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7 Ways to Limit Your Family's Exposure to Toxic Chemicals in Plastic
  • Limit the use of plastic food containers for serving or storing food. Use glass, paper and ceramic containers, especially for microwaving foods.
  • Never heat a plastic baby bottle in the microwave. And avoid heating food in any plastic container, even if it's marked "microwave safe." Studies have found that heating plastic containers increases the amount of BPA—and other chemicals—that leaches into food.
  • Memorize this rhyme: "5-4-1-2, all the rest are bad for you." It's a great little mnemonic helper. If you turn plastic bottles and food containers over, you'll usually find a number on the bottom that indicates the type of plastic they're made from. Plastic containers marked with 5, 4, 1 or 2 have little or no BPA. Toss items that have any number other than those four digits.
  • Go soft. If you can't locate a number on the bottom of the container, opt for pliable containers. BPA is mostly found in rigid, shatterproof, reusable polycarbonate plastic—the kind used in some CD cases, baby bottles, water bottles and other hard plastic containers. Softer plastic containers usually contain less of the chemical.
  • Cut down on cans. Opt for more fresh and frozen foods and fewer canned foods. BPA is used in the plastic lining of many canned foods and beverages, including soup. It's also used in soda cans, which is one more reason to drink soda sparingly. Paper containers for liquids are a better choice.
  • Use BPA-free pacifiers and baby bottles. More and more of both are on the market.
  • Finally...relax. When it comes to your baby or toddler, there are more important worries than hard plastics leaching microscopic amounts of chemicals into food. For starers, think about obesity, accidents, swallowing toy parts and flushing insurance documents down the toilet. Follow my tips, but don't forget to focus on the big picture.
How are you becoming a smarter patient for your child's health? Share your thoughts below.

    Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg—or Dr. Jen—is RealAge's pediatric health expert and the author of The Smart Parent's Guide to Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents and Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children.

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