Babies Love Your Keys, But…

It’s true — a mommy’s keys can rattle and move; they feel slippery and cool; have both rough and smooth edges and are absolutely fun for baby to play with.

Whenever Junior starts to fuss, whether in the check-out line at the grocery store or sitting on mommy’s lap while she chats with a friend at the local coffee shop, those keys are likely to fly out of her purse and get handed over to him a.s.a.p. And it’s a good bet that they will keep him occupied and happy — for a while, anyway.

But parents, beware! Those keys are not as innocuous as they look and here’s why: most household keys are made of brass, an alloy which contains lead. And lead, in case you didn’t know, is a powerful neurotoxin, which is a poisonous chemical that affects the nervous system.

A study of brass keys by California’s Attorney General demonstrated that some of them left up to 80 times the current California standard of lead per day on the hands (and eventually in the mouths) of babies. Not good.

Lead poisoning is the number one most preventable disease in children. So, new rule for the caring mom (and dad): Keep those keys in your purse or pocket and resist the urge to use them as a pacifier. Stick to the toy variety. It’s an easy way to limit your child’s exposure to lead right from the start.




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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.

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