This holiday season, I’ve been searching for the products that new parents are raving about in online reviews. It’s best to trust those currently in the trenches of early child-rearing for the gifts that children (and parents) will really love this holiday.
The Itzy Ritzy Snack Happened Snack Bag is an overwhelming favorite. Families love that it zips shut (unlike other reusable bags that seal with velcro), that it can easily contain an entire sandwich, and that it holds up well after several trips through the washing machine. The product would be perfect for baby finger foods and would easily transition to preschool within a few years. It’s a great stocking stuffer for a child too as parents are reporting that kids love the designs on the bags.
The Green Toys Fire Truck is another great value that parents rave about. It’s sturdy, adorable, made from recycled plastic and is currently on sale for just $20.22. (My son got the Green Toys Recycling Truck when he was two and is still playing with it as a six-year-old!)
The Melissa and Doug 60-Piece Standard Unit of Blocks is on sale for about $53, and is a great gift that will provide years of creative play for children. Parents recommend the product because of quality, durability, and the flexibility of the design options. These blocks are recommended for children above three years, but I can imagine my kids would have been chewing on them in their first year.
Chewbeads are a GENIUS gift for a new mother (and her baby!) The chic necklace is made from 100% silicone beads free from BPA, phthalates, cadmium, or any other scary stuff. The necklace can be tossed in the dishwasher to rinse off the baby drool and can be slipped over an adult’s head without having to deal with a clasp.
What gifts are you planning on buying for baby or other new parents this year? Help us share great products with our readers!
I like to imagine Diana and Garth of Papa Don’s sitting in a snug little cabin next to a wood stove, whittling toys by hand. Their cabin looks like something out of Hansel and Gretel, with a thatched roof and gingerbread walls, protected by gigantic firs and pines. When they’ve polished up one of their hardwood toys–a wobble pull puppy, for example–a team of elves swoops it from their snug little Oregon cabin and delivers it to a deserving young child.
The amazing thing about my story is that it’s all true. I mean, maybe not the part about the gingerbread or the elves, but Diana and Garth really do live in the coastal forests of Oregon, crafting their heirloom-quality toys out of locally-harvested alder. “We make them with joy and hope that they bring countless hours of delight to the children in your life,” they say about their products.
We have always stood by the claim that wooden toys look better and last longer than the cheap plastic junk made in China and sold in Wal-mart. Often times, though, it’s hard to justify spending hundreds of dollars on the high-quality heirloom stuff. That’s another great thing about Papa Don’s: the prices aren’t outrageous. In fact, they are down-right affordable. The most expensive toy in the whole store costs only $65 (this wonderful wooden train set).
Now for the giveaway! One lucky winner will have the chance to choose one of the following toys:
Lawnmower push toy ($38 value)
Tumbler floor toy ($18 value)
Baby toy assortment ($19 value)
You can enter up to three times. Here’s how:
1. Simply post a comment letting us know which toy you’d most like to win: the lawnmower toy, the tumbler, or the toy assortment.
3. Visit Papa Don’s shop and tell us what caught your eye in the comments.
I’ve been seeing babies around town sporting floral and sailboat prints–and it’s well after Labor Day. That’s just embarrassing. Everyone knows that October is the month to dress your little monster in orange and black. Let’s get started:
Planetwise Hanging Wet/Dry Bag Orange Woods ($29.99). It’s orange and festooned with cute little trees.
Planetwise Wet/Dry Bag with Carnival Skulls ($24.95) Spooky!
Rockabilly Mom Punk Rock Skull Tattoo Design Diaper Bag ($39.99). Most diaper bags just aren’t cool enough, amirite? You definitely need the Rockabilly Punkrock diaper bag.
Dadgear Backpack Diaper Bag (on sale for $88). I’m not sure this qualifies as an eco-friendly product, but how could I exclude an orange and black diaper bag in this round-up?
Belvah Quilted Damask Diaper Bag ($19.95). It’s one of the most affordable Halloween-themed diaper bags I found—yet so fancy!
JJ Cole Diapers and Wipes Pod ($34.49). This BPA-free, phthalate-free tote attaches to your stroller or car seat.
Ghost onesie ($21.00). Your baby really needs this organic ghost onesie.
Green pirate princess design baby one piece bodysuit ($10.99). Printed with “eco-friendly ink”!
Happy Heinys one for all one size cloth diaper black ($18.95). Basic black diaper, suitable for Halloween and black tie formal events.
Blueberry by Swaddlebees 6 piece baby cloth wipes orange ($12.95). If you don’t have orange cloth wipes, you won’t match your new Halloween-themed diaper bags!
Motherease duo all-in-two cloth diaper cover ($18.75). Not a Halloween print, but it is orange. Close enough!
Now you and your little goblin are ready to parade around town with pride. Happy haunting!
The good news is that prices on organic crib mattresses have gone down in the last few years and there are now several inexpensive organic crib mattresses available for less than two hundred dollars. But what if you end up co-sleeping most of the time? Or what if your child shifts to a bigger bed early and spends just a short time on that organic crib mattress? Should you just bypass the organic crib mattress and invest in a twin or queen organic mattress from the beginning?
The cost of any organic mattress makes this a very valid question. The strong>Natura World Organic Foundation Twin Mattress is one of the most economical, and it costs about $575. strong>Naturepedic’s 2 in 1 Organic Twin Mattress comes in at about $700. Still, if you think about your child using the mattress for fifteen years, the cost per year is far less than buying an organic crib mattress that they would use for a fraction of that time.
You might be surprised to learn that you could buy a strong>Keetsa Eco-Friendly Memory Foam Queen Mattress for just $681, which is less than some organic twin mattresses! If you go with a natural latex product like the strong>Ultimate Dreams Latex Queen Mattress, it will cost you $600, but it won’t be certified organic. On the other extreme strong>Naturepedic’s Organic Cotton Queen Mattress costs nearly double that at about $1200.
We have had a few readers share that they’ve spent a large chunk of cash on an organic or latex queen mattress and been disappointed by its durability or comfort. Have you found a larger sized organic mattress that was worth the investment? Since we spend at least a third of our lives sleeping, it seems worth the money to purchase an high quality, organic product, but what is the best value? Is it worth it to just go for a larger mattress and skip the organic crib mattress? Or just to buy an organic crib mattress pad? Please share your experiences!
Mine was. I once became trapped inside my Baby Bjorn Carrier with my snoozing infant snuggled on my chest. I was desperate for sleep and wanted to lay my baby down so that I wouldn’t roll on top of him, carrier and all, but I was utterly unable to figure out how to get it off. Instead I sat on the couch and cried until my husband got home. Was sleep deprivation a factor? Absolutely! But this was my least favorite baby carrier. Did other moms have this experience with complicated slings or baby carriers?
Don’t get me wrong, I loved wearing my baby. Slings and carriers calmed colic, allowed me to cook dinner with two hands, and put my babes to sleep like nothing else. But some were just so much simpler to use than others. Luckily I borrowed almost all of the slings and carriers we had and the ones we bought were purchased used. It was nice to experiment with so many slings without having to shell out heaps of cash.
Carriers like the Moby Wrap look really cool in theory, but seem to require an advanced degree in fabric wrapping. Still, many moms swear that the Moby Wrap holds their babies more snugly and comfortably than other carriers. Just looking at the directions makes me feel the need to nap.
I even managed to wear the Maya Wrap incorrectly at times, which is one of the easiest slings to use! At first I would always put it on in the wrong direction and my baby would slowly sag down until he was hanging near my hip. To be fair, once I watched the instructional video that comes with the Maya Wrap, I was far more successful!
Our favorite sling, simply because it required no adjustment whatsoever, was the Kangaroo Korner Pouch Sling. We had one in fleece that we used with our first and bought a cotton one for our second. Sadly, I think that company has now gone out of business. Am I right? I guess the Peanut Shell Adjustable Sling or the Dr. Sears Adjustable Sling are somewhat similar, but don’t have snaps to change the sizing. Apparently they have a flexible elastic that allows the sling to carry a growing baby without buckles or straps. Has anyone tried them?
If I had to recommend any other carriers to new moms, I would say that the Ergo Carrier was pretty fantastic and far more comfortable than the slings we used. It works for infants as a front carrier and older tots as a back carrier. I could breastfeed my infant in the Ergo while grocery shopping without anyone ever knowing and loved that it came with a zip pockets for keys or a wallet. The downside was that I never figured out how to strap my son on my back with the Ergo carrier without help. I have seen other mothers perform this miracle in supermarket parking lots and been amazed, but my son was far too wiggly for me to successfully accomplish this acrobatic feat on my own.
The Baby K’tan Baby Carrier looks like a nice fusion of sling and carrier and seems to distribute baby’s weight more easily since baby it is carried on both shoulders. It offers over six positions to carry baby from newborns to 35 pounds, but it’s hard to tell from the information on Amazon if it’s easy to use. Has anyone tried it?
Have you discovered any new carriers that surpass the ones I’ve mentioned? Do you have a baby, like Rebecca’s, who is utterly unwilling to ride in any sort of carrier or sling? Please share your discoveries with our readers!
When we first began writing our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, organic crib mattresses were available only to families who were able to shell out several hundred bucks. How thrilling then to see that by the time the book was published, the market demand really had driven down the price of organic crib mattresses! Check out some of the organic options available to families now!
The Sealy Naturalis Crib Mattress with Organic Cotton is just $95! It’s not completely organic, but for families on a budget at least it’s a more organic option than a standard mattress.
The LA Baby Organic 2 in One Orthopedic Crib Mattress is currently about sixty dollars off, coming in at just $107 on amazon. That’s more than 30% off!
The Willow Natural Coconut Palm Crib Mattress by DaVinci is not organic, but it’s made of latex-free foam derived from natural coconut palm fiber. You have to consider the eco-footprint of shipping products to create a coconut based foam–and the fact that it isn’t organic, but at least manufacturers are considering different options than petroleum based foam. The crib comes with a 10 year limited manufacturer warranty and is a bit more expensive at about $165.
The Colgate Eco Classica I Crib Mattress is the highest priced option we’re featuring, coming in at nearly $190. You have to wonder if it’s worth the extra expense considering that it isn’t certified organic. It does pass the Greenguard standard for indoor air quality and has foam made of plant oils, but it runs quite a bit more than other comparable crib mattresses.
For those of you who can’t bear to toss the crib mattress you already have, or can’t afford even the least expensive organic crib mattresses, American Baby’s Organic Waterproof Quilted Mattress Pad comes in at just over 30 dollars. Not a bad option!
Have you splurged on an organic crib mattress or found another solution? An all cotton futon crib mattress maybe? Or a drawer lined with an organic blanket?
Do you pass it onto friends? Do you sell it on craigslist? Do you host a garage sale?
It seems I spend the majority of my life buying, cleaning, storing, and eliminating stuff. Toys and gizmos flow into our home from birthday party goodie bags, garage sales, and grandparents. But how much of my life do I spend picking up tiny lego figures (or their tinier baseball caps) and plastic tea cups off of the living room floor?
Last night I reached a breaking point and snuck into my children’s bedrooms while they slept. I mercilessly tossed stuffed tigers and worn t-shirts into giant black garbage bags and felt the utter thrill of having less stuff to manage. Today I drove through our local Goodwill drop off site and happily said goodbye to heaps of belongings.
Because we get virtually all clothes and toys used, I don’t feel so motivated to get money back on gear and love sending it off to thrift stores. I love going to garage sales, but the thought of giving up a Saturday to host our own yard sale seems too much to bear. How do you get rid of used stuff?
I don’t remember a whole lot from my first pregnancy, other than the strong feeling that if I read every parenting book and somehow finished every household project, it would be a smooth transition to motherhood. Ha! That was the beginning of the humbling process of parenting that continues to this day. Here are just a few tidbits of wisdom I wish I could send back to myself when I was pregnant with my first child.
1. Progress not perfection. There will be days when your greatest achievement will be a shower. In those first few weeks of parenthood you will give up all things you have been really good at like sleeping, cooking, napping, and doing whatever you please. It’s o.k. It will get easier. In the meantime, give up trying to excel. Let the laundry pile up, let the garden sprout a few weeds, and let yourself do the best you can. Survival will do just fine for now.
2. This stage will end. Fast. Believe it or not, you will sleep again. When you do, the colors will regain their vibrance and the world will seem a far better place. You will get beyond diapers, breastfeeding, and pureed peas. Someday you will leave the house without the diaper bag. In the meantime, try to savor this fleeting (but sometimes brutal) time. Before you know it, you won’t even remember the size of those tiny fingers or exactly how the top of your baby’s head smells. (People actually did tell me this and I didn’t quite believe them. I was utterly mistaken.)
3. Support sustains. In order to be able to be a good parent, let alone a green parent, you need help. Seek out friendships, family and networks of support to get you through this challenging time. It may provide you with a nap here and there, or a reality check with others who are surviving the same challenges, but the support you receive will ultimately benefit your baby. One of the highest compliments you can give a friend is to ask for help.
What sage advice would you give to yourself or other mothers on the brink of welcoming their babies? What have you learned from early parenting? Thanks for sharing!
In the last six years of our lives, our family has camped once with an infant. Sort of. We rented a yurt in a car campground. Does that even qualify as camping?
What do I remember about that outing? How desperately I had longed for the smell of woodsmoke during those previous years that we hadn’t camped. That my three-year-old son found a snail on the paved path the bathroom and reveled in the discovery for about twenty minutes, and that spaghetti cooked outside on a camp stove tastes infinitely better.
I also remember that the night was horrid. My daughter fussed and nursed all night and just when we settled to sleep at dawn, a flock of crows alighted on our yurt roof and loudly cawed us back into consciousness.
Was it worth it? Absolutely!
Two weeks ago we headed out again. We had just scored a six person tent for ten bucks at a garage sale and were ready to give it a whirl. This time we went to a forest service campground with another family who have children the same ages as ours, six and three. What a difference! The herd of kids played all day while the adults sat around the campfire and shared stories. We packed far too much and found that getting ready and cleaning up were horrible chores, but while we were there, what a delight! If I would have known what I know now, I would always camp with another family.
Have you taken your infant or toddler camping yet? Are you worried about screams in the middle of the night in a packed campground?
Besides saving a ton of waste from the landfill and about a thousand bucks in one year of use, cloth diapers beat out disposables simply because they have a resale value. It’s not so likely that anyone would ever purchase a used disposable…Eew…
But how much should you pay for a gently used cloth diaper? It utterly depends on where you purchase it and the shape it’s in. The most convenient and more expensive route will be consignment shops and online sites such as craigslist and Ebay. Garage sales are typically incredibly cheap, but require a lot of legwork and driving.
Why would you buy used cloth diapers? Diapers depreciate about 50-90% after being used even one time. If you buy them used, treat them well, and resell them, you’ll recoup more of your original cost since they don’t depreciate much between the second and third owner.
What is the ideal situation for buying secondhand cloth diapers? The best option is to find someone who intended on using cloth, but only tried for a short while and then wants to sell their whole batch of diapers. Or sometimes you’ll find a person who just bought too many diapers and didn’t end up using them very much. In general, if you’re buying a huge lot of diapers, you’ll save money.
What type or brand of cloth diaper should I look for? My biggest mistake with cloth diapers is that I thought I had to have all the same brand and type of diaper. As friends gave me their secondhand diapers I realized that I preferred some types (pocket diapers) for travel and others (prefolds and covers) for nap times. In general, I do think that snaps are a better choice for used diapers simply because velcro tends to give up far sooner than snaps. (And your children can’t pull off their diapers as easily!)
What advice would you give for finding good deals on secondhand diapers? Did you buy your baby’s diaper collection new or find most of it used?