Natural teething solutions

napping with his panda

Jack is a little over 6 months now, and I’ve been thinking that he may be teething since around 4 months. At his 4 month visit the pediatrician said his gums were hard so he was likely feeling some teething pain, but it could last for months until a tooth erupts. He also started drooling a lot around 4 months, to the point where I ordered 6 bibs on amazon because he was going through more than a bib per day! We ordered these organic cotton ones because they were so cheap, but the velcro irritated Jack’s neck, so my mom and I replaced it with buttons which work really well now.

Some helpful natural things we’ve tried so far for teething pain are:

  • This natural rubber panda. Jack loves kind of scraping it against his gums
  • Baby sophie giraffe who is natural rubber (I didn’t want the big sophie because she has a squeaker and some people on amazon said their babies gagged on her legs)
  • Any wood toy, block, spoon etc since the hardness of it seems to feel good on his gums
  • Wetting the corner of a washcloth and putting it in the freezer so Jack can chew on the cold part (but be careful not to keep the frozen part on his gum for too long)
  • Our doctor said he didn’t use Tylenol for his kids, but gave a little chamomile tea. We debated trying Tylenol but I’m glad we didn’t (at least not so far) because Jack has been seeming uncomfortable for a while, so we would have been giving him medicine all the time. I did try about a half ounce of tea which Jack surprisingly liked from a bottle, but there was no noticeable change.

I’m nervous for him to get his first tooth because I can’t imagine how much it would hurt if he bit me while breastfeeding, but I hope when he does that it helps his gum pain go away. Poor guy!

Organic baby bouncers

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A baby bouncer is definitely not a need to have item, but we ended up registering for one and have used it a lot. Of course if we didn’t have it we could have just put Jack down in his crib or on a blanket, but he didn’t like lying down much for the first few months and preferred to be upright (maybe he had some reflux) so we used the bouncer a lot.

Once we decided to ask for one (since people kept insisting it would be really useful) I looked up many natural options. I knew I didn’t want anything mechanical with vibrating or batteries or flashing lights etc, so that helped narrow down the options.

We ended up deciding on the BabyBjorn babysitter in organic cotton pictured above. I like that it is made of just organic cotton stretched over a metal frame (plus some foam around the edges which I’m not a big fan of). It’s easy to slide off the metal and wash and is also reversible. It also only bounces using the weight of your baby. I wish it was easier to open the button parts, but overall it’s been great, and can be used for naps as well. For a few months I would carry it from room to room (using one hand easily) because Jack was only happy sitting there, so it was the only way I could shower or cook things without wearing him.

We also eventually got the toy that clips on as a gift as well. It’s pretty expensive and I was disappointed to see that it’s mostly wood but some parts like the flower petals are plastic. Jack liked it a lot though, and there was a time around 3-4 months that he was totally fascinated but spinning the toy parts. Now he tries to sit up and put it in his mouth!

Other options I looked at:

  • Stokke has a bouncer that is Oeko-tex certified, but not organic
  • There are a bunch of organic baby hammock type things available, but they seem much less portable and some are really expensive

Natural toy trading

3.9

I’m so excited that I found out about this facebook group where you can buy, sell, or trade natural children’s toys: https://www.facebook.com/groups/402340353149076/

We have plenty of toys for Jack for now (and he loves things like kitchen utensils and boxes anyway), but I’m excited to look here once we want to buy some more toys as he ages. I’m trying to make friends with other moms who are more interested in eco-friendly things, but I haven’t had much luck so far, so I have no one to trade things with in person. It’s depressing how all the moms I am friends with use all plastic toys with crazy lights and mechanical songs- they seem so overstimulating.

Non-toxic high chairs

tripp trapp high chair nontoxic review

I read great reviews about the Tripp Trapp high chair, but I looked up lots of alternatives because it’s so expensive! As you can see, in the end we decided to buy it though.

I really wanted a wood high chair because then you don’t have to worry about flame retardants in the upholstery or cushion, pesticides in the fabric, or cleaning a bunch of stains off fabric all the time. So I spent a lot of time looking online and on craigslist for solid wood chairs (no particleboard etc) with safe paint. I’m glad I looked for non-toxic paint since Jack has already been sucking on his chair!

On the very budget end, I found this solid wood chair which my parents got to use with Jack at their house. It’s actually pretty cute in the darker wood colors, and only about $40! However, at 6 months he is too low to eat off the table while sitting in it since the height doesn’t adjust. The area where you sit is also kind of big, so he slouches and leans back in it, even with a pillow behind him. It works well for occasional use though, and would probably be better once we figure out a better way to prop him up.

I also considered plastic options like the really cheap Ikea chair, but I really prefer to avoid plastic if at all possible. Also, the cheap ones like Ikea don’t adjust the height and foot rests, which makes it less comfortable for continuous use.

The Badger and Keekaroo are mid-priced and adjustable, but I thought they looked too curvy and kid-like and wouldn’t match as well in our modern apartment. I thought about it a lot and decided to pay for the Tripp Trapp since the chair would sit in our dining area every day for years, so it made sense for us to pay for one that would look better.

We also debated about the child seat for the Tripp Trapp. Since it has a 5 point harness, you technically can use it just with that since 6 months. Jack still isn’t sitting completely on his own though, so I’m glad we got the child seat (even though it’s plastic) because it seems really safe and there is no way he could get out of it.

We got the child seat on craigslist to save money, but bought the Tripp Trapp new. There were some for sale used but were barely any cheaper, so it didn’t seem worth the cost of driving across town and carrying it back home. It was easy to set up, and I built it myself WHILE wearing Jack in the Moby!

We oped not to get the expensive tray type thing, but instead just push it up to the table, and he loves being with the family.

So far he seems super comfortable in it and is happy playing with his toys in there for maybe 20 minutes, while he started fussing after 5-10 minutes in my dad’s cheaper wooden chair.

Also, it’s SUPER easy to wipe clean (just wipe the 2 flat parts and a little of the baby seat if it gets slightly dirty). I like that Jack can use it for years and years since the height can be changed. It also comes with extra gliders to put under it so that the baby can’t tip it backwards. It seems really sturdy and well made so far.

FYI, I had originally thought to save money by getting a booster seat to use as a high chair that I could also use as a chair on the floor throughout the house. Sadly, they are all plastic from what I found, and most like this Price Lionheart one are polyurethane which is highly flammable so treated with flame retardants, made of a petroleum derivative, and often processed with formaldehyde. Yikes! Especially since babies put everything in their mouths.

Baby led weaning update

6.16carrot

Jack has been eating sold food for about a week and a half now, and some foods have been working better than others.

Here are some things that worked or didn’t work well for us with baby led weaning (everything was organic FYI):

  • We tried baked sweet potato spears first, but he didn’t eat much of them. I cut them into fry shapes and baked with olive oil for about 30 minutes or so at around 400 degrees. They were easy for him to grab because I made then pretty fat and long, but they were so soft that they turned into mush quickly and he didn’t eat much.
  • Some things we gave I guess weren’t cooked enough because he was able to grab them easily and with minimal mess and suck on them a little, but didn’t eat any. This included roasted carrot (pictured above), sauteed broccoli spear, and a probably not ripe enough avocado spear.
  • Some things were too soft and therefore hard for him to hold. I tried giving him a roasted red pepper from a glass jar sold at whole foods, but it was really floppy and he couldn’t put it in his mouth well
  • Bananas have been the only thing he actually eats a decent amount of so far. I at first gave him a half banana with part of the peel on to make it less slippery. However, he took the peel off and then started sucking bits off the inside of the peel which was creative. I cute the banana lengthwise in half so he could grab it, and while it was slippery as long as the pieces were long he could put it in his mouth easily and it was soft enough to eat.

Next on my list to try:

  • Dipping a spoon in applesauce or coconut greek yogurt (we’re avoiding dairy due to allergy) and letting him feed himself
  • spears of melon or watermelon
  • kiwi
  • steamed carrot
  • mashed beans

At least he’s been having fun so far, and the dog especially loves it!

Finding a cheap non-toxic crib

2.25

Since we spent a lot of money on some things already like the car seat, I wanted to find a non-toxic but not very expensive crib. I looked at Ikea, but I either didn’t like their designs (we wanted something kind of modern), and some of their cribs hard particleboard.

Surprisingly, the cheapest place I found a modern  solid wood crib with non-toxic paint was walmart! We decided to get this crib in the BabyMod series which is made of sustainable pine from New Zealand and cost a reasonable $199. We also looked on craigslist a little, but there wasn’t anything we really liked. Also, you want to make sure not to buy an old crib that no longer meets safety regulations.

So far the crib is working well although we use it as a play area and co-sleep for now. Jack has tried to chew on it, so I’m glad we got one with non-toxic paint! It converts into a toddler bed too, so I’m sure we’ll use it eventually. It definitely doesn’t look cheap, and seems solid and modern. I know some people who prefer the Montessori idea of just having a mattress on the floor which I think is also a nice option. We have a dog, so it’s nice to have a space where the dog can’t get to him when I put him down. It’s also easier on my back to put him down in the crib for a minute while I go to the bathroom rather than bending down to the floor (Jack weighs 18 pounds now!).

I looked at a ton of mattresses and I think the naturepedic ones are probably the most eco-friendly. They were expensive though, so we settled on this Lullaby Earth one that has two different firmness levels so you can use it for a baby or toddler.  It doesn’t have harmful flame retardants and is also only 7 pounds which makes changing crib sheets a lot easier! It’s waterproof which is nice and is made of polyethylene instead of polyurethane or vinyl. It’s also greenguard certified and had no chemical smell when we opened it.

We bought the naturepedic organic cotton fitted sheet because it had good amazon reviews, and it’s been good so far. I usually keep an organic cotton receiving blanket on top of it so if Jack spits up while playing in the crib I can get away with not having to wash the whole sheet.

Home made baby

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I love making things at home for cheaper or for free! I enjoy reading Montessori baby blogs like Sew Liberated and getting ideas for interactive baby toys. I really liked this one rolling toy I saw and it seemed to encourage crawling, and I was able to make something like it for free! I just cleaned out a glass lemon juice jar and put some pasta in there and really tightly screwed the cap back on. Jack likes the noise it makes (which is better than the annoying mechanical noise of plastic baby toys) and he likes to try to put it in his mouth or watch it roll.

I also made organic cotton drool pads from cloth I already had for both the Beco carrier and our car seat. Around 4 months Jack started drooling a ton, so we were going through multiple bibs per day! Now it’s decreased but he still drool, and likes to try to eat the straps of things.  I used some velcro I already had, and I just try to keep the scratchy part away from his mouth.

IMAG0274

Since we’re doing elimination communication, I also shortened some onesies into T-shirts which makes it faster to take Jack to the bathroom without unsnapping things. People gave us a lot of onesies as gifts, so it was free to hem them and make them into more usable shirts.

I also made some organic fleece diaper liners. I bought fleece from amazon and then just cut it to fit the size of our prefolds. You don’t even have to sew anything because fleece doesn’t unravel! I think they may have shrunk a little in the dryer, so I should have washed them first or made them extra-large. It was around $20 and I made a bunch of liners, so it was a good deal especially for organic ones. They really do wisk away the moisture, but Jack still wakes up a lot at night. His diaper is always wet when he wakes up so I thought the wetness was waking him, but I guess it’s not that, or he’s sensitive enough to feel it through the fleece.

Father’s day at the beach

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We went to the beach today for father’s day and it was the baby’s first time seeing the ocean! He liked walking around and going on the sand, but the water was too cold so he cried when I put his feet in.

I got him the Charlie Banana swim diaper because it has an organic cotton lining, and I couldn’t find one that was entirely organic/eco friendly. I got the turquoise in size medium since Jack is 18 pounds and it’s supposed to be 16-21 pounds, but I’m not sure how much longer it will fit him. At least it has a drawstring around the waist though, so hopefully the size will be ok for a little while. I also liked these because they were labeled as also being useful as training pants, so maybe we can get some use out of them that way once we’re transitioning out of diapers.

We decided to cancel out diaper service at the end of the month and do the laundry at home, so hopefully that will be an incentive to do elimination communication more often and get him out of diapers soon! I managed to have him poop on the toilet a few times in the last couple of days which feels great and is so much less messy!

We are likely going to buy retired prefolds from our organic diaper service because they are really cheap. I’m trying to test out ways of getting poop stains off the diapers naturally by using the sun or lemon juice. Hopefully I’ll find something that works!

Why I love elimination communication

3.29

Elimination communication or infant hygiene is watching your baby for signs that they have to go to the bathroom and then taking them to a potty or toilet so they don’t have to sit in a wet diaper. Half the babies around the world are potty trained by 12 months (Pediatrics Magazine), but in the United States, the average age is currently 3 years old (webMD).

I got really excited about EC when reading some eco-friendly baby books and thought it made a lot of sense. You watch your baby for cues that they are hungry, so why not do it for going to the bathroom as well? Also, our dog has the instinct not to pee where he sleeps and babies have that as well- they don’t like to sit in their own pee or poop just like other mammals. I did elimination communication part-time with Jack in that we use cloth diapers a lot, but I also take him to the bathroom several times per day.

We started when he was about 3 weeks old, but you can start at any age.

I picked cuing noises of “psss” for when he pees and “hmm” for when he poops because they sound like the noises he makes and were on a list of ideas in the Diaper Free Baby book

Every time I saw Jack pee I would make the noise for a few days, and I kept him naked on the changing pad for maybe 15-20 minutes a day so that I was likely to notice. He also peed often in the bath and sometimes when I took off his diaper.

I started putting him on a potty (which he did not really like) or holding him over the sink with his back against my chest (which worked better). I would make the noise, and he would pee about half the time right from the beginning! It made me really happy to feel like we were communicating and to see that he enjoyed peeing and not feeling wet afterwards.

Now that he’s 6 months old, he pees in the toilet (with me sitting on it backwards behind him) or in the sink a few times per day. I was really happy that yesterday I got all his poops in the toilet too! If we can have that happen most days, it would make washing our own cloth diapers so much easier!

Pros of Elimination Communication:

  • So much less messy with poops! All I have to do it use a little toilet paper or wipe to clean him, versus in a diaper where it gets smeared all over him
  • You really feel like you communicate with your baby and learn how to help them with one of their basic needs like eating
  • I had a rough time with breastfeeding in the beginning, so I felt like we communicated better about elimination than eating, and it helped me feel connected to Jack
  • It’s great to see how happy your baby looks to not have to sit in their waste
  • It’s supposed to make transitioning out of diapers a lot easier. Even if you just have them use a toilet once a day, that’s enough for them to be aware of when they are peeing (other babies lose this awareness that we are all born with)
  • It works well with cloth diapering since they can feel when they are wet
  • It leads to fewer dirty diapers (although a lot of wet diaper changes if you try to change them immediately like I do)
  • Will save a lot of money if we’re able to be out of diapers by 1-2 years instead of 3 years

Cons of Elimination Communication:

  • Takes some time (taking off clothes/diapers and taking baby to the bathroom) but it’s not that much more time than changing a dirty diaper, and saves time in that you won’t be changing a 3 year old’s diaper!
  • People think it’s weird. I don’t tell most people about it except family and close friends
  • It works best with certain clothes. We avoid onesies (or keep them open) and keep Jack in shirts instead because it’s much easier to check his diaper or take it off without undoing snaps or removing pants. We loved using legwarmers in the wintertime!

Tips that worked for me:

  • Trying taking baby to the bathroom after a nap, after taking him out of a wrap/carrier, and about 5 minutes after eating
  • If you think baby needs to pee but they aren’t going, try turning on the sink a little
  • If you think baby needs to go but they don’t want to, only keep them on the toilet for a few minutes- you don’t want them to get upset and have negative associations with it
  • If you go to change a diaper and it’s a little wet, take them to the toilet because they might need to go more
  • Around 6 months or earlier, try using the american sign language sign for bathroom when you take them to the potty so they can tell you they need to go once they learn it

Non-toxic strollers

nontoxic stroller baby jogger city mini review

Jack in our city mini by baby jogger

I had a hard time deciding what stroller to register for since this is my first child, and I didn’t really know what features would be most important. I definitely wanted something as non-toxic as possible, but also not something too expensive since we already got an expensive car seat. We live in an apartment with a few stairs up to the door, so I was planning to keep the stroller in my car trunk and therefore didn’t want something huge and wanted something really easy to open up and close.

I got almost all my baby things online, but I actually went to a physical store to look at a few strollers so that I could try out how easy they were to open with one hand if I was holding the baby. From reading a ton of Amazon reviews, I decided to get the BabyJogger City Mini which is easy to open up, and closes easily with one hand by pulling on a strap. I emailed the company and found out that:

Baby Jogger strollers made in the US are free of:
-Flame retardants
-PVC/BPA
-Latex
-Teflon
-Phthalates
-ScotchGuard
The USA stroller seat padding are made of polyurethane foam.

I also considered getting the Orbit stroller frame since my car seat could snap into it, but it was almost $500 just for the frame! I also tried it at the store and it was not possible to open or close with one arm for me. I also preferred the look of the BabyJogger and thought having 3 wheels made it easier to maneuver.

orbit baby nontoxic stroller review

The BabyPlanet brand also has a non-toxic stroller, but I thought they were not attractive looking

baby planet nontoxic stroller review

There are also a lot of really expensive brands that don’t use fire retardants like UppaBaby and Bugaboo. For a nice list of chemicals in strollers, try this web site.  I would also encourage you to email the company to make sure once you narrow it down to a couple of strollers because things can always change.

So far Jack has only used our stroller a couple of times because for the first 6 months I always wore him in the Moby or Beco. I still wear him now (he weighs 18 pounds) but my step-mom uses the stroller and he likes it.

What I like about the City Mini so far:

  • It’s easy to steer with one hand
  • It can recline so he can nap in it
  • There are clear panels you can open so you can see him through the sun shade
  • It protects him from the sun unlike a carrier
  • I like the red color we got because it’s pretty bright and less likely to get hit by a car
  • There is nice storage underneath it
  • It really is easy to open and especially close

I definitely don’t regret skipping an infant car-seat adapter because I never wanted to carry him in a stroller while he was so tiny. The carriers feel a lot safer to me since the baby is on you, and when they are so small it doesn’t hurt your back. It did wake him up moving him from the car seat to the wrap, but he loved being all cozy in the wrap and would usually go back to sleep.