When I first started learning about the toxins lurking in my household cleaners, I went emoted my way through an abbreviated version of Kübler-Ross’s stages of grief. First I was skeptical. I thought these fluorescent yellow, lemon-smelling liquids were supposed to be killing germs and making everything better—now you’re saying they’re bad for me? Then I experienced a combination of anger and denial: How could I have been deceiving myself all these years? Finally, I reached a state of acceptance: I needed to get rid of them.
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day All Purpose Cleaner–a natural alternative to toxic concoctions
For many in a similar boat, it can be overwhelming at first. Once you know the truth, you may be seized by a desire to rid your home of everything at once. That is fine—just make sure to take them to a hazardous waste facility. Don’t flush them down the toilet or let them sit around your house for all eternity!
The other option, if you hate the idea of tossing out all these cleaners you spent good money on, is to phase them out gradually. Simply use them up, then replace them with something better for you and the planet.
Have you phased out toxic cleansers? How did it go? Remember—you, too, can reach a state of acceptance regarding this sensitive topic.
During all nine months of my first pregnancy, our home was littered with books instructing me on how to gracefully cruise into motherhood. Many of them simply freaked me out while others seemed utterly unrealistic.
None urged me to trust myself, buy less stuff, use cloth diapers and opt for used gear–all of which we emphasize in our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide. In fact, back in 2006 I could not find a single book on green pregnancy or parenting! That was part of the reason Rebecca and I were so inspired to write The Eco-nomical Baby Guide. During the months that we wrote and re-wrote the text, green baby books started to pop onto the market, but none of them had the frugal emphasis that was essential to our eco-friendly message. We were also surprised to see that none of the green baby guides had an in-depth section about cloth diaper usage and we were careful to dedicate two detailed chapters to cloth diapering, although we could have filled an entire book with our cloth diaper wisdom. (If you don’t already know, we are rather ardent cloth diaper fans who strike up conversations with total strangers about Fuzzibunz and flushable diaper liners.)
The books I did enjoy were Baby Bargains (which provides a wide range product information and does encourage buying secondhand gear) and Momma Zen, a book which kindly allows you to forgive your imperfection in those first challenging months of new parenting. I haven’t read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, but it has gotten rave reviews from friends.
What are the books you would recommend to pregnant women?
We’d like to take some time to thank our favorite fellow bloggers for stopping by the Green Baby Guide, providing insightful comments. First in the spotlight is Betsy of Eco-novice. She’s a stay-at-home mother of two who started her path towards greenness when her first child was born. Here’s what she says about her motivation for going green on her blog:
But when my first baby sucked on my hair, I wondered, “What’s in my leave-in conditioner?” When he sucked on the floor, I wondered, “What’s in my cleaner?” When I started feeding him solid foods, I wondered, “How safe are pesticides for infants?” When I opened his disposable diaper on a sweltering day and felt a wave of heat come out I thought, “Maybe I’ll try cloth diapers after all.”
Check out Eco-novice for a variety of topics. Here are some memorable posts from the last few weeks:
Why It’s Better Not to Know Your Baby’s Gender Until Birth (with ten reasons to keep the sex a surprise)
Thank you, Betsy, for visiting the Green Baby Guide–and for all of your eco-efforts!
When my son still hadn’t potty trained through the night at age four, I wrote a post about trying to keep him dry through the night. (Most of which totally didn’t work at the time.) Many readers commented that bladder control for boys doesn’t developmentally happen until they’re older—possibly around age six.
Giving up altogether seemed rather strange to me. My post on The History of Potty Training in America, shared that potty training ages in this country have gone up across the board—partly because of the ease of disposables. If everyone waits to even attempt night training until their children are older, there are years of waste (and expense) that could be avoided with some effort.
The only two choices for parents certainly aren’t the following:
A. Torture your child with extreme night training regimens.
B. Just wait. It will happen eventually. In the meantime, buy lots of pull-ups.
In our case, the successful solution was to cut off beverages at 5:30pm and give him a chocolate treat each morning. It’s successful about 95% of the time and my four and a half-year-old son feels really excited to wear underwear to bed.
I’m not saying that all kids can night train at five (or sooner), but it seems worth knowing that some of our efforts may help kids get there a bit earlier.
Have you had success or struggle with night training? The best tips always come from readers so please share your experiences from the trenches of early parenthood!
Trader Joe’s always delights me as a mother, an eater, a frugalista, and a tree hugger. The concept of a shop stocked with almost completely generic, high quality products is revolutionary! Prices are usually reasonable, products are creative, but the abundance of packaging and the small serving sizes aren’t ideal. Still, I do visit once a month or so to stock up on cereal, granola bars, and other prepared foods. They aren’t always organic, but they aren’t packed with corn syrup and preservatives like other mainstream brands.
Although it isn’t ecologically perfect, I drive across town once a month to shop at Trader Joe’s. I have to hit other grocery stores in the interim to pick up produce and household items, but it’s worth the extra trip for me travel to TJ’s. As we mention in our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, green living is all about progress, not perfection!
What happens to all those plastic tubs and bottles you keep throwing in the recycling bin? If they’re lucky, they get reincarnated as Green Toys. I’ve seen Green Toys for sale in baby boutiques and Whole Foods, and my daughter is the proud owner of the Green Toys Tea Set ($20). They’re thick, brightly colored recycled plastic toys that come in recyclable cardboard packaging.
While you can’t beat secondhand toys for eco-friendliness, Green Toys come in handy when you need a new toy for a gift or special occasion. They also seem more accessible and mainstream than wooden toys, which may not go over so well in some circles. They’re also reasonably priced! Check it out:
Green Toys Dump Truck ($15)
Green Toys Recycle Truck ($15)
Green Toys Chef Set ($11)
Green Toys Sand Play Set ($15)
Green Toys Tool Set ($15)
Green Toys My First Blocks ($15.50)
What if your OB/Gyn was a mother of three who actually invented things to make women’s lives easier as they journeyed through the rough landscape of early motherhood? The bad news is that most of you won’t be able to become patients of Dr. Somi Javiad–she’s busy enough as it is! The great news is that she, along with her business partner, Kim Howell, have founded a website and product line to support new and expectant mothers. Mamadoc was developed by Howell and Javiad to offer practical, eco-friendly pregnancy products to women that can make pregnancy and new motherhood a bit more comfortable.
Some of Mamadoc‘s clever inventions include Nox, a compression bra to help nursing mothers with engorgement when weaning, Preghose to help pregnant moms prevent swollen feet,(I could have used a dozen pairs of those!) and Bellyup to support a pregnant woman’s back and abdomen during the late months of pregnancy.
Mamadoc also carries handmade bamboo cotton diapers that we had the chance to try out with my twenty month daughter. They’re an adorable color combo of grey and pink and the two layers of bamboo fleece are incredibly soft and absorbent. One drawback is that we did notice that the edging frayed and balled up after a few washings. While they look a bit worn, they’re still quite comfortable and cute.
One lucky winner will be getting a bamboo soothing cloth from Mamadoc to share with a new baby. It’s ultra soft small square of fabric with polka dots of texture that baby will enjoy exploring. (Pictured below)
1. Simply post a comment
2. Like us on Facebook (then tell us you did it in the comments)
3. Spread the news about the giveaway! Email someone, post it on Facebook, tweet it, blog it, or send someone a message about it via carrier pigeon. (And again, don’t forget to tell us all about it in the comments!)
This contest ends on March 29th and is only open to U.S. Residents.
Sometimes an eco-friendly solution arrives in an unlikely place. I searched high and low for new baby doll clothes to give my daughter for her fifth birthday, but I just couldn’t bring myself to pay $10 or $15 for cheap little garments encased in several layers of non-recyclable plastic.
The woman at the secondhand shop insisted I check out the “Senior Store” in my neighborhood—a little shop selling handicrafts made by the residents of the senior center. Sure enough, in addition to doilies, wooden toys, and crocheted tablecloths, I found an entire rack of homemade baby clothes. While $10 may seem a bit steep for a tiny sundress, it wasn’t any more than the made-in-China variety I saw at Target, and I had the pleasure of knowing it was crafted by a local artisan!
While she was in the whirlwind of raising small children (and she has five of them!), she took time each week to escape to a cafe with her journal. For one hour she considered the following questions:
That’s it. At first I thought it was rather silly to spend a precious hour of my busy life journaling about practical matters, but it was an instant success. I considered what my goals were as a parent, as an environmentalist, and as a wife and considered small tweaks that could make a difference. And I did all of this while sipping hot chocolate in a lovely cafe away from screams and laundry.
The thing I had forgotten before I took that time, is that sustainability is about more than the environment. It’s about being sure to take the time to renew, refresh, and step back from the incessant demands of daily life. We have to be sure that we are able to sustain ourselves in order to meet the needs of our children while we strive toward eco-friendly parenting.
What were the results of my meeting? I attacked the items on my list with intensity and found that those small changes made a tremendous difference. Our kids now shower instead of taking a bath. It saves gallons of water each night and gives us an extra twenty minutes to help them get into bed on time. I cleaned out my closet and organized the tupperware. The result, bliss. Truly. It’s amazing what a little tweaking can do!
I didn’t with my first child. They seemed so much more expensive than the standard brand that I couldn’t bring myself to make the switch. Then, with my second baby, Rebecca inspired me to make the leap to cloth wipes. They’re easy, incredibly inexpensive, and much more eco-friendly than green disposable wipes. (I just picked up a few packs of baby washcloths at the dollar store and that three-dollar investment is holding strong almost two years later. We simply spray them with water before using them.) What wipes do you use?