What Would You Like to Focus on in 2012?

Focus. It is so hard to hold onto it in the midst of sleep deprivation, constant interruption, and the piles of laundry that slowly compound over the course of a week.

So now, before the New Year celebrations begin and just after the crush of gift giving it’s a good time to focus on getting ahead of upcoming challenges. What would you like to tackle in 2012?

Are you hoping to begin a cloth diaper collection? Do you want to make your own household cleaners or whirl up batches of homemade baby food? Are you hoping to take your first camping trip with toddler? What are your wildest green dreams for 2012?
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Happy Holidays from Green Baby Guide

This is our third holiday season here at Greenbabyguide.com. Our first Christmas posts had a following of a dozen readers, most of them family members. Since then we’ve published our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, and increased our web traffic to about 50,000 unique users each month. Whew!

Despite our modest fame, nothing much has changed for our families. This morning we finished untying our fabric gift bags and have spent the day playing, snacking and reading.

After the crush of preparation and anxiety, there is such relief in just sitting in our toy-strewn living room and enjoying the kids. They aren’t sporting BPA-free bibs or chubby cloth diaper bums this year, but are rapidly leaving babyhood behind at 5 years and 2 years old.
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Last Minute Homemade Gift Ideas for Toddlers: All Free and All Fun!

If you’d like to add to the stash of gifts for your tot, but can’t imagine totting her into the shopping fray, you’re in luck. There are several ultra-easy gifts that will delight your tot, cost nothing, and take very little time. And remember that toddlers often spend more time playing with boxes and ribbons than they do with their new toys.

Doll sling. You can buy one of these (like the Ergo baby doll heart rose carrier above) for $46, or wrap a scarf around your toddler’s shoulder and call it a baby doll sling. It’s free, it’s elegant and if your toddler is at all interested in babies, he or she will love it. My daughter wears her baby doll in a scarf sling all day and insists upon having her sling adjusted first thing in the morning each day.
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Eco-friendly Art Supplies for Your Budding Artiste

Surprise your tree-hugging Picasso with new, eco-friendly art supplies this holiday season!

Alex Eco Craft ($12.99) comes with everything your child needs to create over twenty craft projects. Best for ages 6-8.

 

Stockmar Beeswax Stick Crayons ($21.45). Set of sixteen crayons.

 

Eco Kids Natural Plant Dye Modeling Dough Made in the USA ($19.89)

 

Artterro Art Dolls Kit ($19.95). Here’s Amazon’s product description:

Eco-friendly art kits from Artterro have colorful, fun art supplies. No two kits are exactly alike, each features a unique assortment of colors and patterns. Craft four fun dolls with gorgeous handmade paper, glass beads, colorful 100% wool felt dresses and needle and thread. Turn them into bookmarks, decorations, scrapbook covers, friends to play with or even pins to wear! Ages 7 and up.
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Gift Ideas for New Mothers

New moms are acclimating to sleep loss, post-birth bodies, and a challenging role of parenting a newborn. They deserve some lovely holiday gifts. (And casseroles, and free babysitting, and any other support you can lend!)

Baby Slings. I thought carriers were unnecessary before my baby arrived, but when I learned that I could slip my colicky baby into a Maya Wrap Sling and he would fall asleep in minutes, I was hooked. Beyond the soothing effects of baby carriers, they are infinitely practical. It’s suddenly possible to vacuum, cook dinner, and go for a walk without waking the baby! Many women love Hotslings as well. If you’re looking for a budget gift, there are even free patterns online for sewing a homemade sling that you can craft yourself.
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Green Holiday Gift Ideas for Pregnant Women

I have experienced the joys of pregnancy (and the swollen ankles, back pain, and cravings.) And I remember the things I so longed for on a daily basis. On the whole they weren’t material items, but rather support. And the best news is that “gifts of service” are utterly eco-friendly, thoughtful and very low cost.

A bottle of The Naked Bee Green Tea Lotion and a free coupon for regular foot massages. The lotion is made from organic ingredients that will nourish her itchy, stretching skin. Husband alert: She will LOVE this! (I would love this, and I’m not even currently pregnant…) If a partner is attentive enough, foot massages could be delivered on a daily basis.
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The Pre-Holiday Household Clutter Purge: Making Space for Gifts

If you are expecting an influx of toys, clothes, and other household gifts this season, why not clear a space for them before they arrive? Thrift stores are often inundated with donations just after the holidays, when other shoppers are no longer hunting for gifts. Giving early ensures that your unwanted stuff can make it into holiday packages while making room for what is coming.

Start small. Taking inventory of all your earthly possessions and eliminating unnecessary clutter is a daunting task any time of the year, let alone during the holiday crush. You might just want to pick one room to focus on and set aside an hour to attack. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.
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Our Favorite Organic Cloth Dolls

Dolls are a new play item in our household. Although we encouraged my son to embrace his nurturing side, he wasn’t the least bit interested. My daughter, on the other hand, is fully engaged in rocking, walking, and caring for her dolls. A comment by one of our readers early this week sparked my search for eco-friendly fabric dolls. My mission was to find an organic doll that was inexpensive, cute, and cuddly.

Global Green Pals has a line of dolls that I utterly love. They’re adorable but look sturdy enough to stand up to hours of active play. They’re made of 100% certified organic cotton and stuffed with post consumer plastic PET bottle stuffing. The clothes are removable, the dolls are machine washable, and they’re all under $25.
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The Best Books for Preschoolers

My daughter (now age 5) loves books. She can spend hours paging through them. We typically have at least 40 books checked out of the library for her. During the preschool years, here were some of her very favorites:

Mary Engelbreit’s Nursery Tales. We own this one.  Hours of amusement!

Mary Engelbreit’s Mother Goose. We own this one, too.

Audrey can’t get enough of naughty David’s antics. No, David!

David Goes to School

David Gets in Trouble

And I just saw that there’s a David Christmas book! It’s Christmas, David!

Napping House

I Took the Moon for a Walk

Something from Nothing

Olivia (Warning: some parents do not appreciate Olivia’s strong-willed personality!)
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Unpopular Wooden Toys in Our Household

There have been a few eco-friendly toys we’ve invested in over the years that have turned out to be duds. Just so you don’t make the same mistake this holiday season, we’ll share our failed purchases. (Let me add that my kids have a much longer list of green toys they have loved. Check out Monday’s post for details.)

Melissa and Doug is a company that makes beautiful, quality products out of sustainable materials. When we invested ninety dollars at a local toy store for the Melissa and Doug Deluxe Parking Garage, we didn’t realize that it would be quickly abandoned in the closet for the next few years. The elevator (operated with a string and winding knob) sticks and something about the stacked layout just didn’t jive with our vehicle obsessed son. (On the other hand he LOVES his friend’s Plan Toys City Series Wooden Parking Garage. Go figure!)
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