We all love the smell of babies. Just last week when I was watching Modern Family, I couldn’t stop laughing when one of the characters was “baby huffing.” You know that overwhelming feeling when you hold a baby in your arms only be overtaken by the desire to smell their sweet fluffy heads?
I’m familiar with this feeling and recently had a good go of it while visiting my family for the holidays. The newest addition to our family, Calvin, is five-months-old and has that amazing baby smell. I just couldn’t get enough.
Then I read Jenn Savage’s column on Dolce and Gabbana’s new product — perfume for babies. Cue perfume marketing department. I’ve heard of a lot of strange perfume ideas including sushi-smelling cologne for men in Japan, but perfume for babies really takes the cake.
Here’s my problem with perfume for children:
They smell wonderful, as they are.
There’s a reason my family and others call it baby huffing. Most everyone loves the smell of babies! Why would we do anything to change that? And how can we possibly “enhance” this smell with synthetic fragrance? The amount of fragrances we encounter in our daily lives continues to rise. Air fresheners in our cars and homes, air sprays for your stinky gym bag, the bathroom, scented lotions, shampoos and perfumes. The list goes on and meanwhile our exposures to toxic chemicals continue to rise. Why add another one to expose our babies to them sooner than necessary?
Fragrances and perfumes are toxic, plain and simple.
Most perfumes and fragrances are just plain bad for us. There is a vast body of science linking several (sometimes hundreds of toxic chemicals) in any given perfume. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has a lot of great information on their website on this topic, including the health impacts of fragrances.
For example, phthalates are a class of toxic chemicals found in a wide variety of products ranging from vinyl flooring, building supplies, air fresheners, cosmetics, lotions, soaps and perfumes. It is one of the main toxic ingredients in perfumes and has been linked to a host of health effects from hormone disruption, malformations of the male reproductive tract, feminization of males, and undescended testes in males. Fragrance and perfumes also may exacerbate asthma symptoms in adults and children. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, “as far back as 1986 the National Academy of Sciences identified fragrance ingredients as one of six categories of neurotoxins — chemicals that are toxic to the brain
Consumers have no access to information on toxic chemicals in fragrances.
Due to weak federal laws, the companies that use the word “fragrance” in their products don’t need to label what chemicals are used in that particular scent. So while on a label it looks like a fragrance is one ingredient, it could actually be dozens of different chemicals. The result? The consumer is once again burdened with trying to navigate a marketplace with little to no information.
What you can do:
A few simple and common sense tips will protect you and the little ones in your life. Simply skip perfume and fragrance in your home. We don’t need to be spraying babies or adults with toxic chemical perfumes. Second, make sure to urge Congress to pass the Safe Chemicals Act and Safe Cosmetics Act. Until we have strong laws on toxic chemicals, undisclosed and toxic chemicals will continue to creep into our lives.
There isn’t much we can do to stop manufacturers from marketing to our children, but we can choose not to buy these products. In the meantime, I’ll continue to baby huff the natural way.
Guest contributor Lindsay Dahl is the Deputy Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. This is cross-posted with permission from the SCHF blog. Follow Lindsay on Twitter at @Lindsay_SCHF .