Archive for the ‘Baby’ Category

Births of today – are all these interventions necessary?

I am about to give birth to our third child, thus have been reading a lot more about pregnancy, birth and babies. Kinda goes with the territory.

I will say I am saddened by what I read. Birth has become such a medical procedure. What happened to the beauty of birth designed by God? I am not saying all medical interventions are completely unnecessary, as they have saved lives, but are they overused? And are we doing ourselves a favor to embrace them or should we avoid them?

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor am I giving medical advice. I am just a mama sharing evidence-based articles so other mamas and mamas-to-be may also learn and make educated decisions of their own.

1. This is a great article of 10 decisions parents must make concerning their newborn. Decisions like delayed cord clamping, koala care, eye ointment, Vit k injection and more. I love that she gives both sides and is not biased in her delivery.

2. Consumer Reports even chimed in. They have a list of 10 pregnancy/birth procedures to avoid, as well as a list of 10 things to do when you are pregnant. One of those things includes considering a midwife. So excited to see such a list from a more mainstream media. The fact of the matter is of all developed countries, the US has the highest infant mortality rate. While no one is sure why, it is true that the US has the highest medical interventions of these countries. Poor diet, obesity are other factors that have been tossed around.

3. Delayed cord clamping. Did you know that 1/3 of the baby’s blood volume resides in the placenta at the time of birth? That blood is the baby’s, so should have the rights to it, but immediate cord clamping has become common practice. Here is a great article debunking common myths about cord clamping. Even the World Health Organization recommends delaying cord clamping. Some recommend delaying 3-5 minutes, others recommend waiting until the cord stops pulsating, usually 10-15 minutes. Others decide on a Lotus Birth where the placenta stays attached until the cord and all fall off on its own. Now, I personally can’t see toting around a placenta and a baby for that long, but this is a common practice in some countries.

I will be posting more articles, but right now, this mama is too tired to think anymore!

Snaps and Snails’ YoYoo cloth pocket diaper review and coupon

There are so many different brand of cloth diapers out there now, it is hard to keep up. It seems I hear of a new brand of diapers every other week lately. A couple months ago I came across Snaps and Snails YoYoo bamboo pocket diapers. YoYoo pocket diapers are mom-invented, which I love!

I purchased 2 of these diapers and they arrived promptly. The colors are very bright and vivid, the bamboo was very soft. They were easy enough to prep – wash and then rinse several times.

I had never used bamboo diapers and I am happy to report they performed as well as my BumGenius and FuzziBunz diapers.

About YoYoo pocket diapers (from Snaps & Snails website)
Yo-Yoo one size pocket diapers are a beautiful product. Each diaper is made up of certified organic bamboo. The bamboo micro-fiber is soft and luxurious, as well as hypoallergenic, keeping your baby comfy and happy.  The outer layer of the diaper is made of polyurethane laminate, which is waterproof and durable, extending the life of the diaper while keeping your babies clothes dry. Each diaper comes with a 4-layer, plush and absorbent bamboo fleece insert which snaps into the diaper, holding it in place. They are made with snap closures to allow for easy adjustment and a snug fit as your baby grows and develops. These one size diapers are easily adjusted to fit any baby from 5lbs – 35lbs  and are available in 5 bright and playful colors.

Closure
My son is 22 months, so snaps are a must. The Velcro on my BumGenius (BG) diapers leaves too much freedom for a little boy to riiipppp off the diaper and hose down my house – so no Velcro unless he’s also wearing pants (two can play at this game). The Velcro also tends to come loose in the wash and create a long line of BG diapers – frustrating. The YoYoo diaper has snaps and is one size – perfect combo for our house. We are on the largest setting for the stride, but not the side snaps that actually secure the diaper. The waist is very roomy, in fact, so roomy, that I am not sure if a thin newborn would fit in this diaper, but I can’t say for sure, since my son is 22 months and 25 pounds.

Fit
The fit was great! The elastic does not seem to give as much as my BGs or FuzziBunz (FB), however, I did not notice any difference in performance. Here are some comparison pictures of the BG one size, the FB medium perfect fit and the YoYoo one size diapers.

Front view: medium FuzziBunz, small setting on BumGenius and small setting on YoYoo

Top view: Medium FuzziBunz, small setting on BumGenius and small setting on YoYoo

Top view: Medium FuzziBunz, small setting on BumGenius and small setting on YoYoo

 

Front view: Medium FuzziBunz, medium setting on BumGenius and medium setting on YoYoo

Top view: Medium FuzziBunz, medium setting on BumGenius and medium setting on YoYoo

Front view: Medium FuzziBunz, large setting on BumGenius and large setting on YoYoo

Top view: Medium FuzziBunz, large setting on BumGenius and large setting on YoYoo

Absorbency
Bamboo is supposed to be really absorbent, and I will have to say from experience, that I find this to be accurate. We only had one leak and really that was my fault because he needed changing and I was trying to beat the system thinking “Surely we can make it home – it’s only 10 minutes!” Of course, he went and we had a leak, but he was so wet, I’m certain the FB and BGs would have also sprung a leak. It also contained the BMs very well.

Pocket/Insert
This is my favorite part of the diaper. The pocket opening is in the front of the diaper, which is awesome because then poo does not get into the pocket and directly onto the insert (which is my biggest beef with my BGs, well, maybe 2nd after the Velcro). The opening is a little small, so it may be a little difficult for someone with large hands to stuff, but this is a feature I like because there is not a bunch of excess fabric that can stick out and cause a leak (which is my least favorite thing about the FB).

Another neat thing about the insert is that it snaps into the diaper minimizing any shifting of the insert. I am sure it works fine without snapping it in since unsnapping it could cause a little wetness to get on your hands, but I hold the back and front just so, so I can unsnap without touching the insert or inner lining. Yes, I am a little OCD and I am OK with that.

Bulkiness
I do not find this diaper bulky, at least not any more so than my BGs. Here are all 3 diapers lined up showing their “wingspan.”

Top to bottom: BumGenius, YoYoo, FuzziBunz

Staining
So far, I have not seen any staining on the cover or insert. Both clean very well, and so far no stink either! I rinse even the wet diapers and this has been my best offense against the horrid ammonia smell cloth diapers sometimes get.

Care
I wash mine with Rockin Green Soap along with my other diapers. I occasionally use bleach (once a month or less). The YoYoo bamboo diapers are not to be bleached, so I am careful to ensure they skip the bleach load. My system is: cold rinse, long hot wash, 2 rinses. I hang the covers and dry the inserts in the dryer.

Overall
Overall, I think this is a great diaper and because of the snaps and roomy fit, it’s a favorite even over my BGs (I think we’ve established the fact that I am not a Velcro fan) and FBs right now (medium perfect fits are getting to snug on baby’s chunky legs)! There are several great colors to choose from.

As stated, my only concern is not sure how this would fit on a petite baby, or tiny newborn, but since I did not try this on a newborn, I can’t say for sure, just would advise you to order 1-2 diapers to try before ordering a whole stash – something I recommend before ordering a stash of ANY diaper.

Coupon Code
Want to get 25% off the Snaps & Snails diapers? Go to the Snaps & Snails website, then email sales@snapsandsnails.org with your order – be sure to use amomsblog as the subject line – and receive 25% off your order! Like all good deals, it does end, so snag up this deal before it expires on October 23rd.

The fine print: I received these diapers at a discount price in exchange for an honest review. The opinions here are completely my own and was influenced by nothing other than my own experience.

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Natural remedies for cradle cap

My son had several bouts of cradle cap as an infant. I really didn’t want to have to buy a special shampoo, as the natural ones are very expensive. My cousin’s daughter also had a bad case and her pediatrician recommended Head and Shoulders (eek!) and no way was I using that on myself, let alone my child. So did a little research and discovered something I already had in my pantry would clear it up – extra virgin olive oil.
 
Directions:
1.       Rub a small amount of EVOO on the affected area. Should saturate the area, but should not be dripping.
2.       Let sit for about 30 minutes to let the EVOO soften the scales. If it is a severe case, you can even let on overnight.
3.       Gently comb out the flakes with a fine tooth comb. Be very careful if you have a young infant since their skin is so tender. If you have a newborn, you can use the soft comb from the hospital to gently soften and brush away the flakes. You may want to have a washcloth handy to wipe the flakes off of the comb as you go.
4.       Shampoo as normal.
 
I am surprised at how effective this is, and so inexpensive. Typically one application got it all. On some occasions where his cradle cap was bad and I didn’t let it sit long enough, I had to repeat the process the next night.
 
Alternative: try organic virgin coconut oil instead. Worked just as well and smelled great! The last time he had a patch I used coconut oil and it has not been back since. Not sure if it was related, but it was not as bad as it had previously been either.

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Lead found in Medela Cooler Carrier

Apparently I am behind the times on this one. Last year, the Center for Environmental Health tested the Medela Cooler Carrier and found traces of lead. I was less than thrilled to hear about this since I have been carrying my daughter’s organic milk in it to daycare for the last 2 years and used it to carry the breast milk I pumped for her at work for over a year.

Medela believes the coolers are safe and lead free, but, being the great company they are, are gladly replacing them if you are concerned. So mine is on its way back to Medela. The downside is it takes 6 weeks to receive the replacement and since I am pumping now for my 4 month old son, I needed something now.

So I went to www.reusablebags.com where this is a selection of lead-free bags. I got a Munchler’s lunch backback for my daughter to carry her milk – CUTE!!!! She will be able to use this bag for a long time. Very cute and durable. It’s a backpack style, so she can easily put it on and carry it. Highly recommend.

For my son I purchased an ACME lunch bag which works perfectly for baby bottles, much better than the likely lead-tainted freebies that you get in the hospital. I got a second one in another color that I use to carry the pumped milk. It’s a little big for that purpose, but I will be able to use the bag for lunches or otherwise when I am done pumping, which is what I wanted anyway.

Check all your milk, bottle and lunch cooler bags. Many are made of vinyl/PVC and likely contain lead. There are many very cute, lead free options available, so why risk lead exposure?

Even though the food or milk may not come in direct contact with the bag, contamination is still probable since you touch the bag, then your food, your breast pump parts, whatever the case may be.

Click here to find out if your Medela cooler is affected and if so how to return your Medela Cooler for a refund or replacement.

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Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate safe?

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a very common ingredient in nearly all shampoos, soaps, and even many toothpastes. You can even find it in Angel Food cake mixes. This is the ingredient responsible for the foaming action of the product. But, is it safe?

Until about a year ago, I thought the answer to this was yes. I had not yet done research on this chemical, but just in reading a few comments online, it seemed some people were OK with it and others were not.

When I finally had time to research SLS, I was surprised to learn it was contaminated with 1,4 dioxane.  This is a cancer causing by-product of the ethoxylation process, a process that makes otherwise harsh ingredient gentle. However, because it is not an original ingredient, this by-product is not listed on the ingredient list.

In this article by Dr. Mercola, he further explains the health risk with using SLS, and its cousins Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES, and Ammonium Laurel Sulfate (ALS), citing some of the over 16,000 studies showing toxicity. The Environmental Working Group gives SLS a moderate hazard rating for cancer, organ system toxicity and others. So it’s not the worst, but not the best.

Should you avoid SLS?
Anything you put on your skin is absorbed directly into your bloodstream and goes directly to your organs. It’s also important to note that 1 incidence of using SLS is likely OK, but the cumulative effect is what is worry-some.  While the amount in your shampoo, toothpaste, body wash, hand soap, etc. may be ‘safe’ amounts when used alone, using them all at one time could cause your exposure to jump into the unsafe level zone. But the cumulative effect has never been studied.

We do our best to avoid it in our house due to the cancer link. If you can’t avoid it entirely, limit your exposure by using less of the product containing it. Most people use twice as much soap product as needed.

How to avoid SLS
Read labels! Know what to avoid, as SLS can have other names, including Sodium dodecyl sulfate, Sulfuric acid, Sodium salt sulfuric acid. I use Dr. Bronner’s  bar soap in the shower and make my own foaming hand soap, which also makes a great foaming body wash. For shampoo I am currently using Kiss My Face, Frequent Use which is SLS and paraben free and I love it.

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Badger Sunscreen product review

Badger sunscreen product review

EWG's top-rated sunscreen

I finally got a chance to try some of this stuff. We ran out of our California Baby and TruKid Sunny Days sunscreen and since Badger once again took the top spot in the Environmental Working Group’s annual sunscreen guide, I ordered some. Since my son has sensitive skin and I have eczema, I went with the unscented variety. I loved that I could pronounce all the ingredients and knew exactly what they were.

We have used it several times now and are really pleased with it. On Sunday, we really put it to the test at my sister-in-law’s pool which had no shade. We slathered each other up (2 kids, 2 adults), and since its water proof for at least 40 minutes, I reapplied before each hour we were in the sun. I didn’t take the time to reapply, but was not splashing as much as the kids either. My hubby (who has had a few melanoma removed) put it on waaay thick and wore a hat.

The results? No one got burned at all, I didn’t even notice any color on anyone. I got just a little color (color, not pink or burned!), but was the only one who did not reapply during the 4 hours we were in the sun. Which was fine by me, I needed a little color on my pasty white skin. So, we are very pleased with the results.

This is a mineral-based, zinc oxide sunscreen, so it goes on white, but rubs in well and does not leave a white coating. I like that it goes on white because I can see if I missed any spots. The benefit of zinc oxide is that it is a physical barrier so reflects and scatters the harmful rays. You can almost see the barrier because of the way it repels water, and because you can see it repelling the water, I don’t feel as if the sunscreen is washing away as we swim. It also goes on easier than chemical sunscreen if you are reapplying on wet skin.

Badger sunscreens are safe for infants too, though if you are using on an infant under 6 months, check with your pediatrician.

The Badger website is very interesting and full of information about their products, ingredients and the company itself.  A few things I took away: 

  • A little about nanoparticle vs. micronized particles. I was concerned about nanotechnology and those concerns were relived after reading this great explanation in their FAQ section. 
  • Badger is a small family business. They provide free organic lunches and bad mitten games to their employees; and support charitable giving by giving the greater of 10% of before-tax profits or $10,000 to a variety of charities. Love this! 
  • And their sunscreen blocks UVA, UVB and UVC rays – UVC does not reach the Earth, but is good for pilots and astronauts! So interesting! 
  • I also did not realize the span of their product offerings – I’ve used this sunscreen and the bug balm – but they also offer soaps, body butter, balms, oils and more.

Badger sunscreen is available in a lightly scented SPF 30, unscented SPF 30, sunscreen with bug repellent SPF 30, lightly scented SPF 15 and a face stick SPF 30.

Where to buy? Many online retailers carry this, but right now it can be a little harder to come by since it’s in such high demand. Best bets: Amazon, Vitacost, Diapers.com, or try your local organic grocer, health store or Whole Foods.

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Safe sunscreens 2010

EWG's top-rated sunscreen

I never really thought about what was in my sunscreen until I had kids. Before my daughter was born, I was just beginning to learn about all the harmful chemicals in soap , shampoo, etc. So when it was time for us to take our yearly family beach trip, I sought out a safe sunscreen. Then I had to do the leg work myself, but didn’t really know what to look for either.

Thankfully, the Environmental Working Group came to the rescue 4 years ago with their Safer Sunscreen Guide. Every year, new research is available, shifting the list around a bit. This year, research shows that vitamin A may speed up the development of cancer. See their whole list of surprising facts about sunscreen.

And you definitely will not find the widely used and available  Baby Blanket, Banana Boat, Hawaiian Tropic, Panama Jack or Neutrogena anywhere near the top of the list, in fact, you will find these at the bottom of the list. Blue Lizard and Bull Frog are middle of the road. These chemicals sunscreens contain ingredients that are possible carcinogens. To me, it does not make any sense to slather on something that may cause cancer in an effort to protect yourself from something (the sun) that may cause cancer.

Non-nanoparticle zinc oxide based sunscreens are deemed to be the safest and most effective sunscreens available today. Zinc oxide is all natural offering sun protection without the harmful chemicals. And like other skin care products, you should be able to pronounce all the ingredients and it should be free of PEG compounds, parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrance and any other active ingredient other than zinc oxide (or possibly titanium dioxide).

This year, EWG tested 500 sunscreens and can only recommend 39 of them for safety and effectiveness. That’s 8%. Pretty lame.

Here is a list of the top-10 sunscreens as tested by the EWG, and the EWG rating (0-2 = low concern, 3-6 = some concern, 7-10 = high concern).
1. Badger Sunscreen Face Stick, SPF 30, Unscented 1
2. Badger Sunscreen for Face and Body, SPF 30 Lightly Scented 1
3. Badger Sunscreen for Face and Body, Unscented, SPF 30 1
4. California Baby Sunblock Stick No Fragrance, SPF 30+ 1
5. Loving Naturals Sunscreen, SPF 30+ 1
6. Purple Prairie Botanicals Sun Stick, SPF 30 1
7. Purple Prairie Botanicals SunStuff, SPF 30 1
8. Soleo Organics All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+ 1
9. Soleo Organics Atlantis Resort All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+ 1 -
10. Soleo Organics Wyland Organics All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+ 1

…….I have to toss CA Baby in here as it is one of my favorite lines
19. California Baby Sunblock Stick Everyday/Year-Round, SPF 30+ 2
20. California Baby Sunscreen Lotion Everyday/Year-Round, SPF 30+ 2
21. California Baby Sunscreen Lotion No Fragrance, SPF 30+ 2
22. California Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+, Citronella 2

Want to see the rest of the list and see how your sunscreen stacks up? Visit EWG’s mini-site dedicated to sunscreens and sunscreen safety.

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Treat ear infections naturally with the EARDOC: Review and Giveaway

My now 18 month old son had 8 ear infections in 1 year, from the time he was 4 months old to 16 months old. At that point, we were walking a fine line and were told that 1 more and we would be sent to the ENT to discuss getting tubes. I really did not want tubes, so I dug deeper into my search for a natural preventative.

The problem is my son has allergies, thus frequently has a runny nose. His ears would get infected and he would just be a mess. As far as antibiotics (which I hate to use) Augmentin did not work, we had used Omnicef so many times and he had a bad allergic reaction to Amoxicillin. So we were out of “traditional” options for treatment.

I posted an inquiry for suggestions of ear infection preventatives and got several good suggestions. One suggestion was to take him off dairy. I promptly stopped giving him cow’s milk and switched to rice milk. Another suggested garlic oil drops in the ears, so I ran down the street to the natural/organic food store. The lady there suggested these homeopathic allergy pellets in addition to the garlic oil drops.

These did seem to help, but one night I stumbled across a device call The EARDOC. It seemed too good to be true – non-invasive, no medicine – just a little device that vibrates and you hold it behind the ear for 1 minute. Dr. Sears highlighted The EARDOC on “The Doctors” TV show. With his seal of approval, I was sold that this may actually work. Plus, there were lots of great testimonials on the EARDOC website.

The EARDOC is easy-to-use and pain-free. My son loves to treat himself with the EARDOC.

The EARDOC treats otitis media, ear infections, swimmers ear, hearing loss, middle ear fluid, Eustachian tube dysfunction, ear pain from air travel, ear fullness brought on by colds, allergies or sinusitis, and other causes of ear pain in children as well as adults. The EARDOC website states:

About 75% of children up to age four suffer from earache caused by the accumulation of liquids and air in the middle ear. Swimmers, divers and air travelers also suffer from the same problem. The EARDOC is an efficient & proved non-invasive device that reduces the ear pain by treating the problem rather than the symptom. The EARDOC significantly reduces the need for ear tube surgery (Myringotomy) by naturally opening the closed Ear tube and drying the trapped fluids.

The EARDOC has gone through clinical reviews and is found to be safe and effective at opening the ear tube and reliving ear pain.

The folks at the EARDOC were kind enough to send me one to try and review, and one to giveaway (details at the end of this post).

The first day I used the EARDOC, I am certain my son had an ear infection, or at least was in the beginnings of one. He had a runny nose and was waking once or twice at night (our only 2 indicators). That morning, he was pretty fussy and I knew he was tired, but he would not settle. I used the EARDOC for 1 minute on each ear, as directed, and he promptly fell asleep. My husband and I looked at each other in disbelief.

The EARDOC is gentle and soothing. DS loves to use it.

After day 3 of using the EARDOC, his nose was clear! What’s also amazing is he sat still while we used it on him. I expected him to squirm, but it seemed to relax him and he was more likely to balk once the treatment was over, rather than during it. He also wanted to use it on himself and treat me, his sister and his daddy as well.

I also had a little ear pain during the same time, so I used it on myself. After a couple days, I no longer had any ear pain! The pain that I had off and on for a few months was gone. I am an EARDOC believer.

The EARDOC is very easy to use. It is battery powered (batteries not included) and has a siding button that allows you to control the vibration level. Start out at a low setting and adjust for your

My daughter also loves the EARDOC. She has no ear issues, but just likes the "ear massage."

comfort level. You can use on each ear up to one minute, but you can use as often as needed throughout the day.

It’s been about 3 weeks since using the EARDOC. Yesterday was my son’s 18 month visit and as I suspected, we do NOT have an ear infection! Thank you to the EARDOC. I truly believe we would not have gotten such great news without it!

Want one of your own? Enter our giveaway and ONE very lucky reader will win their very own EARDOC.

  1. Leave a comment here as to why you would like your own EARDOC (1 entry)
  2. Follow me (@greenparenting) on Twitter www.twitter.com/greenparenting and leave a comment here (1 entry)
  3. Follow the EARDOC on Twitter www.twitter.com/eardoc and leave a comment here (1 entry)
  4. Tweet about this giveaway and leave a comment here each time you tweet (1 tweet per person daily)
  5. Join the EARDOC on Facebook (1 entry)
  6. Don’t have a Twitter or Facebook account? No worries. Send an email to your friends with a link to this giveaway and copy bhamgreenparent (at) gmail.com. I promise you will not be added to any mailing list or otherwise. Or you can also post a link to this giveaway on your Facebook profile. (1 entry)
  7. Of course, the kids won't let us feel left out. Here DS is using the EARDOC on daddy.

Contest ends at midnight CDT on June 17th.

Disclaimers: While the EARDOC is safe and effective, and can be used in conjunction with medication and if your child already has tubes, it is always wise to consult your doctor before any other treatment.
The EARDOC was provided free of charge for review, however the views and opinions expressed here are completely my own. No other compensation was given.

The Baby Dipper Bowl Review and Giveaway

The first night I used this bowl, I was totally geeking out about it. I LOVED it. My determined-to-self-feed son spilled very little of his dinner on the table thus most of his dinner made it to his mouth – success! Just to be fair, I decided to use the bowl a few more times before writing the review just to be sure it continued to live up to its expectations, and it has!

The contoured shape is great. It helps guide food onto the spoon. I was a little worried that my son would get a heaping spoonful and still spill food all over the table, but I think because the bowl only holds 4 ounces, it helps him get the proper amount on the spoon, so spilling is very minimal. And he does not throw this bowl like he does his plates.

This bowl should be on every baby registry – a must-have for anyone with a baby or toddler in the house.

Pros:

  • Very good at helping babies learn to self feed with the innovative shape of the bowl and rubber base to keep bowl in place
  • Utensils are just the right size and shape for little hands to easily grasp
  • Most of the food stays in the bowl or on the spoon 
  • If you are holding baby and feeding with 1 hand, the bowl stays put with the rubber base 
  • Free of all the ickies – BPA, phthalate, lead and PVC 
  • Can be washed in dishwasher (top-rack ONLY!) 
  • Mom-invented and I love that!

Cons

  • I wish the bowl was available in a bigger size – it only holds 4 ounces, so I have to refill his bowl 3 times to fill his growing belly – but it is not a huge issue, as I mentioned above, I think the size helps him get a reasonable amount onto his spoon 
  • It’s a little expensive at $12.95 per set (bowl, spoon, fork) 
  • Other spoons/forks may not work as well with this bowl unless they are the same size and shape as the Baby Dipper set. Meaning you will want to use the set together every time to prevent having to use an alternate spoon. (hard for DH to grasp, though my almost-4-year-old seems to get it)

I love the bowl so much that I gave one to a friend for her baby shower. I think this will be my new baby gift staple.

Want one?? Enter to win!

There are multiple ways to enter. And enter as many ways as you wish, just follow the rules!

1. Leave a comment here and tell us your favorite thing about the bowl (1 entry)

2. Follow @greenparenting on Twitter, leave a comment below (1 entry)

3. Follow @babydipper on Twitter, leave a comment below (1 entry)

4. Subscribe to the Baby Dipper newsletter, leave a comment below (1 entry, to be verified)

5. Follow the Baby Dipper blog, leave a comment below (1 entry, to be verified) 

6. Tweet about the giveaway: Enter to win! Baby Dipper bowl review and #giveaway http://bit.ly/cDIH9G (via @greenparenting) 1 tweet per day, post link to status in comments

You can also keep up with the latest news from the Baby Dipper on Facebook (though following does not count as an extra entry).

Contest ends at midnight CST, April 12, 2010. Winner will be notified via email and must respond within 2 days. If no response, a new winner will be chosen. Baby Dipper LLC will provide shipping to a winner in the US or Canada.

Disclaimers: Previous winners of the Baby Dipper bowl giveaways sponsored by Baby Dipper, LLC are not eligible. I received the bowl from the Baby Dipper LLC, though the views expressed in my review are those of my own experience with the bowl. No other compensation was or will be received.

Top picks for eco-friendly toys 2009

Here is my list of the best eco-friendly toys for Christmas 2009! No lead, no BPA, no PVC, no phthalates, or other toxic paints, plastics or glues. Many of these are toys we have purchased ourselves and they have been personally tested by my kids.

(imagines coming)

Birth+
Fish teetherby Natersutten Great traditional style cool-it teether, but free of all the yuckies like phthalates, PVC and BPA. Little bumps on the teether are soothing for your little teether.

Sophie the Giraffe Teether, by Vulli This is my favorite. It’s just adorable. Sophie is the perfect size for little hands and there are lots of teethable areas – legs, ears, neck. It’s made of all natural rubber and painted with food quality paint.

Veggies in a Crate, by Under the Nile This has always been one of my favorites. Made or organic Egyptian cotton and certified Fair Trade. There is also a fruit version.

Organic Plush Sleepytime Charlotte, by miYim  This adorable little bear stands 12” tall and is perfect for baby to cuddle. And you can feel good about it too – it’s made of organic materials, chemical-free and uses non-toxic dyes for color – just what you would want baby to snuggle with!

Eco-friendly plush giraffe, by Sevi

Hammer Balls, by Plan Toys Another favorite of my kids. I was skeptical at first, as this seemed too simplistic to be any fun, but it got rave reviews. And for great reason – it’s a fun twist to the traditional hammer and peg toy. Even at 6 months my son was using the little hammer to try and hit the balls. When you hit the balls, they roll out and across the room making it a fun game of chase for 2 – one to hit the balls and the other to catch them and put them back.

12 months+
Cone Sorting, by Plan Toys My son has been playing with this since 6 months and my 3 year old loves it as well. The colors are great and putting it together is lots of fun. My son has claimed the center piece as a teether.

Activity Walker, by EverEarth This great toy is as much fun stationary as it is in motion. There are many great toys on the front and sides of the walker for baby to explore even before he can walk. When he can walk with support, he can push the walker to his delight. The paint is water-based and lead-free; and the wood is from sustainable forests.

Dancing Alligator pull toy, by Plan Toys – Hands down, this is my 11 month old’s favorite toy. Again, my 3 year old loves this too. It’s as cute as it is fun. It dances as you pull it and makes a fun click-clack sound. It’s made of all natural rubber wood and all natural dyes.

Bingo Bed Hammer Toy, Holgate Toys  Non-toxic, rave reviews, wood, time-tested and heirloom quality. What’s not to love? One thing I really like about the Bingo Bed compared to other hammer and peg toys, is with this one, the pegs are different sizes, making it a little more challenging.

Ring-A-Thing, by HABA This toy is a great first game to help your toddler learn colors, sizes and how to take turns. There are 3 basic game ideas and is appropriate for 1-3 players.

Toddler +
Dolphin Adventure Explorer Boatby Sprig Toys My son is getting this for Christmas. The boat is safe for land and water play. Even though this is made from wood, it’s very lightweight Sprig wood.

Deluxe Wooden Railway Set and the activity table (sold separately), by Melissa and Doug While this is not as high quality as the Plan Toys train sets, it’s still a great set, it’s available locally at Smith’s Variety and you cannot beat the price!

Eco-friendly handy doctor set by Wonderworld

Christina’s Kitchen, by Nova Natural Toys  – Forget the kids, I want this for me! This all wood kitchen is so simple, yet adorable! It has a stainless steel sink that can be removed, 4 burners, an oven, cabinet space and even counter space. All your little cook needs is the accessories. They also have a matching wooden fridge. Nova Natural Toys and Crafts are my new favorite. Great quality, natural, non-toxic toys and crafts that you can feel good about giving and receiving!

Dish Set, by Green Toys Inc.  This is new for 2009 and goes great with the award winning Green Toys tea set  and the new Chef Set. This is a great company as they use plastic milk jugs to make their toys and they are manufactured in California!

Green Toddler Picnic Table, by Tick-n-Thistle Every child needs a picnic table and this one is as eco-friendly as they come. They do not use treated wood, formaldehyde glues or paint. They also have many sizes of this table for kids up to roughly age 12.

Butterfly Alphabet puzzle, by imagiPLAY This wood puzzle is perfect for little ones to learn the alphabet, letter recognition and a great way to learn puzzles. Once the puzzle is complete, you can stand it up and brighten up any room! imagiPLAY wooden toys are made from beech wood and use lead-free paint.

Skuut balance bike  What a really great idea! The Skuut Balance bike does not have pedals or chains. Kids use their feet to learn to move the bike. Teaches natural motion to move the bike and a much easier way to learn to balance on two wheels.

Discover Rig, by Sprig Toys  I am so impressed with Sprig Toys. The quality is great, and of course, they are eco-friendly! I just LOVE this ATV-style vehicle. It’s as cute as it is fun and green! It has lights and sounds, but is battery-free (something any parent will love!). Sprig Toys are made of sprig wood (plastic bottles/milk jugs and reclaimed saw dust), yet are surprisingly lighter than you expect. Pair it up with the Side Kick Vehicle and Rally Racer  for endless fun.

Mini It’s Me Doll, by Kathy Kruse Kathy Kruse dolls are adorable – period! These dolls are handcrafted in Germany from natural materials and as I mentioned, they are really adorable!

Preschool Toys

Victorian Doll House, by Plan Toys  This is a great option if you have lots of room and want a big doll house. There is also an extra floor you can add to make this 4 floors of fun! The only downside is you need to purchase the dolls and furniture separately.

The Green Dollhouse, by Plan Toys is a smaller scale house that comes with furniture. Like all Plan Toys, it is made of all natural rubber wood, dyed with vegetable and soy dyes, and assembled with formaldehyde-free glue. This adorable house teaches eco-friendly practices with green features such as recycle bins, a wind turbine, rain barrel and solar panels.

Sprig Toys Story Builders Playset I’m holding out to get the Castle version for my daughter’s birthday since I’m maxed out on her Christmas. This is brilliant! My 3 year old has a big imagination and I love toys that will spark that. This is a configurable set to allow your child to make up stories. There are several sets: the castle, a barn yard, Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs. You can check out all 4 versions on the Sprig Toys Web site.

Plan Toy Balancing Cactus – This game gets my vote for safety of course, but also for promoting teamwork. You work together to add colorful pieces to the cactus without it falling over. The game promotes math skills and analytical thinking as you estimate the size and weight of each piece and determine the best placement to keep the game in play. It’s a great game where everyone is a winner.

Eco-Friendly Hand Puppets, by Cate and Levi Hand puppets are a fantastic way to encourage imagination. Just type ‘eco-friendly hand puppets’ into a Google search and these are the first ones that appear. And rightfully so, these puppets are colorful and fun! There are several animals to choose from and all are handmade in Canada, so each one is unique. All Cate and Levi products are handmade of reclaimed wool and are free from chemicals like flame retardants.

See also:
How to find eco-friendly toys
Toys made in the USA
Where to find eco-friendly toys in Birmingham, AL

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