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Feeding a baby can be messy and baby bibs can help prevent food get on baby’s clothes or catch food before it drops on the floor. When looking for a baby bibs (for feeding), there are two things you should look for. First, you should decide what type of baby bib you need at the stage of your baby feeding right now. Second, find out if the material for the feeding bib is non-toxic.
Types of Baby Bibs
Baby Bibs For Spoon-Feeding
There are several types of baby bibs for feeding. First, when baby eats purees, you need a lightweight, easy-to-clean bib. At this stage, feeding is pretty much controlled by a parent so you can minimize the mess being created. After some time you start feeding solids, baby becomes good at spoon-feeding. Therefore, sometimes there is no mess at all. I found that the best type of bib at this stage is a lightweight bib that is easy to put on and clean. Fabric bibs, plastic bibs or silicone bibs all work well for this stage. With plastic or silicon bibs, you can rinse the bib in water for quick cleaning. For a fabric bib, if the fabric bib is not water-proof, you will have to hand-wash or machine-wash the bib after a meal. That may be not easy to do at every meal. If want a bib that you can clean quickly at every meal, silicone, plastic, water-proof fabric will be the best.
Baby Bibs For Self-Feeding
When baby starts eating finger food, feeding becomes really messy. Since baby picks up food and eats on her own, you really don’t have much control of how messy it can get. At this stage, a baby bib that has a deep pocket to catch food spills will be the best. Sometimes even the bib with a deep pocket is not enough so you may end up changing your baby’s clothes at every meal. Then you can get a baby bib that wears like a shirt with long sleeves or even like a smock that cover all of baby’s clothes.
Baby Bib Style I Want To Avoid
I have tried several baby bibs and one bib my baby didn’t like at any stage was Babybjorn’s soft bib. Although it is called ‘soft bib’, the whole bib is rigid and it is really uncomfortable around baby’s neck. My daughter just wanted to take it off every time I put it on her. Babybjorn soft bib is really popular and you will see many people you know with babies will have this bib. It is probably the easiest bib to clean & dry, and also catches food very well. However, I prefer bibs that are more comfortable around baby’s neck. Overall, light-weight, easy to clean, easy to put on bib is the one that is made of silicone or waterproof material.
Type of Material for Baby Bibs
PVC (Polyvinyl chloride, also known as vinyl)
Baby bibs that are made of PVC (Polyvinyl chloride, also known as vinyl) emit toxic chemicals into the air and baby will inhale those toxins. She will also absorb toxic chemicals if her skin is in contact with PVC or vinyl materials. Therefore, you should entirely avoid baby bibs that are made of PVC, also known as vinyl. Baby bib should be pvc free, vinyl free, phthalate free and lead free.
Baby bibs that are made of PVC (Polyvinyl chloride, also known as vinyl) will have lead in it. In 2007, Center for Environmental Health (CEH) found lead in some baby bibs that are sold in retailers such as Walmart and Babies R Us. They took legal action and reached a legal agreement with producers of these bibs for Walmart and Babies R Us not to continue. Therefore, vinyl bibs are not widely sold any more, however, you should always check the material to make sure bibs are not made of PVC, also known as vinyl. Look for pvc-free, vinyl-free, phthalate-free, lead-free bibs. (read more about bibs containing lead.)
One of the most non-toxic materials for baby bibs are 100% organic cotton. 100% organic cotton baby bibs are soft, light and easy to put on. The reason for organic cotton instead of conventional cotton is that conventional cotton is treated with so much pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, Irradiation and Genetically Modified Organisms. (read Importance of Organic Cotton.) This results tremendous damage to our environment and also to health of workers who produce cottons. Most of pesticides are gone when final cotton fabric is made. However, the real problem lies with finishes and dyes on cotton fabrics. Cotton fabric is treated with many other toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), phthalates, chlorine, etc. at the finishing process. These chemical residues will remain on the fabric and they can irritate the skin or off-gas toxins. (read Does Non-Organic Cotton Contain Pesticides Residues?) Babies or children have more sensitive skin and they will be more susceptible to toxic chemicals. Toxic finishes and dyes can be also done to organic cotton if conventionally produced. Unless organic cotton is Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified, it will still be treated with toxic finishes and dyes. (Read How to get rid of chemicals in fabrics.) 100% organic cotton that is GOTS certified can reduce baby’s exposure to these harmful chemicals. However, organic cotton bibs are not waterproof so cleaning a bib after meal is not easy. You would have to hand-wash or machine wash the bib so it takes more efforts to clean. However, organic cotton is the safest option for a non-toxic bib. Aden and Anais and Burt’s Bees Baby makes organic cotton bibs.
Aden and Anais Burpy Baby Bib
The material is 100% GOTS certified organic cotton. This is a super absorbent burp cloth/bib but you can also use it as a feeding bib when feeding solids. There is a snap on the edges to close the bib and when you put it on the baby, it covers whole shoulders and tummy. It is also reversible so you can flip it over and use it at next meal. This bib is BPA, PVC, vinyl, phthalate and lead free.
Burt’s Bees Baby Organic Cotton Bib
The material of this bib is 100% GOTS certified organic cotton. It has lap shoulder for easy on and off. You can slip it over the baby’s head instead of closing with velcro. Baby can’t pull off the bib.
Silicone is a rubber-like material. It contains bonded silicon (a natural element which is very abundant in sand and rock) and oxygen. It is one of the safest material currently available out there (along with natural rubber) as a safe alternative to toxic plastics. Health Canada and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirm that food-grade silicone is chemically inert and doesn’t leach chemicals when in contact with food or drinks. Also, it doesn’t emit chemical fumes into the air. It also withstands high & low temperatures and has a natural resistance to bacteria, odors and stains. However, there has been a study reporting some concerns about siloxanes (compounds found in silicone) migrating from silicone bakeware. The study found that if the silicone bakeware is under the heat higher than 300°C (572°F), siloxanes will travel from the product. However, many baby products made with silicone will not be used under the heat so they will be safe. Other than that, no safety problem has been reported yet about silicone. Silicone material is a good material for baby feeding bib because it doesn’t absorb water and you can just wipe or wash the bib clean with soap and water. Silicone is also kind of like a rubber, it is flexible, not rigid like plastics. Modern Twist and Happy Healthy Parents makes bibs that are made from 100% food-grade silicone.
Modern Twist Silicone Baby Bibs
The material is 100% food-grade silicone. This bib is BPA, PVC, vinyl, phthalate and lead free.
Happy Healthy Parent Baby Bib
The material is 100% food-grade silicone. This bib is BPA, PVC, vinyl, phthalate and lead free.
Polyurethane Laminate (PUL) or Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) (Water-Proof Fabrics)
Baby bibs can be also made from water-proof fabrics. Water-proof fabrics are natural or synthetic fabrics that are coated with water-proofing material such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyurethane (PU), rubber or silicone elastomer. Water-proofing with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is known to be toxic. When water-proof fabric is made with polyurethane (PU), it is called polyurethane fabric. (Polyurethane (PU) is a plastic.) Polyurethane fabric is made of polyester, nylon or cotton with polyurethane laminating or coating. It is also called Polyurethane Laminate (PUL) when typically made by laminating polyester fabric to a thin film of polyurethane. This type of fabric is often used for water-proof items such as cloth diapers, bibs, outerwear clothing, etc. (read What is Polyurethane Fabric)
In the past, when polyurethane laminate (PUL) was made, it used harmful solvents to laminate and contained toxic volatile organic compounds (VOC). Polyurethane Laminate (PUL) was made from petrochemicals and it was not biodegradable. However, it had a lower level of volatile organic compounds (VOC) than pvc. In recent years, new process was developed to laminate polyester without using solvents. Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is a thin stretchy plastic film. It is bonded together with polyester fabric into a single fabric using heat, pressure as well as glue. Some people call this newer type of Polyurethane Laminate (PUL) as Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). However, technically the fabric is still Polyurethane Laminate (PUL) but with a thermally bonded plastic material, Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). (read What are PUL and TPU?)
Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is a great alternative to PVC and has been used by many industries for bibs, diapers, garments for surgeons, etc. Unlike PVC (PVC is a hard plastic that requires toxic plasticizer to soften the plastic.), Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) does not require any toxic chemical treatment to achieve flexibility. (read Plastic To Smile About – Thermoplastic Polyurethane.) Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is inert and is stable with regular use. Only when heated above 428 degrees F, it has a risk of emitting toxic chemicals. However, you will not run into hot temperature when wearing a bib so it should be safe. Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is also biodegradable. (read What is PUL?)
Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) has been more widely used than an older polyurethane material with solvents in recent years. However, some manufactures still use solvents in their laminating process. As I mentioned earlier, some people call the newer type of Polyurethane Laminate (PUL) fabric as Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). On the other hand, some may still just call the fabric Polyurethane Laminate (PUL) since the fabric is still Polyurethane Laminate (PUL) with Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) in it. Therefore, it is possible that when the manufacturers describe their fabric as Polyurethane Laminate (PUL) or polyester with polyurethane lamination or coating, you will not know if they used solvents in their laminating process. On top of that, Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is still plastic.
Water-proof fabrics are ideal for easy cleaning since you can just wipe or wash the bib with running water. Some moms and babies love their comfort, light weight and easiness of cleaning & putting them on/off compared to other types of materials. Look below to see bibs that are made from water-proof fabrics. As I mentioned before, they don’t necessarily say Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) was used, often they are described as a water-proof fabric or a polyurethane fabric. (polyester or nylon with polyurethane coating or lamination.)
Kushies Silisoft Baby Bib With A Pocket
The material is a waterproof fabric with a 100% food-grade silicone pocket. This bib is BPA, PVC, vinyl, phthalate and lead free. This is the bib that has comfort and functionality of catching food all-in-one. Top part is a fabric so it is comfortable around baby’s neck. This is made in Canada.
Oxo Tot Baby Bib With A Pocket
The material is a waterproof fabric with a 100% food-grade silicone pocket. This bib is BPA, PVC, vinyl, phthalate and lead free. This bib also provides comfort around baby’s neck with a fabric top while doing a good job of catching food in the bottom.
Bumpkins Waterproof Baby Bib
This bib is 100% polyester with a waterproof coating embedded into the fabric. It is BPA, PVC, vinyl, phthalate and lead free.
Bumkins Short Sleeved Baby Bib
This bib is made of 100% polyester with a waterproof coating embedded into the fabric. It is BPA, PVC, vinyl, phthalate and lead free.
Bumkins Waterproof Sleeved Baby Bib
The material is made of 100% polyester with a waterproof coating embedded into the fabric. This bib is BPA, PVC, vinyl, phthalate and lead free.
BabyBjorn Eat & Play Smock
The fabric is made from 50% polyester and 50% polyurethane. This bib is BPA, PVC, vinyl, phthalate and lead free.
Kushies Waterproof Baby Bib with Sleeves
The fabric is made of 100% nylon coated polyurethane. This bib is BPA, PVC, vinyl, phthalate and lead free. This is made in Canada.
Hi Sprout Long Sleeve Baby Bib
This bib is made from polyurethane laminate (PUL) fabric. This bib is BPA, PVC, vinyl, phthalate and lead free.
Feitong Waterproof Baby Bib With Long Sleeves
This bib is made from Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). This bib is BPA, PVC, vinyl, phthalate and lead free.
Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) and Polythylene Vinyl Acetate (PEVA)
Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) and Polyethylene Vinyl Acetate (PEVA) both contain a word `vinyl’ which is also known as PVC. However, in chemistry, vinyl includes a range of different thermoplastic chemical compounds in addition to pvc. The difference is Ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) and Polyethylene vinyl acetate (PEVA) don’t have chlorine added which is known to generate dioxins. Therefore, EVA and PEVA has been used as a green alternative to pvc due to the absence of chlorine. However, Healthy building network article `When Vinyl is not PVC’ stated that although Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) and Polythylene Vinyl Acetate (PEVA) are less harmful than pvc, they still contain other harmful toxins. (read When Vinyl is not PVC) One study concluded that PEVA is not a safe alternative to PVC. (read Volatile Organic Compounds of Polyethylene Vinyl Acetate Plastic Are Toxic To Living Organisms.)
Some of Green Sprouts’ bibs are made from EVA. Lovable Friends makes bibs made from PEVA. Generally, bibs that are made from PEVA and EVA are very affordable.
All bibs have pros and cons based on their style or the materials they have used. If you want to choose a bib that is the most non-toxic, I would choose a 100% organic cotton or a silicone bib. Also, when feeding gets really messy, if you need more coverage for your baby, a water-proof fabric made with Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) can be an option.