Non-toxic Car Seats

orbit nontoxic car seat
Jack in our orbit baby car seat

This article was updated on February 20, 2016

I’ve spent hours and hours looking into this, and I was surprised to find that there are NO organic car seats for sale! In fact, most car seats are sprayed with carcinogenic flame-retardants!

The best option I was able to find was the only Oeko-Tex certified car seat- the Orbit line. I emailed Britax and they said they are “reducing or eliminating all chemicals containing bromine or chlorine” from their products. It’s better than nothing, but Orbit has none of those chemicals, and who knows what they mean by “reducing.”

orbit nontoxic car seat baby
orbit baby car seat

The orbit car seats are Oeko-Tex certified which guarantees they don’t have many toxic chemicals. They do testing to make sure there is no lead, arsenic, or mercury on their seats (see here). The upholstery of the seat is made of polyester which is not great, but sadly there are no better options right now. They also use no flame retardants on their fabric, but sadly as of 2014 they started using foam with flame retardants like all the other companies. They are still the most non-toxic option however.

People also like the Clerk Foonf convertible seat. It fits 14 pounds to 45 pounds rear facing so it’s great that you can keep your child facing the rear which is safer for longer than most car seats. It’s also recycleable. However, the fabric is only Greenguard Select Certified which tests only for gasses coming from the fabric (VOCs) and NOT heavy metals or PVC or pesticides. Another thing I was not a fan of about the Clerk seats is that you can’t remove the fabric, and you can only spot clean it. With kids, throwing up at some point is inevitable in the car, or having a potty accident, so I’ve been thankful to remove the Orbit fabric a few times to clean it.

foonf recyclable carseat
Foonf convertible car seat

If you can’t afford the expensive Orbit line, you can try to look up HealthyStuff.org since they tested many car seats several years ago. However, they tested store models, which is why some like the Orbit tested positive for things that did not come up in new products. Also, many models they tested are from years ago and no longer available. If you are trying to save money, one option is to borrow or buy a cheap infant car seat (Orbit’s infant one is from 4-30 pounds) and in a few months buy the Orbit toddler seat (15-65 pounds).

Another option is to buy an organic car seat cover. This blog has a nice review of some of those options. We didn’t do that because it might interfere with the car seat safety and can also be expensive. Also, keep in mind that there are likely flame retardants in the foam of most car seats, so that can get through a cotton cover.

It’s hard to make a good choice if you have limited funds though! Especially since you aren’t supposed to buy car seats used since you don’t know if it was in an accident.

Overall, here are some pros and cons about our Orbit which we have used for 6 months now:

Pros:

  • Oreko-Tex certified
  • No flame retardants
  • Good-quality foam makes it very safe
  • Egg-like shape protects baby well from sides
  • Soft handle is slightly easier to carry
  • Has a nice sun shade
  • Has a circle-shaped dock that snaps in easily and pivots
  • You can remove the fabric to clean

Cons:

  • Expensive!
  • Too heavy for me to carry
  • I have a Toyota Corolla, and it just fits in the back seat, so it’s hard to unwedge and remove. (Not  a big problem for me though since I always babywear)
  • Not organic fabric (polyester)
  • Separate base is expensive! (for husband’s car etc)
  • You have to lift baby up over the side to get him in, so it’s hard for me not to wake him up while doing that

 

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

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

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.

Finding a cheap non-toxic crib

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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.

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.

Green cleaning products

I love that most of the cleaning products I use are made of edible ingredients, are cheap, and are free of scary chemicals!

Here are some products we use that I really like:

Mixture of 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 water in a spray bottle

  • Smells like vinegar but the smell leaves very quickly after you spray something
  • Great for cleaning basically anything except granite
  • Use for bathrooms, mirrors, glass, kitchen appliances
  • Kills viruses, bacteria, and even the flu
  • Vinegar is good for using in laundry to remove stains

Mixture of 1/2 rubbing alcohol and 1/2 water in spay bottle

  • Safe for granite (counter tops in kitchens, bathrooms, tables) because it’s not acidic
  • My husband uses this spray to de-wrinkle his work shirts. He just sprays them and hangs them up and they are ready to wear in the morning
  • The smell seems to linger a little longer than the vinegar
  • Kills viruses and bacteria (especially if you don’t dilute it more than 50%)

I like to make a paste of baking soda and vinegar to clean water glasses which makes the really sparkling clean. Baking soda can be used anytime you need something grainy to get particles off, like if there is residue in your tub.

I also use a mixture of 1/2 rubbing alcohol, 1/2 water, and a few drops of orange extract in a spray bottle as deodorant. The alcohol kills bacteria that make bad smells. I just use the orange because I like the smell of it.

I love that after I clean, it’s safe for the dog to roll around on the floor, and once Jack is crawling I don’t have to worry about him either!

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