- Family and Parenting
Green & Organic Baby Guide
Raising Baby Green!
Having a baby is one of the most monumental experiences in your life. It creates a large amount of change and one of the most significant transformations might be the amount of baby stuff you accumulate for your new little bundle. Having a baby can send you into a buying frenzy with the need for furniture, clothing, toys, and diapers. A baby really has very minimal needs though, so going overboard with baby purchases is not required.
There are many options available today that are not only baby friendly, they are planet friendly as well. When we bring a baby into the world we want that world to be as friendly and hospitable as possible. We want to ensure that that world remains friendly and hospitable for generations to come. Raising a green baby is easier than you think if you consider some of the following ideas.
Photo Source: Deposit Photos
How to Create a Non-Toxic Nursery
If you have a baby on the way and want to ensure you have a tiptop, green friendly, non-toxic nursery-read on! In these days of environmental awareness, for us to keep our world safe, we need to begin at home and what better place than your baby's first environment?
First, start with your walls and floors and use non-toxic paint that doesn't contain volatile organic compounds VOCs. Paints loaded with VOC's can still produce toxins in the air years after they have dried. Milk paint is another great paint that you can mix with water for a warm eggshell feel. Many variations of natural wall coverings are also available to brighten your baby's room.
If the nursery has wall-to-wall carpet, you're better off tearing that up with all the molds and other elements it can hold and stick with a natural wood floor. Accent your floor with area rugs that are made from organic cottons and wools.
When it comes to the crib or bassinette, make sure these are both made of natural wood and cover them with organic fabrics. Organic fabrics do come in varied natural pigment colors to give splashes of color to your nursery. In fact, even the rocking chair or changing station should be all wooden, stay away from plastics because someday, if you can't recycle that plastic changing station-we all know where that will end up-in a landfill for centuries. If you know an artisan who works with wood, ask them to make your baby furniture and lamps and use low-energy soft lighting for your baby's eyes.
Be careful of the mattress you use in your crib or bassinettes and find ones that are stuffed with organic materials that won't release carcinogenic into the air. These days, you can create a totally non-toxic nursery by buying organic baby clothing, first cloth baby read books, and natural essential antioxidant oils and creams for your baby's skin.
Keep plenty of fresh organic cotton diapers on hand as well as glass bottles. Stay away from plastic diapers and plastic bottles that can't be recycled. Items for baby such as non-toxic teething rings, and teething tablets are at stores everywhere in these days of a toxin free environment.
Stuff your new baby's drawers with toxin free organic bathing products, clothes, soaps, and shampoos that won't irritate their precious skin or contain preservatives or toxins that your baby can breathe in. If you can, allow for a window in your baby's room as many toxins can develop without a fresh breeze of air.
When it's time to clean the baby's nursery, only use green cleaning products and make sure your vacuum cleaner has bags that trap allergens from the floor and air. Use natural cotton dusting cloths not only for the care of your furniture but to stop the release of toxins found in some fabrics that have been processed or sprayed before made into cloth.
If you follow these easy steps, you'll be assured to have a fully functional, safe and non-toxic nursery that you can pass along or use for babies two and three!
Greener, Cheaper Baby Essentials
Many parents spend what should be a joyful time - pregnancy - worrying about how they're going to buy all the gear babies need in time for the little one's arrival. Are there any ways to get the items you need for the new arrival without spending a lot of money? Absolutely. Here are some of the things to keep in mind that will not only save you money but also be kinder on the environment.
Reassess - The first step is to reassess what you will really need once baby arrives. If this isn't your first child, you probably have a lot of stuff left over from a previous baby that you could use, assuming you saved things.
If this is your first child, understand that much of the baby stuff that is being marketed as essential is not truly needed in the first place, and is even designed to keep you away from your baby. For example, it is not necessary to create and furnish a nursery at all. Babies and even toddlers couldn't care less if they had fancy bedding with matching dcor. All they want is your time and presence, food and warm clothing. Your baby will likely be happiest if he or she sleeps near you. Bassinettes are generally far cheaper than cribs. Or you can skip the whole thing and let baby sleep with you.
Babies can also play with ordinary household items with your supervision and often prefer these things over the fanciest store bought toys! Wooden spoons, plastic food containers, items from nature and other easily obtainable items stimulate your baby's creativity and cost nothing because you already own them. Challenge yourself to create a "treasure box" of safe, everyday items you find around your home that your baby could play with. When you do buy toys, focus on high quality, classic items like wooden blocks. These will last for multiple children and experts believe that open ended toys are better for your child's brain development than fancy flashy battery operated ones.
Multi Task - Buy baby gear items that serve multiple purposes. A baby sling is the perfect example of this. A baby sling can make a baby swing and exercauser unnecessary. A sling can even stand in for a stroller. Slings are highly portable and can be used to feed a baby discreetly in public, comfort them when they're upset, and gentle them to sleep. Your baby will thrive developmentally and cry less if she or he is "worn" close to your body. Baby slings can be made cheaply or bought inexpensively.
Obtain Used - As long as you are careful not to purchase items that have been recalled, buying used is an excellent option to help you save money. High quality clothing, cloth diapers, toys, books, furniture and much more is available at yard sales, consignment shops, thrift stores, online auctions and even places like Craigslist and Freecycle. Buying used is also kinder on the environment since it is a practice of reusing, and used items generally have no packaging attached.
Ask - If your friends or relatives throw you a baby shower, tell people what you really need. Don't be afraid to ask for practical gifts like cloth diapers, plenty of stylist yet unfussy everyday t shirts and pants for your young baby, and other necessary items. You could also ask friends and loved ones to buy you things like a baby food grinder so you can make your own baby food once baby is eating solids, which also saves you money. And what new mom wouldn't appreciate a book full of coupons for free babysitting?
Getting what you need for baby without going broke just involves a little forethought and creativity. Be open minded and keep "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" firmly in mind too.
Green Baby Products
Safe, green baby gear!
Baby Body Care - Keep it Green and Natural
There are many body care products on the market under the heading of "baby" - baby lotion, baby bath, baby soap. But just because something has "baby" in the title does not mean it's the best for your little one. Babies' skin is five times thinner than adults' skin, so even a product that is "safe" for adults could be harmful for your baby. Here are some things to consider when choosing body care products for your little one.
1. Think outside the labels
Unlike food, the FDA does not require extensive labeling of personal care product ingredients, nor does it require companies to test the safety of the ingredients they use. On labels that do show some ingredients, you might see parabens, sodium laureth/lauryl sulfate, and pthalates - all implicated in skin irritation and hormone disruption.
What the labels don't show are by-products, such as 1,4-Dioxane, a potential carcinogen and component of sodium laureth sulfate. If the product you are considering has sodium laureth sulfate, that means it contains 1,4 Dioxane. Don't automatically trust labels that claim the product is "natural" or "mild." There may be many chemicals in mainstream baby body products that are not listed at all on the label.
2. Don't perfume the baby
So many personal care products are infused with fragrance, which means they probably contain pthalates, a chemical that is often a component of scented items. Pthalates are linked to problems with reproduction. Fragrances have been known to cause allergic reactions as well. Be sure to choose fragrance-free products if these are concerns for you.
There are excellent sites, some with databases, where you can research the safety and toxicity of specific personal care products for babies and children. Some sites even rate the products, giving them a toxicity "score."
4. Go organic
If the chemicals in baby body care products concern you - including the rather significant "the consumer does not know" factor - consider getting organic products or making them yourself. Look for labels that say "certified organic" or have a list of what they don't contain, such as "paraben-free" or "NO sodium laureth/lauryl sulfate."
The simpler, the better - organic olive oil is a mild, natural moisturizer for baby's skin, as is organic almond oil. Oatmeal is soothing and inexpensive - powder organic oats in a blender and add to baby's bathwater. Or, mix the powdered oats with water to make a paste and use as a skin cleanser. That's all the cleanser baby's skin needs!
The Green Baby Shower
Are you planning a baby shower for your eco-friendly green Mama to be? Here are some tips to guide you in giving her a fun and memorable day that will leave her with happy memories and have minimal impact on mother Earth.
Encourage Minimal Packaging - Encourage the guests you invite to use reusable packaging, such as gift bags (remind them not to write on the bag itself but to put their names on the removable card) or cloth wrapping. Give a door prize for most creative eco-friendly packaging. Craftsy moms could even wrap the gift inside itself, for example a baby blanket could be folded attractively to hold an outfit. Look in books on Japanese wrapping for inspiration.
Carpool Prize - Offer the moms who carpool to the baby shower location an extra door prize to encourage them to do so. If you live in an area where bicycling is common, do the same for Moms who bike or walk to the party.
Responsible Registry - Thankfully, there are many online baby boutiques that offer a gift registry. Encourage your guest of honor to choose one or more so that she can pick all the organic baby clothing, toys and cloth diapers she wants. Then let guests know on the invitations that they can save gas and time by ordering just what the new mom's heart desires - over the internet.
Swap Meet Themed Shower - With the permission of the Mother-to-be, why not encourage guests to bring kid hand me downs that are still in great shape to the shower? They could give these to the new Mom - new babies typically don't wear out their clothing and equipment, but outgrow it. Or, they could exchange the gear amongst themselves. You can keep baby stuff out of the landfill by hosting a mini swap meet.
Ditch the Disposable - Instead of using disposable paper plates and plastic cutlery, purchase inexpensive melanine plates and encourage the guests to take them home as a door prize. That way you won't have to wash any dishes! Or, hold the shower in a restaurant (one that uses real plates and cloth napkins) and let them do all the dishwashing.
Creative Gifting - Sometimes, the best gift for a new Mom is the gift of time. How many cute outfits does one newborn need? Not many. But giving Mom a freezer full of healthy meals (in reusable freezer containers, of course) is worth a million dollars. A new Mom needs to eat healthfully, yet she also needs to relax and enjoy her new baby. How about having a Casserole Shower instead of a traditional one? Encourage guests to cook a healthy casserole or other easy meal in a container that they don't mind Mom keeping (or tell them to put their name on the dish to pick up later).
Shower guests can also give the new Mom a gift certificate good for a week's (or a month's!) worth of maid service, or cloth diaper service. Another idea is tickets that are redeemable for child care for the older child, or a load of laundry or other household chore, etc. And what about, in lieu of gifts, guests donate to a savings account that the Mother has set up for her new arrival? This might be especially thoughtful for a Mom who already has children and plenty of baby stuff but less cash.
With a little forethought, you can give Mom a fun day and set a good example of environmental stewardship.
The Art of Babywearing
The Greenest Way to Carry Baby!
Parents around the world have "worn" their babies in various types of hand made slings for many years. Today we use the term "babywearing" to describe a way of carrying or transporting our children that creates a positive experience for the parent and the child.
A stroller transports a baby from point A to point B. But "babywearing" is more than a transport method. It's a beautifully creative way to meet the functional needs of daily life while serving the more emotional and developmental needs of baby and parents. Babywearing is a very natural and human way to introduce our children to the world and to nurture their confidence.
New parents are often counseled by well meaning friends not to hold or pick up an infant too much for fear of spoiling him. So when the baby isn't being fed, bathed or played with, he is "put down" to sleep. If the baby doesn't want to sleep he might cry or might simply stare wide eyed at whatever is available to grab his attention-likely a mobile or some corner of the ceiling.
On the other hand, parents who use baby slings carry their child around with them throughout various parts of their day. The child's sleeping schedule fits in with mom or dads mobility schedule!
Many claim that babywearing results in children who cry less. This claim has been observed in other cultures throughout the world where women carry their children around in slings as they go about their daily work or routine.
Advocates believe babies worn in a sling learn more and learn faster. Sling babies spend more time in a state of "quiet alertness." This is a behavioral state in which an infant is calm and content and more likely to have real and positive interaction with his environment. So during these periods as a child listens to his mother speak or watches others as they speak and gesture towards his mother he is learning about language and movement and social behaviors.
Experts believe that brain growth and development is spurred by the environmental experiences made a available to an infant who is carried in his parent's sling. Sling positioning (across the chest, along the hip, facing in or out) allows infants to be closer to people. With this kind of proximity babies can study facial expressions, develop language skills and learn body language much faster than they would positioned in a car seat, stroller or crib.
Some contend that parenting abilities are enhanced through babywearing because the mother's progesterone (mothering hormone) is increased through the constant and close physical contact with her child. More progesterone can help a mother to feel more positive, relaxed and happy caring for her child.
Breastfeeding is another activity that can be enhanced by babywearing. The positioning of the baby in the sling can make breastfeeding more comfortable and accessible for babies and mothers. Depending on their physiology, some mothers can nurse "hands-free" while doing activities in the home or outside. Where breastfeeding is not possible, babywearing can help to encourage closeness during bottle feeding.
One of the best things about babywearing is that it brings parents and their children together in a way that enhances the parent/child relationship and the natural development of the child.
Natursutten All Natural Organic Pacifier
With all the talk about BPA (Bisphenol A) in baby teethers and pacifiers it is awesome that the Natursutten is available to provide a safe alternative for baby and peace of mind for mom.
These rubber pacifiers are quite a bit softer than silicone pacifiers and extremely hygienic because they are molded into one piece, so there are no joints or cracks where dirt and bacteria can gather. This also make sit easy to wash. This also ensures that it won’t fall apart and make you worry about potential choking.
I found my baby took to it really well. He was happy as a clam. I was very happy as well to know that his paci had to BPA, chemical softeners, parabens, PVC or phthalates. It is just a useful product without any chemical nasties.
I also found them to be comparable in price to other pacifiers so you aren’t paying a premium for safety. They can be found online for as little $5.95. The Natursutten is also a green product as it produced using a sustainable raw material, the tree sap from the rubber tree.
To care for it we just sterilized in boiling water before the first use and then we followed up from then on with soap and water since our baby is older than six months.
Make Your Own Natural Baby Products
Many conventional baby products contain questionable ingredients such as parabens, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), talc, and synthetic perfumes and fragrances. All of these ingredients can have adverse effects on the health and well being of your baby, so it is no wonder that many parents have chosen to take matters into their own hands. Parents are now finding that it is easy, more cost effective, and safer to make their own baby products with natural ingredients. By stocking your pantry with a few key natural ingredients you can make all sorts of natural baby products for baby. You don't have to be a chemist to create luxurious, baby friendly products that are all natural.
Here are a few easy recipes for natural baby products that are sure to please:
All Natural Baby Wipes Solution
1 cup water
1/4 cup Aloe Vera Juice
1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tablespoon Calendula Oil
1 teaspoon grated, unscented soap
2 drops Lavender Oil
2 drops Tea Tree Oil
Mix in a jar and then pour over organic cloth wipes or paper towels. This baby wipe solution is anti-fungal and great for discouraging yeast diaper rashes.
Homemade Baby Powder (Talc-free)
cup corn starch
cup Arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon dried ground chamomile
1 tablespoon dried ground lavender
cup finely ground oats
Blend well and put in a shaker style bottle. Now you can powder your baby's little bottom in safety.
Baby Bath Milk
1 cup milk
cup corn starch
cup finely ground oats
2-3 drops lavender, rose, or chamomile essential oils
Mix ingredients together and put in a shaker style bottle. To use, sprinkle a small amount in warm bath water.
A Better Baby Oil
1 cup Grapeseed or Apricot Kernel oil
4-6 drops lavender or chamomile essential oils
1-2 vitamin E capsules (optional)
Squeeze the vitamin E capsules into the oils and mix together. Store in a dark colored bottle and use as a bath or massage oil.
Lavender Dryer Sachets
1 small muslin drawstring bag (you can usually get these at craft stores)
2-3 drops lavender essential oil
Fill the muslin bag with the dried lavender and add the essential oil. Close the bag tightly and throw in the dryer along with your baby clothes. They will be super soft and they will smell great!
The skin is the body's largest organ and it has the ability to absorb things that is comes into contact with. With that in mind do you want to expose your baby to potentially harmful chemicals or safe and natural ingredients? Most parents would agree that ensuring your baby products are completely natural is worth it. These recipes should help you get started.
Making our own baby products with all natural ingredients is fun to do, it saves money, and most importantly it ensures that our babies' delicate immune systems are not unduly taxed by harmful product ingredients. Most of the ingredients listed above can be bought at conventional supermarkets and natural food stores so you can pick some up on your regular shopping trips.