Microplastics. Are They Really That Bad for My Baby?
By Maggie Treptow
Are you a busy parent always looking for clever ways to keep your baby safe?
You’re probably thinking, “A busy parent? Me? No, never,” and then promptly rolling your eyes only to accidentally fall asleep.
It’s okay. We’ve all been there. 😊
And I can’t be the only one thinking we have so many things to worry about in this day in age.
The environment, annual physicals, school plays, recycling, disinfecting your home, getting enough exercise, microplastics… wait, microplastics?
So, Where Do Microplastics Come From?
Microplastics are tiny bits of plastic that have come off of a larger source. Plastics that have broken apart into smaller pieces. Or already small plastics— like resin pellets or microbeads from your favorite facemask. Research shows your baby may be ingesting these tiny pieces from their bottle every day.
But time is so limited these days. Many parents don’t have the luxury of breastfeeding their baby for all their meals during the day and need to use a bottle. Even if you’re not using baby formula, you may still be pumping as an alternative to breastfeeding and using a convenient plastic baby bottle.
Your plastic bottle could be shedding millions of particles of microplastics your baby then ingests. So is it dangerous?
Sterilizing Plastic Baby Bottles
Traditionally, you’re taught to sterilize our baby’s plastic bottle in boiling water. It turns out plastics shed particles of microplastics in higher temperatures. Different plastics have different rates of shedding at increasing temperatures.
Most microplastics are released during the bottle preparation stage or sterilization. Sterilizing a bottle releases anywhere from 1 to 16 million tiny particles per liter of formula prepared. It’s estimated that adults consume around 100,000 particles.
This means bottle-fed babies could be consuming over 160 times more than a typical adult! And to make matters worse, shaking the bottle to mix the formula causes an even higher shedding rate.
So what can you do to limit this shedding?
How to Properly Prepare Formula Using a Plastic Bottle
You already bought the plastic bottle and you want to get your use out of it. So if you want to continue using a plastic bottle, follow these easy steps to help reduce the number of plastics shedding into your baby’s formula.
Safe Steps to Preparing a Bottle
1. Sterilize your bottle how you normally do.
2. Rinse out the bottle with room temp or lukewarm water at least three to five times. This will help cool the bottle and rinse out any shredded microplastics.
3. Prepare the formula with 158℉ water using a glass container.
4. Let the formula cool to room temp as normal.
5. Transfer the formula to a clean bottle for mealtime. Avoiding shaking the bottle and further releasing plastics.
And done. Easy-peasy.
Are Microplastics Harmful to Humans?
The real and honest answer is – we don’t know. There isn’t enough research to decide if microplastics are safe for people or not. Some researchers believe plastics might release absorbed chemicals and other contaminants.
These contaminants could be released into your food and then digested.
Plastics are made with chemicals and other pollutants are harmful to humans. But there is little evidence to support this information because the research has not been conducted yet.
Nearly all research about the possible harm caused by the microplastics to people is limited.
What we do know is plastics are harmful to the environment. So while we don’t know if they harm humans, we do know they harm the environment. And this is something we can work on to improve.
These are a few ways we can work to improve our environment at home.
Eco Friendly Baby Bottles. What’s Right for You?
These days there are so many alternatives to plastics. Baby bottles included. Glass bottles and stainless steel bottles are becoming more popular. Both are environmentally friendly alternatives for plastic. When cared for properly, they last for all your children to use. And possibly even their children.
Both glass and stainless steel are known to be:
● Easy to clean
● Can be run through the dishwasher
● Can have different tops and nipple choices for your growing baby
Glass heavy but stainless steel is lighter and better for travel. Stainless steel cannot be put into the microwave but glass can.
Each option has its own pros and cons. You just have to find the option which works best for your family and lifestyle.
Reduce – Reuse – Recycle
Over 14.5 million tons of plastic containers and packaging were recycled in 2018. That’s a lot of plastic! But only 8.5% was recycled in the U.S. in 2018. If 100% of these plastics would have been recycled this number would have been around 52 million tons of plastic containers and packaging in 2018.
Keep in mind that not all items people try to recycle can actually be recycled. Leading to more trash in our landfills and oceans.
Before recycling your plastic bottles, try to repurpose them to give them a second life. There are so many clever hacks for your gently-used bottles.
Consider using your plastic baby bottles as:
● Snack containers for traveling or in the car
● Toys for dolls
● Storage containers for little parts or toys
And When It’s Time to Recycle…
Once your bottle has completed its first life and it’s repurposed life, it’s time to recycle.
Not all bottles can be recycled so if you’re unsure, please contact the bottle manufacturer. They will be more than happy to let you know if your old bottle can be recycled.
If your bottle cannot be recycled and is in good condition, contact your local zoo to check if they could use the bottle.
Change Starts at Home
We’re all so busy with life, babies, and business but we have the opportunity to help change our environment. This includes the environment of our children.
We may not understand how microplastics are a danger to humans but we know for sure they’re a danger to our environment. Microplastics add hazardous chemicals and pollutants to our ecosystem. Change starts with you!
Take the question out of if microplastics are bad for you and make the switch to an environmentally friendly bottle choice today.
As a bonus, your family can choose to reduce the amount of Tupperware or plastic dishware you heat up in the microwave for dinner or lunch.
There are so many ways to repurpose the plastic you no longer want to eat or drink from. Make a fun family activity by finding new homes or a second life for your plastic containers instead of recycling them right away.
It’s amazing how much more room you now have in your kitchen cabinets.
Make the Change Today
Although we don’t have the evidence for the dangers of ingesting microplastics now, we all want to give our children the best start to life possible.
If microplastics harm our environment, it may cause long-term health problems in our children as well. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so let’s remove those unnecessary plastics and replace them with safer alternatives.
Take the step today to change your life and your children’s lives by removing possible microplastics from your daily routine. Your children will thank you for it.
How is Ocean Blue Helping to Fight Microplastic Pollution?
The Ocean Blue Project is working day and night to fight the microplastic pollution epidemic. Did you know that over 79% of beach debris is made of plastics? For every dollar donated, Ocean Blue is able to clean up one pound of plastic debris. Consider donating today to help fight plastic pollution today right here.
Author’s Bio: Maggie writes out of Des Moines, IA. She enjoys spending her free time with her husband and playing with their big black lab, Olive.