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Baby (S)cents

Posted on February 4, 2013

Lindsay&CalvinWould you use perfume on your baby?

Lindsay Dahl, Deputy Director

We all love the smell of babies, but at what cost? It was just last week when I was watching Modern Family and I couldn't stop laughing when one of the characters was “baby huffing.” You know that overwhelming feeling when you hold a baby in your arms only be overtaken by the desire to smell their sweet fluffy heads? Then I saw Jenn Savage's column on Dolce and Gabbana's new product... perfume for babies. What is our world coming too?

I am familiar with this feeling and recently had a good go of it while visiting my family for the holidays. The newest addition to our family, Calvin, is five months old has that amazing baby smell and I just couldn’t get enough. Huff Huff.

Cue perfume marketing department. I’ve heard of a lot of strange perfume ideas including sushi-smelling cologne for men in Japan, but perfume for babies really takes the cake.

Here’s my problem with perfume for children:

They smell wonderful, as they are.

There’s a reason my family and others call it baby huffing, most everyone loves the smell of babies! Why would we do anything to change that? And how can we possibly “enhance” this smell with synthetic fragrance? The amount of fragrances we encounter in our daily lives continues to rise. Air freshners in our cars and homes, air sprays for your stinky gym bag, the bathroom, scented lotions, shampoos and perfumes. The list goes on and meanwhile our exposures to toxic chemicals continue to rise. 

Fragrances and perfumes are toxic, plain and simple.

Most perfumes and fragrances are just plain bad for us. There is a vast body of science linking several (sometimes hundreds of toxic chemicals) in any given perfume. Our friends at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics have a lot of great information on their website on this topic.

Health impacts: Phthalates are a class of toxic chemicals found in a wide variety of products, everything ranging from vinyl flooring, building supplies, air freshners, cosmetics, lotions, soaps and perfumes. They are one of the main toxic ingredients in perfumes and have been linked to a host of health effects from hormone disruption, malformations of the male reproductive tract, feminization of males, undescended testes in males. Fragrance and perfumes also may exacerbate asthma symptoms in adults and children. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, “as far back as 1986 the National Academy of Sciences identified fragrance ingredients as one of six categories of neurotoxins (chemicals that are toxic to the brain.)”

Consumers have no access to information on toxic chemicals in fragrances.

Due to weak federal laws, the companies that use “fragrance” in their products do not need to label what chemicals are used in that particular scent. So while on the label it looks like it’s one ingredient, it could mean up to dozens of different chemicals. The result? The consumer is once again burdened with trying to navigate a marketplace with little to no information.

What you can do:

A few simple and common sense tips will protect you and the little ones in our life. Simply skip perfume and fragrance in your home. We don’t need to be spraying babies or adults with toxic chemical perfumes. Second, make sure to urge Congress to pass the Safe Chemicals Act and Safe Cosmetics Act. Until we have strong laws on toxic chemicals, undisclosed and toxic chemicals will continue to creep into our lives.

There isn’t much we can do to stop manufacturers from marketing to our children, but we can choose not to buy these products. In the meantime, I’ll continue to baby huff the natural way. Huff Huff. 

Would you use perfume on children?

To follow Lindsay on Twitter: @Lindsay_SCHF



I think Lindsay has a valid point. There are fragrances in almost everything we use and it does get overwhelming. However, some parents do want a use perfumes and fragrances with some assurance of not harming the child. My thoughts are that spraying any perfume or cologne directly on a baby is not good even though there are "kids" fragrances out there. My recommendation for kids 12 and over would be to spray a tiny bit on the back of their shirt rather than on the skin.

Posted by: Frank Houston | Feb 8, 2013 11:06:50 AM

Hi Raquel - thanks for your comment. In the research we've done we have found very few perfumes and fragrances are "safe" and free of toxic chemicals (if you have found one, please let us know.) Often times it's hard to find out what ingredients are included in fragrances because it is kept secret under our federal laws (consumers should have the right to know!) And we certainly never said that people are bad parents for using perfume. Our goal is to provide consumers with the best information we can so they can keep their family safe.

Posted by: Lindsay - Safer Chemicals | Feb 6, 2013 11:33:24 AM

With all my respect but I don't think you guys understand the concept at all. It's not about "spraying your baby" with chemicals, are you trying to say that all the people we do it are "bad mums"? First you should get some information about it, there are baby fragance in the market which aren't harmful at all.
I grew up using baby cologne, at first my mum put a bit in the clothes and now a day a do it with my little ones. The smell brings me so many memories...Nothing like a baby smell, for sure but...after 6 months they can always smell even nicer.

Posted by: Raquel | Feb 6, 2013 3:12:07 AM

I always use eucalyptus oil for my baby. It warms my baby and its smell good. Personally, I don't like to spray perfume to my baby, that's very bad idea.

These days, I is hard to buy a good baby perfume, which is safe.

Posted by: lukman hakim | Feb 6, 2013 12:27:11 AM

Hi Faith and Becki, it's really quite nasty isn't it? I too can't imagine putting this junk on my baby nephew Calvin (ps - isn't he cute?) The issue of fragrances in all of our consumer products is a big deal. Please take action when you have a moment, we need the Safe Chemicals/Cosmetics Acts NOW!

Posted by: Lindsay - Safer Chemicals | Feb 4, 2013 10:51:18 AM

Seriously?! You have got to be kidding me! No way would i ever do that to my daughter

Posted by: Becki | Feb 4, 2013 10:49:04 AM

This is just too gross for words. I can't imagine every spraying my baby with nasty perfume. I find perfume offensive when adults wear it, let alone our children. I had a good laugh with "baby huffing" I know that feeling all too well! Love my kiddos. No perfume here.

Posted by: Faith | Feb 4, 2013 10:19:11 AM

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