Here a flame retardant, there a flame retardant, everywhere a flame retardant!

My poor baby!  I realized that I have exposed him to way too many flame retardants in his little life.  I was buying products that I thought were good and little did I know that pretty much everything he was touching had flame retardants in it.

Some might say what is the big deal?  Well, studies have shown in animals that flame retardants cause those animals to be more anxious, have reproductive issues, gain more weight, and enter puberty early.   Other studies have shown that chemical flame retardants interfere with thyroid and sex hormones and in children can cause abnormal brain development, lower IQ and learning problems, behavior changes.  In adults, it has been linked to difficulties getting pregnant.  On a side note, I know quite a few people who are having to use fertility treatments to get pregnant.  Is this the environmental link we have all been wondering about??

Fire retardants are not only absorbed through your skin but inhaled.  They also accumulate in the dust on your floors then when you sweep or vacuum they can get in the air again.  Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter is important.  Also mopping is a good alternative to sweeping.

Baby items I found in my home that have flame retardants:

– Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper.  I reached out to the company and they said the newer models do not contain flame retardants.  You will have to check the tags under the mattress to find out for sure.

– Beco Gemini Organic Baby Carrier.  This made me really sad.  My first carrier smelled really toxic.  I let it air out for 4 months in our basement and it still smelled.  They exchanged it for me and I got a new one.  It still kinda smelled but not as bad.  I washed it and aired it out.  Finally I emailed the company and they confirmed that they use flame retardants in their carriers.  There is NO reason to do this.

– My Breastfriend Nursing Pillow

– Graco Pack N Play

– Chicco KeyFit 30 Car Seat.  I will blog about car seats later but most have flame retardants.  There are a few companies that don’t.

– Mattresses.  I will also blog about this later.  The most important purchase you can make based on the amount of time your baby spends sleeping.  You need to buy either Natropedic or LifeKind.

– My glider / rocker.  I bought a Dutailier glider / rocker.  The cushions have flame retardants.  I sold my glider and am borrowing a wood rocker from my dad that was my grandma’s.  I love the sentimental value of this rocker and I love that it doesn’t have any toxic chemicals.

– PJ’s.  CHECK the tags of your children’s PJ’s.  They should say that they must be tight-fitting since they are not flame resistant.  This only applies to PJ from 9 months to 14 years old.  Under 9 months it is not required that flame retardants be added to PJs.

– Your furniture.  Most likely all of it unless you have a couch or chair that was made before the mid 70’s.  Or if you have a wood piece of furniture.  It doesn’t matter if you bought a piece that said it was made with eco fibers, like soy, it still has fire retardants it in.

How to tell which pieces have flame retardants:

– Check ALL the tags.  If it says it complies with Technical Bulletin 117 then most likely it has flame retardants (especially if it is made with polyurethane).  I say most likely because most of the time it does.  There are a few exceptions though.  For example, Bobby does not use flame retardants but does have the complies with Technical Bulletin 117 tag.  I will do a post on baby products that are safe / don’t use fire retardants soon.

– PJ’s contain flame retardants unless it says otherwise.  If the PJ’s say, must be worn tight-fitting then you know that there are no flame retardants.

Why are flame retardants added to everything?

You can thank California.  Back in the 70’s they passed a bill to add flame retardants to furniture.  They also have a bill that requires baby items to have flame retardants for children under 3 years old.  Since California is so big most companies are not going to make two different products.  So they just make all their products with flame retardants.  There are many types of flame retardants.  Most of which have not been studied before being used on products.  Some have been banned and new ones have been developed.  One type of fire retardants (tris) was banned in children’s pj’s in the 70’s because it was realized how toxic it was.  However, this type of fire retardants is still used in furniture when spraying the foam.  Our children sit on our couches.  We sit on our couches.

Natural flame retardants:

Wool is a natural flame retardant.  Studies have shown that wool or cotton burns just as slowly, if not slower, than foam that is sprayed with chemical flame retardants.  It would be so nice if more furniture makers would make naturally flame retardant couches and chairs!

What to do?

I’ve slowly started changing out things I bought that had flame retardants in them.  I get to really know the products I am about to buy.  I email or call the companies directly to ask them about the chemicals they use.  I specifically ask about flame retardants before I buy.  I will always mention which products I have found that have chemicals in them so you don’t have to go through those steps.  If you use a product I haven’t mentioned I would give the company a call or send them an email.  I would love to hear about any other products you have found that have flame retardants.



22 thoughts on “Here a flame retardant, there a flame retardant, everywhere a flame retardant!

    1. naturalbabymama Post author

      I believe it is just the mattress. You can replace the mattress but with the cost of that you could just buy the Baby Bjorn travel crib… unless you already have the pack n play. The other thing I like about the Baby Bjorn is that it is Oeko-Tek certified not to be using harmful chemicals in addition to the flame retardants and we don’t know that for sure about the pack n play. I’m a huge fan of craigslist and I’m sure you can find used ones on there if you are ok buying used.

      1. Dana

        I do already have a pack and play so I am going to call the company. In the meantime, I did purchase a new mattress for the it so that makes me feel a little bit better at least. In the future I probably will purchase the baby Bjorn although I don’t know how much more we will use the travel pack and play. I hope someday all of these chemicals are phased out

  1. Cheryll

    The organic carrier had flame retardant??!! I thought if labeled organic they cannot use chemicals, especially fire retardants.
    Speaking of which, I still have not been able to bring myself to purchase the car seat we were discussing (the Clek), I keep hoping something new will pop up that is an even better option; have you heard anything else?

    1. naturalbabymama Post author

      Yep, it did. It made me really mad. You would think that would be the case but organic has really been a “hot” word lately and companies are throwing it all over packaging even if they use toxic dyes, flame retardants, etc.. I realized that you have to literally dig deep into every company until you are comfortable with that company. It really is too bad.

      I haven’t heard of anything else. Another poster just posted about a car seat that is Oeko-Tek certified (at least the fabric) by Luna. You may want to look into that. I haven’t had a chance and have no idea where it is made, if the foam is Oeko-Tek, etc.. It took me awhile to purchase my toddler seat too. It so hard but once you do you will be comfortable with your decision.

    1. naturalbabymama Post author

      No it just means that it complies without using FR… meaning it burns within the acceptable range. Did they tell you what it was made out of? I like that it is made in the USA which has better standards than China. Is it BPA, phthalate, and lead free?

  2. Tiila

    I will call back and ask. Also, I was given a Peg Perego lounger hand me down- which I thought was nice since it was made in Italy but they even say on their website that they use Flame Retardants. I emailed them asking about it and this was their response:
    The Flame Retardant coating used in our car seat fabrics is based on poliurethanic alifatic phosfonate in a water based solution (i.e. no solvents are released in the atmosphere during the process). It is also alogen free and heavy metal free since our fabric suppliers are OekoTex Standard 100 certified.
    Do you think it is OK to use? I was also thinking about just removing the fabric part and having a replacement made in organic cotton and filling.

    1. naturalbabymama Post author

      Is the lounger like a bouncy seat or swing? It’s nice that it is made in Italy but they still have to meet our standards so they are going to add FRs to products that are sold here that they might not otherwise. Their response has to do with car seat fabrics so I’m confused as to what that has to do with the lounger? Does it have the TB114 tag on the chair? Is their foam or padding? If there is foam then just removing the fabric part isn’t going to help with the FR.

  3. Tiila

    I just called the Soft Gear company. They are BPA, phalate, lead and formaldahyde free. They said it IS made with a closed cell PVC (not pourous), which is compliant with Prop 65 (CA law meaning it does not contain phalates). Would you be concerned? Thanks!

  4. Tiila

    Also, just got this message from Peg Perego:
    Our products are also BPA and Phthalate free and there are no known toxins or carcinogens present.
    How can they even say that if they say they are literally adding FR’s?!!!

    1. naturalbabymama Post author

      Because it’s all about marketing. Literally the only non-toxic certified car seat on the market is Orbit. If you believe what Diono says about some of their models then that would be second. For a bouncy seat the only one I recommend is Baby Bjorn. I spent many, many hours of research leading me to the companies I recommend on this blog. Sadly, most products are toxic because of the CA TB 114 FR rule. So it’s a shift in the way of thinking. If you have the time to research all your products you should but most of them are going to be toxic (sorry to say). I would either stop using what you don’t need or start looking for some new options. Once my son was mobile I never changed him on a changing pad again because he wouldn’t let me 🙂 I change him while he is standing up but that’s probably not normal. Try looking for a used Baby Bjorn babysitter seat and then buy a naturopedic changing pad. It will take some time to change things over but you will be able to overhaul things slowly. I would start with bedding, PJ’s, toys, etc. The things that are used most. If she spends a lot of time in the car seat then that one too. My son doesn’t even go into the car every day. Focus on the things that are used most often then go from there 🙂

  5. thinkalittleharder

    Just wanted to say: you can often find used things that will comply with your requirements. I was able to get a used Naturepedic crib mattress, a used Naturepedic bassinet mattress, a used Naturepedic changing pad, a Baby Bjorn travel crib, a Bjorn bouncer, American Baby pack’n’play sheets for the travel crib, and some clothing (from new, I saved about $590). This is even more exciting because I realized these items retain some of their value, and I’ll be able to sell them later too.

    I just haven’t had much luck yet with a glider or rocking chair — apparently Room & Board now sells some chemical retardant free gliders (not sure which ones yet; I’m in contact with their customer service), but the rest of the new flame-retardant-free options (Ekla, Monte Design Group, Viessio, etc.) are WAY out of my price range, as in changing out our couches and chairs (which I’m sure are full of retardants). We may end up with a plain old antique wooden rocking chair; hard to weigh the possibility to weird old additives against new chemical flame retardants. Hmm. Just gotta do what you can and then move on.

    1. naturalbabymama Post author

      I don’t know what weird additives would be in an old wood rocking chair. If it was painted, and painted a really long time ago, you could have lead paint. I would still with a regular old wood rocking chair (not painted). If you want to get a cushion made w/out FR you definitely can get that done.

      Yes, I love buying used when I can. I think of it as double the benefit. Non-toxic and reusing things that are already here 🙂

  6. Savannah

    I’m currently looking into travel cribs now and concerned about polyurethane mattresses that they ALL seem to have. I keep coming back to the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light (, which they have told me is not treated with any flame retardants because the mattress is thinner. Assuming this is the case, is polyurethane foam still a problem? Is the main issue with polyurethane foam the fact that it’s usually treated with flame retardants? Thank you so much! You’re such a fabulous resource for parents 🙂 🙂

    1. naturalbabymama Post author

      Thanks, I appreciate it! 🙂 If you asked me this when my son was really little I would say get an organic mattress for it. However, now as I realize how little we would have used it, I would say it’s fine as long as there are no FRs. Polyurethane foam is not ideal for babies to have a lot of exposure too. If you are worried just put a couple of sheets down. I would say if you are going to use it ALL the time then I would consider getting an organic mattress.

  7. Stephanie

    My naturepedic cradle mattress says that it complies with the California TB 117. Does this mean that they use flame retardants? I’m upset because everything I’ve read says otherwise. Thanks.


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