Giving Your Kids’ Toys New Life

Last summer I spent half a day organizing my child’s toys. This involved boxing some of them up and banishing them forever. I also took out at least half of her toys—particularly the messy ones with a lot of individual pieces—and put them in an upstairs closet. The craziest part is that while Audrey, a normally observant five-year-old, was thrilled with the cleanliness of her bedroom, she did not notice that half of her toys were missing. Weeks went by before she even asked about anything.

Using that upstairs closet as a kind of toy library really cut down on the amount of tidying we had to do each evening. No longer was the living room littered with five-thousand Barbies and wooden food sets. Closeting the toys gave them a new appeal, too. When the old block set or baby books come downstairs for a while, Audrey plays with them enthusiastically.
(more…)

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.
(more…)

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.
(more…)

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.
(more…)

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.
(more…)

Our Favorite Eco-friendly Toys

Do kids even play with wooden toys? Do they always get more fun out of the battery powered plastic gizmos? Will you end up investing a chunk of your holiday budget in something that your child won’t even touch?

(Speaking of your holiday budget, don’t forget to enter our Charlie Banana Hybrid Diaper giveaway! The contest ends on Wednesday and you can enter up to four times!)

I cannot totally guarantee that your tot will love the following toys, but I can attest to the fact that my children have played with them vigorously for hundreds of hours spanning years of their lives. For us, they were worth the investment!
(more…)

Best Wooden Toys for Babies and Young Children

I’m one of those mean mothers who doesn’t want her aesthetic sensibilities offended by blinking plastic toys all over the living room. But, in an effort to prove that my heart isn’t completely dry and shriveled, I do allow tasteful, wooden playthings to cozy up next to the plants and furniture.

The Plan Toy Chalet Dollhouse with furniture ($179.46) won’t fit in Audrey’s bedroom, so it lives right on the living room floor. This toy has endured as one of her favorite-ever Christmas presents. She received it two years ago now and plays with it almost daily. It makes future gift-giving easy for relatives, too, because there are always more accessories to add to it.
(more…)

To Pacify or Not to Pacify: Should Your Baby Use a Binky?

Many mothers I knew had hard and fast opinions on the use of pacifiers. Here are a few of them that I can remember off hand:

“I don’t want my child to have a piece of plastic in her mouth at all times. It’s not natural, it makes it difficult for her to speak, it could hurt her teeth, and I’m not confident that the materials used to make pacifiers are safe for the kind of use I’ve seen in small babies.”-Margaret.

“I waited three months so that we could really figure out breastfeeding and ensure that the binky wasn’t going to get in the way. After that, I had no problem using a pacifier, as long is it was BPA free.”-Kathleen

(more…)

Pacifiers in Both Pockets: How Our Household Binky Addiction Began

My official stance on pacifier use was influenced by lactation specialists who advised that I hold off until baby reached three months of age to ensure we kept up a good breastfeeding latch. For approximately twelve weeks my son’s remarkably ear piercing wails were the norm, sometimes for several hours at a time.

When he hit three months and we popped that magical little (BPA-free) device into his mouth, we experienced a wee bit of heaven. It was quiet, he was content, and the addiction began. Every night (sometimes while cursing under our breath) we searched the house for pacifiers to ensure that he was surrounded by at least a half dozen while he slept. Otherwise we’d wake to his siren scream at 3 a.m. and find ourselves groping under his crib in the dark to find those tiny providers of peace and quiet.
(more…)

Using Car Seat Covers to Keep Newborns and Babies Warm

Since we’re nestled here in the Pacific Northwest where our biggest complaint is rain, I can’t quite imagine toting my newborn home in sub-zero weather. We’ve hit a patch of chilly days here lately and it had me wondering what mothers in cold climates do to keep their infants warm on winter walks. After all, part of maintaining the motivation to live a green lifestyle is simply getting outside and connecting with nature–which can be challenging in places like Northern Alaska. Finally, I can across an image of a car seat cover.

So just what is this contraption? It fits around the outside of the car seat to provide a cozy cocoon for a newborn or infant. The one pictured above is a JJ Cole Carseat Cover and costs just under $30.
(more…)