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

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.

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.

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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!

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.

Our cloth diapering experience

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I have always wanted to use cloth diapers to avoid putting all those diapers in landfills and exposing my baby to chemicals. My husband and I live in an apartment where we have to pay for laundry, so we decided to try a local diaper service.  The service is $20 a week, so I think buying the cheapest diapers possible would have been cheaper, but we are likely breaking even if we compare to using Whole Foods brand diapers or some less toxic one.

We had to use prefolds and covers because the service provides organic cotton prefolds. I looked into all the adorable cover options and settled on using mostly organic wool ones because they don’t have the polyurethane layer. I also got a couple of Imse Vimse diapers as backup if I’m washing the wool. They are organic cotton on the outside but PUL on the inside.

Wool diaper cover pros:

  • Really cute, and look adorable in picures
  • No chemicals at all if you get organic
  • Something in the wool neutralizes urine, so you only need to wash if poop gets on them
  • They can absorb a lot naturally
  • I only lanolize mine every 2 months or so, and they’re fine
  • You need fewer because you don’t wash them as much (we are fine with 3 plus 2 cotton backups)

Wool diaper covers cons:

  • Need to wash by hand. I’ve found the best is to wash immediately if they get poop on them with this which is way better than normal soap. Otherwise, the stains seem hard to get out.
  • Are more expensive (but you need fewer)
  • Are a little more bulky, but that could just be the size we have
  • Can’t get as many design options

Our method with using the prefolds (which is basically just a square of cotton) is to be lazy and just lay it flat on the cover and put it on, and then tuck the extra into the leg holes. If I think the baby will be pooping soon I’ll fold over the sides to contain it more. I honestly think that the cloth diapers are just as fast to change as disposables, or faster. I always have trouble unsticking the tabs on disposables. The few times we used disposables I also noticed how much worse they smell too (I guess the chemicals react with the urine).

Now that Jack is 6 months old and just starting solid food, we are considering stopping the diaper service and washing the diapers at home. I’m hoping his poop will get less liquidy and easier to put into the toilet, and maybe stain less? We’ll see… I’ve also looked up biodegradable liners which we could use in the mornings when he mostly poops.

I’m so glad we chose cloth diapers! Jack has never had a rash (and he has really sensitive skin). We just use coconut oil on him a couple of times a day. The cloth also looks so much more comfortable, soft, and breathable than disposables. Oh, and you can sell back cloth diapers for a pretty good amount, or use them for your next baby!

Favorite eco toys

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Everyone seems to want to give toys as baby gifts, so we have more than I would have expected. Why doesn’t anyone want to buy people useful presents like weeks of a diaper service, haha?  Luckily most people gave us eco-friendly toys since they know that is important to me. When people ask about something to buy, I generally suggest the brands Plan Toys and Haba which are available online or some stores.

Here are some of Jack’s favorite (and not so favorite) toys so far, at 6 months old:

1. Wooden spoons! He LOVES to chew on them now that he is teething. I have the spoon from this set but I’m sure any is fine. I like the shorter ones so it’s less likely that he can push it too far in his mouth. Also doubles as a drumstick against the table!

2. Wooden rattles like this. He likes the circle-shaped things that he can easily grasp and fit in his mouth. I think the hard wood feels good against his gums, because he likes biting on the wood toys more than stuffed animals or most rubber ones.

3. Wooden blocks. We have these from Plan Toys (which is an amazing company that uses great natural materials and nontoxic paint). Jack loves when I build a tower and he knocks it down, and also likes to chew on the blocks. I’m sure as he gets older he will be able to actually build and do even more.

4. He likes the natural rubber teethers too, but generally less then wooden toys. He likes the different textures of this panda which FYI is a lot darker than it looks on the picture. We also chose to get the baby sofie giraffe because it doesn’t have the squeaker inside like the big version, and it’s legs are connected so the baby won’t shove a single leg too far down their mouth.

In terms of toys that have been least useful so far, Jack has not really been interested in stuffed toys as much.  Starting at 4 months he has been trying to chew on anything, so a washcloth (possibly put in the freezer beforehand) seems more interesting to him than an expensive organic stuffed toy.

We also read baby books to Jack, but he doesn’t seem all that interested yet (at 6 months). I also couldn’t find any really non-toxic books, and he always wants to chew on them, so I think he’d rather play with things I let him put in his mouth.

Let me know if you have any other natural toy suggestions!

Using coconut oil

I’m so thankful for my baby for a lot of reasons, and one of them is that having him introduced me to a bunch of healthy things. I never bought a jar of coconut oil before I had Jack, but I decided to because I wanted to find the most natural diaper cream to use on him, and using something that you can eat seemed like a safe bet!

I found organic coconut oil for pretty cheap at Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods is pretty cheap too. I store it at room temperature because it gets pretty rock-solid in the fridge.

Here is what I do with it:

  • Slather it on baby’s diaper area to prevent rashes (we haven’t had any diaper rash in 6 months so far!) I keep it in a little glass jar by the changing area
  • Put it all over baby’s skin after bath time as a moisturizer (it even has some ability to act as sunscreen)
  • Use it as moisturizer for my skin, although I have to be careful to only use a little or it looks oily. It’s supposed to help prevent wrinkles due to the antioxidants
  • Use it on my hair instead of gel
  • Use it instead of butter or oil for baking. It works really well because it is a solid at cool temperatures, so it holds baked goods together well unlike other oils which stay liquid
  • Use it to make vegan chocolate sauce which also acts like magic shell in that it hardens when it touches ice cream or gets cold
  • For some reason I think it works really well to oil a baking sheet or a muffin pan

A random note: my dog usually wasn’t interested in eating the oil in a jar I had out by the diaper area, but one day I spilled a bunch and the dog ate it all! (He’s a super fast eater!). I called the vet who said it should be fine, and he will throw it up which luckily he did. So don’t feed a whole cup of this stuff to a pet…

Organic minimalistic baby registry

My husband and I decided to register on amazon because they had so many organic options, and you could link to items from other web pages as well.

Here are the things we found most helpful:

loveybums organic wool cloth diaper

  • Organic wool diaper covers- this company is one of the only ones I found that has organic wool in cute colors. They are adorable and worked well with organic cotton prefolds from our diaper service. We had mostly velcro ones because they are easier to remove for EC. We have 3 in each size which is usually fine, and two backup Imse Vimse organic cotton ones (that have PUL on the inside)
  • Once Jack got older and we stopped the diaper service we started using Bumgenius pocket diapers which are really easy to put on. They are not organic, but are made in the USA and keep the baby feeling dry like a disposable diaper. We found that snaps worked better once Jack was older because he couldn’t pull them off
  • Baby carriers! At 6 months I still use my organic moby wrap for hours every day, and it’s so comfortable. We also like the organic Beco (my husband and parents find it easier to wear). Carriers were the only way to keep Jack happy and let me get things done (or even eat) so they are one of the most useful items I got!

organic beco baby carrier

  • A few bottles if you’re pumping. We liked the Lifefactory glass ones

life factory nontoxic baby bottle glass

  • We have 8 organic cotton bibs which seems like a lot, but helps up be able to have fewer clothes because they get less dirty with drool or spit up. Some days Jack drools so much now that we go through multiple bibs! I liked snaps because the velcro irritated his skin. Non white colors also are better because they look less dirty.
  • Since we are doing elimination communication, we prefer separate tops and bottoms to make using the toilet easier.  Burt’s bees has cute (slightly small sized) things, as does Under the Nile and baby soy on amazon.
  • We had about 5 swaddle blankets. My favorite because they were a little bigger and cheap (and organic) was the Hudson brand. We had one with the velcro which was easier for a few weeks, but then can’t be used after your baby grows.
  • I love this organic nursing/sports bra. I got some organic clothes for myself because Jack got some red spots on his face after sleeping on me while I had synthetic fabrics on. This bra is really comfortable and easy. I used organic cloth wipes as absorbent pads inside.
  • I got the Lansinoh manual pump because I’ve only ever been away from the baby for a few hours at a time. It was ok, but I found that hand expressing is actually easier, just as fast, and doesn’t involve any clean-up.
  • I used threads for thoughts tank tops because they are organic and cheap. Jack stretched a lot of them out now, but that’s ok as I’m usually wearing them under something else or under the Moby.

Since we co-slept, we didn’t really need a crib although we did get one and use it more like a play yard. I think the list above is really all our essential items!