerns and they are continuing to look into new research because there have been studies in young animals and humans that show that BPA can be harmful.
As recent as June 2017 The Member State Committee (MSC)* supported to additionally identify BPA as a substance of very high concern (SVHC) because of its endocrine disrupting properties which may cause serious effects to human health.
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that mimic the body’s hormones and produce a harmful effect on development, reproduction as well as having neurological and immune effects.
It seems there isn’t enough evidence for the authorities to state BPA is unsafe but there isn’t evidence to say it is safe either.
What can you do to limit BPA absorption?
- Some, but not all, plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA. Avoid using these plastics if possible.
- When containers containing BPA are heated, the level of BPA rises in the food therefore do not heat these containers in the microwave or even put very hot or boiling foods and liquids into these containers.
- Throw out all bottles that are scratched as not only can they harbour bacteria but if they contain BPA then there is more chance BPA can leach.
1. Food and Drug Administration www.fda.gov
2. European Food Safety Authority www.efsa.europa.eu
3. European Chemical Agency https://echa.europa.eu/
*MSC seeks unanimous agreement on identification of substances for the list of SVHC
Learning how to feed a baby may be a huge excitement but it is also a very responsible task. Parents should make sure that the baby bottles are always extra clean. This doesn’t mean purchasing chemical detergents or running an almost empty dishwasher several times per day. There are many natural ways to clean the baby bottles and I guarantee that you will be nicely surprised with the result. You can achieve the required pristine level of cleanliness with hot water, baking soda and vinegar. Keep in mind that it is important to sanitise not only the baby bottles but also the place where you store them.
Here are several ways to take care of the baby bottles, which will bring you peace of mind:
One of the easiest natural ways to clean the baby bottles is to boil a big pot of water and add 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Stir the mixture and place all bottles parts in it. let them soak overnight. The next morning take the parts out of the pot, put them in another big vessel and rinse with water, making sure that the baking soda is removed completely. After that, let the parts dry on a paper towel. Use the bottles directly or put them in their rightful place.
Another easy solution is scrubbing the bottles with natural soap and a bottle brush. It cleans out the formula residue completely. Dissolve a small amount of the natural soap in hot water, dip the brush in the mixture and start rubbing the bottles with it. Use a detachable small brush to clean the nipples, bacteria often hide there. Clean all bottle components and after that rinse them with a mixture made of boiled water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar.
Here is how you can eliminate the sweet milk smell that all bottles gain with time. First wash the inside of the bottle, using hot water, natural soap and a bottle brush. After that, rinse the bottle and fill it halfway with a mixture of hot water and 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Close the bottle and shake for several minutes. Then rinse it and check if the sour milk smell is eliminated. If necessary, repeat the procedure with the baking soda one more time.
Proper drying is crucial for germ-free baby bottles. Make sure that the bottles, nipples and valves are completely dry before you feed your baby or put them away. Humidity attracts bacteria. Investing in a drying rack is a smart solution. It holds all bottle parts and keeps the countertops dry. As every parent, you also want to give your baby the best from the very start. These natural ways will help you to do that and give you peace of mind.
Please note these are cleaning not sterilisation methods. It is recommended by the NHS that bottles are sterilised after cleaning until your baby is 12 months old.
We all know that having your precious little baby is life changing. Your body changes forever, you can't sleep, you change a million dirty nappies, you are responsible for everything your baby needs: feeding, changing, cleaning, teaching and loving them. But who knew all the other things that you would do when you have a baby to make life work.
- Going to the toilet whilst holding your baby – you’ve held on for as long as you can and your baby either hasn’t finished his nap or just will not let you go without crying, and you have already slightly leaked. So you go to take a pee whilst holding your baby. It can be done. This is when you realise those jeans are a pain to put back on … with one hand.
- Cook whilst holding your baby in one arm - It’s Wednesday and you haven’t had a home cooked meal since Sunday when husband was at home so you decide to cook dinner but it’s now 6pm and you still haven’t managed to time preparing dinner with your baby. So you learn the art of one handed dinner preparation and cooking. The carrots might still have the skin on – it’s hard using a peeler with one hand. The courgettes might not be perfectly sliced in equal pieces. Have you ever chopped with a blunt knife before? And the chicken might be overcooked because there are uneven pieces but at least you can say you cooked.
- Playing tag at meal times with your partner. On the days you actually manage to cook dinner you’ll want to enjoy your delicious meal whilst it’s hot. Why do babies always know when it’s our meal time? And wont’ let you eat in peace. So one of you holds the baby walking around the house, starving. At least one of you can enjoy your meal whilst it’s hot although you’ll prob eat it in half the time that you usually do so that your partner can have some food.
- 1 - 2 minute showers – you know still being in your pyjamas at 4pm is normal but in this heat you can’t wait to jump in the shower except baby just won’t let you… so you put him down, he’s crying as if it was the worst thing on earth you could ever do, so you have the fastest shower on record. Barely getting yourself wet. Lather up and rinse. The hair can wait until tomorrow. Hardly relaxing but at least you are clean. Sort of. You’re saving water at least.
- Breastfeeding on the go – when your baby is half way through his hour long feed and you only have half an hour left of parking and haven’t even picked up one thing from your list of things to get – you’ll find yourself breastfeeding on the go. As long as he’s being fed you can carry on your with what you need to do. Multitasker extraordinaire!