Natural and Organic Crib Mattresses for Less

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!
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How Do You Get Rid of Baby Gear and Toys?

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.
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What Do You Wish You Would Have Known As A New Mom?

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.
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Have You Camped With Baby?

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.
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Is There A Greener Minivan?

We’ve been zipping along in our two carseat-laden sedans for the last five years. But we’ve secretly yearned for a minivan. I know some adults cannot imagine being seen in a minivan, let alone owning one, but my husband and I are deeply practical souls.

We want to be able to carpool kids to and from school and soccer practice, haul mulch in the back, and go on long trips without having the luggage pile up around our feet. We’d use a sedan most of the time to maximize gas mileage, but it would be nice to have the van available as well.
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Would You Use Breast Milk From a Milk Bank?

A mom I know wanted to supplement a bit with formula during her first days of breastfeeding. Our local hospital informed her that they will provide pasteurized breast milk from a milk bank, but won’t give families formula. She was a bit shocked and horrified by the thought of feeding her newborn breast milk from other women. We live in a pretty breastfeeding friendly town, so it didn’t seem like a big deal to me, but I wasn’t ever in that position. Does breast milk from a milk bank make you feel uncomfortable?

I think for me it would have been a huge relief! My milk supply dropped suddenly when I went back to work, but I didn’t want to use formula. I was exhausted from the effort and stress of pumping multiple times each day. A small amount of breast milk from a bank would have probably helped me just relax and move through the transition more easily.
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Finding an Affordable CSA

Our first experience with a community supported agriculture group was mostly positive, but it pained me to take a big wilted pile of organic produce to the compost heap each week. (In case you don’t know what a CSA is, check out this post.) When we first subscribed, I was six months pregnant and working nearly full time while caring for a two year old. Our CSA membership seemed to compound my exhaustion since we received very small amounts of a wide variety of veggies every week. Faced with two rutabagas, one beet, two dozen green beans, six garlic whistles, a half cup of strawberries, and two fingering potatoes I felt utterly overwhelmed. We paid nearly $150 a month for our weekly bags of produce, but I couldn’t seem to keep up with the prep and eventually gave up.
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Simple, Green Summer Activities for Kids

Now that the crush of my work as a teacher is done for the summer, we suddenly have lots of unstructured playtime on our hands. My kids still enjoy imaginative play (they spent the morning yesterday pretending to be prairie dogs in a fort made of blankets), but it’s nice to get them out in the sunshine without having to buy a heap of materials or make elaborate plans. Following are some incredibly basic activities for semi-lazy parents like myself who want to enrich our children’s summers without a lot of effort.

Bug collecting. This requires one applesauce jar and nothing else. My children have spent hours overturning rocks in search of the most beautiful beetle. Of course, this requires a short education about “catch and release” as my son killed a centipede or two in the beginning in his efforts to adopt insect pets. Still, it keeps them busy and entertained for quite some time!
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What is Your Go-To Green Baby Gift?

The journey from pregnancy to parenting is so intense that I love giving items to friends and family that will support them through that transition. What are my go-to gifts for green-minded new parents?

Cloth Diapers. By helping out a bit with the up-front cost of cloth diapering, I know that I’m giving something that will last from infancy to potty training-and beyond! Families that plan on having multiple children can save about a thousand dollars per child on diapering. Plus with all the fun colors and patterns available in lines like Charlie Banana or Fuzzibunz, it can be a lovely gift instead of being purely practical.
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Healthy Homemade Peanut Butter Fudgesicle Recipe

This simple chocolate popsicle that is sure to thrill your children while you secretly delight in its nutritional value. My kids are over the moon about this recipe..and I have to admit that I agree with them. I invented it one day while trying to come up with use for all those brown bananas in my freezer.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
3 Tablespoons brown sugar, agave or honey
3 brown, shriveled, overly ripe bananas
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup milk (or coconut milk!)
1 Tablespoon vanilla or almond extract
1/4 cup peanut butter

Simply blend up all ingredients until smooth and pour into popsicle molds. You can be endlessly creative with the ingredients but the four key ones seem to be the cocoa powder, the overly ripe banana, the peanut butter and the milk or yogurt to give it a creamy texture. They take a bit longer to remove from the molds since they tend to freeze to them, but they are a terrific treat!