This Week on Dear SafeMama…

By Kristie Turck •  Published 07/16/08 •  5 min read

Q: What do you recommend for toddler vitamins that don’t include dyes and other junk?

This is one of those “you should ask your doctor” type questions so let me preface this answer with just that. Anything to do with giving your child any kind of supplements should be discussed with your child’s pediatrician.

Now, as much as I have read on the subject of child vitamins the thoughts are mixed, but over and over, it turns out that giving children supplements at all is controversial. Of course, most doctors recommend kids getting vitamin and mineral nutrition from actual food. But if your doctor has recommended a vitamin supplement there seems to be some better options outside of Flinstones vitamins – which are full of a rainbow of FD&C Yellow/Red/Blue Lakes.

Some kids vitamins come in the form of “gummies” now as well. I have mixed feelings about these. On one hand I know how hard it can be to get kids to take anything they don’t want to take. So the appeal makes it easier to administer. However you risk confusing kids to believe that they are candy which could be a dangerous backfire situation later on. They are also made with lots of corn syrup and sugar.

To confuse matters, vitamins can tout “natural” on their label when in fact they might not be completely natural at all. It may only indicate a lack of artificial additives, but still may have pesticide residues from processing.

We haven’t tried or tested any vitamins so we’d recommend looking for vitamins in your local health food store that are certified organic and are free of dyes, and synthetic DHA, fillers, and animal byproducts. Yummi Bears Whole Food vitamins look like a promising start.

Statia pointed out to me that Nature Mom recently did a great post about artificial vitamins which I encourage you to read. She has a couple of recommendations on safer alternatives as well. But again, discuss any vitamin supplements with your pediatrician first!

Q: First of all, thanks for the wonderful site – it is a treasure trove…Only a year ago, I would NEVER have thought about all the toxins and other icky stuff found in our houses and on our bodies.

So, here is the question for you – what is the deal with PABA? Some people seem to be really against it – why? – but pretty reputable companies (like Aubrey Organics, as mentioned in a recent post) continue to use it…Any thoughts?

Thank you! The icky stuff is the reason we do what we do here at SafeMama. There seems to be a lot of it.

PABA (also known as Para-aminobenzoic Acid) is considered by some camps to be a type of complex b-vitamin. When taken orally, it touts lots of claims, such as helping with infertility, vitiligo (skin lightening), reversing graying hair among other disorders. Most of the studies are ancient with inconsistent results. When applied to the skin, it’s blocks out harmful UV rays, though not as effectively as other types of sun block.

I spoke with the people over at Audrey Organics regarding their use of PABA. They use a food grade PABA, not a synthetic one, which is the PABA we hear about causing the lovely things, such as skin irritation and cancer. Even food grade PABA can have health concerns, but just like any sunscreen, you should test a patch on your skin for any reactions, and use it sparingly.

Q: Dear SafeMama, my son is 4 months old and since birth we have been mixing his water and pre-portioned formula when needed and pouring into Playtex Drop In liner bottles – then serving at room temp. We started a new daycare this week and were told we have to premix all his bottles and they will have to be refrigerated and then heated before serving. Will this be safe in the Drop-Ins and what alternative can you think of. We very much want to avoid heating of his formula at all since we’ve never done it because of heated plastic health concerns. I’m told it’s a 3 star Daycare rule. Any advice?

Have you mentioned to them the effects of plastic leaching? I know that Daycare has to streamline things due to the fact that they have many kids to look after, but there are other alternatives. You can do one of two things and hope that they’ll accommodate you:

Show your daycare the warning label on the side of the Playtex nurser. You know, the one that says DO NOT MICROWAVE? There are many reasons for this. If all else fails, see if there’s someone higher up you can talk to, because your child’s safety is supposed to be their job. And we all know that raising kids isn’t really done out of convenience.

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Thanks for all the questions this week SafeParents! Keep them coming and we’ll do our best to get them answered. Have a question? Send them in… Have a tip? Also, we’re collecting Reader Tips and Tricks for a new weekly column. We’d love to hear yours!