Archive for the ‘Product Reviews’ Category


The Eco-nomical baby guideWe’re so proud of our new book that we’d like to get it in everyone’s hands.  The information stuffed between the bindings saved us about six thousand dollars in our babies’ first year alone so it’s worth shelling out a few bucks for a copy—but card carrying tightwads might want to know how to get the book for FREE.

  • Check it out! What?! Your library doesn’t have it? Most libraries have online forms where you can recommend books for purchase.  Once your library gets it make sure you put it on hold for yourself!
  • Enter our March giveaways. We’ll be hosting several giveaways in the month of March, all of which will involve wonderful green gear and a copy of our book.
  • Put it on your baby shower registry. Several sites such as Mygiftlist.com allow you to create an online gift registry that includes cloth diapers, eco-friendly baby soaps and a copy of our book. Hey, it’s free for you!
  • Review it on your blog. We’re looking for bloggers who post at least a few times a week and have some connection to the content of our book.  If it looks like your blog will be a good fit, we’ll email you back for your mailing address and get a review copy to you as soon as possible. You can even use it as a giveaway on your site after you read it!
  • Share a copy with friends. O.K. This isn’t quite free but if you have pregnant pals a group of you can purchase one book and share it amongst yourselves.  Then maybe you can stick together to problem solve the challenges of green parenting when your babies arrive.

If you don’t have a blog, a library, pregnant friends, or anyone willing to throw you a baby shower we should tell you that the book is available for pre-order in the next few weeks at 25% off. It would be nice if all of you were so inspired by that temporary sale that you bought several thousand copies of our books I suppose, but as thrifty souls ourselves, it brings us even more happiness to find ways for you to score a copy of our little gem for free.  Thanks for all your support!

Valentine Truffle Giveaway

The moonlit diaper changes, the pureed yam smeared on your clothes, the endless laundering and folding of tiny garments.  Let’s face it––parenting isn’t always romantic.  This Valentine’s Day you deserve chocolate for your unsung parental heroics.

vegan chocolate trufflesThanks to Abe’s Market, you just might win some!  This natural product online shop is going to give one of our readers a box of vegan organic dark chocolate truffles.  Yum!  Simply post your comment below by February 14th and you’ll automatically be entered to win.

If you’re unwilling to take your chances on the contest, you may want to check out Abe’s Market to try a few of their other Valentine gift ideas. You can pick up white chocolate pear chardonnay sauce, victorian fragrant foaming bath oil, or organic cacao chai tea all for fifteen dollars or less.   (Better yet, give your valentine a detailed wish list.)  I hope either way you end up with a decadent treat this Valentine’s Day!

One of the first natural baby food cookbooks to hit the mainstream, Super Baby Food, is still enjoying relative fame.  I was thrilled to find the first edition in its purple cover in a pile of garage sale books and happily paid a quarter to make it mine.

Super Baby FoodI eagerly rushed home and began reading, but found myself disappointed.  The book is loosely organized, full of anecdotes and often difficult to follow.  Although it’s over 500 pages long, there are really only about thirty critically important pages of information to read.

To be fair, I do love those thirty pages. Ruth Yaron challenges our ideas of traditional baby food by offering up other ingredients for home-blended meals.  She explains how to whirl up vegetables and fruits in your blender and then dump it into ice cube trays to freeze and store.  As baby gets older, she has tips for including egg yolk, beans, kale, and a variety of other healthy foods into a “super porridge” that can be inexpensively prepared.

Yager also has some fun recipes for toddler foods including tofu McNuggets, nutty millet pancakes and peanut butter pudding.   The creativity in food presentation and delivery are pretty remarkable as well.  For example, she recommends spreading a slice of bread with peanut butter and then wrapping it around a whole banana as a creative vegan hot dog.

It’s also fascinating that Yager’s children have been quite healthy based on their rich diet of whole grains, greens, and hearty proteins.  She insists that while most children are sick between six to twelve times a year, her family faces illness once or twice at most.

As a working mom with limited time, I found the book to be heavily layered with irrelevant details and tough to weed through. For example, in the middle of the arts and crafts section she goes into great detail about using zip lock bags, adult sized socks and duct tape to avoid purchasing snow boots.  On the same page she gives directions for shining patent leather shoes with petroleum jelly. I’m not sure either of those things even needs to be in a baby food book.  To be fair, I haven’t read the second edition which may have edited some of the cumbersome tidbits out.

Is it worth buying?  If you’re interested in making your own baby food for economic, health and environmental reasons it’s a good resource, but I would recommend checking it out from the library or picking it up secondhand.  I’ll be sending my copy out to a lucky reader who will be able to read the book for herself and develop her own opinion.  Simply comment by February 12th to be entered in our giveaway!

Have you read Super Baby Food?  Did you find it be a valuable resource?  Do you make your own food at home?

best stainless steel water bottleFor the last four years I’ve been slurping my beverages from a well worn plastic bottle.  Yes, it’s made from a “safer” plastic–but it still didn’t exactly feel safe.  Still, I was loathe to toss it in the trash in the name of environmentalism.  Luckily, it failed on its own and I was free embrace stainless steel.  Still, I was convinced that the options were limited.  After all I wanted a water bottle that:

  • Fit in my car beverage slot
  • Had a wide mouth that could easily be filled with ice.
  • Held at least 20 ounces of water.
  • Had a flip top straw top so that I could drink safely while driving to work without having to unscrew a lid or tip my head back.

My husband found just what I was looking for in the Nathan Stainless Steel  Flip Straw Bottle.  (Many models are currently on sale right now).  I love this little bottle!  In addition to meeting all my criteria, mine is green and marked with a “reduce, reuse, recycle” label.  It also comes with a handy clip that can be fastened onto backpacks or bags when on the go.

What’s your favorite water bottle?  Do you stick with glass, plastic or stainless steel?  Thanks for sharing your tips with our readers!

flushable diaper linersIt’s official.  Our daughter has started solids and consequently has entered the “gross poops” stage of cloth diapering.  We dunk and rinse in the toilet, but as much as we love cloth diapering, this phase isn’t exactly delightful.

Liners are available so that solid waste and the thin layer of paper can simply be dumped into the toilet and flushed away.  Imse Vimse, Biosoft, Real Nappies, and Kushies all offer flushable liners.  Have you used them and had good results?

Believe it or not, when your baby is just wet instead of poopy, the flushable liners can be laundered and reused which means that just one pack can last for quite awhile.  Have you found flushable diaper liners to be worth the expense? Do they prevent toilet dunking?

HappyBaby: The Organic Guide to Baby’s First 24 Months is the latest offering from Dr. Robert W. Sears, co-written with Amy Marlow, the dietician for HappyBaby organic baby food. Dr. Sears co-wrote The Baby Book, that classic tome on Attachment Parenting you’ll either embrace or—overcome by a creeping sensation of guilt and inadequacy—throw across the room. HappyBaby is a kinder, gentler introduction to the world of the Drs. Sears. In fact, the mantra in this new book may very well be “Relax! Don’t worry too much. Just take it one small thing at a time.” This attitude makes it easy to digest the information inside without worrying about doing something wrong—either for your baby or the planet.
happybaby book cover by Dr. Sears

This “organic guide” devotes almost half of its pages to feeding, with forty pages on breastfeeding alone. Some of the nutrition tips are very basic (instead of French fries, eat roasted potatoes!), but there is a wealth of information on avoiding pesticides, understanding labels, choosing the type of milk to feed your youngster, and selecting and preparing foods to maximize the nutritional content. You’ll also find some baby food recipes that go beyond the typical purees; babies will love the oatmeal pancakes, eggless banana muffins, and the “hidden veggie burgers.”

The book provides very comprehensive guidelines on toxins without managing to freak you out.  The suggestions for making changes come in “pale green,” “a little greener,” and “deepest shade of green” levels, so you don’t feel pressured to raise a baby and save the planet all at once. The authors guide readers through the process of picking out a safe mattress, carpet, paint, and nursery furniture—and offer tips for reducing toxin exposure when you’ve already purchased your conventional gear and aren’t in the position to replace it all.

Two chapters on the “Green and Happy Home” discuss reducing the amount of stuff we acquire and the energy we consume when a new baby enters the household. This section suffers a bit by being too general and too—well, “pale green.” “Dr. Bob” assures us that we don’t need to keep our houses warmer in the winter or cooler in the summer with a new baby—but never throws out any actual numbers. The diaper-washing tips in chapter eight are unnecessarily energy extensive–but you will find a great discussion of the whole cloth vs. disposable debate.

This “organic guide” offers a grab-bag of information. It’s part breastfeeding manual, part baby food cookbook, part green living handbook—with a sprinkling of product placements and coupons for eco-friendly goods. HappyBaby is more than The Baby Book’s green companion—it’s a stand-alone guide to  raising a healthy baby, naturally.

We have two copies of this excellent resource to giveaway! Each book comes with more than $100 dollars’ worth of coupons for green baby goodies. Just post a comment before Tuesday the 17th and you’ll be entered to win! (If you don’t win our giveaway, don’t despair—it appears to be 32% off on Amazon right now, so you can get it for just over eleven bucks.)

And congratulations to Shauna, who won our Grandparents Handbook giveaway a few weeks ago!

The world of eco-friendly baby products is a quickly-changing one. Just months ago, Joy was expecting her second child. In her confessional post, she admitted that she couldn’t bear spending so much more for an organic crib mattress. Our readers assured her that she needn’t feel guilty. But now, just a few months later, there are several very affordable “greener” mattresses on the market! Look at the ones we found:

Sealy Baby Ultra Rest Mattress $70 (21% off!)

sealy baby ultra rest mattress

This mattress has three non-allergenic layers. The top layer provides a plush, soft sleeping surface for baby.

Kolcraft EM782-LEC1 Sealy Naturalis Crib Mattress with Organic Cotton $88 (20% off)

Made from 150 interwoven steel coils and certified organic cotton certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A hypoallergenic sleeping layer and a protective wrap prevents allergens from clinging to the mattress.

Sealy Naturalis Crib Mattress with Organic Cotton $90 (25% off)

The Sealy Naturalis Crib Mattress with organic cotton includes naturally harvested and handled organic cotton and a hypoallergenic sleeping layer plus protective wrap for support and comfort.

*Our top pick!* Sealy Soybean Foam-Core Crib Mattress $149.

sealy soybean foam-core crib mattress

Uses a renewable resource—soybeans!—instead of relying on crude oils. This soy-based high-density foam doesn’t sag. The cover prevents allergens from clinging to the mattress.

Colgate Eco Classica I Crib Mattress $189

Made from plant-based materials instead of petroleum products.

DaVinci Organic Willow Mattress $209

The Willow mattress is made from a natural coconut palm fiber and latex-free foam to create a completely organic inner foundation that supports your baby’s sleep. It can be used on both sides.

If any of our faithful readers have tried one of these mattresses, we welcome your reviews! Did you find an eco-friendly option we haven’t mentioned? Or did you manage to forgo the crib altogether, opting to co-sleep with your baby? What worked for you?

Sure, your parents have changed a diaper, but it’s been a few years. Now they’re going to be grandparents. Perhaps they’re left wondering what, exactly, they will do when the baby cries or how they’ll spend a rainy afternoon with their darlings. In comes The Grandparents Handbook by Elizabeth LaBan.
grandparents handbook

The handbook includes intriguing-sounding recipes to try with kids (overnight pickles and chocolate-covered pretzels, for example) and activities grandparents can enjoy with young children (why not create a family newspaper or hold a mock election?).The book is packed with ideas, tips, and advice for new or seasoned grandparents. It’s a cute little hardcover book, complete with adorable retro illustrations.

So here are the only two gripes I have about the book: 1. Why is there no apostrophe in the title? As an English teacher, this bothers me. 2. Let’s go back to the diapers. Right in the beginning of the book, the rookie grandparent will find instructions for changing a diaper. LaBan assures her readers that diapers have improved in the last twenty or thirty years—now they’re disposable! But if the parents want to help out the environment “with cloth diapers, safety pins, and endless trips to the washing machine”? Just ask them to switch to disposables while the grandparents come over. “If they protest , tell them you’re out of practice and afraid of accidentally sticking the baby with a safety pin.”

Now, we don’t have to tell our Green Baby Guide readers how misguided this advice is. First of all, almost no cloth diaper enthusiasts use diaper pins anymore—newfangled cloth diapers come with Velcro closures, just like disposables! Also, I didn’t like the idea of the grandparents undermining the parents’ decisions about how to care for the child.

Despite the diaper blunder, it’s a great little book, and I will admit that most people would not get so worked up over the diaper chapter. I plan to give my own copy to my mom (who, by the way, had no problem changing my daughter’s cloth diapers!).  With The Grandparents Handbook, she’ll have a grand time building gingerbread houses, going clover hunting, and making scones for an afternoon tea with Audrey.

We have one copy of the Grandparents Handbook to give away! Just post a comment before next Tuesday (the 22nd) and you’ll be entered to win!

The Green Year makes the perfect gift for either the seasoned treehugger or the emerging eco-phile. How is it possible for this book to appeal to readers on both ends of the green spectrum? Well, the tips manage to be simple for the newbies and novel enough for the treehugger’s bag of tricks.
green-year by jodi helmer

Sure, you’ll find the usual suggestions for switching out light bulbs and turning down the thermostat in the winter. But did you know that filling your gas tank at night is greener than filling it during the day? Or where to donate an old bridesmaid’s dress? Or how to give your shoes an eco-friendly shine? The Green Year not only answers these questions but directs you to helpful websites and lets you know exactly how much energy you can save by following its advice.

The book offers 365 tips: one for each day of the year. Most of them are season-appropriate; for example, around October you’ll find several ways to make Halloween a little greener, and in the summer you’ll hear about air conditioners and sunscreen. This format sets The Green Year apart from other handbooks—but it also makes it difficult to navigate. There’s no table of contents or index, so if you read a great idea about replacing liquid body wash with bars of soap and want to reference it later, you either have to remember what day of the year it’s on (October 28th) or flip through the entire book hunting it down.

Some of the tips might fall on the wrong day of the calendar depending where you live. March 27th has us closing curtains to save energy during the winter—but it’s already spring! Author Jodi Helmer has us planning our vegetable gardens on April 28th, which is when I planted mine this year. So while the tips are excellent, it could prove difficult to use the book as it’s intended.

Overall, The Green Year is a worthwhile read. Every single idea takes very little time or effort, and many of them will save you money in the long run. I’ve already dog-eared my copy in anticipation of all the small changes I plan to make in 2010.

Green Holiday Gifts for Him

Man with GiftLooking to find an eco-friendly treasure for your husband, father or brother? No worries!

If the dear men in your life are still using shaving cream out of an aerosol can, you can spoil them with Taylor of Old Bond Avocado Shaving Cream in a Bowl and and a Tweezerman Men’s Shaving Brush. Taylor of Old Bond comes in a few other varieties and apparently lasts a very long time for even a small container.

For the caffeinated fellows in your life, check out the 5 Lb Organic Fair Trade Green Coffee Sampler by Seven Bridges Cooperative. (Keep in mind that the coffee must be roasted at home before it can be brewed.) Newman’s Own Organic has some great choices that are roasted, ground and ready to brew.

If your husband has been meaning to get around to greening your household but doesn’t have the tools, he may be interested in the Green Starter Toolkit, packed with a surge protector, compact fluorescent light bulbs, reusable tote bags, sink aerators, a shower timer, and tire pressure gauge. (Or, if you have the time you could buy the products individually and put them together in a gift basket for a lot less!)

What are you planning on getting for the men in your life? Maybe you’ll opt for experience gifts over products or donations to green charities. Or maybe you’ll agree just to appreciate one another and opt out of gift giving altogether (which is certainly both eco-friendly and budget-friendly!)

The Eco-nomical Baby Guide
Eco-nomical Baby Guide
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