Table of Contents
Title Page
Copyright Page
What Is the Green Baby Movement?
Chapter 1 - THE Womb
The Greenest Room on the Planet
Eating for Two
Drinking for Two
Exercising for Two
Personal Care Products
What’s That Smell?
Chapter 2 - THE Labor and Delivery Room
Who Will Deliver My Baby?
Where Will I Deliver My Baby?
What Kind of Delivery Will I Have?
After Delivery
Going Home
Creating a Green Birth Plan Checklist
Chapter 3 - THE Nursery
What Is a Green Room?
Wall Coverings
Wood Furniture
Which Diapers Are Better for the Planet?
Baby Clothing
Chapter 4 - THE Kitchen
First Feedings
The Kitchen Pantry
At the Kitchen Sink
Kitchen Appliances
Under the Kitchen Sink
Household Cleansers
Green Kitchen Design
Chapter 5 - THE Bathroom
Body Care
The Medicine Cabinet
Conserving Water
A Clean and Fresh Bathroom
Chapter 6 - THE Garden
The Outdoor Garden
The Great American Lawn
How to Grow an Organic Garden
Babyproofing the Garden
The Indoor Garden
Chapter 7 - THE Whole House
Air Quality in the Home
Home Lighting
Vacuum Cleaners
Conserving Water
The Laundry Room
Energy Conservation
Keeping Pets and Kids Green
The Automobile
Where Do We Go from Here?
Green Information
Green Resources
The Authors

“I urge parents, old and new, to read this book and to keep it on a visible bookshelf, so that these messages of simple change can be passed on until we’ve raised a generation of healthy children on a balanced and healthy planet.”
Sara Snow, television host and green living expert;
host of “Get Fresh with Sara Snow” on Discovery Health
“This book will be the bible of the Green Baby Movement. It’s written by the Web’s number one pediatrician and one of the country’s most effective champions for protecting kids and the rest of us from environmental contaminants.”
Ken Cook, president, Environmental Working Group
“Alan Greene is a thoughtful pediatrician offering practical wisdom to parents. Even the small changes he recommends can make a big difference.”
Rosalind Creasy, author, The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping
“In easy-to-understand terms, Dr. Greene explains what nature intended: healthy babies equal healthy lives. This is the child-raising map you’re looking for!”
Steve Demos, founder and retired CEO, Silk Soymilk
“A wonderful guide to raising healthy babies and children. Brings together science, expert opinion, and experiential knowledge in an easy-to-follow book.”
Philip Lee, M.D.; former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health;
Chancellor of the University of California at San Francisco;
professor, Stanford University
“I wish I’d had this book when my daughter was born. Dr. Greene’s ability to communicate how nutrition, organics, and the environment impact health puts him in a class all by himself.”
Akasha Richmond, organic chef at the restaurant Akasha;
Hollywood Dish
“Loaded with illustrations and hundreds of product evaluations, this is a unique package for parents!”
Anthony Zolezzi, author, Chemical-Free Kids
“A tool kit and manifesto for moms and dads who want to tilt the odds in favor of five fingers, five toes, and a brain that can cope with what is coming next.”
Charles Benbrook, Ph.D.; chief scientist,
The Organic Center
“Sixteen years ago, we lost our only child at age five to a nonhereditary cancer that we believe could have been prevented. Dr. Greene’s book is more than a practical green guide; it is the only lifestyle that can assure the essential first steps to a lifetime of well-being.”
Nancy and James Chuda, founders of (CHEC)
Healthy Child Healthy World and
The Colette Chuda Environmental Fund
“With this common-sense, science-backed book, difficult questions find thoughtful, experienced, truly intelligent answers. Our future depends upon parents making smarter decisions. Get this book to everyone you know with children.”
Doug Greene, cofounder, New Hope Natural Media
“Simple tips in the right direction for a Healthy Child in a Healthy World—and it’s easier than you think.”
Christopher Gavigan, CEO, Healthy Child
Healthy World (formerly CHEC)
“The best green baby book I’ve ever read.”
Christopher Moore, best-selling author, Fluke
“Dr. Alan Greene is a pioneer in teaching parents the connection between a healthy environment, organic products, and healthy, vibrant, happy babies.”
Steven Hoffman, interim executive director,
The Organic Center; cofounder, LOHAS Journal
and the LOHAS conference
“An informed, practical, and hopeful guide to having a healthy baby. This book can make a difference not only in your baby’s health but also in the health of your whole family, your community, and our beautiful earth.”
Michael Lerner, Ph.D.; president, Commonweal;
and cofounder, The Collaborative on Health and
the Environment


THIS BOOK HAS TRULY been a team effort, from start to finish. Cheryl Rinzler had the idea for the book in the first place. Cheryl and her husband, Alan Rinzler, of Jossey-Bass met with my wife, Cheryl, and me, and we all agreed we wanted to work on it together. Rinzler assembled the other key players, including the marvelous writer Theresa Foy DiGeronimo and our friend and consumer expert Jeanette Pavini.
Thanks to those who read our manuscript and made many helpful comments and criticisms, including Dr. Stacie Bering, Dr. Jon Bernstein, Cheryl Greene, Dr. John Greene, Gwen Greene, Dr. Howard Gruber, Chantal Guyette, and Cheryl Rinzler.
And special thanks to those who are making the green movement something we can write about. Basic science researchers, organic farmers, political leaders, visionaries, nonprofit groups, entrepreneurs, artisans, inventors, clothing designers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, small companies, large corporations, physicians, nurses, doulas, lactation consultants, parents, grandparents, engineers, and grocers—all are working together to build a sustainable future for our children. I’m deeply grateful to my colleagues at the Environmental Working Group, the Environmental Media Association, Healthy Child Healthy World, and the Organic Center for getting the word out about the science and practice of sustainability.
Thanks to our publishers Jossey-Bass and John Wiley & Sons, including Debra Hunter, Paul Foster, Jennifer Wenzel, Mike Onorato, Seth Schwartz, Carol Hartland, Adrian Morgan, Jeff Puda, and Bev Butterfield.
I’d especially like to acknowledge Dr. Charles Benbrook, Dr. Jeff Bland, Michael Burbank, Domenica Catelli, Jim and Nancy Chuda, Theo Colburn, Ken Cook, Jesse Cool, Ann Cooper, Rosalind Creasy, Steve Demos, Katherine DiMatteo, Clark Driftmeier, Greg Engles, Ellen Feeney, Mark Fox, Michael Funk, Dr. Erica Frank, Christopher Gavigan, Anna Getty, Michelle Goolsby, Al Gore, Kim and Jason Graham-Nye, Cheryl Greene, Doug Greene, Gary and Meg Hirshberg, Steven Hoffman, Jeffrey Hollander, Sonya Kugler, Sheryl Lamb, Dr. Phil Landrigan, Dr. Philip Lee, Dr. Michael Lerner, Debbie Levin, Susan Lintonsmith, Theresa Marquez, Bill McDonough, Melissa McGinnis, Blaine McPeak, Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, Bill and Sandra Nicholson, Dr. David Pimental, Nora Pouillon, Gil Pritchard, Donna Prizgintas, Dr. Stephan Rechtschaffen, Mark Retzloff, Akasha Richmond, Cindy Roberts, Walter Robb, Anthony and Sage Robbins, Peter Roy, Drake Sadler, Joseph Scalzo, Bob Scowcroft, Kelly Shea, Morris Shriftman, George Siemon, Niki Simoneaux, Dr. Shanna Swan, Alice Waters, James White, Dr. Andrew Weil, Caren Wilcox, Dr. Richard Wiles, Marci Zaroff, Anthony and Lisa Zolezzi, and too many other bold adventurers to name for their pioneering work and for teaching me so much about raising baby green.
THANKS TO JOSH ZERKEL and Teresa Jung for help in research. I also want to thank the following people, and they know why! Sister Rita Marie, Rick, Nancy, John, Dee Dee, Dan, Ron, Tom, Theresa, Beau, June, Shirley, Andrew, Judy, Dianne, Candi, Sula, and Rita.
I WOULD LIKE TO acknowledge the help and direction I received from my lifelong friend Diane Korzinski, who was truly green long before I knew the value of the word. My daughter Colleen put in many long hours as my research assistant on this project and I would now like to thank her publicly for her help. And many thanks to all the various creative people who edited and contributed to the ideas in the book, including Cheryl Rinzler, Cheryl Greene, Alan Rinzler, and to the staff of Jossey-Bass, with whom I’ve worked these many years, particularly Jennifer Wenzel, Carol Hartland, Seth Schwartz, Karen Warner, Erik Thrasher, Paul Foster, Debra Hunter, and many others.

My wife, Cheryl Greene, and I dedicate this book to our children, Garrett, Kevin, Claire, and Austin; to our children’s children; and to generations of children everywhere. May we leave the world for them an even better place than we found it.
—A. G.
To my father for showing me the meaning of integrity and to my mother for showing me the meaning of kindness. To Brandon, who has made parenting my greatest life lesson. To CBS 5 News for letting me tell stories that help consumers learn ways to save the environment. To Mark for making life so great. To Stacie for showing me what true courage is. To Mike, Ian, and Jim, my heroes, who have taught me to embrace every moment.
—J. P.
To my future grandchildren, who I hope one day will inherit a pure and sustainable planet.

The interior pages of this book are printed in a vegetable-based ink on 55-pound Cascades Rolland Enviro100 paper, which contains 100 percent recycled post-consumer fiber, is EcoLogo, processed chlorine free, and was manufactured using biogas energy.
Recycled post-consumer
Indicates that the product contains recycled materials that have been consumed and decontaminated to be reintroduced in the manufacturing process of a new product. The percentage under the sign indicates the proportion of recycled post-consumer fiber included.
Processed Chlorine Free
Certification mark of the Chlorine Free Product Association (CFPA), which identifies that no chlorine or chlorine compounds were used in the papermaking process.
Certification mark of the Environmental Choice Program of Environment Canada, which identifies ecological products. Required criteria are green-house gas emissions, water and energy resources consumption, and use of recycled fiber.
The paper manufacturing process uses the gas generated from the decomposition of waste buried in a landfill. This green energy helps to considerably reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The cover stock for the book is New Leaf Kallima, 10 percent post-consumer fiber, with a minimum of 30 percent FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified virgin fiber and elemental chlorine free.
The binding is recyclable PUR (Poly Urethane Reactive).

HAVING A BABY CHANGES everything. Just thinking about welcoming a newborn changes your priorities and changes your awareness. A glass of wine, a daily prescription, or a cat’s litter box each assumes new meaning.
Fortunately, nature has given us a powerful instinct to nurture and protect our children. For example, in many women the sense of smell is heightened during pregnancy, perhaps to make them more sensitive to what their baby needs and steer them away from what may be harmful. This awakened awareness could help shield the baby from malnutrition, spoiled food, and infection.
Today many parents are developing a heightened awareness of issues that could be important to their babies’ futures. Whether it’s when they first learn they’re expecting, when they glimpse their baby on ultrasound, or when they first gaze into their baby’s eyes, and she laughs out loud—somehow instinct and information combine as a catalyst for embracing a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
One of the goals of this book is to help you understand how the environment affects your baby and how raising your baby affects the environment. We’re living at a time when environmentally conscious parenting is more possible than ever. We know so much more now about how to raise our babies in ways that can save energy, reduce greenhouse gases, and avoid toxic chemicals. Never before have we been better equipped to help babies thrive. Remember that every little thing we do can have an impact, so let’s get started.
I have four children. My wife, Cheryl, and I have seen how this increased knowledge has inspired hundreds of new baby techniques and products. In my job as a pediatrician at Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University School of Medicine over the last ten years, I’ve seen how clinical experience, science, research, and technology have increased the choices that doctors and parents can make, based on real knowledge about what’s good for our babies and what isn’t. But there’s also an important new set of choices parents can make that can have a beneficial impact on the environment. What’s good for our environment is also good for our babies.
This interest in making smart choices in technique, nutrition, and baby products has created a veritable “green baby movement.” Parents with different backgrounds and diverse cultural, political, and religious beliefs understand the essential need to raise baby “green,” and they want to know how. That’s why I’ve been a champion and early pioneer in the green baby movement, joining with other pediatricians and professionals, experts, entrepreneurs, and devoted practitioners in the field of science, medicine, and agriculture, who want to provide healthier food, more effective medicine, and safer everyday products that have no known harm for babies. I’m one of many in this large, informal group spread across our country and beyond our borders in Canada, Europe, Australia, and elsewhere. We have been sharing ideas and information; organizing in person and over the Internet; going to meetings, trade shows, and conferences; and building Web sites (more than a million different people visit DrGreene.com each month).
Raising Baby Green is a result of this effort, a guide for parents to the techniques, foods, and new kinds of baby care products, equipment, furniture, and toys that are safer for babies and promote a sustainable environment.
As I tell my patients, family, and friends, “You can personally make a huge difference not only for your baby and your immediate environment but even on a much larger scale. You’d be surprised.” In Raising Baby Green I’ll show you the difference you can make on the planet every time you make a positive choice.
Let me give you one small example. When thinking about your new baby, you might dab a few sweet tears with a facial tissue. Or you might use a tissue to deal with a runny or stuffed-up nose that pregnancy can cause. But the tissue you reach for can make a difference! The Natural Resources Defense Council has calculated that if every household in the United States replaced just one box of conventional facial tissues (175 count) with 100% recycled ones, together we could save 163,000 trees for our children’s world.1 Many of these trees would be valuable virgin wood. Saving forests helps reduce global warming.
There are more benefits ... Recycled tissues are made from previously used paper that would otherwise have gone into a landfill or burned in an incinerator. The people at Seventh Generation have calculated all of us switching just one box of facial tissues would save more than 453,000 cubic feet of landfill space (equal to a procession of 660 full garbage trucks) and avoid more than 10,600 pounds of pollution. (www.seventhgen.com). Along the way, it would also save more than 62 million gallons of water, a year’s supply for 480 families of four.
And the benefits continue ... The recycled tissues require considerably less energy to produce. Conventional tissues are often bleached with chlorine, which creates dangerous chemicals including dioxin, and other organochlorines. These accumulate in the environment, and in people and animals. If you make the smart choice and select tissues that have not been bleached with chlorine, you can help keep toxins out of your home and out of the larger environment.
All of this good from replacing just one box of facial tissues! Let’s join together to make choices that are good for our babies and for the environment. Let’s join the green baby movement.

What Is the Green Baby Movement?

In this book, green is a word representing a way of living in which we strive, with conscious awareness, to do things each day that in small, incremental steps improve the quality of our environment by preserving forests, cleaning air, husbanding soil, protecting wildlife, valuing dwindling resources, and at the same time maintaining our climate and sustaining our planet’s crucial resources.
In this book, sustainability is a word that has been defined by the Brundtland Commission, led by the former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, as development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” We wholeheartedly agree with this definition, which relates to the continuity of economic, social, institutional, and environmental aspects of human society, as well as the nonhuman environment.
So I have written this book to inspire, encourage, and guide you in this rewarding adventure of raising a “green” baby. I believe that we can travel this road together in ways that will protect and nurture our lives, our children’s lives, and this increasingly fragile world we all share—and make “green” a tradition with an eternal life span.
The simple act of opening this book shows that you care about your baby and about the world around you.
This attitude can truly change the world.

Every Little Bit Helps

Raising your baby green doesn’t require a revolution in your lifestyle or creature comforts. Do as much or as little as you want. For example, some mothers and fathers I know try to provide their baby with as much healthy, organic food as possible, avoiding artificial or overly processed foods. Others test their home drinking water and throw out all their toxic household cleaners (using services that can dispose of such liquids without polluting local waters). Others also watch out for safer baby toys, paints, floor coverings, cribs, and car seats. What you choose to do depends on the level of commitment you are able and ready to make.
I encourage you to take an approach that feels comfortable, that won’t overwhelm or discourage you. You don’t have to do each and every thing suggested in these pages to make a positive impact. Raising baby green is not an all-or-nothing proposition. It is a journey, one step at a time.
So pick the pieces of advice in this book that address your own concerns and needs. Try just one suggestion and see how you like the results. Then try another.
The guidelines in Raising Baby Green are meant to give you an easy, pleasant, doable, and practical approach based on the simple philosophy that we all should leave the campsite cleaner than it was when we arrived. I know that each of us can really make a difference, but I also know that none of us can do this alone.
This is a journey we all have to take together.

How I Became a Green Baby Pediatrician

As a medical doctor, I’ve always been interested in environmental issues and the way they affect one’s health. But then I became a father. I found that each time I first looked into my newborn’s eyes I was overwhelmed with a desire to make this world a better place for this child to live and grow. So for the last twenty years I have been on my own journey, learning about how to do that—about how to raise my children green.
The journey accelerated when a life-threatening illness in my family pushed us to re-evaluate ways to find good health. We made the choice to go organic and in so doing learned a lot more about the amazing personal benefits of good food.
Then, slowly, step-by-step, year after year, I began to recognize the many other ways that my daily choices affected my health and the health of my family. I remember the day I saw a trail of ants and grabbed a can of bug spray out of the kitchen cabinet. Suddenly I froze in my tracks as I made the connection between what I had already decided I didn’t want on my foods and what I was now about to spray right in my own house.
On another day, as I was working in the garden, it suddenly struck me that the chemicals I was about to spread across my lawn to kill weeds and bugs were some of the very poisons I was trying to protect my family against. Not only that, but I was using a whole lot of water just to keep this little patch of grass going.
That was the day it occurred to me that the purity and preservation of the world’s air and water and food was not something someone else would just take care of for me. I had to take responsibility for my own actions, in my own little world, because they could have a profound impact on this planet that my children would inherit. And, just as important, each time I made a decision to respect the environment in some small way, I was teaching this important lesson to my children as well. We’re now in the process of shrinking our lawn and growing more of our own food—and using new technologies to decrease our water consumption.

How This Book Works

We know that many parents don’t have a lot of time to sit around and study a book. As a father, husband, and pediatrician, I know how tired you can get and how you don’t want to waste precious time ruminating over theories or big changes that require a lot of attention.
I have found that many parents of newborns focus on very basic needs, such as “What kind of diapers should we use?” or “What’s the best kind of baby food for my baby?”
That’s why this book has been designed so that you can read through it a little bit at a time or just skip to the issue at hand—to what you need to know about this very minute, without waiting! To find just what you need, look in the table of contents, which describes what’s in every chapter, or look in the handy index at the end of the book.
I’ve organized the book so that there’s a chapter for each “room” in your baby’s life. For each room, I offer practical information based on the latest scientific research and progressive clinical practice.
This book has been prepared by a team of devoted and creative individuals, including researcher and writer Theresa Foy DiGeronimo; consumer expert Jeanette Pavini; my wife, Cheryl; and dedicated editor Alan Rinzler and his wife, Cheryl Rinzler, who had the original idea and title for this book and who contributed so many invaluable ideas and research every step of the way. I’m honored to be the leader of this team.
We’re still learning more every day. With your help and input we can keep learning more about raising baby green, so e-mail me at RaisingBaby Green@DrGreene.com to send me your thoughts and let me know what new information or ideas you have.
Having a baby is a time of pivotal change. Your family is embarking on the journey of a lifetime together. Much will be spontaneous and unexpected, yet there is also something of a roadmap for this journey already written deep into your being. It’s no accident that it occurs to so many parents who smoke that this is the time to stop. You want your body and your home to be welcoming and healthy environments. The future matters in a new and living way.
Wouldn’t it be great if pregnancy also became the time, for instance, to stop overusing a bigger smokestack—fossil fuels—in our cars, our wall sockets, and in foods grown with oil-based pesticides and fertilizers. Let’s let our children trigger deeper instincts, grander inspiration, and greater determination.
I know this will be a process of learning and growing for all of us far into the future, and I’m glad we can take this journey together.
Alan Greene, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Packard Children’s Hospital
Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California

THE Womb
The first room your baby lives in is the pear-shaped organ called the uterus, which we know as the nurturing womb—that safe enclosure in the mother’s body that separates the developing fetus from the outer world. In many ways, if you make the right choices, the womb can be the greenest room on the planet. The womb is a warm and comforting place where we have all been rocked, fed, and snuggled. It supplies with natural efficiency the food, water, oxygen, hormones, vitamins and minerals, and complex brew of neurological developmental messages needed by every baby to flourish in safety and good health.

The Greenest Room on the Planet

THE WOMB IS AN incredible piece of living engineering that provides an ideal environment for the amazing transformation that occurs during the forty weeks of gestation—a time when a baby’s brain is developing faster than at any time later in life, at one point making one hundred thousand new neural connections an hour.
While growing and developing in this protected biosphere, your baby is intimately connected to the outside environment, including all the nutrients entering the womb, and the smells and sounds of the outer world, which have a lasting impact on her neurological, physical, mental, and anatomical development. These external influences provide you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give your baby a strong and healthy foundation on which to grow. In fact, at no other time in your child’s life will you have this degree of control over the way her environment influences her development.
The most direct way you can affect the health of your baby before he is even born is by making smart decisions about what you eat, drink, and absorb (through your lungs and skin), as well as what you introduce into the womb in the way of smells and sounds.
The swift passage of nutrients, protective proteins, and molecular messages through the umbilical cord from mother to baby offers the ideal opportunity to enrich your unborn baby’s room in the womb and to contribute to the health of the planet your baby will inherit. You can do this each day through your own careful intake of organic foods and healthful beverages. Bring on the green!

The Umbilical Cord Connection

The umbilical cord is the living link through which a mother feeds her baby and removes its waste. The cord also becomes the conduit of an ongoing exchange, a silent conversation, in which hormones from the mother and the baby signal changes in each other’s bodies.
The umbilical cord consists of three blood vessels—two umbilical arteries and one umbilical vein—embedded in slippery connective tissue called Wharton’s jelly. The arteries spiral around the vein, giving the cord the toughness of a cable. At one end of the cord is the baby; at the other is the placenta.
The baby’s heart pumps depleted blood out of its body through the umbilical arteries to the placenta, where the arteries divide into a network of tiny capillaries. The mother’s blood in the placenta forms a free-flowing, living five-ounce lake about the size of a glass of red wine. This blood is refreshed completely three or four times each minute to supply the baby’s needs. The replenished blood returns through the umbilical cord like a steady, unhindered river bringing the stuff of life to the fetus.
By the fourth month of pregnancy, seventy-five quarts of blood flow through this river every day, delivering oxygen-rich vital nutrients and removing waste. A typical blood cell will make a complete round trip every thirty seconds. By the time the baby is born, up to three hundred quarts of blood a day will flow through the umbilical cord.1
Three hundred quarts!
And you, the expectant mom, don’t have to do anything out of the ordinary to make that happen as you prepare for the arrival of your little one. The human reproductive system is truly a remarkable thing.
However, this constant flow of blood that stimulates the baby to grow and develop also offers access to elements of our world that can harm a baby in the womb. Just as the umbilical cord can deliver high-quality nourishment and the fortifying hydration of healthy liquids, it also can transport unhealthy air, food, water, and fumes if those elements are coursing through the mother’s body or in her environment.
Green Parent Report
Why Go Green During Pregnancy?
AS A PEDIATRICIAN, I knew that the link between environmental dangers and the many cases of chronic illness in my patients was important, but the magnitude of the situation really hit home when I saw the preliminary results of an umbilical cord blood study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), in which I was fortunate to participate.
In this study, we examined the umbilical cord blood of ten babies born in August and September of 2004 in U.S. hospitals. We found a total of 287 different industrial chemicals circulating through the body of the newborns. These babies each carried an average of 200 chemicals, which included mercury, fire retardants, and pesticides. The report states, “Of the 287 chemicals we detected in umbilical-cord blood, we know that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests.”2 (See “The Womb” in the Green Information in the back of the book for a table of the chemicals.)
This small preliminary study suggests something very important: We are the environment; there is no separation. If a chemical is “out there” it may also be “in here,” in the most protected inner sanctum of our bodies. And the presence of these chemicals in umbilical cord blood demands more research into what this means for babies. In the meantime, this report gives us further motivation to go green before your precious child is even born.
That’s why the decisions you make during your pregnancy about what to eat, drink, inhale, and put on your skin or hair can help ensure that this primal lake bathes your baby with enriching, beneficial nutrients.

How Do I Get Started?

The answer to this question demonstrates what’s so wonderful about your decision to go green. Every small change, every step you take to follow even one of the suggestions in this chapter, can make a significant contribution to the health and well-being of your unborn child and our planet. Throughout this book you’ll see many boxes that show the actual impact of specific small changes you can make easily and every day to preserve the health and safety of your baby, as well as sustain the earth for future generations.
Read through all the possible ways you can go green during your pregnancy and make whatever changes you’re comfortable with, knowing that however big or small these changes may be, your child is indeed fortunate to have a parent like you who is going green right from the start.
In this chapter, you will learn what you need to know to make smart, green choices that will keep your body as healthy and nurturing as possible during your pregnancy. The following are the five main areas to think about:
1. Food
2. Drink
3. Exercise
4. Personal care products
5. Aromas

Eating for Two

I FREQUENTLY SEE moms-to-be quickly adjust their diets after getting the good news of the pregnancy. Without always knowing exactly how or why, most expectant moms instinctively understand that “eating for two” means they have an opportunity to be the direct source of healthy foods that supply all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals a tiny fetus needs to thrive.
A case in point is the vital role that choline, a little-known nutrient, plays in protecting your baby’s neural tube development in the earliest weeks of pregnancy, when the most rapid cell division occurs. Like the better known folate, it can reduce the risk of devastating brain and spinal chord defects. The March of Dimes recommends choline, along with protein, calcium, and folate for healthy pregnancies.
Choline remains important throughout your pregnancy as a critical building block of cells in your baby’s rapidly growing brain. Getting plenty of choline appears to have a lasting effect on children’s memory. Most women do not get an adequate supply from their prenatal vitamins. You can find lots of choline in eggs, cauliflower, asparagus, and spinach, as well as other vegetables, meats, fish, nuts, grains, herbs, and spices.
Choline is just one of the many vital nutrients you’ll be supplying your baby through the foods you eat. And like choline, each has a significant role to play in your baby’s healthy development. The best way to make sure you’re providing everything he needs is to enjoy a varied diet of your favorite fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, healthy fats, and lean sources of protein and calcium—plus a vitamin supplement as a safety net.
Next we’ll take a look at how your healthy food habits may influence your baby’s own food tastes after birth.

“More broccoli please, Mom!”

Our taste preferences are formed by a complex mix of genetics and how we are raised. The great news is that we can start even before our babies are born to help them to learn to love great foods. The latest science is uncovering fascinating connections between what moms eat while pregnant and what foods their babies enjoy after birth. Remarkable, but true. Babies have more taste buds before they are born than at any time later in life. Amniotic fluid is a flavored soup of what Mom has been eating, and babies in the womb taste, remember, and form preferences for some of these foods. I call this period “Taste Beginnings.”
Consider a fascinating study involving carrot juice. As part of the study, one group of pregnant women drank ten ounces of carrot juice four times a week for three consecutive weeks. Another group of women in the study drank water. When their babies were old enough to start eating cereal, it was time to look for a difference between the groups. An observer who didn’t know to which group each baby belonged studied the babies as they ate cereal mixed with carrot juice. The babies who had missed this earlier experience protested and made unhappy faces when they first tasted the juice, whereas the others readily accepted and enjoyed the carrot juice in the cereal.4 There was a dramatic difference between those who had sampled carrot juice in the amniotic fluid and those who had not.
Green Parent Alert
Preventing Allergies Even Before Birth
CHILDHOOD ASTHMA AND A number of food allergies are frequently diagnosed during early childhood. Often the key events that determine these allergies, it is thought, occur even earlier—in the womb. During this marvelous nine-month period, you might increase your child’s chances of being allergy free by increasing your intake of foods
• Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, found, for example, in wild salmon or flaxseed
• Containing antioxidants—fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
• Containing cultures of beneficial bacteria (probiotics), as found in some yogurts
And by decreasing your exposure to
• Tobacco smoke
• Peanuts
• Acetaminophen
You might also reduce your child’s allergy risk by making a visit to a farmyard! Studies have found that the children of women who were exposed prenatally to the microbial compounds in a farming environment were protected against the development of immune system changes that led to sensitization and asthma.3
The latest evidence from a 2006 study of identical and fraternal twins supports these findings and suggests that preferences for fruits, vegetables, and desserts are learned behaviors.5 So as amazing as it seems, if you make it a priority to eat a diet that is loaded with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and short on sugary, fatty, and processed foods, you might actually influence your child’s long-term taste preferences. What an opportunity to start training your child’s taste buds to eat healthy nutritional food!

When a Peach Isn’t Just a Peach

In our modern, industrialized world, achieving good nutrition can be a bit tricky. It’s true that fruits and vegetables and lean, high-protein meats are preferable to doughnuts and greasy fast-food hamburgers, but the pollution of our food chain by environmental toxins has turned the simple decision to eat a peach into a reason for pause.
A peach is no longer just a peach.
A peach can be a delicious source of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that give our bodies good health, or it can be a tasteless repository of forty-two different types of toxic pesticides that are bad for our bodies and especially bad for a baby in the womb.6
Fortunately, by making informed choices and avoiding those foods known to contain high levels of such contaminants, you can easily reduce the harmful chemicals that can pass from mother to unborn child. Choosing foods grown locally, and in their natural growing season can greatly reduce pesticide levels. Choosing organically grown foods can virtually eliminate significant pesticide exposure.

Can You Be Vegetarian or Vegan?

Being a vegetarian or a vegan can be an option for a pregnant woman, if you make informed choices. Here are four things to keep in mind:
1. Being sure to get plenty of Vitamin B12, typically found in animal foods (meat, dairy products, and eggs), is especially important for pregnant and nursing women (and for babies and children). Good sources of B12 for vegetarians are dairy products and eggs. Vegans should be sure their diet includes foods that are fortified with B12, like fortified breakfast cereals, fortified yeast extract, and fortified soy milk. Red Star Nutritional Yeast, Vegetarian Support Formula, for example, is one reliable vegan source of B12. It tastes great as a seasoning sprinkled on soups, salads, and even popcorn. And don’t forget, a prenatal vitamin is an important safety net for all women.
2. Calcium is also very important during pregnancy and nursing (and for moms, in the months just after nursing, to replenish the calcium in their own bones). If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, add rich sources of calcium in your diet, such as tofu, tempeh, sesame seeds, greens (collard greens, turnip greens), and figs. (Check the label on your tofu. Tofu processed with calcium sulfate tends to have much higher levels of calcium than tofu processed with nigari.) You’ll also get some calcium from kale, soybeans, bok choy, mustard greens, tahini, broccoli, almonds, and spinach. And you can find many calcium-fortified foods (soy milk, orange juice—even whole grain waffles), and of course, calcium supplements. The lower animal protein intake of vegetarians does seem to reduce the body’s calcium losses, but there is not enough evidence to say that vegans need less calcium when pregnant or nursing. I recommend getting 1,000 milligrams every day (1,300 milligrams if you are under age nineteen).
Going Green
Find a Farmer’s Market Near You
SHOPPING AT A FARMER’S market is a great way to find fresh and often organic locally grown fruits and vegetables. You can also often find unusual and heirloom varieties that aren’t sold in supermarkets. At many markets you can buy artisan baked goods, cheeses, and even meats and fish. What’s more, you’ll have a chance to meet the farmers face-to-face.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that there are 4,385 farmer’s markets now operating throughout the country, and this number is growing every year. More than 19,000 individual farmers are now selling their goods only through these markets, and a great majority are able to completely support their small farms through their sales.
Check the USDA’s clickable map online to find a farmer’s market near you:
3. Variety in your diet is especially important. I suggest that you eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to take advantage of all the unique phytonutrients in different foods. Phytonutrients are the thousands of different naturally occurring compounds in plants that have a positive effect on human health. While providing color, flavor, and disease-resistance in plants, they also benefit the humans who eat them. And don’t rely too much on soy as your only major protein source. Soy contains natural phytoestrogens (plant estrogens). Although getting some can be very healthful, getting too much may not be. Use seeds, grains, and other legumes for balance.
4. Make a point of eating organic foods. Because vegetarians tend to eat larger amounts of fresh produce, choosing organic is even more important to reduce pesticide exposure.

What Exactly Is “Organic”?

The word organic extends a promise of a food that is natural, pure, and brimming with healthy nutrients. And the benefits extend well beyond the quality and taste of the food on our table. Conventional chemical agriculture depletes our dwindling oil reserves to an astonishing degree, while boosting greenhouse gases. The amount of oil used in agriculture, including that used to make chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizers, is about the same as the amount used in all of the automobiles in the country. 7 Organic farming is a method that honors our health and the health of the planet.
The criteria required in order to wear the organic label have been established and standardized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Organic fruits and vegetables are grown in fertile soil teeming with life. Organic farmers follow earth-friendly cultivation practices, adopting techniques that utilize, as far as possible, renewable resources. This produce is grown and processed without any toxic pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, or genetically modified seeds (GMOs).
About 99.5 percent of U.S. farmland—almost 800 million acres—is still stuck in the heavily chemical agricultural system of the post-World War II twentieth century.8 This system pollutes our air, water, soil, wildlife, and ourselves with chemical pesticides, while depleting our oil reserves at an alarming rate. Organic meats, eggs, and dairy come from animals that are kept according to strict standards, fed only organic foods, and raised without antibiotics, growth hormones, or cloning.
Organically raised animals are treated in a way that protects their natural development and behavior. For example, as recently as World War II, most American eggs came from local backyards and barnyard flocks. Today, more than 98 percent of the 345 million laying hens in the United States live out their lives in stacked rows of tiny wire cages. Their beaks are often trimmed to prevent them from harming themselves or others when jammed so closely together. In 2005, the United Egg Producers, in response to public concerns, recommended a gradual increase in cage space for each adult Leghorn, the most common breed, to 0.47 square feet. By comparison, an 8.5 x 11 sheet of notebook paper is 0.65 square feet—30 percent bigger than the new “humane” goal.10
Green Parent Report
Choosing Organic
CHOOSING TO GO ORGANIC is a wonderful way to safeguard the health of your baby. In 2002, the USDA’s National Organic Program created guidelines to help you find the purest foods possible.9
• A product labeled “100% organic” must contain only organic ingredients. You are most likely to find this designation on single-ingredient foods, such as fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, cheese, and cartons of milk.
• The round green USDA seal indicates that at least 95 percent of the ingredients (by weight) are organic, and other ingredients, if any, are acceptable choices.
• Food packaging that says “Made with organic ingredients” must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients (by weight). These products will not wear the USDA Organic seal, but they may list up to three organic ingredients on the front of the package.
• If a product has fewer than 70 percent organic ingredients, it cannot be called organic, but the organic ingredients can be listed as such on the nutrition facts panel.
Organic laying hens, however, are given room to walk around and lie down. Their beaks may not be trimmed. As another example, dairy cows get at least four hours of exercise a day, and during the growing season grazing animals must have access to pastures that are not treated with toxic herbicides or other chemicals. Such animals are fed organic feed that does not come from genetically modified seed. In short, the animals are raised in a healthier and more humane manner.
Sadly, conventionally farmed animals, which account for about 99 percent of all the meat and poultry in America, are not so carefully raised and slaughtered. They are often fattened up with hormones and routinely administered doses of antibiotics. The increased use of antibiotics results in the breeding of increasingly resistant bacteria. It’s surprising to learn that most of the antibiotic use in the United States occurs not in medical settings but rather on our feed lots as a growth promoter for livestock. European countries that have stopped this practice have seen a decrease in bacterial resistance.
Green Parent Report
What About Genetically Modified Food?
WHEN MY TWELVE-YEAR-OLD son was born, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were not a part of the American diet. Today, about 30 percent of our cropland is growing GMOs. That’s a fast change! Although 60 percent of Americans believe they have never eaten GM food, most Americans eat them every day, especially genetically modified corn, soy, canola, and/or cottonseed. 11 I’m concerned that these may be one of the reasons that food allergies have increased during this time. It will be years before some of the questions about the long-term safety of these new organisms are answered.
Until more is known about GMOs, do your best to eat fewer genetically modified foods during pregnancy and while nursing. This can be challenging, because in the United States GM foods are not labeled as such. Most soy, cotton, corn, canola, and papaya in the United States has been genetically modified, but you usually have no means of distinguishing modified from unmodified. Conventional meat, dairy, and eggs likely come from animals that have been treated with or fed GM products, but again, you may not know. But here’s a helpful rule of thumb: you can reduce your intake of genetically modified food by eating fewer foods that contain corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, vegetable oil (soy, corn, cottonseed, or canola), margarine, soy flour, soy protein, soy lecithin, textured vegetable protein, cornmeal, dextrose, maltodextrin, fructose, citric acid, or lactic acid. Or you could just stick to organic foods, which by law cannot be grown from genetically modified seed or fed GM foods.
Conventional cattle are often raised on “junk food,” such as corn and other grains. (Cow’s stomachs are designed to eat grasses and the like, so for them, corn is a fattening junk food.) These animals are fed grain that may be genetically modified and riddled with toxic pesticides. Corn and other grains make their stomachs more acidic, therefore more hospitable to dangerous E. coli bacteria.
The E. coli outbreaks of the last decade are a recent phenomenon. They often can be traced back to cattle raised on an unnatural diet in crowded, unhealthy conditions. From these cattle operations and dairies, the bacteria have spread to other crops.12

Eat Strategically to Save the Planet

More than four million acres of American farmland have already been dedicated to organic farming, helping our health and our future. That’s four million acres farmed without the use of toxic pesticides or other toxic chemicals; four million acres nurtured with both ancient and modern techniques that are in balance with nature, helping to reduce the production of greenhouse gasses and reduce the threat of global warming.
Growing our foods organically has proven to be one of the hottest, fastest-growing movements of the twenty-first century. When Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act in 1990, there were fewer than one million acres of organic farmland. In just twelve years, by 2002, that figure had doubled. Then the pace of progress picked up. Within just three more years, the amount of organic farmland doubled again. In 2005, we saw, for the first time, certified organic farmland in all fifty states. There has been exceptional progress, but we need to do more.
If organic cropland continues to double—and it can!—we can expect to see a revitalization and renewal of our streams and our soil as we build a smart, sustainable future. I can remember drinking stream water in our national parks when I was a child. I can remember catching and eating fish from our local streams. Today, all of the streams surveyed by the U.S. Geological Survey and more than 90 percent of fish tested in farming regions are polluted with pesticides.13