As a parent you want the best for your children, but what’s best isn’t always the quantity of what you give them, but the quality.  When planning a baby shower try and keep that idea in mind.  It’s important to keep your registry to the things your baby truly needs. For centuries babies survived just fine without all the plastic and bells and whistles.  It can often be wasteful and takes up so much space in your home.  Sure we want to stimulate development, but there are plenty of less obnoxious, more educational ways to enhance this.  What’s even better is that there are more sleek alternatives to the light up Fisher Price bouncy seats that are also made of safer and more sustainable materials.

So what should you put on your registry?  The first thing to do when planning a baby shower is figure out where you want to register.  Look for local baby boutiques that offer more keep sake and specialty options and/or find a great website that offers an array of organic/natural baby products and a big box store like target for other things like diapers and bottles, etc.  Myregistry.com is an easy to use site that brings all your picks together.

Layette  (also known as baby separates)

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  • Your baby will live in kimono tops, onsies, pants, and swaddle blankets for the first few months of their life.  Organic clothing is particularly important for newborns. Their skin is so delicate and porous. Anything that touches them can be absorbed into their delicate system

 

 

 

 

Organic mattress

  • This is an important one!  Standard mattresses are made of disgusting materials and polyurethane foam, which are sprayed with even more harmful chemicals and flame-retardants.  Over time the chemicals break down and produce off gas into the air.  Your baby will spend up to 16 hours a day sleeping on his/her mattress.  The off gas is known to cause asthma, allergies, and other irritations.  It’s worth the extra investment to go organic on this one.
  • Naturepedic has a great selection of various organic mattress styles.
    They start at $279 and can go up to $399.Naturepedic-No-Compromise-Organic-Cotton-Classic-Crib-Mattress-DETAILED

 

 

 

 

 

  • For the most natural option, Nook has a Pebble Pure mattress made of coconut husk and natural latex, with an organic cotton and eucalyptus wrap.

  pebble anatomy

NookMattressPure-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strollers

  • Many people associate choosing a stroller the equivalent to car shopping.  It’s true. I would recommend researching and learning what will best meet your needs, i.e.: a pram, jogger, compact, etc taking into consideration your lifestyle. Do you you have limited space, a hatchback or sedan, will you be walking with with baby frequently or just using for light strolls.  Everyone will have different needs and expectations.   When trying to maintain a focus on healthy options there are some companies on the market offering this.

Nuna has JETT_MIXX_MODES_2_largeseveral great stroller options, include the Jett Mixx which is one of my personal favorites. All the fabrics used on both their strollers and carseats are OEKO-TEX certified, meaning it has been test for harmful substances maintain strict human and ecological requirements. Price: Pepp $250, Tavo $350, Mixx2 $600,

Bumble Ride is another great company. They use OEKO-TEX certified textiles that are made 100% of recycled polyester from water bottles and free of harm chemicals.  They also use a dye process that indietwinny-672x372reduces water use and pollution.  Bumble ride makes a lightweight-jogging stroller as a single or side-by-side double great for twins or multiple aged children.  The inflated tires allows for smoother steering on a variety of terrain.  If you live in Chicago, you know we can have some harsh winters with plenty of snow and neighbors who don’t shovel, as well as uneven side walk in the mild weather and sand along the lake front.  The Indie is an ideal option to navigate all those scenarios. Price: Indie: $529 Indie Twin $739Joolz geo

Another fun company making it’s way to the states, is Joolz.  They make a high end stroller for the more design focused shopper.  They are a Dutch company manufacturing in the Netherlands starting this summer, 2017 and use organic materials.  The Joolz Geo mono start stroller can grow into a tandem compact duo stroller for twins or a second baby.  They are only sold at select retailers
, but a worthy competitor to the Bugaboo Donkey and Mama Xari.  I love the way this stroller collapses and the attention to detail in its design.  Price: Geo Mono (earth and studio collection) $999-1049 Geo Duo $1249-1299

Entertainment

  • Baby Swings- The Nuna Leaf is a sleek designed swing.  It can hold up to 130lbs so your child can use it past the first six months of their life.  This swing has such a soothing sway that it could make any baby settle down and rest.  The best part is that is does not require batteries and has a lock for when you just want a stationary seat.
  • Bouncers- Bloom Baby offers a Coco Go bouncer, rocker combo car.  The seat can be locked in a laying, relaxed, or high seated position.  There is a vibrate setting for a little one needing some extra motion, and it’s a sleek design that won’t take up much space on your floor.  It also folds flat for easy storage or a travel.  Bjorn also makes a great bounce option.  This too folds flat.  The seat can easily be removed for a washing, because let’s be honest, most blow outs will happen in these chairs!

Bjorn bouncer

Bloom Coco Go

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toys

  • Wooden toys are a great alternative to all the plastic ones out there, and yes it’s fine for babies to put a wooden toy in their mouth. They are more sustainable for the environment and actually look nice sitting on a shelf.  Plan Toys, Grimm’s, Haba, Tegu, and Plan Toys have a great selection from infant to toddler age.

rainbows  grimms-toys-pyramid

 

 

 

 

 

green toys

 

You will not be able to control everything your child is exposed to in the world, but you sure can make their home the healthiest place to be.  It’s not to say everything out there is chemical ridden and unsafe, just pick and choose products that fit your budget and work best for your family’s lifestyle.  Being aware is the first step to a better way of life for you and your little ones.

Natural and Organic Baby Safe Cleaning Recipes

I recently began working at Sprout San Francisco, an organic and natural children’s boutique in Chicago.  The experience thus far has been wonderful in expanding my baby knowledge and furthering my career path as a maternity concierge.  The gist of Sprout is all about going back to basics.  What did our grandmothers and great grandmothers use when they were raising children?  Clearly, they were doing something right.  Back then infants and children had a lot to fear with a simple flu or worse polio, but even with all our advances in medicine and technology our current generations are seeing alarming increases in asthma, allergies, autism and cancers.  There is no way to 100% pinpoint a cause, but we have all these nasty chemicals in our lives that our bodies are just not equipped for.  It is very important for everyone to be aware that the majority of our household products are truly harmful, and it is especially imperative that pregnant women know this and make the appropriate changes while gestating.  Clearing out the cleaning cabinet and starting fresh is a great way to improve you and your children’s well being.  In this article, I am going to discuss simple recipes for “green cleaning”.  Most of my information comes from a highly respected book called, Healthy Child, Healthy World; Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home by Christopher Gavigan.

Making the Change

Converting to a “chemical light” cleaning routine can help your wallet and your family’s health.  Listing all the different chemicals might make your head spin, but knowing a few of the big ones will educate you on what to look out for. Some of the most common ones are:

Ammonia: a staple in kitchen and bathroom cleaners.  It is a known VOC (volatile organic chemical) that contributes to respiratory issues.

Chlorine: The number one household chemical linked to poisoning and can create a harmful chemical reaction when mixed with other substances.

Phosphates: Found in many dishwashing and cleaning formulas, yet was band from water softeners do to the damaging effects on water supply and fish.

Lye: A chemical used in drain and oven cleaners, detergents, pool cleaners, metal polishers, and soap. It can irritate skin and eyes and fumes from it can corrode respiratory passages.

Antibacterial and disinfectants have attained a power status in the average American home.  However, these cleaners often contain triclosan which has been linked to “a range of adverse health and environmental effects, from skin irritation, allergy susceptibility, bacterial, endocrine disruption and compounded antibiotic resistant, tainted water, and dioxin contamination to destruction of fragile aquatic ecosystems.” (beyongpesticides.org) These products are also killing the good bacteria our bodies need to build a strong immune system.  This is especially important in children.  A current theory, the hygiene hypothesis, asserts that our efforts to live in an ultra clean environment have contributed to the alarming rise in asthma and allergies.

275 = number of active ingredients in antibacterial products classified as pesticides (EPA 2007)

200 = average number of chemicals and pollutants found in newborns’ umbilical cord blood (Environmental Working Group 2005)

2-5 times = how much worse the air in your home can be to outside air (EPA)

I find the above information to be unacceptable, and what’s even more unacceptable is that our US government has all this research yet still allows these harsh chemicals to be sold on selves.  Instead of buying into the system, save yourself the money and risk by trying these simple recipes.

Supplies Needed:

All Purpose nontoxic cleaner

Baking Soda

Borax

Castile Soap

Distilled white vinegar

Essential oils

Hydrogen peroxide

Vegetable oil-based mopping liquid

Liquid dishwashing soap/detergent (natural and non toxic)

Total: about $25

All Purpose Cleaner:

½ teaspoons washing soda or 2 ½ borax

½ teaspoon liquid castile soap

2 cups hot water

16 oz spray bottle

*use on countertops, cupboards, or any surface

 Basic Vinegar Rinse:

Equal parts distilled vinegar and water, shake

Add 15-20 drops of pure peppermint or tree oil for a fresher scent

Vinegar smell does fade quickly if no oils are added

*great for soap scum, floors, walls, windows

Homemade Soft Scrub:

½ cup baking soda

Liquid soap or detergent

5-10 drops pure antibacterial essential oil (ex: lavender or thyme)

Floor Cleaner:

Quarter cup vegetable oil-based soap

½ cup distilled vinegar

2 gallons hot water

*for wood floors substitute a teaspoon glycerin for the vinegar

Carpet Spot Cleaning:

Fruit/Wine: blot with a towel and add cold water, continuing to blot.  For red, use salt or club soda

Grease: use boiling water followed by dry baking soda

Blood: cold water or hydrogen peroxide or try a past of cornstarch or corn meal with water.  Allow to dry and brush away

Rust: Saturate with lemon juice and rub with salt

Now, I know Glad and Febreze make some amazing smelling air fresheners, but they are nothing but a fog of VOC’s.  If you want clean, fresh air in your home, simply grow some houseplants or open the windows more often.  If you’re a stickler for scents, add citrus peel, cinnamon, cloves, or any herb or flower petals to a pot of water and simmer on the stove.  Allow the aroma to fill your home.

There are many things to worry about when bringing a life into the world.  You cannot protect your baby from every pollutant or chemical, but green cleaning your home will help make it the safest place for him or her to grow.