Thanks for the Fire Retardants?

Ginny Figlar Colón by Ginny Figlar Colón | March 6th, 2009 | 1 Comment
topic: Family Health, Green Living

Flame-resistant PJsWhen you’re doing everything you can to eliminate chemicals in your 1-year-old’s environment, getting gifts can sometimes cause a bit of a conundrum. Take the pajamas my mother-in-law sent us this week, which were treated with fire retardants.

I’ve read about the danger of fire retardants and how they are often added to synthetic baby sleepwear to meet U.S. regulations for fire safety. I know this federal law is meant to protect children, but it’s actually more comforting to me that these flame-resistant chemicals are banned in Europe. I don’t have to worry about finding them in any pajamas I buy here. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find the footy PJs we like in Swedish stores, so I tend to shop in the U.S. for them. My mother-in-law knew we were entering a bit of a crisis with our daughter’s everything’s-too-small-now pajama selection, and generously took it upon herself to send us a few.

They just arrived with proud declarations of their chemical treatment. Ugh. Now what?

After thanking her for thinking of us, my options were:

A. Use the enclosed return envelope to send ’em back to the store.
B. Decide that option A is a little extreme and vow to throw them in the wash over and over until hopefully all the evilness is washed out. (Some sites state that the chemical is gone after 50 washes.)
C. Try to relax. It’s just a couple of pajamas.

I decided to do a little more research and go for a fourth option: email the company and find out exactly what they use to treat their products before choosing A, B or C. I’m still waiting for an answer.

It’s not easy being a parent in a chemical-laden world. Am I being too uptight about all of this, or do you struggle with these dilemmas as well?


  1. I read somewhere that using vinegar in the wash will hasten the removal of the fire-retardants, but you might double-check. BTW, 50 washes? Why bother? After just a few washes, the clothes are going to start looking worn anyway, it’ll waste water, and the chemicals will just get spread around to other items in the wash. I’d just send them back.

    We have to deal with this kind of thing from my MIL as well. Our son is 13 months, and ever since we started buying baby supplies during the pregnancy, both our sets of parents have been well- (but politely!) informed about the choices we are making, and they know that either 1) they need to ask us about giving certain things, or 2) there is a possibility that what they get him won’t get used. We try not to be overly restrictive, but some things are just not negotiable. On top of that, my in-laws are very pushy and take it as a personal insult that we are doing things differently with our child than what they did with theirs! The best way we’ve found of dealing with this is to be very clear about what’s okay and what’s not, but we go a little overboard with the nice comments to try to make them feel like we appreciate their thoughtfulness. Depending on what your MIL is like, maybe you could talk to her about this, or maybe you just say “thank-you” and then return the clothes to the company. If you guys don’t even live in the same country, it seems unlikely that she would ever find out, and if she did, you could just take the opportunity to talk about the chemical issue. Good luck! I know this type of thing can be difficult to talk about to people without worrying that they think you’re unappreciative/ judgmental.

    rifraff | May 20th, 2009 | Comment Permalink

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