Chances are, if you have a small child, at one point or another they'll have some sort of rubber in their mouths. It may be a bottle nipple, pacifier, teething toy or all three, but either way a good amount of time will be spent gumming on that chewy something. A lot of fuss is made over the materials used to make bottles. And currently, there are plenty of non-BPA-leeching options out there. But, what about the part that actually goes in your babe's mouth?
Most artificial nipples (both bottle nipples and pacis) are made from either silicone or latex. The same goes for teethers. Silicone nipples are made from silicon together with carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. And while these are all naturally occurring chemical elements, silicone rubber also contains chemical softeners and preservatives. Pure latex (natural rubber) is collected from rubber trees. It's then filtered and dried for commercial processing with no added chemicals. So, in my opinion, the superior choice here is natural rubber (latex.)
And, as always, there's the environmental factor. Silicone is most commonly recovered through a process called sand mining. Sand mining is a direct cause of erosion and is responsible for habitat depletion, coastal flooding and the decline of water quality. On the other hand, latex is harvested through tapping. An incision is made in the tree that allows for the collection of latex for up to 25 years. During this time the tree remains unharmed and is able to provide a home for a multitude of birds and other tree dwelling species. Again, it seems like natural rubber might be the better choice.
There is a downside to using natural rubber products. Because they do not contain chemical preservatives and are naturally softer, they break down more easily and need to be replaced more often. The result of this is more waste. Ultimately the best option is to avoid artificial nipples (breast feed instead), pacifiers (replace with cuddles and more boob) and teethers (frozen fruit chunks work well) altogether. But if you live in the real world you know that isn't totally realistic or always possible. My daughter lived for her paci until age two and even full-time nursing moms require the aid of a bottle from time to time. So just do your best to limit the use of these things when you can.
Some natural rubber products that we like:
Nipples - it seems like there aren't many natural latex options on the market right now. I did manage to find this. You do come ready made with two pretty good options though (boobs!)