You’ve probably given careful consideration to the food your children consume on a daily basis. But what about the other environmental influences they’re exposed to on a near 24/7 basis, such as the plastic materials in their living space. After their initial onslaught with chemicals in the hospital, they will then go home, where, unfortunately, the chemical exposure often continues. One of the main problems with PVC is that it contains phthalates, or “plasticizers,” which are a group of industrial chemicals used to make plastics like PVC more flexible and resilient. Anything you can do to lower your, and your children’s, exposure to plasticizing chemicals like phthalates is a step in a healthy direction. Among them: Choose toys made from natural materials or at least only buying those made from phthalate-free plastic. When redoing your home, look for toxin-free alternatives in lieu of regular paint and vinyl floor coverings. Replace your vinyl shower curtain with one made of fabric or install glass shower doors. Switch over to natural brands of shampoo, toothpaste and cosmetics. Check your home’s tap water for contaminants and filter the water if necessary. You may also want to use an alternative to PVC pipes for your water supply. Avoid using artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners, scented candles or other synthetic fragrances and perfumes. Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap. Avoid processed foods— many are packaged in phthalate-containing packaging —and instead focus your diet on fresh, organic and locally grown whole foods. Breastfeed your baby exclusively if possible, for at least the first six months to avoid phthalates exposure from infant formula packaging and plastic bottles If you use baby bottles, use glass, not plastic. Use only natural cleaning products in your home.