Secondhand Cribs–Are They Safe? Are They Green?

 In the March issue of ShopSmart, put out by the publisher of Consumer Reports, experts analyzed used baby gear to determine “when you can gratefully say yes and when you should gracefully say no thanks.”  I am devoting several  posts to discussing their findings.  I’ve already written about baby bath tubs and car seats.

ShopSmart discusses secondhand cribs:

Safe: Any crib that was manufactured after the year 2000 should be fine, as long as it is not broken or missing any pieces.

Not Safe:  Prior to 2000, cribs were held to different safety standards, and will not be acceptable for your baby, even if you slept soundly in them. Any crib with cutouts in the headboard, and corner posts over sixteen inches pose serious risks for a child’s safety.

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Can You Use a Secondhand Car Seat?

In the March issue of ShopSmart, put out by the publisher of Consumer Reports, experts analyzed used baby gear to determine “when you can gratefully say yes and when you should gracefully say no thanks.”  I am devoting several posts to discussing their findings.  (I wrote about used  baby bath tubs here.)

ShopSmart has this to say about hand-me-down car seats:

Safe: A car seat that has all its original parts and labels, has never been in a crash, and fits your car and child is OK.

Not Safe: Products more than six years old are outdated, and most likely too run down to be considered safe.

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Used Baby Bath Tubs Save the World from Another Hunk of Plastic

In the March issue of ShopSmart, put out by the publisher of Consumer Reports, experts analyzed used baby gear to determine “when you can gratefully say yes and when you should gracefully say no thanks.”  I am devoting several posts to discussing their findings.

Here’s what ShopSmart has to say about bath products:

Safe: Used baby bathtubs are fine as long as the lining isn’t full of mold or mildew.

Not Safe: If the tub has an odor of either of these, say no thanks because they can be hard to remove. Also, skip secondhand bath seats, bath rings, and inflatable tubs since they have been responsible for many deaths among babies.

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How to make a Paper Heart Valentine–An Eco-friendly DIY Creation

Instead of buying an expensive card and overpriced chocolates, why not make your own Valentine?  Just follow these instructions (and please excuse the bad photography):

1. Fold a square piece of paper in half.

2. Fold it in half again.

3. Now fold it in thirds.

4. Cut the top off.

5. Cut out some shapes, leaving some space near the pointy end.

6. Unfold partway so you can cut out half of a heart from the center.

7. Unfold to reveal your beautiful paper heart Valentine.  If you want to get really fancy, you can even glue this creation to a piece of red paper.

Making my own Valentines has always worked for me.  For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, head on over to Rocks in My Dryer.  Check back tomorrow for our own Thrifty Green Thursday blog carnival for Joy’s DIY Valentine idea!

Organic Junk Food for Breakfast?

Those first few months with a new baby are exhausting, and sometimes it’s difficult to scrounge up a piece of toast, let alone a complete wholesome breakfast.  While homemade oatmeal is a cheap, nutritious standby, sometimes you might want to indulge in something even easier.

Now, as a whole foods purist, I was not seduced by the organic packaged foods at Grocery Outlet–but my husband, Andy, was.  Here are his reviews of some of the products he tried.

Nature’s Path Organic Toaster Pastries, brown sugar maple cinnamon. ($2.00, $.33 each)

6 per package

210 calories

16 g sugar, 3 g protein

All natural, organic ingredients-but the second ingredient is sugar.
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Green Idea: Reduce Your Overall Amount of Laundry

In the early days of the Green Baby Guide, I admitted to some baby “rules” I violate to save the planet.  One of them is separating baby clothes from the rest of the laundry–a guideline I heard during our childbirth class and read in various baby books and websites.   I am not sure what the reasoning behind that bit of advice is; certainly if someone in the house has a contagious illness there are easier ways to catch it than wearing clothes that have been washed in the same load.

The average family of four does more than seven loads of laundry a week.  Many people wash even more than that, according to the answers to this Yahoo question.  We (three of us) don’t do any more than three–maybe four–loads a week, and that includes diaper laundry! (We also use cloth napkins and dish towels instead of paper towels.)   Reducing the amount of laundry you do can save thousands of gallons of water, not to mention electricity.  If you have a 40 gallon top-loading machine and wash a load a day, you’re using over 14,000 gallons of water to wash your clothes every year!  Tumble drying all those clothes could release as much as 1,825 pounds of carbon into the atmosphere in a year’s time, depending on where you live.
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Ode to the Humble Prefold (Or, Why Prefolds Could Beat Pocket Diapers in a Diaper Duel)

Don’t get me wrong–I think pocket diapers (like these pictured from BumGenius) are adorable.  They come in a variety of prints and colors, look cute flapping in the breeze on the clothesline, and go on just like disposables.  That last reason is why I see many parents recommending pocket diapers to new parents or cloth diaper novices.  Joy went on and on about pocket diapers here and herePocket diapers are advertised as “daddy and daycare approved;” meaning, I suppose, that once they are stuffed with an absorbent liner, they go on just as easily as a disposable.

Before my daughter was born, I stocked up on three dozen prefold diapers (like these pictured) and about six Velcro covers (like these basic Prorap covers Audrey is wearing).  I chose this system because they were the more economical choice.  Prefolds run about $1.25 each, whereas a Fuzzibunz costs about $17 new and $7 used. 
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Lose that Post-Pregnancy Weight–for Free!

 “Get in shape” tops many of our New Year’s Resolutions lists, especially for those of us who just gave birth . . . three years ago.  So which weight loss program will work best for you?  Will you pay to join Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers, buy cans of Slim Fast, hire a personal trainer, or renew your gym membership?  While many have had success with those methods, it should be possible to shape up without spending any extra money. 

Here are some no-cost and low-cost alternatives to personal trainers and gyms:

  1. Walk.   I consider myself extremely un-athletic, so walking is my exercise of choice.  (Here’s my car-free with baby post.)  With a baby in tow, all you need is a carrier of some kind or a stroller.  I prefer to walk to specific destinations rather than ramble aimlessly, and I do almost all my errands by foot, whether I head to the grocery store, library, doctor’s office, or emergency room.  (Yes, I walked myself to the emergency room one time.  That’s how seriously I take my perambulations.)
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My Gift Wrap Closet

We moved from a 973-square-foot house to a larger one this year, and I did feel a pang of guilt about it.  (Joy wrote about the joys of small-house living here, and we published another ode to tiny spaces here.)  I have found that there are a few environmental advantages to a larger home, and one of them is the luxury of a gift wrap closet. 

As you know from our first ever Green Baby Guide post, I don’t like to use regular wrapping paper.  That’s why I love having an entire cupboard devoted to decorative boxes, ribbons, gift bags, and tins.  In a little cardboard dresser (which was my only dresser back in my starving grad student days!), I keep manila envelopes, ribbons, tins, and boxes.  I also have a whole box dedicated to gift bags, none of which I paid for myself.
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Buy hand-crafted, eco-friendly baby gifts on Etsy

Do you want unique, eco-friendly gifts for your little one that are handmade here in the U.S.A.?  What about shopping on www.etsy.com?  Etsy sells wares made by crafters that are much more interesting than mass-produced stuff from Babies R Us.  We’ve already mentioned the great fabric bibs from Enchanted Dandelions.  Here are some other shops worth checking out.

Warm and Fuzzy Baby–Darling organic hats, blankets, and booties.

Organic Quilt Company–Stunning organic baby quilts for very reasonable prices.

New England Gift Company–Ribbon-lined organic hooded baby towels and retro-print baby blankets.

Lovey Duds–Organic wraps to tote baby around in, plus some “hooter hiders” in colorful organic fabrics.

Maiden Love–Soft flannel elephant toys stuffed with wool and organic lavender.
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