Men Face Chemicals In Products Too

This article was contributed by Donna Fountaine of Primal Recipe Tester, in honor of Testicular Awareness Month.
Even though men typically use fewer personal care products than women, the same carcinogens such as endocrine system disruptors and other potentially harmful & irritating ingredients, are still found in soaps, lotions, shaving creams, aftershaves and other products for men. According to the American Cancer Society,
1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer in his lifetime with testicular cancer being the most common cancer in males between 15-35.”
When shopping for men’s personal care products avoid ingredients like fragrance or parfum because manufacturers are not required to disclose what’s in their fragrance or parfum to keep it proprietary. The ingredient(s) come from a list of over 3,000 chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens. Some other known and potential carcinogens to look for in men’s products are:
  • 1, 4 dioxane
  • BHA
  • Coal tar (FD&C Red #6)
  • Formaldehyde & formaldehyde releasers (broponol, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl & imidazolidinyl urea & quaternium-15)
  • Petroleum (petrolatum/mineral oil)
  • Phthalates
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG)
  • Sodium laurel/laureth sulfate
  • Synthetic colors
  • Talc
  • Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate/acetate, retinoic acid, & retinol)

Remember that what goes on his body is just as important as what goes in it!

donna fountaine of primal recipe testerDonna has always loved cooking, trying new recipes and living a healthy lifestyle, so after learning about the Paleo Diet from a close friend in early 2015, she tried it. She feels the happiest, healthiest and most confident than she ever has in her life and is convinced that it’s from living a primal lifestyle. She loves not only what she’s doing for herself but also what she’s doing for her family. Donna and her husband have a six year old daughter and a five year old son, and although they don’t always love being Primal, she hopes they’ll thank her someday. They live in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Foothills in Northern California where Donna works and tries to spend as much time as she can with her family being active outdoors, exploring and traveling. You can follow Donna on: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram

5 Creative and Fun Activities For Cold Winter Days

This article was contributed courtesy of Leah McDermott, a natural child learning specialist.

It may be starting to get cold outside, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be stuck inside! Children can benefit just as much from daily outdoor time in the winter as they can any other time of the year, so it’s just as important to find ways to get out there and enjoy all of the fantastic changes that take place in nature during the colder months.

Here are five of our favorite ways to enjoy the outdoors, even when it’s snowy, rainy, or super chilly:

Animal Track Hunt: 

animal tracks

This activity is best done the morning after a fresh snowfall, but anytime there is snow on the ground will do! Head outside (bonus if you’re near a wooded area) with a camera or blank notebook/pencil and search for animal tracks in the snow! When you find some, take pictures and/or have your child draw what they see in their notebook. Keep in mind that not all animals make paw prints! What might a snake or bug look like making its way through the snow? Ask your child which animal they think the tracks belong to, and jot ideas down. Once you’re back inside warming up, search through animal track books – Tracks, Scats and Signs by Leslie Dendy is a favorite of ours – or utilize the internet to help you accurately identify the tracks you found!


Frozen Bubbles frozen bubbles

Save this one for when the temps are super de-duper cold, as you need it to be well below freezing outside for the bubbles to freeze rapidly. This is about as easy as it gets – simply grab that container of bubble juice from the summer (or whip up your own), head outside, and start blowing! The bubbles should freeze before they hit the ground. This gives your child a rare opportunity to get a good look at a bubble, watch the crystals form on it, and to see what it looks like when it pops/breaks. Talk with your child about the differences between bubbles in the summer and bubbles in the winter.

Snowball Lanterns 

snowball lanterns

To prep for this activity, all you need is some glowsticks and fresh snow! Have your child make a bunch of snowballs. Place glowsticks standing up in the snow and carefully stack snowballs loosely around the glowstick to form a snowball lantern! This is an especially fun activity in the late afternoon (you know… when the kiddos are in that pre-bedtime meltdown mode), because the lanterns can be really enjoyed when the sun has gone down! You can really ramp up the excitement for this activity if you put the glowsticks outside on the ground when the snow begins to fall. This way, the snow will cover the sticks, creating a super fun and colorful “Northern Lights” effect in the yard!


Frozen Scavenger Hunt scavenger hunt

This activity will work whether you have snow on the ground or not. It takes a little prep, but will provide tons of fun! Gather an assortment of small toys and objects from around the house and freeze them in ice cubes. When ready, hide the frozen objects outdoors and have your child go on a hunt to find all of them. Extend this to a literacy activity by making a checklist for your child to read and check off as they search. Once you’ve gathered all of the objects (and maybe hid them again once or twice,) bring them inside and place all of the frozen cubes in the warm bath water with your child. Your child can watch the toys thaw out as they warm up too!

Indoor Winter 

indoor winter

Let’s face it – sometimes, it’s just too cold to be outside. But that doesn’t mean that you and your child can’t still enjoy the beautiful winter scene that nature provides! So, on one of those super cold days, bring the outdoors inside! Set up a tarp or plastic sheet on the floor and bring in some containers of snow and an assortment of outdoor winter nature objects – like icicles, pinecones, frozen sticks or rocks, etc. Give your child a variety of instruments to sort, scoop, create, and examine the nature with. Mix some food coloring in spray bottles of water and let them “paint” the snow. Watercolors work great on ice blocks. Experiment with ways to melt icicles fastest – use things like pickle juice, warm water, and salt. Have fun digging into wintery goodness while still staying warm inside!

BONUS: Tips for Dressing Appropriately for Outdoor Winter Fun

Though there are some areas where temps dip far too low to safely play outside regardless of winter gear, in general, the issues with being too cold to venture outdoors usually lie in the clothing choices and not the thermometer. Here are some of our best tips for ensuring you stay protected to best enjoy nature in the winter:

  • Cover Up! Your body will lose heat through any uninsulated area of your body. Put on a hat and a scarf; make sure as little skin is exposed as possible!
  • Cold Hands = Cold Essentials! If your hands are cold, that doesn’t just mean that you need gloves – it also means that your essential organs/core aren’t insulated well enough! Focus on covering the mid-section to help the warm blood flow to your extremities.
  • Layer Up! For best protection on your feet and hands, start with a silk liner, cover with wool, and then a waterproof shell or layer.
  • Check out some more tips HERE.

So, get bundled up and get out there and enjoy all of the beauty and wonder that Winter has to share with us! There’s so much to explore and learn during this time of the year!

leah mcdermottLeah McDermott, M.Ed. is an adventuresome mama of two rambunctious boys, living happily with her family in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She spends her days reading, cooking, exploring outdoors, and learning alongside her littles. She is a former Master Educator and Reading Specialist turned homeschooling mom and natural education consultant and speaker. Leah helps families and educators transform the way their children learn, through child-led experiences exploring the beauty and wonder of nature. She believes passionately that when children spend time freely exploring the world around them, they grow up to be compassionate, caring individuals with incredible problem solving skills, and that through nature-inspired learning, we can change the world, one kid at a time.

You can learn more about Leah, and follow along with her at the following sites:
FacebookTwitter, InstagramFacebook Group

Why Schools Need To Mandate And Increase Recess Time

The typical amount of recess in America is just 15 minutes per day – if your child is lucky, he or she may get one other 15 minutes  before or after lunch. 

States establish mandatory minimum amounts of instructional minutes for schools. Recess does not count towards these minutes, but most schools recognize children (and teachers) need a break.


In this time of Common Core standards on the heels of No Child Left Behind, many schools have shortened or eliminated recess all together in order increase instructional time. Yet research finds that children NEED recess.

The New York Times reported:

“And many children are not getting that break. In the Pediatrics study, 30 percent were found to have little or no daily recess. Another report, from a children’s advocacy group, found that 40 percent of schools surveyed had cut back at least one daily recess period.

Also, teachers often punish children by taking away recess privileges. That strikes Dr. Barros as illogical. “Recess should be part of the curriculum,” she said. “You don’t punish a kid by having them miss math class, so kids shouldn’t be punished by not getting recess.”1)

One school is bucking the trend to reduce recess time.


Kindergarteners and first graders take two 15 minute breaks in the morning and two 15 minute breaks in the afternoon. Teachers and teachers are noticing results! Today shares:

“There was a part of me that was very nervous about it,” Donna McBride, a first-grade teacher at the school, told TODAY Parents.

“I was trying to wrap my head around my class going outside four times a day and still being able to teach those children all the things they needed to learn.”

Some five months into the experiment, McBride’s fears have been alleviated. Her students are less fidgety and more focused, she said. They listen more attentively, follow directions and try to solve problems on their own instead of coming to the teacher to fix everything. There are fewer discipline issues.

“We’re seeing really good results,” she noted.

Parents are seeing them, too. Amy Longspaugh noticed her 6-year-old daughter Maribel, who is in McBride’s class, has become more independent and writes with more detail and creativity. Maribel has also made more friends as the kids mingle outside. 2)

It’s such a simple way to increase productivity and reduce behavior issues. That being said, as a former teacher, I remember children often come in from recess arguing and upset. We got into the practice of mindfulness after recess for five to ten minutes to help children transition from free play to the classroom.

The American Academy of Pediatrics makes the following position on The Crucial Roll of Recess in School:

“Recess is at the heart of a vigorous debate over the role of schools in promoting the optimal development of the whole child. A growing trend toward reallocating time in school to accentuate the more academic subjects has put this important facet of a child’s school day at risk. Recess serves as a necessary break from the rigors of concentrated, academic challenges in the classroom. But equally important is the fact that safe and well-supervised recess offers cognitive, social, emotional, and physical benefits that may not be fully appreciated when a decision is made to diminish it. Recess is unique from, and a complement to, physical education—not a substitute for it. The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development and, as such, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons.”3)


The AAP does not recommend how much time a child should spend in recess, but I find the Japanese system quite interesting, especially considering most Japanese schools do not have adult supervision at recess time.

“Peer-reviewed research has examined the timing and type of activity during recess and chronicled the many benefits of recess for children, without establishing an optimal required duration.2,8,12,13,18,19,21 There is consensus about the need for regularly scheduled recess based on national guidelines, even though the length of the recess period has not been firmly established. In schools, the length specified for recess ranges widely, from 20 to 60 minutes per day.24,30 In other countries, such as Japan, primary school-aged children have a 10- to 15-minute break every hour, and this is thought to reflect the fact that attention spans begin to wane after 40 to 50 minutes of intense instruction.46 On the basis of this premise, to maximize cognitive benefits, recess should be scheduled at regular intervals, providing children sufficient time to regain their focus before instruction continues.”4)

Eagle Mountain Elementary is participating in a program called LiiNK, which is based on Finnish educational practices. Like children in Japan, Finnish children receive a 15-minute break for every instructional hour. 5) If schools in the US followed this model, young children would get approximately 1.5 hours a day of recess (the average primary instructional day is about six hours long).

After five months, Eagle Mountain Elementary saw results. Hopefully, more schools will follow this trend to increase recess time. It is developmentally appropriate, simple, and effective. Parents can take this information to school administrators and advocate for their children in order to persuade them to give their children more recess.

2, 5. 
3, 4. 

jennifer lance of Eco Child's PlayJennifer Lance is a vegetarian, yoga teacher, gardener, hiker, teacher, and mother who has been living off-the-grid for over 20 years. Extending her eco-values to her children comes naturally, as she tries to raise world citizens with the smallest carbon footprint possible. It’s not always easy, with the commercialization of childhood, but she strongly believes her children will benefit in the long run. She founded Eco Child’s Play in 2006, whose ethos is to provide news, information, and opinions on natural, green parenting to help your family live a greener, healthier life! You can follow Eco Child’s Play on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter


The Horror-ible Thing About Halloween Makeup & A Natural DIY Recipe

This post was contributed by Donna Fountaine of  First 5 Faves.


Halloween face paints can be pretty scary, and so can some of the ingredients that are in them.

Several years ago The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found lead and other toxic heavy metals like nickel, cobalt and chromium in several of the most popular face paints on the market. Some of these face paints were labeled as “non-toxic “ and “hypoallergenic” but contained the highest levels of some of these heavy metals.

“Natural” face paints may seem like a safer option, but most of the natural face paints available contain synthetic preservatives. When shopping for face paints, try to find products without formaldehyde/formaldehyde releasers, fragrances, parabens, petroleum, phthalates, synthetic colors and synthetic preservatives because these ingredients can be irritating, toxic and/or carcinogenic.

One great option is making face paints at home because they are quick and easy and can be made with just a few simple ingredients. Here is an all natural, DIY Halloween face paint recipe that you can be sure to feel good about knowing there are no nasty ingredients in them!


All Natural DIY Halloween Face Paint
Yields 3
A quick and easy natural DIY Halloween face paint recipe that kids will love and can be washed off quickly and easily with warm water and soap.
Write a review
Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
  1. 3 tsp arrowroot starch
  2. Badger Diaper Cream
  3. 3 tsp of either of these natural food colorings,
  4. Le Petit Matisse Natural Food Coloring
  5. India Tree Natural Food Coloring
  6. Or make your own food coloring,
  7. Three bowls,
  8. Spoon
  9. Small storage containers
  1. Combine 3 tsp arrowroot starch and 3 tsp diaper cream in a small bowl and stir to combine,
  2. Divide mixture equally into three bowls,
  3. Add desired food coloring to each bowl and stir to combine,
  4. Transfer to storage containers and use a soft brush to apply to face or body.


If making your own homemade face paint is too much work, another great option is buying one of the few brands that offer natural Halloween face paints that are free of lead, heavy metals, parabens, bismuth, carmine, and fragrances. Le Petit Matisse is one brand that carries safer natural face paint options. Another great brand is Elegant Minerals, which can be found in Primal Kidz Mag’s Shop section. 


Read more about Primal Kidz Mag and our Affiliate Disclosure

Donna, First Five Faves and Primal Recipe testerDonna Fountaine is a wife, a mom, and a Primal Recipe tester on her personal blog. She discovered the Paleo diet in early 2015, when she began researching ingredients and reading labels more closely. During the first few months of her family’s transition to a primal diet, Donna decided to read the ingredients in their personal care and household products because she wanted to be sure that what her family was using on their bodies and in their home was just as healthy as what they were eating. When she discovered synthetic preservatives, questionable ingredients, and known carcinogens in their “all natural,” “organic,” and “eco-friendly” products she vowed to always read the ingredients first. Donna then decided to start First 5 Faves to help educate families with young children about the importance of age appropriate, non-toxic and eco-friendly products. You can also find her testing Paleo recipes from her favorite Paleo bloggers at Primal Recipe Tester.

Toxic Carseats – Are They Making Your Child Sick? What To Do About It.

This article was originally written by Aida Garcia-Toledo, and appeared on her blog, NonToxic Munchkin.

Buying a car seat is one of the first things all parents have to do, and the market is filled with different options. It can be confusing, and time consuming, to figure out which car seat works best for your family, as you compare safety, price and practicality. However, when you add the fact that new parents today should also be taking into consideration the level of toxic chemicals found in their children’s car seats, well, the decision making process can become ridiculously time consuming and unclear.

As parents, many of us are clearly frustrated that a product that so obviously needs to be used every single day and that keeps our children safe inside a car is also, at the same time, exposing them to some pretty bad toxic chemicals. However, since everyone needs a car seat knowledge is key to making the best decision for your family.


The Bad News

Due to US federal fire test standards for vehicle accessories, every single car seat on the market right now in the US contains at least one chemical flame retardant. Unless you have access to a state of the art lab, there is no reliable way of telling which chemicals are found in which car seats, or how many chemicals are present. Even companies who claim to be using “safe flame retardants,”  have been found to actually be using some of the worse, potentially toxic, chemicals in their car seats. Adding to the misinformation, company websites and even customer service representatives often give out incorrect information to concerned consumers.


What is a concerned parent to do?

We all have to use car seats. Period. They save lives. So, the question parents are left with is: how do you choose the least toxic option? Education is key!

Remind me-why is this important? How exactly can flame retardants chemicals in the car seat affect my child?

Flame retardant chemicals do not stick/ bind very well to the product they are used on…. thus, they are released over time. Mostly into dust particles and air.


Heat and UV-ray exposure in cars can accelerate the release of these chemicals from products into the vehicle environment

And then….

While infants, toddlers and children are sitting in their car seats everyday, they are exposed to these chemicals through inhalation, ingestion and dermal (skin) absorption.


The longer your child sits in his/ her car seat the more exposed they are to these chemicals. In fact, tests have shown the very same car seats found in car seats inside the bodies of little kids.


So, how bad are these flame retardants? Is there such a thing as a safer fire retardant?

The short answer: flame retardants are pretty bad (can be carcinogenic, some have been associated with thyroid problems, learning and memory impairment, decreased fertility, and behavioral changes) and we don’t really know if there is such a thing as a safe one. Here is a little history on flame retardants (courtesy of Michigan’s the Ecology Center):

In the 1970’s, a chemical known as chlorinated tris, or TDCPP, was used to treat children’s pajamas to make the fabric slower to catch fire. Chlorinated tris was a replacement for a chemical that was found to be carcinogenic. Years later, Chlorinated tris was revealed to be a carcinogen too (and was removed from pajamas.)

Chlorinated tris= proven to be carcinogenic = should never again be used in children’s products right?

Well, not exactly.

Fast forward to 2004… In 2004 (after another flame retardant was phased out due to health concerns) Chlorinated tris once again became the go-to chemical for a number of products: in furniture, car interiors, tents, and children’s products, such as nap mats and crib pads (but not pajamas). Where else? Yes, you guessed it, this proven carcinogenic chemical was also found in two 2014 model car seats in a study published last year.

This is a good example of how replacement chemicals are sometimes no safer than the banned chemicals they are replacing. Sometimes (as is the case with chlorinated tris) “proven” bad chemicals make a comeback. Other times, new chemicals with little to no safety studies are used. This is why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 44-year old Federal Motor Vehicle Flammability Standard, FMVSS No. 302, needed to be updated as fire retardants have no use whatsoever in car seats— but that is a whole other issue (if you are interested in doing your part to try to change the law on flame retardants in car seats you might want to consider signing this petition.


As of right now, all foam in every single car seat must have fire retardants. There are 3 classes of flame retardant:

  •  Brominated, (also called halogenated) are considered quite toxic and extremely persistence in the environment.
  •  Chlorinated (also called halogenated) are considered quite toxic and extremely persistence in the environment.
  • Phosphate-based. These are the replacement chemicals du jour being used to replace the toxic halogenated flame retardants. According to limited research studies, some of these replacements may be safer for human health… but no one really knows and no one has tested their safety on long term exposure in infants nor children (nor adults for that matter) Let’s cross our fingers, because while laws continue to require flame retardants in car seats these seem to be our safest bet.


But, if these chemicals can save my child in a car fire- then isn’t that more important?

If the answer were yes, this debate would be quite different. The reality is that car fires move so fast that these fire retardants are no longer considered to be of any help retarding flames in real life scenarios.


So The REAL Question Remain – How Do You Choose the Safest Car Seat?

Two organizations, Michigan’s The Ecology Center, and Duke University’s Superfund Research Center have taken it up on themselves to test the foam in car seats to find out if they have flame retardants and which ones. Duke University, who does not publish the brands tested, has found that 80% of car seats tested have worrisome flame retardant chemicals. MIchigan’s The Ecology Center, 2014/2015 Study looked at a smaller sampling: fifteen (15) of the best selling 2014-model car seats were included and tested for various different flame retardants that have been linked to thyroid problems, learning and memory impairment, decreased fertility, behavioral changes and cancer. They found: that “no car seats were free of chemical hazards.”

Nearly ¾ of the seats tested contained hazardous halogenated flame retardants and over half contained non-halogenated organophosphate flame retardants. Four seats contained one or both of the “chlorinated tris” chemicals we mentioned earlier with the pajamas, TDCPP (a known carcinogen) and TCPP. Graco was the poorest performing company. Some models of Britax and Clek show the safest flame retardant usage (phosphate based) For more details on the study and which specific car seat models I recommend as the ‘least toxic’ stemming from these published reports read the post at NonToxic Munchkin.


Regardless of what car seat you purchase – Here Are Some  GENERAL TIPS

  • Limit the time your children spend in their car seats. Only use the car seat during travel, not as a place for your child to nap or sit outside of the car (especially common for infants)
  • Limit direct sunlight on the car seat and high temperatures in your car. Window coverings in a car also substantially lower the interior temperature on a warm day.
  • Vacuum the car interior and the nooks and crannies of car seats. Chemicals that migrate out, including flame retardants, can cling to dust particles. Open the car windows when possible.
  • Wash car seat covers as doing so can remove contaminated dust and other particles.
  • Wash your hands (and your child’s hands) frequently with plain soap (not with antibacterial soaps or gels since these can expose them to endocrine disrupting chemicals). Studies by Duke University have found that people are more likely to have higher exposure and body burdens if they wash their hands less frequently. Washing hands is always a good idea!


To purchase the two car seats found in the Michigan Ecology Center’s Study that contain the lowest and undetectable levels of flame retardants, you can find the Clek Foonf 2016 Convertible CarSeat and Britax Parkway Booster in the Primal Kidz Mag Shop section. Read  about  our Affiliate Disclosure here. 


About the Author:

Nontoxic Munchkin Blog, Non Toxic Living and ConsultingAida Garcia-Toledo is the Founder of NonToxic Munchkin, Non Toxic Living Blog and Consulting. After years as an investigative journalist and documentary producer, she began to read and research the effects of long term exposure to environmental toxins on our health. Her mother’s fight with breast cancer and becoming a mother herself left her fully committed to making sure that her children, and children everywhere, were protected from constant exposure to toxic chemicals so they can live a long healthy life. And so, Non-Toxic Munchkin was born as an outlet to educate parents and help them transition to a non-toxic healthier life, without any added stress. Non-Toxic Munchkin’s philosophy is that the healthiest homes belong to families that find a balance between making healthy educated choices and living a modern day life.“ It is not a diet. It is not a detox. It is a new way of life”. Let Non-Toxic Munchkin help you! Visit our website, follow us on Instagram and Facebook for constant tips and news, and contact us for a personalized in home consultation if you live in Southern California.

You can follow Aida on her social channels:
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