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

 

Where to find organic toddler clothes

Now that Jack is a toddler, it’s a little more of a challenge to find him organic clothes because a lot of places stop carrying organic options after 12 or 18 months. I hope to keep having him wear organic clothes until he decides he doesn’t want to though because of all the chemicals on traditional clothing (which have given me hives sometimes!) and the fact that cotton growing uses so much pesticide which is bad for the environment and the workers as well. I have been able to find a bunch of places to shop from, most of which I order from online.

  • Frugi is pretty expensive but great quality and has really cute organic options for boys and girls through age 9! The fit runs a little on the large side.

 

toddler organic clothes H&M

shirt from Frugi

  • H&M has a “conscious” line which has mostly shirts made of organic cotton. They are really inexpensive and go up to 10 years old. They fit a little large, and the store near us often has a small amount in stock so we go there to see what size is best and often order online.
toddler organic clothes H&M

Wearing a shirt from H&M

The tangerine tree has cute shirts and other items that are often on sale on amazon like the one Jack has on below that we got for $9. The one we have doesn’t have snaps at the neck but it is easy to put on and Jack likes the elephant on it which is printed on so it’s not itchy. They go up to 24 months but the sizes are a little large.

organic toddler clothes tangerine tree

tangerine tree shirt

  • Hanna Andersson also has some basic organic options and the non-organic clothes are oeko-tex certified at least which is nice. They always get rated as having great comfy underwear and their clothes go up to teen sizes.
  • Kate Quinn has really cute and more stylish options. They are generally a little pricier but often have $10 sales. The sizing is a little more random, running either true to size or small in our experience. The sizes go up to at least a 4.
organic toddler clothes kate quinn

kate quinn shirt and pants

  • Burt’s Bees is priced in the middle range and has some basic items as well as some cute things that are classic looking but not just solids or stripes.  They go up to a size 7 and run a little small. They have many hoodies and sweatshirts if you are looking for warmer clothes.

wearing a burts bees shirt as a 12 month old

wearing a burts bees shirt as a 12 month old

If you are on a budget, you can often find organic clothes on ebay, or join a facebook group for b/s/t of your favorite brand

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

    6.11

    Jack loves his new friends!

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

Baby led weaning with a picky eater

blueberries for Jack

 

We’ve been doing baby led weaning with Jack since he was 6 months old, and he’s 13 months now but still barely eating much at all. All our friends with similar aged babies have babies who can’t get enough of food, but Jack often just throws it off the table to our dog. At first he will often put food in his mouth and then spit it out a little later, and then move to just throwing it over.

Some of the foods that he likes more than others are:

  • freeze dried fruit, especially blueberries (whole foods sells them near the nuts and dried fruit, and they taste really good)
  • puffed corn (sold at whole foods in the cereal aisle in a plastic bag. He prefers the corn over the kamut, maybe because it’s slightly bigger)
  • dried apple chips with cinnamon (sold near the dried fruits at whole foods)
  • banana chips I found at trader ioe’s
  • baked dried pea snack sold at trader joe’s and whole foods
  • most types of bread except sliced bread which I think is too squishy for him to hold well

 

Since his iron was a tiny bit low, I’ve also been giving him applesauce with some blackstrap molasses in it because that has iron, and he likes it better than many other foods (i.e. will eat about 2 teaspoons). Since we do baby led weaning I put it on a spoon and have him hold it with me, and he usually brings it to his mouth. You can also just leave the “loaded spoon” on the table but that got super messy for us.

I bought some special baby organic puffs at whole foods, but Jack didn’t like them, and they had mostly rice flour which I worry about Jack eating too much of because of the arsenic, so I’m glad he prefers blueberries and corn.

We also tried those food pouches everyone seems to use once, but Jack would only eat a tiny amount at once and you are supposed to use it in 24 hours so it seemed like a waste. They also had some issues with recalls, so I’d rather just make my own purees and freeze them in ice cube trays and then use a cube over several days.

Hopefully Jack will start eating more soon! I’ve heard that sometimes they get really interested in food overnight, so we’ll see.

Bumgenius 4.0 pocket diaper review

Jack at 22 pounds wearing a bumgenius 4.0 diaper

Jack at 22 pounds wearing a bumgenius 4.0 diaper

Before a month or so ago, I didn’t understand why people liked pocket diapers. You have to wash the whole thing (the cover and insert) each time, instead of with covers and prefolds which we mostly use where you only sometimes have to wash the cover if it gets dirty. With wool, you really only have to wash it rarely when it gets poop on it.

However, Jack is really sensitive to being wet (hopefully means he’ll be out of diapers sooner than later!) so using cotton prefolds meant changing his diaper A LOT, and him getting upset in the car for example if his diaper got wet. When he was a few months old we started using eco-friendly disposables (the Bambo Nature brand which is even compostable) when we were driving more than a few minutes or other people were watching him who didn’t want to check if a diaper was wet every 5 minutes.

Once I thought about it, I realized it makes more sense for the environment and Jack’s chemical exposure to use pocket diapers instead of disposables. Pocket diapers (or stay-dry all-in-ones like bumgenius Freetimes) are really similar to disposables in that they have a stay-dry layer (it’s polyester based in the 4.0s) so Jack doesn’t really feel wet. I’ve tested it, and it works really well! You can leave them on for longer like a disposable and they almost never feel wet. Obviously it’s not as nice as organic cotton and wool, but better than disposables. I also tried the Bummies stay-dry liners, and they were way smaller than a trifolded prefold, so they didn’t keep everything feeling dry. 

What I like about the Bumgenius 4.0 pocket diapers:

  • They are one-size, so I could use them on a newborn in the future
  • They fit pretty trim-ly and stay on well
  • They have cute colors and some adorable patterns 
  • They are made in the USA
  • You can adjust the absorbency (we use organic prefolds, and put 2 in if we use them overnight)
  • They have good resale value if you change your mind about them
  • They really stay dry!
  • I haven’t had a big issue with leaks 
  • You can wash them in a machine unlike wool which is usually by hand
  • The tab area is stretchy so that it gets a really good fit around the waist

Negatives about them:

  • They are polyester inside and the outside part has PUL which is not as nice as natural fibers
  • Because of the PUL they are less breathable than wool, so we use wool part-time too in order to make sure we avoid diaper rashes
  • They can be expensive, and even if you buy used (try diaperswappers.com) they are not that discounted
  • The velcro ones get pilly, and they dug into Jack’s thigh and made him all red. The snaps are great though

Overall, they have been a great middle-ground between the most natural option (organic wool with organic cotton prefolds) and disposables, and I am kind of addicted to the adorable patterns!

IMG_1502

Addicted to cloth diapers!

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Jack in an Imse Vimse diaper cover

 

Now that Jack is crawling, I’ve been getting some non-wool diaper covers for him because the covers are getting dirty from our floors, and the wool is more of a hassle to clean. I still love our wool for nighttime and sometimes in the day, but I’ve also been trying some new things.

Since we do EC and change his diaper whenever we see it’s wet (VERY OFTEN) I thought of getting an organic cotton fitted diaper to use as a cover, even thought it wasn’t waterproof. I ended up buying this fitted diaper which I am liking so far. I like that no snaps are exposed so if the prefold we put in there migrates no snaps dig into his skin. I wish we had the money to just buy a ton of fitted diapers, but they are expensive! Our prefolds were about $1 each (used) but the fitteds are $10-20!

I also ordered a large Imse Vimse diaper cover which is organic cotton outside and PUL inside to be waterproof. I was sad that it wasn’t a lot bigger than the medium size though, and the velcro already started digging into Jack’s leg and leaving a red spot. If I ever have the chance I’ll try to switch it out to snaps, because otherwise I like the cover.

I also ordered a Bumgenius 4.0 pocket diaper, which is sadly not organic at all. I wanted to try a pocket diaper to use when my family watches Jack sometimes because they don’t check his diaper as much as I do and I don’t like him to feel uncomfortable and wet. I watched a youtube video comparing how wet a bunch of diapers fet, and Bumgenius won, so I figured it was better than a disposable at least and decided to try it. I do have organic bamboo fleece I bought which I use to line the prefolds at night and sometimes during the day, but I’m thinking the not-organic fleece material of the Bumgenius will wick moisture away better.

I’ll let you know how they do!

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.

IMG_1168

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.

IMG_1172

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!

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.

3.29s

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.

Organic baby carriers

Jay in the organic moby wrap

I think that our baby carriers (the moby and beco) have definitely been our most-used baby items. I started wearing Jack in the organic moby the day we got back from the hospital, and he has been in it for hours every day since. I wasn’t sure if having two carriers was too much, but it’s great to have another one to wear when the moby is drying after being washed, and other family members prefer the more structured beco. I’ll give some info about the carriers we have as well as other organic options.

These are some soft wrap-style carriers:

1. Organic moby wrap

I got the white organic moby as a gift, but I would definitely recommend another color that hides stains better! I know some people are worried about how hard it is to tie on, but either go to a local store and they can show you or just watch a few youtube videos. After a few tries, it gets really easy and I can put it on faster than the beco now. I still wear Jack at 7 months and 19 pounds and find it really comfortable. It doesn’t hurt anywhere and the size is totally adjustable each time you put it on. I also love that you can wear it in so many different positions. Jack loves it and falls asleep in it all the time.

2. Organic boba wrap

Like the moby but more stretchy. My friends who have it find it really comfortable, but stopped using it sooner than the moby because it doesn’t support bigger babies enough (probably best up to 15 or maybe 20 pounds).

3. Organic baby K’tan

This is a wrap style like the moby, but you don’t have to actually wrap it, it comes already attached and slips on. It’s not as versatile though and has different sizes, so your husband probably needs another size. I would definitely rather have a moby, but if you are too nervous about the wrapping, this seems like a good alternative.

I never tried a ring sling because I was worried that having the baby’s weight on just one side of my body (off one shoulder) would end up hurting. I know a lot of people like them, but I wanted to get carriers I could use for hours and feel comfortable. I’m glad I did that since I ended up wearing Jack 90% of his waking hours for the first several months, and still several hours a day now at 7 months.

Structured backback-like carriers:

6.jackpack

1. Organic Beco

This is the one we have, and I like it a lot (although it gets used less than the moby since it’s a little less comfortable on me). I sewed my own drool cover straps for it because my baby chews on the straps (a good reason to get organic carriers!). This fits me and my husband well, and can be worn facing in, out, on your back, and sideways on your hip. It does have foam unlike the moby which is all organic cotton. I like that it’s pretty small compared to other structured carriers like the Ergo which has thicker straps and a larger sunshade cover part. I find it easier to wear than the Ergo because instead of snapping something behind your upper back, you criss-cross the straps, but I’m sure people have different opinions about that. At the time I bought it, all the Beco carriers were organic so I liked supporting a company that did that, but I think now they have non-organic ones too.

2. Organic Ergo

All my friends seem to have Ergos and really like them. The only reason I didn’t get one was I heard they are better for larger-framed people since they are a little wider, and I thought the sunshade part didn’t look very streamlined in it’s little front pocket. You also need to buy a separate infant insert while you don’t for the Beco. But overall it seems great and people say it’s really comfortable. You can’t wear the baby facing out, but that’s not supposed to be comfortable for the baby really anyway.

I know a few people who have the baby bjorn which comes in organic too, but I’ve heard that it hurts your back and the way it hold babies facing the front puts too much pressure on their crotch. I’ve never tried a mei tai which as far as I can tell is like a beco but it ties closed instead of having snaps and everything. They seem really comfortable and I would definitely try one if I needed another carrier.

My overall favorite: the Moby wrap because it’s SO versatile and comfortable. Runners up are the Beco and Ergo depending on what’s comfortable for you.