Identifying Toxins in Your Child’s Bath Products

Toxic Bath Time

Your baby’s bath shouldn’t be a scary, toxic experience.

I’m just a mom – a busy mom. Like many of us, I’m always running, always busy, and always trying to find a way to fit a 48-hour to do list into a 24-hour day.  So, I have to be honest, reading every label for every product I’ve used on my kids was not top on my list. I felt like I was protected – surely there were regulations in place that wouldn’t allow anything harmful to be used in the products I use on my kids, right? Wrong. Big Wrong and this is a big problem.

I recently found out that even products marketed as all-natural and healthy might actually contain some pretty harmful and even toxic chemicals. And, there are no legal requirements in place to require children’s products to be made with the safest ingredients possible.

This is a big concern, especially in children, for numerous reasons. Pound for pound, children’s chemical exposures are greater than adults. Their developing organ systems leave them more vulnerable to damage from chemical exposure and the likelihood they will develop a disease triggered by early exposure from toxins is increased.

Two chemicals in particular to watch out for which have shown up in over 60% of children’s personal care products are 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde. Both are linked to cancer and skin allergies and both are unregulated in children’s bath products. They are also both labeled as probable carcinogens by the EPA. Furthermore, formaldehyde is banned from personal care products in both Japan and Sweden and 1,4-dioxane has been banned by the European Union.

What makes it tricky to those of us reading labels is that, in the case of 1,4-dioxane, it is a by-product of a chemical processing technique to make petroleum-based products gentler on the skin. So you won’t see 1,4 dioxane on the label. However, ingredients most likely to be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane are PEG-100 Stearate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, polyethylene, and Ceteareth-20.

In the case of formaldehyde, the formaldehyde is released as a by-product of other products. Ingredients likely to be contaminated with formaldehyde are Quarternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea as well as others.

While 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde are two big offenders in products, there are additional chemicals which can be found in children’s products which have been linked to cancer, skin irritation, and immune and respiratory toxicity.  These include but are not limited to methylparaben, fragrance, and Triethanolamine.  Keep in mind that when a product contains fragrance, a company is not required to list what is in that fragrance and therefore a product may contain harmful chemicals.

So what can you do??  Start by educating yourself and becoming a label reader – a great and informative article on this subject which I highly recommend reading is No More Toxic Tub: Getting Contaminants Out Of Children’s Bath & Personal Care Products.

I also recommend checking out the Environmental Working Group website. This website is chock full of easy to understand information about chemicals in the food we eat and drink and products we use. Part of this website is the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database where you can search for a specific product and learn about the ingredients in the products you are using.

I personally now avoid using products listed with fragrance, parabens (preservatives linked to cancer), Sodium Laurel Sulfate or any of the above listed ingredients. In fact, the products I use now contain 7 ingredients or less and I know exactly what they are. If I can’t pronounce it I don’t use it.  I’m finding that these products are just as efficient and affordable as their toxic chemical-laden counterparts.   At the end of the day, I feel better knowing that I’m using products that are healthier for my children but also better for the health of the planet when they go down the drain.


Our guest blogger today is Lucinda Faragher, a stay-at-home mom of a set of 3-year-old twins and a 6-year-old. She is also a registered nurse and the head of a chapter of the Professional Women’s Business Network in Havre De Grace, Maryland. She is a Wellness Guide with Radiantly You, bath and body products with no hidden ingredients. They are SLS, paraben, and gluten-free and use only sustainable and non-GMO ingredients. Radiantly You is part of the 1% for the Planet Initiative and the Global Soap Project as well as other projects that support farmers who employ only sustainable and eco-friendly practices. 


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

3 thoughts on “Identifying Toxins in Your Child’s Bath Products

  1. Pingback: Healthy and Eco-Friendly Online Shopping Guide | The Wellness Wife

  2. smallftprints

    This is an excellent article! I was really struck by the information that petroleum products have to have something added to them to make them gentle on our skin. Doesn’t make much sense when we think about it … why not just use something gentle in the first place. I think that all adults can benefit from this post as well as people with children. Thanks so much!

    1. Lisa Post author

      Thanks for the comment! I was fortunate to have Lucinda guest post for me and talk about such an important topic. I’m so disgusted that we can’t get on board with banning some of these chemicals like Canada and the EU are doing.

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