Should You Buy an Organic Crib Mattress?

Your infant sleeps for hours on end each day. (Not in a row, but still….) How important is it to choose an organic sleeping surface for baby? And why are there so many concerns about traditional crib mattresses?

In our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, we thoroughly explain why many families opt for organic crib mattresses, despite their extra expense. Although we’re big believers in reducing, repurposing, and buying used baby gear, an organic crib mattress is one of the two items that we recommend parents purchase new. Still, there are some critical questions to consider before you invest in a secure place for baby’s (fleeting) sleep.

Are you going to co-sleep?
If you’re planning on bringing baby to bed with you for the first few months or even years, you may want to think about buying a queen or king sized organic mattress for your bed instead.

Are you having your first child?
While it’s tough to shell out the extra cash for an organic crib mattress, you may have other children who will benefit from it as well. If you convert it to a toddler bed down the line, you can get several years of use out of it.

Can you afford it?
We should point out that organic crib mattresses have really come down in price. Pictured above are the LA Baby Organic Cotton Crib Mattress on sale for just over a hundred dollars and The Sealy Naturalis Mattress with Organic Cotton also on sale for just under a hundred bucks.

If the expense is still an obstacle, consider using an Organic Waterproof Crib Cover or Naturepedic’s Waterproof Fitted Crib Pad. They will at least provide a natural barrier between baby and the crib mattress.

An organic crib mattress can be expensive is a great item to request for a baby shower or family gift. Everyone can pitch in a bit of cash and you’ll receive a quality organic mattress and maybe a whole cloth diaper kit too! Have you opted to go with an organic mattress? Why or why not?

Halloween Decoration Ideas

Just what do you need for a green halloween? Very little! Construction paper, lunch bags, and string can quickly transform into jack-o-lanterns, candle-light luminaries, and spider webs. The fruits of fall harvest also provide delightful decoration options with pumpkins, acorns, gourds, and apples.

Not spooky enough for you? Hit up your local thrift store for creepy treasures at cut-rate prices. You’ll be recycling, supporting a local charity, and getting gently used decorations that will work for years.

Are there any eco-friendly Halloween products worth buying? Eco Green Crafts Witchy Halloween Stamps are made from recycled rubber and have a lovely vintage appeal.

You can also use your food to spruce up the atmosphere. Think orange and black items such as carrot sticks and olives or licorice sticks and pumpkin bars.

Or decorate yourself! Become a fashion-forward green advocate by dressing up in a recycling bin costume. (Which could easily be homemade!)

If you’d like to creatively craft your own decorations, check out some of our best Halloween decoration posts:

Healthier Halloween Treats

What are you giving for Halloween this year? There are options outside of the traditional candy wrapper and sometimes kids actually prefer them. Our readers have shared time and again that children love having choices.

Some of my favorite ideas are simple and time tested. A bowl of pennies, Halloween stickers, and Halloween pencils is a fun alternative to pure sugar and kids get the chance to choose a few of their favorites. You can even throw in marbles or beads, as long as you make sure to tell the children that they aren’t edible!

I’m tempted to order a 72 pack of Halloween Glitter Tattoos for just $6.50. They’d be a spectacular addition to that bowl of prizes and end up costing less than ten cents each. (And even our teenage trick-or-treaters would love them.)

If you would like to have a few snacks thrown into the mix, there are some healthy options that beat out mainstream treats.

Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks make a nice snack, but they end up costing about 80 cents a bag. Still, if you’re going with the “big bowl of goodies” theme, you can throw a few of these in without breaking the bank.

On the other end of the cost spectrum, Sun-Maid Raisin Mini Snacks cost approximately 5 cents a box when you buy them in bulk on amazon. (A 9 pack of bags with 14 mini-boxes comes in at 21.39, which provides you with 126 mini boxes.)

Stretch Island Summer Strawberry Fruit Leatheris all natural, 100% fruit and costs $12.80 for a 30 pack.

Have I missed any simple Halloween treat options? What are you planning on offering your costumed visitors this year? I’m going to have more trick-or-treators than ever so I’d better start stocking up!

***This post was accidentally published early on Friday before I had finished, but when I read Larisa’s comment I was thrilled. Clean out your kids’ random plastic loot while stocking your goodie bowl! Genius!

I was also thinking of ransacking my huge collection of foreign coins that are currently buried at the bottom of our junk drawer. Kids would be thrilled to get a japanese yen, and since they’re about 100 yen to a dollar, it’s maybe even worth going to a bank to get a few rolls. We could pass out beautiful coins with a hole in the middle to fascinated kids. That would be the treasure they’d cherish most all evening! (Especially once their blood sugar levels out and the candy wrappers all end up in the trash….)

reCrib: Buy and Sell Top Quality Secondhand Baby Gear

ReCrib is a dreamy place to purchase high quality baby gear or make money selling used baby items. Thank goodness a site like this now exists!

If only we would have had reCrib when our babies were little. In our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, we share that we each spent about a thousand dollars on our babies’ first year, and we did it by reducing, recycling and repurposing what we already had. (Typical american families spent upwards of seven thousand on baby’s first year alone!)

With reCrib you can buy heirloom quality baby gear at 40-60% off retail prices, and then sell it back (using reCrib) for a respectable sum when your baby has outgrown it. It’s essentially a top quality, online consignment store.

For more information on reCrib, here is an interview with one of its founders, Daniel Lehmann. (The images you see are items that are currently on sale at reCrib for about half of what they’d cost new.)

1. What exactly is reCrib and how can people use it?
reCrib is a free online marketplace for the best gently used baby and kids gear – the must have cribs, strollers, high chairs, etc. It’s great for parents who want to declutter and recoup the costs of items their kids no longer use – and also great for new parents who want all the best brands and products for their kids but at a significant discount. But the best part is that it’s the green thing to do!

2. What inspired you to start reCrib?
We were moving apartments and decided to take the opportunity to declutter and sell the gear and toys our kids outgrew.We assumed there would be a great site targeted towards parents but were surprised to found out it didn’t really exist. We had all this amazing stuff – Netto Cribs, Bugaboos, Peg Perego High Chair, etc. – in nearly perfect condition. As parents, you acquire all this stuff that you use for only months to a couple of years. We wanted to create a solution and believed there would be a market for this idea.

3. What types of gear can people buy and sell and on reCrib?
Think of a dream list for a baby registry at a top modern design store. Cribs, strollers, high chairs, bikes/scooters, bouncy seats, toys, furniture, and more, all by the best designers and manufactures.

4. Many people say that parents should only buy new cribs because of safety concerns. We at Greenbabyguide are in full support of used cribs, but how do you ensure that the used cribs you offer are safe for consumers? How do you deal with drop side cribs? ( We wrote a post about crib side stabilizers and I wonder if you offer those to customers)
We try to stay as informed as possible about any safety issues and constantly monitor the site. We will immediately pull an item off the site if there is any recall or safety concern. We also do our best to keep people updated through Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, we encourage our users to do their homework regarding product safety.

5. At we firmly believe that buying secondhand is greener than buying new. Have your customers had similar reactions?
Yes!! reCribers care deeply about sustainability and do whatever they can do on the green front. It feels good to know you are doing the right thing.

So what can you buy at reCrib right now?

This bugaboo black stroller sells for over a thousand dollars on Amazon, but you’ll find it for just $500 on reCrib. We realize that’s still a lot of money, but if you resell if for $300 after you use it, it will cost less than many lower quality travel systems on the market. And top quality baby products will last through dozens of babies–it’s better to be the second or third family to use it than the first!

Are Glider Rockers Better than Traditional Rocking Chairs?

The glider rocker that has been dutifully serving our family for the last two years has broken into shards in the midst of a lullaby. It was the third in a series of used gliders that fell apart, one by one. On the journey to their demise, they squeaked and groaned just as our babies were falling into a deep slumber–usually between midnight and 3am.

We don’t really need a rocking chair at this point, but I have to wonder if we’d have been better off with a traditional rocking chair to begin with. I was adamant about buying a glider with a rocking ottoman. Why? My sister-in-law had one and I was sure it would be far more comfortable than the antiquated version.

But old rocking chairs become antiques simply because of their simple design and sturdy build. Why mess with a design that has worked for the last 300+ years? (Napolean actually had the above rocking chair in his bedroom way back in the 1800’s.)

Perhaps high quality glider rockers will eventually become antiques of sorts, but if you’re buying secondhand, which is both green and thrifty, it might be worth it to go for a traditional rocker. If you’re buying new, the greenest option is to purchase a piece of high quality furniture that will last for generations. Or, if you’re anything like Rebecca, you’ll skip the rocking chair altogether and opt to slow dance to lullabies for the first few years.

Mice in the Compost Bin

For the last seven years, our utterly uninspired composting system meant that any non-animal based foods were tossed in. No rotating, no watering, and no brown/green balance. But there were consequences for our unwillingness to embrace the laws of composting….

Knowing that my husband was finally taking the compost bin off of our pile and mixing the dirt, I took my kids outside to unveil our new pile of rich, composted soil. Unfortunately it was a rather traumatic scene. Dozens of young mice were pouring out of the bin and fleeing for their lives while my husband chased them across the yard, randomly clubbing the moving targets with head of the shovel. Not exactly a mother earth moment.

We now have a cat, but I’m not sure she can keep mice away from a constant food source. Does anyone else have this problem? It has happened twice and I’m thinking we may need to move onto something like a Bokashi Bin or a worm farm that works indoors. Any success with either of those systems?

National Costume Swap Day is Coming!

Halloween, already? Not exactly, but National Costume Swap day is less than three weeks away and we wanted to be sure to give our readers ample time to prepare. In years past, we seem to announce the event just after it occurs, or maybe the day before. Not this year!

On Saturday, October 8th, families across the nation will trade old costumes in for new trick-or-treat wear. It’s green, it’s free, and it’s a great way to connect with local families. And the truth is, no matter how adorable our children look in their baby bumblebee costumes, they can usually only wear them once. Why not share them with someone else?

Green Halloween has a directory so that you can find the swap in your area, or get one started. The site is run by the illustrious mother-dauther team of Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson who also co-authored Celebrate Green. We love their work on Green Halloween and are excited to see how National Costume Swap day is growing each year.

Are you planning on dressing up your babe this October? What are your costume concepts? You may want to think outside the box and use some of our rather creative (and odd) ideas for baby’s Halloween ensemble this year. —or better yet, head to the National Costume Swap near you!

Do Reusable Snack Bags Work?

As you may have read in my post on zero waste lunches, my son’s school has banned all single serving food items to eliminate trash. It’s time to invest in some greener food storage options!

I was excited about trying Lunchskins or other reusable snack bags, but read a comment on Monday from a user who struggled with mold on the fabric. Many parents LOVE the product, but others have also complained about stale food and not being able to dry the bags out enough before the next use.

Moldy bags and stale food reports make me hesitate on the brink of a purchase. At $7-15 dollars a bag, it’s tough to shell out so much and not know whether or not it will work. Does anyone else have feedback on reusable snack bags? Are you able to use them successfully? What’s your trick for avoiding mold on the fabric?

Packing Zero Waste Lunches

Just a few days ago I posted about my conflicted relationship with pre-packaged food. Convenience is expensive, wasteful, and sometimes really, really….convenient. Especially when it comes to packing school lunches, a chore my husband and I utterly dread.

So imagine my surprise when my son’s preschool sent home a notice asking us to exclude all single serving packaged items. What a glorious idea! Having a trash-free policy for packed lunches has a huge impact when sixty students follow it every single day. And since the kids compost and are limited to refillable drink bottles, the daily trash produced will be extremely minimal. But that means no more raisin boxes, or cheese sticks, or fruit leathers. From now on, it’s reusable containers all the way.

I’m actually glad to have the eco-pressure to take that step. It’ll require extra time, but in the long run it will save money and environmental impact. Instead of buying single serving items, we’ll buy large quantities and individually pack them up in the beginning of the week. At this point my inner lunch packing loather is horrified by the change, but like all lifestyle adjustments, I think we’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.

Cheese sticks will become cheese cubes.
Fruit leather will switch to frozen blueberries.
Raisin boxes will be replaced with homemade trail mix.

In terms of reusable lunch ware, we already love the small compartments in Lock & Lock containers with removable trays. They’re BPA-free, dishwasher safe, microwave safe, freezable and they nest for easy storage.

But we’re also thinking of buying something like Lunchskins so that we can squeeze more in lunchboxes. People also seem to really like the Itsy Ritzy Reusable Snack Bag. Do you have a snack bag solution that helps you pack a zero waste lunch?

I guess the easiest solution would be to wash out zip-lock bags on a daily basis. Are any of you managing on that system?

Green Toys Tea Set Review

My son, who helped to inspire our book The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, just turned five. Did he request reclaimed wood toys or organic cotton garments for his birthday? Nope. He’s in the midst of a feverish obsession with monster trucks, which are just about as ungreen as you can possibly be.

On the other end of the gender spectrum is my two-year-old daughter Jovi who must wear the finest dresses available (purchased at thrift stores), jewels, and purses on a daily basis. For her brother’s fifth birthday party (which included “pin the wheels on the monster truck”), Jovi received one special gift: A Green Toys Tea Set.

My thrift shopping habit has wildly skewed my price perception, so spending over twenty bucks on a plastic tea set was slightly painful, but I was happily surprised with the quality of the product. And when I did some research on the company, I was glad that I shelled out a bit more. All Green Toys are made in the U.S. from recycled milk containers. The whole process happens in California which saves the carbon cost of having raw materials shipped into the factory from overseas. They’re BPA free and meet the strict toy safety and environmental laws for the state of California.

I love the practical heft of the plastic, the colors, the simple design, and the fact that all lids are completely interchangeable. Since she got the set two weeks ago, we have had dozens of tea parties, and I think there are hundreds more to come. With a quality product like Green Toys, you get an heirloom toy that is made of recycled materials and costs just a bit more cheap plastic sets made in China. I’d definitely recommend it!

Do you own any Green Toys? Have you been satisfied with their quality?