DIY natural toothpaste for kids

My 2 year old and I have a constant up and down relationship with toothbrushing. At the moment he has been letting me brush while I count to 10 and he watches a video, and it helps that I let him put the toothpaste on his brush himself. However, he likes to eat more toothpaste than I would feel comfortable with so I decided to make my own using natural ingredients. We had a strawberry natural toothpaste before which he liked, so I looked for the closest recipe I could find and ended up making my own version. It ended up being a big success luckily! He helped me make it and loves licking it right out of the jar. Because our house is warm I store it in the fridge so the coconut oil doesn’t melt, and he rubs his toothbrush on it (or licks it out of the container).

Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut oil (I didn’t melt it because it was already half melted in our warm house)

2 tablespoons baking soda

2 tablespoons xylitol (I bought it from whole foods and blended it in a coffee grinder first because the crystals were too big)

10 drops of orange essential oil

a few drops of natural orange food coloring if your child likes colorful toothpaste

 

you just mix it together and then taste a bit to see if you need more xylitol for sweetness or more orange flavor

 

Soap for Goodness Sake shampoo bar review

It's kind of sad that this is the best picture I could find with my hair down

It’s kind of sad that this is the best picture I could find with my hair down

I didn’t get paid to write this or anything, but I wanted to share a new product I’ve been using for several months now and loving! I got the tea tree oil Soap for Goodness Sake shampoo bar because it had a 0 ranking on the EWG’s skin deep list which means no bad chemicals. I ended up loving it for many reasons!

  1. You can use it as shampoo and as a soap bar so it eliminates needing separate shampoo, soap, and even conditioner!
  2. It makes my hair less frizzy (I have really curly hair and believe it or not is used to dry way frizzier than in the picture above which is how it looks now with no product)
  3. I find I no longer need conditioner, so that eliminates a step in the hair washing process
  4. It works as well for dandruff as chemically other shampoos
  5. It’s a solid so it’s easy to take on a trip and won’t spill in your bag. It also isn’t problematic for taking in a caryyon bag since it’s not a liquid
  6. It’s on amazon which is convenient

A few things that aren’t the best about it: it seems to take more effort to wash completely out of my hair, and it does sting your eyes if it gets in them which is not uncommon for shampoo, but is still a con. It also takes a bit longer to lather into my hair rather than squirting a liquid shampoo into it.

Overall I’m thrilled with it and will definitely buy it again. I was looking for a natural shampoo option but didn’t really want to try the whole vinegar wash thing since that seemed like a hassle, so I like that this is natural and also I can just buy it and don’t have to put much work into it. It also lasts for a long time.

DIY organic fabric wall decals

organic fabric animals on jack's wall

organic fabric animals on jack’s wall

We transitioned Jack to his new room recently, and I have been excited to make the decor more child-friendly. The room used to be our office so it was pretty plain, and it has large sliding wooden doors for the closet so I decided to use wall decals on them. We live in an apartment so I didn’t want anything permanent, and of course I didn’t want any toxic vinyl decals, so I started looking up fabric ones. However, the ones I found online that were nontoxic like these were adorable but pretty expensive! Most of them also seem to be made of polyester (not the most natural) and use water-based glue which seems ok but didn’t have an ingredients list. So I looked into DIY options and was so excited to find a really natural alternative that is cheaper and still cute!

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the sheep and duckling

Materials:

  • cotton fabric
  • cornstarch
  • water
  • optional: some kind of brush or foam brush like these¬†

Directions:

  1. Look around online for inspiration of what you want to put on the wall. Once you decide, you can search for “silhouette” of the thing on google images and pick one you like to copy. For example I searched for “bird silhouette” to find some birds I liked that looked somewhat realistic.
  2. Find some fabric or use some that you already have. I used lightweight cotton which worked well. For the birds I used an old organic cotton pillowcase and for the animals I ordered organic cotton fabric online from here.
  3. Draw the designs onto your fabric and cut it out. I just used a pencil and looked at the picture and freehanded it onto the fabric. After I cut the design out I erased the visible lines with an eraser. You can try to cut slightly inside the lines to skip the erasing step. You could also print the image out and cut it out and trace it.
  4. Clean off your wall
  5. Get materials for cornstarch glue. The ratio of cornstarch to water I found worked best after trying several was 5 teaspoons cornstarch to 1/2 cup water. If your project is big, double the recipe. If you use too little cornstarch (I tried with 3 teaspoons first) the decal may come off when dry, but you can just try again with more). If you use too much it might look slightly white.
  6. Take your 1/2 cup of water and microwave it for about 1.5 minutes so it’s boiling or very hot
  7. Mix 5 teaspoons cornstarch with a little cold water just to dissolve it
  8. Add the cornstarch to the hot water and stir (if it’s really thick add a bit more water until it’s like dense water, but not like jello)
  9. For small fabric pieces pour the mixture onto a plate and dip both sides of the fabric in it, then place on the wall. For large ones paint the mixture on the wall, put fabric on top, and paint mixture over the fabric
  10. Smooth the fabric so there are no bubbles, and if there is fraying go around the edge and push it back into the fabric
  11. Clean up the drips with a rag or paper towel- don’t worry if it’s not perfect because it dries clear
  12. Let it dry overnight
  13. Watch your child get excited about his new art which is totally edible if he (like Jack) decides to lick his animal friends!
    the turtle and rabbit

    the turtle and rabbit

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    Jack loves his new friends!

Attempting minimalism with a toddler

the majority of our toys and books

the majority of our toys and books

My husband and I try to be minimalistic with our possessions, but it’s been a challenge to keep that up once we had a baby! Now that Jack is 16 months old and a toddler, I wanted to update how we’re doing. You can see a post about minimalism with a baby here or about our minimalist baby registry here.

Diapers: we are still cloth diapering which saves tons of money and decreases our daily trash by a huge amount! We love it, and while we had ammonia issues now that Jack is peeing more, the poop is also SUPER easy to clean now that it’s solid- you just plop it into the toilet (or since we do EC Jack poops in the potty most of the time which is even easier).

Food: we do baby led weaning which minimizes the need to buy special baby purees or machines to make purees (although we already had an immersion blender). Jack eats what we eat, or we buy snacks from the dried foods or cereal section of Whole foods (like unsweetened organic corn puffs). We did buy a few stainless steel espresso spoons for Jack and these thick glass shot glasses he can drink from that are hard to break. We’re skipping sippy cups since dentists don’t recommend them, and just use a water bottle on the road.

Clothes: I try to buy as much gender neutral organic clothing as I can so we can hopefully use it for another child down the line. We do laundry about every 5 days, so we try to buy only the amount of clothes we need to last us that long. Jack has a few gender neutral shoes as well.

Toys: I have a secret: Jack prefers to play with things that aren’t even children’s toys ūüėČ We have a few nice wooden toys for him, and my dad has a bunch at his house which they bought. Jack spends a lot of time playing with our pots and pans, kitchen paraphernalia, ¬†putting things inside bowls or ceramic vases, pushing our ottoman around, or playing with our dog’s (nontoxic) balls. I think we have never bought him a toy ourselves, but it’s harder to get relatives not to buy him toys and instead give him clothes or donate to his college fund. We go to the park or library playroom at least once a day, so Jack gets to play with different things there too.

Books: We have a handful of board books, most that were from my childhood and are in different languages so they can’t be found at the library. Once he gets a little older we plan to get most books from the library instead of buying them. (For my husband and I, we almost always buy ebooks now).

Sleeping: We still have our crib sidecared, and in the future may buy some kind of natural full size mattress for a floor bed. We use my old cell phone as a while noise player.

Transportation: We have a convertible car seat in each of our cars, and my dad has one also. I’m storing our Orbit nontoxic infant seat to hopefully use with another baby. We still use the City Mini stroller sometimes, but only maybe once a week. ¬†I use baby carriers multiple times a day though! I love my Toddler Tula and Bamberoo, and also use my ring sling for quick trips to the library (love the pocket which works as a purse). I put Jack high on my back in a woven wrap while I vacuum so he can see what’s going on.

Bath: Jack has showered with me since day one, or sometimes if he just has food on him I’ll do a rinse in the sink. We rarely use soap on him, and put coconut oil to prevent diaper rash and dry skin. He uses our organic towels, we don’t have any special baby bath things. For bath toys we have some bowls and a ball or two that rotate as bath toys.

Babyproofing: we bought some cheap light switch covers and a few string things to keep drawers closed, but other than that we don’t babyprrof most things and instead watch Jack and teach him to “be gentle” with the low-hanging art, or “let’s not touch the toilet water, it’s wet” etc. It’s been working well so far, but we’ll see if we need to change the plan as he ages.

Things we skipped buying: baby gates, baby monitors (we cosleep), a play yard, baby bath tub and bath products, and baby swing.

Nontoxic children’s balls

Jack with the crocodile creek ball
Jack with the crocodile creek ball

Jack (16 months old) is obsessed with balls, so much so that “ball” is by far his most used word. I of course wanted to find a natural and nontxic ball for him to play with, so I looked into a bunch of different options. We have a dog that tries to steal and eventually chew up the balls, so I thought of getting Jack some wool dryer balls that are all natural, but I didn’t because of the dog.¬†These¬†for example are even organic, and I bet they would be great for babies since they are soft. You can even make your own at home apparently.

organic wool balls

These natural rubber balls also looked great, but I was worried that they would be too small so the dog could fit them in his mouth

natural rubber balls

There are also some plush organic balls like¬†these, and I’m sure they would be great for babies.

organic ball

What we ended up deciding on was¬†these¬†rubber balls from Crocodile Creek which are made of natural and synthetic rubber because they are the most natural large non-plush ball I could find. I emailed the manufacturer and they sent me information showing that their balls tested free of any heavy metals. It would be better if they were all natural rubber of course, but this seems to be the best option if you are looking for a large ball that bounces. We’ve taken it outside and Jack had a great time bouncing it around. I especially like the world design because it seems educational! We got the 7 inch one which works well for Jack at 16 months.

crocodile creek ball

The other option we use often is letting Jack play with ball-shaped citrus fruits!3.5

Chemicals found in baby cord blood

This study is a few years old, but I thought it was pretty interesting and appalling. The link has a summary of findings and link to a video which is pretty interesting.

They took umbilical cord blood from babies and found an average of 287 toxins and chemical pollutants per baby, many of which were carcinogens or endocrine disruptions. Many were also banned 30 years ago.

It’s a good reminder to be careful what products you buy for your body, home, and what food you eat.

Women especially are exposed to an average of 168 chemicals when using an average of twelve personal care products each day (men use about half that).

It can feel intimidating when so many things around us are toxic, but this motivates me to make more of an effort to buy organic foods (or cook at home if I can’t find pre-made organic things), limit Jack’s time with plastic toys, vacuum often to get rid of flame retardants in the dust at home, and keep breastfeeding to ensure Jack has a healthy immune system!

Luckily Jack is just as  happy playing with pesticide-free lemons as with plastic balls
Luckily Jack is just as happy playing with pesticide-free lemons as with plastic balls

DIY baby discovery toy

IMG_2164

 

I’m always looking for creative ways to keep Jack busy, and this little project worked pretty well. He’s 14 months old and loves putting things inside things, so I got an orange juice carton (you could use a milk carton or anything cardboard probably) and cut two “windows” in it with scissors. I washed it out, and he had fun putting some cylindrical blocks through the top hole and getting them out from the sides. ¬†You could find things around the house that happen to fit as well. I used the blocks from¬†this¬†plan toys set which was pretty inexpensive ($20 for 50 blocks) and very non-toxic. We use them for all sorts of other things too like putting them in and out of a bag, or I build towers and Jack knocks them down.

Jack’s attention span is only a few minutes, so it’s great to be able to make activities for him for free since he gets bored so quickly!

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Eco-friendly pregnancy tests

 

Have you ever thought about how much excess plastic is involved in a normal pregnancy test and wondered if there were other options? When I was trying to save money instead of paying at least $4 per test at CVS, I saw that you can buy just the test strips online, like on amazon.com for .50 cents per test! It’s way more eco friendly and uses less plastic, and is super cheap for people like me who want to take tests often because I’m too impatient to wait until I miss my period when they would be 99% accurate.

The ones I linked to are even as sensitive as those super early tests that give results 6 days before your missed period! They have been accurate for me so far too, but you can always have a backup of another brand if you want to double check occasionally. They are really easy to use too, and while they are pretty narrow strips, they are several inches long so you can dip them in easily.

I haven’t tried them, but they also sell ovulation test strips which sounds great since you often need to use a bunch of those per cycle.

Facebook groups for crunchy moms

Since I’ve had Jack, I spend an embarrassing amount of time on facebook while he’s breastfeeding. I don’t know a ton of crunchy moms in real life, so facebook groups have been so helpful in making me feel like part of a community and having people to ask for advice. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Natural¬†Toys¬†and¬†Children’s¬†Items¬†b/s/t

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/402340353149076/
  • This is ony of my favorites and I’ve already mentioned it here
  • B/S/T stands for buy, sell, trade
  • It’s a nice place to find cheaper used wooden toys etc, but also to ask questions about anything crunchy

2. The babywearing Swap

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/thebabywearingswap/
  • This super addictive group is just for buying and selling used baby carriers and wraps
  • I definitely look at it while not even planning to buy anything just because the wraps are so pretty!

3.  Babywearing 102

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/Babywearing102/
  • This is the group where you can post questions about anything babywearing related, or pictures of you wrapping and they will give you tips

4. 102 Off-Topic

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/102OT/
  • This is a group to talk about anything other than babywearing, and the moms tend to be super crunchy, use positive parenting, and know about breastfeeding etc

5. The Wait It Out Method (A toolkit approach to sleep training)

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheWaitItOutTribe/
  • This group is for parents not using cry it out for sleeping, and is very helpful when you are at your wit’s end with a baby waking up all the time and want some moral support when everyone in real life seems to be sleep training

6.¬†High¬†Needs¬†/¬†AP¬†/¬†Spirit¬†Families¬†–¬†Babies¬†and¬†Children+¬†…WORLDWIDE.

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/354013614686652/
  • This group is not my favorite, but it can be helpful to ask questions about your high needs baby or see other peoples’ stories to get some perspective

7. Organic Kids Clothes Swap Sell Buy

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/468453759909391/
  • This group probably has less clothes than the group #1 I listed, but is another one to check out if you want used organic clothes

8. Elimination Communication

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/diaperfree/
  • This is useful to ask questions about specifics of EC (diaper free babies) or problem solve if you’re having a potty strike or anything

I also joined some specific groups for certain things like BumGenius b/s/t to buy used diapers of that brand, or Tula love to ask questions about what size Tula carrier to get. It’s a good idea to search for your favorite clothing brand and they might have a b/s/t group, or your favorite small stores may have a group or page you can “like” to see coupon codes occasionally. Hope this helps you waste a lot of time/connect with other crunchy parents!

Jack’s organic first birthday!

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We had Jack’s first birthday party today, and it was really fun! I was a little stressed and barely got things ready in time, but it all went smoothly and Jack and our family and friends enjoyed themselves. Here are some highlights:

  • I made a dairy-free and sugar-free date-sweetened cake with coconut milk frosting, and Jack loved it! I thought it was good (especially the frosting), and other people liked it too which I was surprised by! We had another dessert too, but I was happy that anyone tried or liked our cake at all. I decorated it with walnuts since it was a carrot cake, and used a natural candle on top. The recipe I used for the cake only is here¬†except I used pureed dates instead of honey. I also cut it in half and put a filling of frosting which was a very good idea and made it moister.

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  • We had healthy and mostly dairy-free food. I made deviled eggs, I got organic hummus from trader joe’s and served it with veggies, and we got some bagels and cream cheese. I also made spinach artichoke dip with mayo and vegan cheese melted on top and people loved it! My step-mom brought amazing roasted veggies too, and there was also fruit salad.
  • I made an adorable fabric bunting using scraps of organic fabric from making a picnick blanket. It turned out so cute, and I’m really glad I spent all that time sewing it since we can use it for lots of future birthdays.
  • We used real plates, cups, and silverware to be more eco-friendly. After the party was over I cleaned up and it really wan’t a big pain to rinse everything and put it in the dishwasher. We did use disposable napkins though because we didn’t have enough cloth ones.
  • I didn’t have any other decoration except the bunting which was eco-friendly, but things still looked festive with all the food out etc
  • Jack also wore and organic outfit. Pants from burt’s bees, and a shirt from Frugi. (My outfit was also coincidentally organic from Patagonia)IMG_1665