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Millions of Americans buy local at the grocery store, selecting domestically grown produce instead of peaches from Chile and bananas from Mexico. So why does all that fly out the window when we're shopping for baby products?
Almost 8 in 10 Americans would prefer to buy U.S.-made products, Consumer Reports found in a recent survey, and over 60 percent would be willing to pay 10 percent more for homegrown items.
So why are U.S.-made baby goods so hard to find at big-box department stores and baby specialty markets? It's bewildering enough to try to pick out a car seat from a long row of confusingly named seats with an alphabet of meaningless acronyms, and a forest of safety claims to hack your way through – now you want us to pore over the box looking for the "Made in USA" label, too?
Like most strollers sold in the United State's Graco's popular LiteRider is manufactured in China.
It should be easier to find and buy domestically made baby products. Demand equals supply, right? Not really – not a single stroller for sale in the United States today was made domestically. Good luck finding a U.S.-made play yard. And the vast majority of bottles on the market are made in China.
Many parents are surprised to find that Dr. Brown’s Options (pictured) and Natural Flow bottles are made in the USA.
But if the foreign-made stroller, bottle, or play yard is safe and well-made, why does it matter? A few reasons:
1) Many parents feel more comfortable buying and using products that are made under U.S. safety standards, which are thorough and well-policed. They may have seen recalls of foreign-made products which were shoddily made or had coatings that contained unacceptable levels of lead, arsenic, or cadmium.
2) Buying U.S.-made products supports domestic manufacturing, and the American people who make their living making the things we want to buy. America's once-mighty manufacturing sector is making a bit of a comeback after huge losses in the last three decades – the Department of Commerce reports that U.S. manufacturing output grew by 45 percent between 2010 and 2014, partially offsetting enormous losses during the recession of 2008-2009.
3) Buying domestically saves on the petroleum used and pollution caused by overseas shipping.
4) Spending domestically means voting for fair working conditions, rather than supporting questionable or inhumane working conditions overseas.
The U.S.-made Milkies Milk-Saver allows nursing moms to collect breast milk effortlessly while breastfeeding.
Pretty convincing, right? Here's the hard part: Many American-made goods are more expensive. This can be a pretty bitter pill to swallow at a time when you're outfitting an entire nursery (read: spending hundreds or thousands of dollars at once), as well as nervously thinking of mouths that need feeding and college funds that need funding.
There are bargains to be found domestically – brands like Leachco, Prince Lionheart, Safety 1st, Cosco, Primo, Evenflo, and Eddie Bauer offer American-made products at very reasonable prices. But oftentimes, buying according to your conscience will take a bigger hit out of your wallet.
Some parents simply may not have the extra money to spend. But if you do, and you care enough about the issue to pay a little more, you can almost entirely outfit your nursery and care for your child with U.S.-made products.
Amusingly enough, the top-rated Primo EuroBath is made in the U.S., not Europe. It retails for $25.
There are dozens of U.S.-made car seats on the market, for example, largely due to the Dorel Juvenile Group's decision to maintain its manufacturing facility in Columbus, Indiana rather than moving overseas. Here's a video of car seats being manufactured in Columbus:
The factory makes 4 million car seats a year under brands like Safety 1st, Eddie Bauer, Cosco, and Maxi-Cosi, and Dorel manufactures other products like tubs, potties, and even (!!) a play yard, the Cosco Funsport.
The Cosco Funsport Play Yard can be had for as little as $40, is assembled in Dorel Juvenile Group's Columbus, Indiana factory, and won a 4-star rating from BabyCenter's editors.
Car seat maker Evenflo is another brand with many domestically made seats – the company maintains factories in Piqua, Ohio (as well as Tijuana, Mexico) – as is Britax, which has a factory in Fort Mill, South Carolina, though some of its seats are made in China.
Important caveat: Though these car seats are assembled domestically, many of their components are made overseas. Take Dorel's Columbus factory for example: car seat bases and frames are made in Columbus and the car seats are assembled in Columbus but the fabric and car seat pads are made overseas.
The same goes for other fabric items like high chairs and play yards: the "fashion" portion of the products are not made in Columbus, but everything is assembled and tested for safety in Columbus.
Safety 1st's Comfy Cushy Potty does triple duty as a standalone potty, a toilet trainer seat, and a step stool; $15-$19.
Other nursery items are even easier to source domestically. Happily for parents who skew to either cloth or disposable diapers, most of the standard disposables on the market – Huggies, Pampers, Luvs, Target's up & up, Seventh Generation – are all made in the U.S., and cloth diaper brands like Thirsties, Blueberry, and Swaddlebees are made in America.
It's also pretty easy to find American-made wood furniture, clothing, toys, baby carriers, and any kind of cloth good, like bibs or nursing tents. Now, whether the fabric that was used to make the item was American-made or not, that's another story.
Want to set up your own all-American nursery? Here are some of our favorite American-made baby products.
Check the label in most of the carriers you'll find in your local big-box department store; "Made in China" is what you'll see. Beco Baby Carriers are made in the USA and are as good as they come -- 100 percent cotton, easy to adjust, comfy. The Beco Gemini earned a 5-star rating on our site and the tenth anniversary edition comes in this marvelous Bus Ride pattern; $150.
It's surprisingly hard to find a made-in-America crib without paying thousands. But you'll all sleep better when your child's in a baby crib produced under the strict USA safety standards. Jamestown, New York craft woodworking business El Greco makes the beautiful Andersen Crib for Land of Nod with sustainably harvested American wood that's hand-sanded as smooth as silk and finished with non-toxic lacquer and glue. Land of Nod also sells the conversion rail to turn the crib into a toddler bed; $800
Prefer a crib with a more modern look? The Flynn Crib, another El Greco product, is sold by Room and Board. The crib's top is a beautiful matte white, the bottom can be painted in colors from gray to emerald to the lovely aqua pictured here. The paints are non-toxic, the wood's solid, sustainably harvested maple, and the whole crib is made by hand; $899.
Mattresses are some of most chemical-y products in your whole house, a fact you'll think about a lot when you go shopping for a crib mattress. The Newton Crib Mattress is filled with intricately intertwined strands of food-grade polymer instead of foam treated with fire retardants. It's washable – the whole mattress! – hypoallergenic, 100 percent recyclable and made stateside; $300.
We love the Safety 1st Complete Air 65 Convertible Car Seat – and like many other Safety 1st seats (like the onSide Air, the Alpha Elite 65, and the Guide 65), it's made in the U.S.; $150.
It's pretty tough to find an infant car seat not made in China. But the highly-rated – it won a 2015 our site Moms' Pick Award – Britax B-Safe 35 is made in the USA (although from both domestic and imported components). Many other popular Britax models, like the Marathon, the Frontier, Boulevard and Roundabout, are also made in the USA. B-Safe 35; $170-$210.
Maxi-Cosi makes its Prezi, Mico AP (pictured), Mico AP 2.0, Mico Next models, Pria models, and Mico Max models in the same Columbus, Indiana factory that makes many Safety 1st, Eddie Bauer, and Cosco car seats. The Mico AP is a our site fave; $200.
Evenflo makes many of its highly rated car seats in the USA, proudly noting on its site which models are made in America, like the Tribute LX, Titan, SureRide DLX, Platinum Evolve 3-in-1, and the Nurture Infant Car Seat, a our site favorite and a bargain; $50.
What a surprise to learn that the most popular bottles for colicky babies are made in the USA! Dr. Brown's Natural Flow and Options baby bottles are made in America – their silicone nipples, however, are made in Germany, the U.S., and China; $12-$18 for bottle 3-pack.
Many parents decide to forego changing tables to save space and money. But if you have one on your registry, consider the Young Time Changing Table by Jonti-Craft, a Midwestern company with eco-minded practices and several different lines of children's and educational furniture. Young Time is Jonti-Craft's bargain line, packaged IKEA-style in ready-to-assemble flats and GREENGUARD Gold certified. It'll pinch-hit as toy storage once the diapering years are over, and the price tag is amazing: $250.
Keekaroo's Peanut Changing Pads are currently so hot on the baby market that it takes at least a month for your order to get to you. They're made in Keekaroo's facility in Dolgeville, New York and come in a crazy rainbow of colors; $100.
Muslin baby blankets are a new-parent necessity, and most of the examples you'll find at stores are made in China. SwaddleDesigns' sweet muslin swaddles get softer with every wash and come in pale pastel patterns with vintage charm; $50 for a 4-pack.
Soft, cozy, and handy for comfortable nursing sessions, the Leachco Cuddle-U Nursing Pillow is made in Leachco's facility in Ada, Oklahoma, where Leachco makes a bunch of other cool stuff – maternity pillows, bath products, the BumpZZZ Travel Bed. Cuddle-U; $24-$44.
A great big toilet seat is scary for little tiny kids. Prince Lionheart's weePOD Basix turns that big, intimidating seat into a soft and cushy one. Some, but not all, of Prince Lionheart's other great bargain-priced products, including its $35 diaper bag and $8 bath hammock, are made in the USA. weePOD Basix; $17.
Looking for crib bedding? Look no further than Carousel Designs of Douglasville, Georgia, which offers pre-made or custom bedding from dozens and dozens of fabric choices. Pictured: Coral and Teal Arrow Crib Bedding; pieces $34-$160.
Little Tikes makes some – but not all – of its products in its Hudson, Ohio factory, particularly toddler desks and beds like this amazing Pirate Bed, Look for the "Little Tikes Made in USA" label on classic kid's toys like the Cozy Coupe, too; $270.
It's tough to find children's toys made stateside – but Step2 makes many of its wonderful children's toys and furniture in the U.S.; the Step2 site spells out exactly where each item is made, and where its components came from. Pictured here: the All Around Easel for Two; $45.
Buying from Green Toys? You'll already be aware, then, that all of its highly rated children's toys are made from recycled plastics in the USA. The Green Toys Dump Truck is a our site editor fave; $25.
Parents who want to buy domestic will be thrilled to know that most of the major disposable diaper brands (Huggies, Pampers, Luvs, Target's up & up, Seventh Generation) are made in the U.S., as are many popular brands of cloth diapers, like Thirsties, whose Duo Wrap Diaper is pictured; $13. Incidentally, many brands of baby wipes are also manufactured in America: up & up, Babyganics, Seventh Generation, Pampers, Natural Value, Huggies. The Honest Company, which makes arguably the most popular brand of "natural-ish" wipes, makes its wipes in China and diapers in Mexico.
When unfolded, the patemm pad is a great big round changing pad that'll hold even the squirmiest babies. Done with diaper duty? It cleverly folds up into a carrier with a grabbin' handle that'll hold diapers, wipes, or a change of clothes; $68.
Considering what a high percentage of electronic goods are made overseas, it's surprising how easy it is to find a U.S.-made breast pump. All of Medela's U.S.-sold pumps are made in the USA (including our site favorite the Pump in Style Advanced). The same is true for Hygeia, maker of our favorite Hygeia EnJoye Electric Breast Pump. Freemie's pumps are also manufactured in the U.S. Pictured: the Freemie Freedom Deluxe Set; $200.
Baby rockers and bouncers tend to come in two varieties: cheap and made in China and expensive and Euro-made. Chicago's Hoohobbers makes the only domestically manufactured baby bouncer we've ever seen, and it's a goody. All of its fabric parts come off for machine-washing, it folds flat for storage or travel, and your baby's name can be stitched across the bottom; $90.
In the story that precedes this slide show we said "good luck" to finding an American-made play yard. Though astonishingly few Pack 'n Play-style yards are made domestically, there is one solution – the USA-made North States Superyard is a small, easy-to-set-up fence that encloses up to 18.5 square feet – less if you need it, since you can leave out fence "links" – turning your living room floor, or a spot of lawn, into an ad hoc play yard; $75.
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.