The Best (and Worst) Products for Making Baby Food

I’ve always wanted to be one of those minimalist cooks who owns nothing more than a good knife and one skillet.  After years of acquiring every kitchen gadget and appliance under the sun (including, but not limited to, a crepe maker, stand mixer, hand mixer, waffle iron, and panini press), I finally had to admit that I’m actually a kitchen maximalist.  The upside of this is that I didn’t have to run out and buy anything for my baby-food making needs. 

Below you’ll find my review of every conceivable food-masher known to home cooks.  Needless to say, it makes the most sense to start with what you already own and purchase something only if what you have doesn’t work.  I’d also recommend buying something that you’ll use in the kitchen for years, even after baby’s palate has matured.
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The Best Green Baby Blogs

Although we hope that one day the Green Baby Guide will be chock-full of absolutely anything you’d ever want to know about raising an eco-baby, sometimes it’s good to branch out a bit.  We scoured the Internet for the best green baby blogs and found mothers and fathers discussing everything from the best organic products to musings on home schooling and breastfeeding.

Pirate Papa is “a journal of anarcho-green D(o).I(t).Y(ourself). Parenting.” It reminds me a lot of our site . . . except that we are not rock-n-roll pirates.  Or dads.

Soft Landing Baby Blog provides “Non-toxic baby gear news and reviews.” NFunny Faceeed a BPA-free sippy cup?  Get recommendations here.
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Phthalates in Baby Care Products: How to Avoid Toxins without Losing Your Mind

When you have a baby, you’re always hearing about the latest hidden dangers and toxins lurking in almost everything you own.  Since my baby was born, I’ve been learning more and more about harmful chemicals in plastics.  The most recent panic-inducing study, published in this month’s issue of Pediatrics, proves that using baby bath products increases the amount of phthalates in babies’ urine.  Phthalates, found in many plastics, can affect reproductive development and play a role in allergies, runny noses, eczema, and even the concentrations of your baby’s hormones.

Baby bath
Was I just awash in toxic chemicals?

Yikes!  This information is enough to cause even the most laid-back parent to freak out.  (MSN’s headline, “Babies Awash in Toxic Chemicals,” didn’t help.)  You may have been lathering the baby up with baby wash and sprinkling him with powder since day one.  Now what?  According to uwnews.org, “Parents who want to decrease their baby’s exposure to phthalates should limit the amount of baby care products used on the infant, and apply lotions or powders only if medically indicated.”  I have decided not to freak out over the possible phthalate exposure of the past–instead, I’ll just work on limiting possible future exposure.
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Last-minute Eco-friendly Valentine’s Day Creations

My daughter is attending her very first Valentine’s Day party today.  Ah–what is more romantic than a room full of toddlers exchanging cards and eating heart-shaped cookies?  The party hostess, Audrey’s daycare provider, gave us a list a couple weeks ago with the names of the children in attendance on Valentine’s Day.  Of course I immediately went to work making chocolate-covered cherries, composing personal poems for each child, and cutting out doilies and foil hearts.

All right, I didn’t really make candy or pen sonnets–how could I, when I left everything to the last possible moment?  I did manage to create my own last-minute Valentines rather than buying a box at the store.  A few days ago I saw a woman on television demonstrating how to make some easy eleventh-hour Valentines.  She threaded a tissue through a hole in a cut-out heart and wrote “Ah-cho-choose you” on the top.  I don’t know . . . unless I used 100% post-consumer recycled tissue, I just wouldn’t feel right about giving Audrey’s daycare friends this Valentine.  (Although, on second thought, who needs a tissue more than a little tyke in the dead of winter?)
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The Homemade Nursery: Eco-friendly Decorations for Baby’s Room

According to Denise and Alan Field’s Baby Bargains, the average American spends $1800 outfitting a nursery—that includes a crib, mattress, dresser, rocker, bedding, and décor.  I managed to spend just $245.  How did I do it?  Well, I did get a lot of stuff for free, thanks to the generosity of friends and family.  I also simply avoided buying all of the nursery “must-haves” on the market, such as a rocker.  My daughter’s room may not look like something you’d find in the pages of Architectural Digest, but it has a certain cozy appeal to it.

Homemade Nursery

Much of the eclectic charm comes from homemade creations.  My daughter received beautiful quilts and blankets from her grandmothers and great-grandmother.  They make great nursery decorations—I hung the quilt my cousin Lindsay made on the wall for all to admire.  My daughter will treasure all of these hand-sewn blankets as she grows up.  After all these years, I still have the baby blanket my grandma made for me when I was born.  Homemade items become keepsakes, making them greener than store-bought goods.
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How Much Money Do Cloth Diapers Save?: A Cloth vs. Disposable Cost Comparison

Consumer Reports estimates you’ll spend $1500-2000 for disposable diapers before your child is potty trained.  Can you save by using cloth?  Yes!  The cheapest option, prefolds plus covers, can cost as little as $243 over 2.5 years—that includes washing and drying expenses.  An all-in-one (such as this one by bumGenius) or pocket diaper (such as a Fuzzibunz) can cost around $17 each, so people tend to buy fewer and wash them more often, raising the total price over 2.5 years to $792.  To see our calculations and learn how to save money using cloth diapers, keep reading.

Prefolds: The Cheapest Diapering Option.  My daughter just turned two.  According to my obsessively detailed calculations, I spent $129.50 on the first year and $66 on the second.  I don’t foresee buying any more supplies, so after 2.5 years (the average age of potty training), I’ll have spent $213.50 diapering my child.  That figure includes all my cloth diapers, some disposables for travel, and washing and drying.
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Green Maternity Fashion

One of the downsides—or upsides, depending on your perspective—of pregnancy is that it requires a brand new wardrobe. The average woman spends $1200 on maternity and nursing clothes. This seems like a lot for clothing you’ll wear just a month or two before you have to go up another size. If you hunt around for tips on saving money on maternity clothes, the two big ones you’ll see again and again are 1. Borrow maternity clothes from friends, and 2. Wear your husband’s clothes. The great thing about these tips is that they not only save you a bundle of cash—they’re also eco-friendly alternatives to shelling out over a grand on barely-worn garments.
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Product Review: Danish Wool Nursing Pads

As a notorious cheapskate, it may seem out of character for me to consider wool nursing pads that cost almost $20 a pair. While I was pregnant, I obsessed over this purchase. Nursing pads were something I’d never thought about at all pre-pregnancy. I hadn’t even considered their existence. After doing some reading, I came to the startling realization that lactating women leak. This frightened me.

I learned that there was a simple way to prevent soaking all my shirts in breast milk: wear nursing pads. I didn’t want to buy disposable nursing pads, and I heard cotton nursing pads soaked through too easily and resulted in a cold and clammy chest. Somehow I found www.danishwool.com, a website promoting wool nursing pads. Intriguingly, the website claimed you only really needed one or two pair, because wool has the magical ability to feel dry even when wet. According to the website, the lanolin in the wool “has an antibacterial effect and removes odors.” It goes on to say that “even if wool is wet with sweat, urine or breast-milk, the lanolin goes to work cleansing the wool—it need only be washed when the lanolin needs replenishing.”

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Washable vs. Disposable—Environmental Debates to Ponder

Both Joy and I are committed to cloth diapering our offspring. First of all, we’re cheap, and our cloth diapers are much cheaper than standard disposables. We were also under the impression that cloth diapers were better for the environment than disposables. Well, we looked into it. It turns out that a major diaper study completed by the British Government in 2005 determined that the environmental impact of both diaper systems is more or less equal. How could this be? In a nutshell, disposable diapers harm the planet during their production and disposal while cloth diapers take a toll on the environment by sapping up water and energy.
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A Green Resolution: Switching to Eco-friendly Toilet Paper

This year, I solemnly resolve to switch from planet-killing conventional toilet paper to eco-friendly recycled toilet paper.  Most of my green practices end up saving me money: buying secondhand, eating lower on the food chain, and conserving electricity.  However, every once in a while my frugality and eco-consciousness conflict.  I just couldn’t fathom spending extra money on something like toilet paper. 

I already avoided buying almost all other paper products, so I figured I was doing enough.  I had this nagging feeling, though, that my T.P. preferences needed to change.  But why?  Would buying recycled toilet paper make much of a difference?  I learned that we wipe out virgin forests by supporting conventional brands.  Read more about it here.
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