Pre-Loved Clothing – Avoiding PBDE’s

Written by admin on February 16, 2011. Posted in Baby Clothing

I was told by friends how quickly babies grow out of their clothing and into the next size but I couldn’t have fully appreciated it until now. Our girls are 1 1/2 years old and all of their beautiful clothes bought and gifted to us are in a storage box nearly brand new. As children grow so quickly from birth to age 2 don’t be squeamish to buy or accept pre-loved baby clothes. (Especially from 0-6 months the only thing to touch them is breast milk or formula!) And from starting solids at 6 months onward babies grow so rapidly the outfits are probably worn less than 50 times each. They really are practically brand new with the added benefit of being pre-washed! Parents are becoming more aware of PBDE’s (fire retardants) in clothing and looking for ways to remove these very dangerous chemicals from their childrens’ lives. You can’t get much more intimate an issue than the clothing on your children’s bodies 24/7.

Look out for tags saying “Low Fire Danger”. It means the garment has been treated with dangerous Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE).

If you can’t afford to buy organic material clothing, the benefit of Pre-Loved’s is they have been washed and rewashed so many chemicals in the materials (such as fire retardant PBDE’s) and dyes have been diminished. Clothing, especially from China have a slight acidic/toxic smell to them (some worse than others) so getting seconds rather than brand new is really an improvement for your little baby’s health. Their very delicate skin will absorb, and their little lungs will inhale, absolutely everything in those fibres and increase the chemical load on their organs and system. (The higher risk to children is a result of their higher metabolic rate, higher intake of airborne pollutants and lower resilience, resulting in a two to four times higher absorption rate (Gilbert and Black 2000).

Keep this in mind when you’re eyeing off a lovely new ‘inexpensive’ outfit from China in the shops. If you must buy brand new look for organic cotton or bamboo for all of baby’s clothes in the first 6 months. You really don’t need too many outfits while they’re this young so make any new purchase a good one and go organic.

Babies love Pre-Loved!

Babies love Pre-Loved!

So back to the wonderful alternative of Pre-Loved Clothing. If you’re lucky enough to have friends with children slightly older than yours they may have clothing they want to gift to you. They certainly won’t hand you down tatty clothing so what you do receive will most likely still look brand new (and be gratefully accepted, thank you to our wonderful friends Marianne & Michael and Dean & Amanda!). Alternatively, visiting your local ‘thrift’ shop to buy inexpensive second hand clothing is a great idea. They won’t put anything tatty on the shelves either so you can be sure to find some great items at a fraction of the cost brand new (and more importantly with a fraction of the chemicals!). A good trick to finding lovely 2nds clothing is visiting thrift stores in or near ritzy, more affluent suburbs where the standard of clothing donated by the locals is higher.

For those mums whose children have already outgrown a couple of sizes I stumbled across a great concept called Kids Clothes Swap. If you Google it or ask around your mothers’ groups you may find one in your local area. They usually ask an entry fee and have a maximum limit for clothing on a 1 for 1 swap basis. As an example there’s one on the Gold Coast, Australia for $10 for 30 items swapped and another $10 per additional 30 items of clothing. Of course only quality pre-loved clothes in good condition are accepted for trade (and are what you want to receive in return for yours so it’s only fair). So take along all your outgrown baby clothes and come home with a brand new wardrobe for just the entry fee. Hats off to the fantastic ladies who thought up this idea!

If you see the sense in this approach of Pre-Loved clothing let friends and family know so you don’t receive gifts you feel guilty or worried about using (or that simply end up in the bin). Set your friends and family on the healthy path of finding great Pre-Loved’s from thrift shops. It’s actually quite exciting finding a beautiful item for a great price. It’s like SALE TIME in the retail shops!

More info on the health impacts of PBDE/Fire Retardants in my article Organic Baby Sleepwear – Avoiding PBDE’s

I may actually write a specific article explaining PBDE Fire Retardants and their health impacts based on findings from the Australian Government 2006 study. I’ll highlight excerpts of importance and break down the findings into key points so it’s easy to reach the important information. For those who are concerned about PBDE’s but are time poor, wading through all of these documents just isn’t possible. So stay tuned. More to come.

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