Archive for the ‘Product Reviews’ Category

While we haven’t yet discovered a ceramic crib, we are happy to report that there are some unexpectedly eco-friendly, beautiful and affordable pieces of green baby gear. Rebecca and I both focused on minimizing with our babies to avoid being swallowed in a sea of plastic doodads. But the Growing Up Green product line would have also been a great alternative considering that it carries sustainable, simply designed products at reasonable prices.

My favorite is the Growing Up Green Wood Step Stool. It’s currently half off at just over twenty bucks and is both sturdy and beautiful. Made from pesticide-free, sustainably raised bamboo, you can also feel good about its sources. (In the interest of full disclosure, I do have to share that it’s made in China. Sigh..) My kids are now five and nearly three, and the step stool is probably their most frequently used piece of furniture. I would love to replace the blue plastic garage sale number with one of these!

The Growing Up Green Potty Seat is simple, elegant and priced similarly to it’s plastic counterparts at just twelve bucks. If you try infant potty training, as we sort of accidentally did, you’ll be getting years of use out of this investment. (Plus, having a seat that fits on the toilet means that you won’t have to clean out a small potty on a daily basis…)

The Growing Up Green Bamboo Booster Seat is the most expensive of the three at nearly sixty dollars and the one I’m least sold on. Somehow all the right angles give me anxiety about applesauce and pureed yams becoming encrusted in the cracks. I cannot count the hours that I have spent cleaning my daughter’s high chair. It’s curved and has as few angles as possible, and yet…it can be horrifying what lodges in the corners. So if there’s a place for a secondhand plastic product, I think perhaps it’s highchairs and boosters.

Would you consider any of these bamboo products? Do you own any new or used wooden baby gear? Have you had success with the Bamboo Booster Seat?

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.

A Hamilton Beach Half Pint Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker and a promise to whip up a batch of butter brickel at a moment’s notice. I’m convinced that in the late stages of pregnancy I needed ice cream as a nutritional supplement. An ice cream maker allows you to whip up mango sorbet or mint chocolate chip without climbing into the car. And the fact that this one only makes a half pint can help limit those late pregnancy scarfings.

A copy of our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, along with a gift certificate to a consignment shop or green baby boutique. Our masterpiece will give her everything she needs to know about cloth diapering, buying secondhand gear, and saving money while going green. She can use that gift certificate to buy maternity clothes, baby gear, and heaps of onesies before baby arrives.

A Pyrex Storage 10 Piece Set filled with homemade spaghetti, vegetable curries, and brownies. After all, why wait until the baby arrives to support an exhausted woman in the third trimester of pregnancy? You can (and should) always bring her more food in a few months.

Are you currently pregnant? What are you hoping to receive this holiday season? What was the best gift you ever received during your pregnancy? (For me, it has always been, and will always be, food.) Sigh…

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.

In our personal search for dolls, I’m always keeping an eye out for one that looks like my daughter. There are so many blond, blue-eyed options, but not always dolls with cinnamon skin and chocolate eyes. For that reason Global Green Pals Pani Rani is my favorite and the one I will probably get my daughter. (I have to add that I am disappointed that Global Green Pals has only one doll of color and hope that they start adding some more diversity to their collection soon.)

Of course, if my daughter had her choice, she would opt for whichever doll was wearing more pink, which would be Global Green Pals Coral Laurel.

Global Green Pals Carbon Offset Chet is rather spiffy in his doll glasses too. (or are they goggles…Hmmm…)

Global Green Pals Organic Kate looks hip–and ready to stir the compost. I love that she’s feminine without ribbon or lace.

If your child is wild about fairies, he or she may love the MiYim Good Earth Simply Organic Good Earth Fairy. The MiYim line of organic dolls are made from fully organic materials and dyed with natural plant extracts.

The MiYim Good Earth Ballerina is similarly adorable and would work well for my ballet-obsessed two-year old.

I have to add that Etsy has some beautiful hand-made dolls that are crafted by other mothers. It’s a great way to support a mom and find something unique for your child. Or you can hit the local craft fairs in your area and find something created by a local artisan. I’m always a big fan of secondhand toys, but haven’t had much luck with fabric dolls. Have you?

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!

I wrote an entire post about how much we love our daughter’s Green Toys Tea Set. Made from recycled plastic, this sturdy and cute little set has already been thoroughly enjoyed just in the last few months. I love the simple design, interchangeable lids, and lovely colors in this little ensemble. (The Green Toys Recycling Truck was my son’s favorite vehicle for a full year.)

Grandma and Grandpa purchased this Melissa and Doug shopping cart for my daughter, but I wasn’t sure it would be worth the hefty price early on. I was entirely wrong! Both my kids push it around the house on a daily basis and it doubles as a doll stroller and block transporter as well.

Something about the shape and size of City Blocks makes them a staple building tool at our house. The kids have made pirate ships, bridges, and complex skyscrapers over hours of playtime.

I love that the Alex Toys in My Kitchen Set is small and colorful. It’s glorious being able to avoid a giant plastic kitchen while still enjoying hours of imaginative play over those bright burners.

Many of the hand crafted wooden vehicles we have been given have sat neglected over the years, but Automoblox are a grand exception. The fact that each vehicle comes apart and can be combined with other vehicles has made them hugely popular around here. My son received a set when he was two and is still messing with them three years later.

If all of us had a limitless holiday budget, we might buy dozens of sustainably crafted heirloom toys for our little ones. But if you can only buy a few, which ones will you be purchasing? Will you end up buying used or possibly even making some of your gifts by hand this year? What’s on your gift list?

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.

The Jolly Jumper Sneak-a-Peak Infant Carseat Cover keeps baby entirely enclosed within the car seat, providing just a tiny window for peering out. It’s also water repellant and is elasticized for a snug fit with any car seat.

Babbaco’s Babbacover Snuggle Fleece Beepbeep wins the prize for being being utterly adorable, but it’s also one of the pricier covers at $61.00. It’s nice that it does have a flip down window so that you can cover baby if she’s napping.

Are car seat covers really worth buying? It depends entirely on your geographic location and your personal values. If you live in an incredibly cold climate and are feeling desperate to get outside, it might warrant the cost. You can clip the carseat into a travel system stroller with the cover and take baby out for a walk on a freezing day without feeling like you’re risking her health. (Would you then need to put the stroller on skis? Hmm….)

Or you may just want to purchase some ultra warm baby clothing and skip the car seat cover altogether. Of course, if you only experience severe winter cold for a few weeks out of the year, it’s probably not worth worrying about car seat covers or extreme winter clothing for baby.

Have you ever even seen an infant car seat cover in use? Are they common where you live? Do you use one?

On these bright autumn mornings some of us to strap our babies into the running stroller and tromp our way to an endorphin rush. How do we keep our tots warm when we manage to scoot out of the house and enjoy some cold, bright weather?

Although it can be a bit awkward for diaper changes, bodysuits like this Columbia Unisex-Baby Tiny Bear Bunting Bodysuit, are a great way to keep a baby covered for just under 36 dollars. The sleeves and pant legs come with convenient flip over pockets for tiny hands and feet.

Nothing beats wool for natural warmth and LANACare’s Organic Wool Coverall is a beautiful heirloom piece of gear that would be worth it if you live in a very cold area and want to use it on a daily basis. It costs $133.50 which is quite an investment. But if it allows you to get out of the house and you are able to use it with multiple babies, you may be happy you spent the money. I would buy big and add additional layers so that you could get the most possible use out of it.

If you’d still love a quality wool product, but want a lower price with more flexibility, you may like the LANACare Organic Merino Wool Baby Sweater. It’s a little less than half of the price of the bodysuit at $55 and will work for slightly warmer weather as well.

Those of you who live in mild climates may be able to just get away with a few blankets and a really good hat. iPlay Origins Ecofleece Earwarmer Hat is just thirteen dollars and provides great coverage for baby’s neck and ears.

We must also add that all of these products, (and more) can be found for 50-90% less at consignment shops and thrift stores. As we emphasize in our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, many babies hardly have time to use all the clothing they receive in their first twelve months of life. If you have the time to hit resale shops or even Ebay, you can get top quality items at great prices.

However you end up keeping baby warm, we hope you get a chance to be outside this fall to appreciate the outdoors–and escape from those mounting piles of laundry for a short while.

Cloth Diapering Myths

Although I really wanted to cloth diaper, I was haunted my myths that I kept hearing from non-cloth diapering moms. Luckily I had Rebecca, who guided me through the world of cloth diapers and later became my co-author and co-blogger here at Now we can support other new parents by dispelling some of those cloth diapering myths that we found to be utterly untrue.

Myth #1: You’ll have to use pins and plastic pants.
When I tell people that I cloth diapered my children, it’s amazing how many of them say they just couldn’t imagine having to use pins with small infants. I show them pictures of the hourglass design and velcro and snap closures and they are amazed.

Myth #2: Cloth Diapering is very expensive in the beginning.
I was worried about spending a few hundred dollars on cloth diapering, only to find out that I couldn’t manage the laundry (another myth) or that the diapers were the wrong fit for my baby. Rebecca helped me clear this hurdle when she took me to a consignment shop where I picked out some gently used super whisper wraps and a half dozen other diaper covers for just one dollar each. I then bought three dozen gently used cotton prefolds from a diaper service and was ready to go with only a thirty dollar investment. (Note: Many of our readers have shared that Jillian’s Drawers allows you a no-risk cloth diaper trial for only ten bucks. They’re also tremendously supportive for trouble shooting.)

Myth #3: Cloth diapering is more complicated and labor intensive than disposable diapering.
Rebecca and I are self-confessed slackers. The diaper laundering systems that we used in our households are not rocket science and require very little effort. (We go over this system in detail in our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide.) The very best part of cloth diapering is never having to strap your screaming infant into a car seat to go buy diapers. What a relief to have everything you need at home!

Myth #4: You need to choose one cloth diapering system and stick with it.
I agonized over whether to use prefolds or all-in-one diapers, and after careful research, I chose prefolds. (For this reason, we include graphs, cost comparisons, and illustrations in The Eco-nomical Baby Guide for those parents who want to understand their cloth diapering and hybrid diapering options.) Prefolds worked just fine, but when I was sent a batch of FuzziBunz pocket diapers, I fell in love. Then some friends gave me their BumGenius all in ones, and I saw how convenient they were. In short, different types of diapers work best in different situations and it’s perfectly fine to have a mix of diapers. Why limit yourself?

Myth #5: Cloth diapering is less eco-friendly than using disposables.
Intuitively we all know that washing and reusing something is more eco-friendly than tossing it in the landfill. In The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, we take a careful look at recent studies and provide detailed comparisons of cloth and disposables. We also show how using the right washing methods can cut down dramatically on environmental impact and share how hybrid diapers and greener disposables fit into the mix.

Myth #6: You have to choose between cloth or disposable diapers.
Sometimes families shy away from cloth diapering because then they think it requires a total commitment. A good percentage of our readers use cloth diapers exclusively but some families use cloth during the day and disposables at night while others use disposables about half of the time. In truth, using cloth even part of the time saves money and trash. Hybrid diapers such as Grovia Diapers and g-Diapers incorporate both disposable and cloth options, making them an appealing choice as well.

Now that I’m on the other side of cloth diapering apprehension, it’s fun to see how people don’t seem to know how incredibly easy cloth diapering has become. As a result, people look at me with admiration and awe while I perform a cloth diaper change in a public bathroom. I didn’t imagine that cloth diapering would make me appear to be a genius while changing a poopy diaper, but I don’t mind it either.

Have you dispelled any myths while using cloth diapers? Have you found them to be far easier or more challenging than you first imagined?

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?

Nursing tanks were my absolute favorite breastfeeding support gear. While I was quite comfortable nursing in public, I loved that they helped me to flash as little flesh as possible. And they also provide post-pregnancy tummy coverage and an extra layer of warmth in the chilly months.

If you’d prefer an all-in-one nursing tank, Glamourmom’s Nursing Bra Tank is a good option. It’s extra long to accommodate our shifting sizes in the months after baby and comes with a soft cup bra built into the tank. Clips allow you to fold down the top part of the tank for easy nursing access.

Bravado! Designs Essential Nursing Bra Tank also provides a built in bra and comes in a variety of colors. The length of the tank extends to the thigh and many consumers rave about their love of this product. It’s available in a wide variety of sizes too, although I notice that there aren’t many small cup options.

Nursing women who already love their nursing bras can use a Nursing Tank by Undercover Mama that actually clips onto the straps of your nursing bra. It comes in three colors and still allows you to have the coverage of a nursing tank without having to use a built-in bra.

A similar option is Ecoscape’s Undershirts for Nursing Moms. The tanks actually just come with two large circles cut out of the breast area, allowing women easy access to their nursing bras.

The most deluxe nursing tank I came across was the Double Cream Nursing Tank by Ecoscapes. It’s made to support mom and baby with simple, easy to unhook shoulder straps, but it’s two layer design also allows for hands-free pumping. (I never learned how hands-free pumping was possible with my two babies, but I have to admit that it does sound appealing!)

I used about five cotton nursing tanks from target. They shrank, didn’t provide any support, and were ratty and worn by the time I finally finished nursing. If I would have realized that I would spend a total of four years breastfeeding my children (2 years with each child), I would have just invested in some high quality pieces right from the start. (Or looked for some gently used, high quality
nursing tanks in consignment shops.)

Have you used nursing tanks? What would you recommend for other breastfeeding mothers?

Wet Bags for Cloth Diapers on the Go

If you use cloth diapers on the go, you need someplace to stash the wet ones until you’re back home again. On the minimal end of the spectrum, you could simply use a Ziploc bag or any old plastic zipper bag. That’s what I did for several months. When my daughter started going to daycare at eight months, we needed a heftier option and ended up getting something like the SealLine Dry Sack, which we found at a sporting goods store for under $10. At the time, I don’t think we realized there were cuter options out there, but this bag did the trick. They’re available in a variety of sizes. Ours could hold a whole weekend’s worth of diapers.

Now there are several cloth diaper wet bags on the market, all of which are much classier than a Ziploc bag:

We’ve always had a thing for Monkey Foot Designs, and we can attest to their attractiveness and durability.

Kushies On the Go 2 pack wet bag. ($10.99), with a draw-string closure.

Bummis Fabulous Organic Wet Diaper Bag ($14.37)

Itzy Ritzy Zippered Wet Bag ($17.95)

Planet Wise Diaper Wet Bag (from $16.50)

Kissa One Size Antibacterial Wet Diaper bag ($11.99)

Munchkin Damp Goods Bag ($8.99)

What do you use when you change a cloth diaper out on the town? Chime in with your recommendations (or anti-recommendations) in the comments!

The Eco-nomical Baby Guide
Eco-nomical Baby Guide
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