If you’ve watched any national news program on TV lately, you’ve probably heard about bisphenol-A, the chemical in a lot of plastic bottles — particularly baby bottles — that’s either completely harmless or going to kill us all, depending on who you listen to.
The controversy’s been around for awhile, but it’s in the headlines again because the Canadian government announced recently it would ban all products containing BPA, a move that prompted Wal-Mart to immediately remove all such products from its Canadian stores.
This is something that’s particularly of concern to parents of bottle-fed babies. Many baby bottles contain BPA, which leaches out of the plastic when the bottles are exposed to high temperatures. Studies have shown that almost everyone has trace amounts of BPA in their blood, but the levels in bottle-fed babies’ systems are much higher.
Studies disagree on just how big a problem that is — BPA mimics estrogen in the human body, so there’s concern that high BPA levels in fetuses and infants could harm the reproductive system — but when it comes to my child’s health, well, I’m inclined to err on the side of get that out of my house right now.
The problem, of course, is that products that contain BPA don’t shout it from the rooftops. Wal-Mart and Toys-R-Us have both said they’ll remove all BPA-containing products from their stores next year, but for now, the list of products that contain BPA is miles longer than the list of those that don’t. (The best list I’ve found so far is online at www.zrecs.blogspot.com.)
Basically, if you’re using something made of hard, clear plastic, it probably contains BPA unless it was specifically labeled otherwise. Dr. Brown’s? Out. Vent-Aire? Out. Your beloved Nalgene water bottle? Out out out.
Fortunately, it’s not difficult to find BPA-free products. More and more companies are waking up to the fact that this could be a huge money-maker for them — or else that they’re facing some serious liability issues — and are gearing up to produce BPA-free versions of their popular products. We’ve got more than a dozen plastic Dr. Brown’s bottles, and had no plans to replace them — but now we’re spending another $50 or so to do just that. Involve our kids, and they’ve got us by the throat. Hint to a man that his Nalgene bottle might confuse his boy parts, and he’s going to find $20 somewhere to get a new one. (From Nalgene, probably — the company has already introduced new BPA-free lines, and will eliminate BPA from its “Original” wide-mouth bottles this year. Camelback also has BPA-free products.)
There are several very cheap BPA-free plastic baby bottles already on the market: Parent’s Choice at Wal-Mart, Gerber’s Clear View and Evenflo’s Classic (ONLY if labeled BPA-free, though — the company just recently made the change, and some old bottles are still on store shelves) are all about $1 each. Next cheapest is Evenflo’s Classic glass bottle, $2 each or $10 for a six-pack at Babies-R-Us and Baby Depot.
I sprung for a couple of the glass Dr. Brown’s bottles, which are considerably more expensive, but have the cool venting apparatus that they’ve managed to convince me is crucial to my child’s continued existence on this planet. Fortunately, Dr. Brown’s is supposed to be releasing a BPA-free plastic bottle soon .
If you’ve got the means to go spendy, Babies-R-Us also carries the Adiri nurser bottles (the ones that look creepily boob-like) and Born Free glass bottles (Baby Depot has these too). Both brands are BPA-free but will run you around $10 per bottle.
The sippy cup maze is a little harder to navigate. All of Avent‘s are BPA-free; Gerber’s Sip-n-Smile line and Playtex’s First Sipsters are too. For pacifiers, you’re safe with anything from Playtex or the First Years.
All told, you can completely reoutfit your baby’s world with BPA-free products for under $50. Even if it’s an exercise in paranoia, it’s not a very expensive one.