Over the weekend I received a question from Beth, who after looking at baby shower registry list wrote me to ask about one of the items on it and if there were any safer alternatives. She said that the large place mat for babies made by Baby Einstein has an ingredient called Poly Ethanol listed and she was wondering what that was, especially since the new parents want to do their best to “go green” with their new baby. She didn’t know if it was a paraben product or not, or if it was even safe at all, so I did a little research for her – and this is what I found.
Poly Ethanol is sometimes called Polyvinyl alcohol, and it is often used to make those degradable plastic bags that you might notice in some stores. (Notice I didn’t say “biodegradable” – that’s entirely different) It is a vinyl type product, so I personally would stay away from it if possible. Anything vinyl isn’t really safe, as evidenced by reports about vinyl shower curtains and vinyl siding. That’s why I advocate that no one use those vinyl shower curtains, as who wants to breathe in toxic fumes while trying to get clean! Your best bet (and I would do the same if I had children) is to either go with a cotton/hemp place mat that can be washed, or at minimum something like this one, which is made from acrylic-coated cotton fabric and contains no harmful chemicals like lead, BPA, phthalates, or PVC.
Thanks for the question, Beth – and if you guys ever have a question, feel free to send it along. I will do my best to get an answer for you!