by Wendy Gabriel
I wrote Raising Baby Green as a collection of techniques for changing the environmental reality for our children. When someone is pregnant or has a young child, she is uniquely concerned about the future. It’s a time of great change, and it’s the perfect time to consider changing even long-standing habits: more people quit smoking during pregnancy than any other time. Healthful habits established during pregnancy and early childhood can have the biggest impact. If they become aware of the importance of the environment to their children, even the toughest habits can change.
What does a pregnant woman need to know about environmental exposures?
The time before birth is a time of incredible possibility as well as potential peril. The babies are growing and learning so fast. At one point they make 100,000 new neural connections an hour. Pregnancy is also the time when a mother has the biggest control over her child’s environment.
I tell mothers that everything that affects your baby will come from what you’ve put into your mouth (food, beverages, medication), what you inhale (fumes), and what you put on your skin (shampoo, lotions, makeup). You can make a difference just by paying attention to those three things, maximizing positive and nurturing choices and minimizing unnecessary toxins.
What environmental exposure causes new mothers the most concern?
Of those three areas of exposure that can affect a baby, mothers are often most concerned about fumes because they feel that is the most out of their control. Studies show that by far and away the biggest exposures come from inside someone’s own home. I always let mothers know that choosing healthy household cleaners can make a big difference to their babies’ exposure to harmful fumes.
What is the most common question people ask when they know you’ve written Raising Baby Green?
When someone hears that I’ve written an environmental baby book, they always ask about diapers. In Raising Baby Green, I have lots of suggestions for making diapering better for babies and the environment. But to put it in perspective, whatever option you choose, the max environmental impact of all the diapers you use for a year is about the same as burning 54 gallons of gasoline.