Planning an eco-friendly 1st birthday party

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I can’t believe Jack is turning one is less than a month! I used to think that I would be excited for him to become a toddler so that he would be more interactive and we could do fun things like go to museums, but I am loving the baby stage and am really sad that it will be ending! I’m trying to appreciate all the snuggly times now, and how Jack loves to be worn in the carrier and take naps right next to me.

We are planning a small party for his 1st birthday at our apartment, and this is what we are thinking:

  • I ordered some organic cotton fabric to combine with some I already have and make a birthday bunting! I’m nervous about it turning out well honestly because I’m an amateur sewer, but I love the idea of it being handmade and starting a tradition of using it for all birthdays in our family. It’s also no plastic and obviously reusable, which is very eco-friendly (more than balloons or even flowers).
  • We’re using real silverware instead of disposable plates etc. (I think napkins are the only thing we don’t have enough of since we only have 4 cloth napkins)
  • We asked for no presents. Hopefully people will really not bring anything!
  • No plastic favors. I may have some kind of edible favor, but I’m not sure yet.
  • I considered making or ordering from etsy an ecofelt birthday crown, but Jack usually does not enjoy hats, so I’m not sure if it’s worth it if he will likely remove it within seconds.
  • We used evite instead of paper invitations.
  • Jack is wearing an organic cotton outfit, and it’s something cute but that he can wear again (not a special “1st birthday” shirt)
  • There is no theme or other decorations. Just mostly home-made organic food and some eco-friendly toys for the babies to all play with
  • I am making a healthy cake at home with only date paste as a sweetener. Definitely better than some store-bought one with trans fat or GMO corn syrup etc! I just hope it tastes ok :) I tried one “apple spice” recipe so far which was good but too ginger-bread-y and had molasses, so I’m going to try some more until I find a good one. I made a coconut frosting with dates which was amazing though!sugar-free cake

Eco-friendly Christmas gift ideas

Jack’s birthday and Christmas are coming up, so I’m trying to think of gift ideas. We’re going to ask family to contribute towards the new Orbit car seat which is expensive. We try to keep toys to a minimum, especially since Jack seems to really prefer household objects to toys right now, but I’m coming up with a list of a few non-toxic toys that might work well for a long time.

Some things I’m thinking of are

1. Organic clothes (some for now and some for summer)

2. A walker-type toy like this one by plan toys

3. Something musical like this tambourine that seems safe without exposed metal

4. An nontoxic picnic blanket like these below on etsy, but I’m looking for a cheaper version that still doesn’t have toxic chemicals.

5. Some wooden puzzles with animals or letters like this Hape one that is solid wood and with nontoxic paint

Comparison of organic baby clothes brands

 

We have tried a bunch of different brands of organic baby clothes, and here are my thoughts (for our medium/large-sized baby who is now 10 months and 21 pounds). We particularly liked brands on Amazon because it’s easy to return them if they don’t fit. With so many cheap ($5 per item!) options available, there is no reason to dress your baby in conventional clothes that have pesticides, phthalates, formaldehyde, and chemical flame retardants on PJs!

Babysoy is on amazon and their shirts have been one of my favorites for fit. They have generous neck holes and also wider arm holes so Jack’s fingers don’t get stuck. We got a few of these T-shirts and wore them a lot, and you can even wear them past the recommended size since they are kind of wide-cut. I also like the Janey hats which run about 1 size small.

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Jack wearing babysoy shirt and hat, and toys r us organic pants

Under the nile is another of our favorites. We had a lot of the kimono shirts which were nice to not have to put over his head, but I think having to snaps all the snaps is actually harder than getting a shirt over their heads honestly. They also don’t seem to have sizes as large as the babysoy.

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wearing an under the nile shirt

I also recently discovered H&M makes organic baby and maternity clothes, and we got some cute shirts and pants for $5 each! It seems like their inventory changes often so I won’t link to anything specific, but they seem to have great deals. I found their sizes run one size large (we got 9 month shirts for our 10 month old).

Burt’s Bees also has organic baby clothes up to toddler age. I like that their clothes are all organic, and the prices are reasonable but you have to pay shipping and to pay shipping to return them. I found they also run AT LEAST one size small, and shrink a little too. Their head holes and arm holes sometimes can be on the small side for us too.

wearing a burt's bees romper

wearing a burt’s bees romper

We also ordered some shirts and pants from this random store I stumbled upon with great prices ($5 for an organic shirt and cheap shipping!) The sizes run quite large, and the section where the arm connects to the body is really big which I don’t like, but we used them as comfy relaxing at home outfits. The pants were fine and not as huge.

wearing this random shirt from horselover's hobbies and gifts

wearing this random shirt from horselover’s hobbies and gifts

I loved the fit of this long-sleeved shirt from Maple clothing. It was on the slightly cheaper side and was very well-made with thicker fabric and good sizing.

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maple organic shirt

We also got two shirts from Sage Creek organics which were very cute and colorful but ran small. One had buttons in front so it was fine, but the other one was tight to get his head in the hole.

Sage creek shirt with Gap bib

Sage creek shirt with Gap bib

The gap also has some gender-neutral organic clothes but they ran a little small and were expensive I thought. The quality was nice though.

I also saw that American Apparel has some organic things that are reasonably priced, but we never tried them.

In terms of accessories:

  • Our favorite legwarmers were from Barnyard Babies on etsy but I think they closed! The Babylegs brand dug into Jack’s thighs.
  • Our favorite socks are from Babysoy (size 12-18m fits out 10m old) after trying Jeffries and babylegs which both dug into his ankles.
  • Our favorite receiving blanket was the cheap hudson baby ones because they were the biggest. They worked well for swaddling, and I still use it as a blanket in the stroller now

Non-toxic food pouches

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I think I mentioned before that Jack has not been a big fan of solids so far. He’s 10 months old now (I can’t believe he’s almost one!!) and we’ve been doing baby led weaning since 6 months. I love breastfeeding and want to continue as long as Jack wants to, but I also wish he would get some more calories from food so that it could be easier when I am away from him since he often refuses a bottle.

He has been minimally interested in fruits and vegetables in “fry” shapes and purees on loaded spoons, but my friends’ babies love those food pouches you can buy at the grocery store, so I finally decided to try one. We got an Earth’s best organic vegetable one and while it was messy, he actually ate more than usual! So I decided to research the least toxic food pouches to buy so that we can make smoothies and things at home to feed him. The pouches you buy at the  store are made of some plasticy thing, so while I’m sure they are BPA-free, I have talked before about the new chemicals replacing BPA which are also endocrine disruptions, so we try to stay away from plastic as much as possible.

Silicone is the most non-toxic plastic along with natural rubber as far as I know, so we decided to order the Sili Squeeze. I was sad that there were no 100% silicone options, and all the pouches had some kind of hard plastic spout. The sili squeeze seemed to at least be upfront about their materials unlike the alternatives I saw, and they use thermo-plastic elastomer for the nipple which is newer and has less safety info, but doesn’t seem incredibly bad at least.

 

The Sili Squeeze

We have tried it a few times so far (once in the bath tub because it can be messy!) and it’s working just as well as the store bought pouches. I like the “squeeze with eeze” newer pouch because the original required sucking and this one is easier to get food out of, although messier. I put a smoothie with banana, blueberries, and spinach in it and Jack was a fan more than of many other foods we’ve tried.

I also looked into those mesh feeders, but there seems to be no non-toxic ones as far as I saw. I also looked at the lighter weight ones similar to the disposables you buy at the store like Squooshi but their web site doesn’t list what it’s made of except to say BPA free etc. I trust companies who are more transparent, and I also think that crinkly type of plastic they use is definitely not silicone or natural rubber!

One thing I’m excited to use when Jack gets older which is 100% silicone is these cool freezer-pop style things

Loveybums diaper cover review

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Jack weighing 20 pounds in a size Medium cover

Loveybums are one of our favorite wool diaper sources! I found them initially when I was pregnant and registered for some of their newborn diaper covers on amazon, and then realized that there was a bigger selection of colors and diapers on their web page. Luckily I was able to register for some diapers there through the amazon registry where you can link to items on outside web pages. They were one of the only places I found colorful organic wool diaper covers. Etsy and disana and other brands have organic options too, but mostly in pull-up styles.

In the picture above, Jack is wearing the green organic wool cover in a Medium with velcro, and he is wearing a large with snaps below.

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Jack weighing 20 pounds in a size Large cover

 

I like that you can choose between snaps or velcro for any color/size. I’ve found that the sizing is really accurate, and the snaps especially can last a lot longer than even the maximum size limit. However, the velcro starts to scratch Jack’s stomach when he gets to the end of the size range.

We have the cornflower blue, the green, and the yellow colors and they are all adorable! I don’t think I would ever get a white one because they would look dirty so easily. They seem very comfortable and breathable, and Jack never gets any diaper rashes. We use these covers during the day now, and the disana pull-ups at night because they leak the least. We only rarely have problems with the loveybums leaking, and that is just when Jack’s penis ends up pointing to the side by accident- the wool itself never leaks.

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The diapers are cut wide between the legs for fewer leaks, but are bulky

Each diaper comes with some sample lanolin, so I haven’t had to buy any lanolin yet. They have instructions as well, and it’s really easy to lanolize them. I have even used them without lanolizing for a few days and didn’t have any problems with leaks. I use wool wash to spot clean them when poop gets on them, and they have never had a problem smelling bad. They do take a while to dry if they are completely soaked, so it’s good to have a few as backups.

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The tag sticks out on the back, but at least it doesn’t bother the baby’s skin

Jack has super sensitive skin but the wool has never bothered him. I love the fact that it is organic so it wouldn’t have any pesticides on it. We use the covers with a trifolded prefold, and have also used snappis in the past. Both methods work well, but we are just too lazy for the snappis :) The covers are made of two layers of wool, so they are really absorbent but not very trim. We can wear them under pants, but Jack does look like he’s got a lot of extra padding. There is also no drooping because there are 3 snaps on either side (except in newborn sizes). Overall, we love these covers and have just ordered some more in the large size now that Jack is getting bigger!

Britax car seat chemicals

Jack asleep in his Orbit non-toxic car seat

Jack asleep in his Orbit non-toxic car seat

I was excited to see that last year, Britax said it was phasing out brominated and chlorinated fire retardants from its car seats. However, I emailed them last week to get an update because I couldn’t find anything online, and I was disappointed to receive the email below (after following up due to a previous vague email). They said that they are reducing the chemicals, which could mean anything, and is far from the Orbit brand which removed them completely. It’s a shame that such a large car seat manufacturer is continuing to use chemicals which have been linked to lowered intelligence, hyperactivity, and hormone disruption in children.

Here is the full email I received:

Thais,

Last year we announced we would be revising our internal chemical compliance specifications.  These revised specifications require all Britax suppliers to reduce and/or where possible, eliminate the use of all chemicals containing bromine or chlorine from all components used in our car seats and all other products — while still ensuring their ability to pass federal government standards for flammability. We set a target for our suppliers to be compliant to this new standard by the end of 2012.

 

We are pleased to report successful progress. Our suppliers have worked very diligently toward meeting these more stringent chemical compliance specifications and have successfully reduced and/or eliminated the use of all chemicals containing bromine and chlorine in all components. Britax remains committed to working closely with our suppliers to ensure continued leadership in the area of chemical compliance specifications.

 

In Britax’s ongoing continuous improvement efforts, we have been phasing in new components as quickly as our suppliers have been able to comply.  This approach has and will continue to ensure Britax products fulfill our pledge in providing parents and children with the best and safest child mobility products.

 

Our commitment remains to keep you current on our progress and new products.  Please check our website for any future updates.  And thanks for your continued interest and support.

Tracy Thompson

Customer Service Administrative Lead

800-893-2447

 

Britax Child Safety, Inc.

4140 Pleasant Road

Fort Mill , SC 29708

The easiest natural deodorant that works!

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I have been trying different natural deodorants since college when I found out that normal antiperspirant has aluminum which may be linked to breast cancer. This really easy and cheap recipe is the one that works best for me, and I’ve been using it for I think about 2 years now. The alcohol kills the bacteria under your armpits and they are what make your sweat smell bad.

I used the CVS brand of rubbing alcohol (which we also mix 50/50 with water to clean our counters with since it’s safe for granite) and added several drops of this orange essential oil since I like the smell. It doesn’t prevent sweating since it’s just a deodorant, but it generally works most of the day for me. I find it easiest to spray onto my hands and rub it under my armpits.

I love that my baby can fall asleep tucked under my arm and I don’t have to worry about him breathing any chemicals!

Pull on vs. wrap diaper covers

I had a hard time deciding what types of diaper covers to buy because some of the wool ones are pricey, especially for organic wool, so I only wanted to buy covers with great reviews. Now that we’ve tried a few kinds, here are my thoughts about some differences between the pull-on type which go on like underwear and the wrap types that look like normal diapers and have snaps or velcro. I keep going back and forth over which type I like best and which is easiest, so I think they both have their good points.

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Pros of pull up covers:

  • They don’t have any part that could rub or scratch your baby (no velcro or snaps)
  • I think they are harder for the baby to remove from himself (Jack has removed velcro before)
  • To change them quickly, I just pull them down to his knees and replace the trifolded prefold. It takes a minute to then pull them back up, but it’s quick overall
  • I think they are easier to change on a baby who likes to be standing or rolled onto his stomach
  • You can put baby on the potty for EC while just pulling the diaper down
  • Slightly less leaking at night because of the part around the leg (and some styles go up high on their stomachs)
  • I think they are the cutest, and you can find ones on etsy with adorable designs!

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Pros of more traditional wrap style covers:

  • You can change them while the baby is basically asleep with minimally bothering them if they are on their backs
  • They can fit well in a larger range of sizes since the velcro or snaps make them adjustable
  • Definitely possible to use with a trifolded prefold. I’ve used trifolds with the one pull up cover we have because it fits well, but a looser style might not work with that
  • Easier to take off without getting poop all over it if it’s a really messy diaper
  • May be easier for other caregivers to use who are used to typical diapers

I want to buy these Disana organic wool pull on covers which are really reasonably priced for organic wool and try them at night. I like our Loveybums diapers a lot, but the velcro is already starting to fray (and Jack can sometimes remove the diaper) so I decided to buy snaps from now on. The snaps can be a little annoying to do at night though, so that’s part of the reason I looked into pull on covers. We got a cute one from etsy but it’s pretty snug, so I want to buy one last type (if my husband is ok with it! I am a little obsessed with buying wool diapers!) since I think the Disanas look really stretchy and could be easy to just reach in and swap out the prefold. They are also so adorable and seem leak-proof for nights!

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Velcro vs. snap diaper covers

Now that Jack is 7 months old, we have tried lots of different types of diaper covers. We always used prefolds (organic cotton ones) because that’s what our diaper services used, and we later bought used ones from them to launder ourselves because they are so much cheaper than any other options. They also save on laundry because you generally only wash the cotton prefold, but with pocket covers or all-in-one covers you have to wash the entire thing if the baby pees.

We used mostly wool diaper covers (organic by loveybums) and occasionally organic cotton ones (by imse vimse) which have PUL plastic on the inside to make them waterproof, so I didn’t like that as much.

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Pros about diaper covers with velcro:

    • A few seconds faster to take on and off (helpful if you do elimination communication and want to take them off often to potty, or just don’t want your baby in dirty diapers for long and change them very often)
    • Easier to put on at night when it’s dark
    • Get a slightly more exact fit around the waist each time
    • 1.26smile

 

Pros about covers with snaps:

  • They seem to last longer without getting frayed or coming off
  • They won’t scratch baby’s stomach when he sits up
  • I think they looks nicer (especially cute in photos)
  • You don’t have to worry about them sticking to things in the washing machine

Overall, I wish we had bought more velcro covers in the small sizes, but now that Jack is sitting up the velcro scratches his stomach often, so we switched to snaps for the large sizes.

ALL our baby things!

My husband and I have been trying to be more minimalistic since we moved to California and have a small two bedroom apartment. With a baby, it’s been especially challenging! We try to not buy too many unnecessary things, and use things we already own, but it’s hard to know what we will need. My husband thought it would be interesting to see how much baby stuff we have and put it all in the crib, and here is what we ended up with:

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On the left is the Tripp Trapp chair, and on the right is the Babybjorn organic bouncer. The main things not pictured are our Orbit car seat and babyjogger stroller. I also have prefolds and a few toys and blankets in my car and at my dad’s house. Oh, and I forgot to include the Moby wrap because I was wearing it! It feels weird not to have it on nowadays!

Here are more specifics about our stuff (click for larger picture):

IMG_0886-001If we were more minimalistic, there are a bunch of things we could have done without:

  • The changing pad (I change him on the bed 90% of the time anyway)
  • The manual breast pump (I had no idea beforehand, but hand expressing is just as fast and more comfortable for me)
  • The bouncer
  • As many books (but they were all gifts…)
  • We could have used a couple fewer diaper covers since the sizes overlapped
  • Obviously we didn’t need the compostable diapers! But they were nice to have during some long car rides and events
  • We could have probably gotten a smaller umbrella stroller instead of the city mini

Some things I’m really glad we bought even though I was unsure at the time:

  • Two baby carriers (I wear the Moby most of the day, and the Beco sometimes so that I can wear the baby on my back while cooking. My stepmom wore the baby in it today, since everyone is scared of tying the Moby)
  • This wool wash works amazingly well at getting out newborn poop stains from wool covers as well as clothes and our bedsheets (yikes). I just used soap or shampoo at first, but that left stains on my wool covers that I can’t get out now.
  • I’m in love with our wood high chair which is so easy to clean, and conveniently adjustable
  • I also use the potty every day. I wish I had found a more eco-friendly version in recycled plastic though