A guest Post by Sam Peters
I get invited to a lot of baby showers and that means I buy a lot of gifts for new moms. I think it’s really important to give eco-friendly gifts—better for the baby, mom and the environment.
To buy eco-friendly baby shower gifts always choose items:
• • · made from 100% natural materials that are chemical free, or
• • · made from recycled products, or
• • · that are Fair Trade products, or
• • · that are reusable or recyclable.
Most baby shower gifts fall into three general categories: practical, sentimental, or something for mom. Here are some suggestions and guidelines for finding eco-friendly gifts in any of these categories.
New moms to be often register for practical things like bottles, strollers, and baby monitors. Shopping for something off the registry is courteous and always appreciated. Go eco-friendly when you can. For example, choose something like clothing. Often the eco-friendly choice is higher quality—and frankly, more expensive—so mom will appreciate the upgrade.
Always look for fabrics that are 100% natural, chemical-free fibers. For toys, stay away from plastic and synthetic materials and opt for wooden or other natural materials. Another great gift idea is natural baby skin care products that are gentle for babies and great for the environment.
Sentimental gifts are a good choice if you have a close relationship with mom or she already has most of the necessities. Everyone always coos over handmade blankets, hats and at baby showers. These are a great eco-friendly choice because, of course, you have control over the types of materials you use to make them.
High quality books are a wonderful choice that will be used time and time again for years to come. Select books with particular meaning to you, or from this great list: Building Baby’s First Library: 25 Must-Have Books. Be sure to write a personal note on the inside cover with the date.
Personalized gifts are always a hit at baby showers. You can go with a classic gift like an engraved silver baby spoon, or add personalized embroidery to onesies or blankets.
Something for mom
Sometimes, a gift for mom is the way to go. Consider things like reusable nursing pads, a breast pump, comfortable all natural PJs, a baby care book, or a basket of all natural spa products to pamper herself.
Gift certificates for a massage or spa service will remind her to take care of herself which many new moms forget to do. Another great idea is giving her a gift card for a healthy meal delivery service that she can use after the baby is born when she’s going to be too tired to cook for herself.
What if mom isn’t into eco-friendly?
While it is important to look for eco-friendly baby gifts, you also want to respect what mom likes and values. Be sure to consider these questions:
• · Is she registered? If so, consider buying something off the registry.
• • · Does she have other children? If so, she likely has some staples of parenthood already.
• • · Is the baby a boy or girl? If the mother doesn’t know, or isn’t telling, you’ll need to stick with gender neutral gifts.
• • · Has mom picked a nursery theme yet? If so, you might look for something that coordinates.
You don’t want to force eco-friendly on her so if she’s not into cloth diapers, by all means, don’t give them to her. You don’t need to give bags of pampers either though. Instead select something like onesies or bedding, based on the answers to the questions above, where you have lots of great eco-friendly options.
Baby powder, baby lotion, baby oil, diaper cream…think about all the products marketed to moms of infants. Many times moms come to believe they absolutely need to have on these on hand. We need them at home, we need them in the diaper bag, we need little travel sized versions stuffed among the diaper cake at our baby shower. It is a huge money making racket for unnecessary products. Unfortunate really because that money is needed elsewhere in most budgets. Even worse though is the fact that these products may not be the safest things to be slathering all over your baby’s skin. In fact, they may be downright toxic.
Online this week I saw a tidbit about a company I have talked about oodles of times previous. According to this news site the FDA suspended the license of Johnson & Johnson for one of their plants. Now surely they have not been permitted to be selling unsafe products for babies right? Actually yes. This article highlights a problem found in 15 batches of baby powder.
Kamlesh B Shende, FDA joint commissioner (drugs), said: “There were unacceptable levels of ethylene oxide, which is a trigger for cancer. Ethylene oxide was being used to bring down microbial load in the powder by sterilisation. But it was found that there was ethylene oxide residue in the talcum powder, which is primarily used on infants. In light of this, we have suspended the licence.”
I cannot find many other sites reporting on this so I can investigate the validity of the claims but this is not a new issue. I already wrote about a some unsavory things found in baby shampoo and bubble bath. You probably already know how bad talc is and talc is in most baby powders. Our government is attempting to make these consumer products a bit safer but they are super slow and they don’t go far enough. Not even remotely far enough. We as consumers have to boycott chemical cocktails disguised as baby products.
You don’t even actually need baby powder. If your baby’s skin is too moist then let them go diaper free for awhile or try cloth diapers, which keep them dryer than paper diapers wrapped in plastic. You can also make your own baby powder.
Homemade Baby Powder Recipe
1 1/2 cups Arrowroot Powder
1/2 cup powdered rose petals or powdered chammomile flowers (organic)
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup white clay, powdered (can also use rice powder)
10-15 drops lavender or chammomile essential oil (optional)
Sift all ingredients together into a mixing bowl, add the essential oils and mix well. Transfer to a shaker style container for easy use. I like this stainless steel powdered sugar, cocoa shaker. Alternatively you might also use a sprouting lid and a mason jar.
You and your baby can do without most of the conventional baby powders. Either avoid them altogether or try the DIY route. To the health of your family!
If you have a baby on the way or your little bundle is already here then no doubt you want to ensure you have a green friendly and non-toxic nursery—read on! In these days of eco consciousness, for us to keep our children’s world as safe as we can, we need to start in our home and what better place than your baby’s first environment (after the womb of course)? Perhaps you don’t have a separate nursery because you co-sleep. That great! We just need to make sure all of baby’s hangouts are safe as possible. Experts abound to tell you all about making sure you have outlet covers and no stuffed animals in the crib. Few tell you about the potential toxins that could be lurking in the paint you used on the walls or the new mattress you bought for their crib or bassinet. Even fewer will tell you that you don’t need a fraction of the baby stuff being marketed to new moms.
This is serious business but it is actually getting very easy to outfit a nursery or sleep/play space with safe and green materials. When you also acknowledge that babies actually NEED very little by way of stuff then your job is even easier. You don’t have to go broke buying all the stuff in a baby catalog. Be honest…that stuff is more for you than for baby. They don’t care if their nursery is the perfect color combination of celery and aquamarine. All they care about is the touch, smell, and sound of their mom and dad. They are probably never going to care about how cute you decorated that nursery so your energy AND money is better spent elsewhere. Here are…
10 Tips For a Safe and Minimalist Nursery
1. If you are painting for baby use zero VOC paints or natural paints such as milk paints. Your color options may be slightly reduced but wall color is not as important as the potential for you and your baby to be breathing in noxious chemicals.
2. Avoid new carpeting. Carpet harbors all sorts of nasties like, mold, mildew, dust, dirt, and allergens. If at all possible go with hard wood flooring and wool rugs.
3. Use natural baby care products and avoid the conventional top sellers. You actually don’t need all the baby powder, baby oil, and lotion that the magazines and TV ads tell you that you do. If you must purchase some of these items stick with natural brands such as Earth Mama Angel Baby but in all honesty you can usually eschew most of these products.
4. Choose to use cloth diapers. They really aren’t that much more work (just a few loads of laundry) and they are way cuter than throwaway diapers. They are better for your baby’s skin/health and they are the planet friendly option as well.
5. Select an organic and/or natural mattress wherever your baby will be sleeping. Conventional mattresses are doused with nasty chemicals and flame retardants. Baby mattresses are often covered in plastic which tends to off-gas for a long time. Organic cotton or wool mattresses for cribs and bassinets are available.
6. Spring for organic sheets too. Your little one will be in close contact with all the chemical nasties in conventional options, as will you, for many hours each night. In the beginning they also spend a great deal of time napping. Their sleep environment should be as safe as possible.
7. Everyone’s clothing should be washed in safe, natural detergents but especially that of babies. Soap nuts are a good option…they are fruit with natural soap in them and they can be used repeatedly in the wash to clean clothing naturally.
8. Buy essentials ONLY. Wear your baby and you don’t need a pack-n-play. Change your baby on the bed and you don’t need a changing table. Grab a reusable tote when you leave the house (the kind you use for groceries) and you don’t need a diaper bag. Ask yourself how much you REALLY need for your new baby. The answer is…not much.
9. Use an air purifier in the baby’s room to clean the indoor air and remove allergens and other air born contaminants that are lurking there. Living plants are another great choice.
10. Buy a baby sling or wrap. Bouncy seats, baby walkers, strollers…you don’t really need them. Just get a nice quality, organic baby wrap and you and your partner can wear your baby. Both of you will relish the close contact.
When tackling the nursery and getting ready for your new baby just remember that the more “stuff” you buy or bring into the house the more you have to worry about potentially as far as chemical nasties and pollutants are concerned. It is best to go minimal and be on the safe side and to be more conscious about the few things that you do buy. The best part is that you can afford to be choosier because you aren’t throwing money after useless stuff that baby doesn’t need. Everyone wins.
What conventional and popular baby items have YOU found to be a waste of time and money?
Although many women now choose to birth in a hospital, for centuries, birth took place in a woman’s home. She was attended to and surrounded by the women in her community. The word doula is a Greek word meaning a woman who serves and serving is exactly what a doula does.
Most birth doulas start attending to families during the prenatal period. They provide emotional and informational support and may offer some form of childbirth education in group or private class settings. They may accompany a mother or a couple to prenatal visits with their care provider, recommend books to read, introduce siblings to the idea of birth and a new baby, help prepare a birth plan, assist in planning a shower or blessingway or arrange a meal train for the first weeks after the baby is born.
The majority of couples hire doulas for additional labor support. Doulas accompany the couple to their birth location and stay with them during labor and the delivery of their child. They provide emotional support, informational support, assistance with relaxation and comfort measures, try to guard the birthing space and maintain a calming atmosphere, engage the woman’s partner in the birth process as much or as little as the partner would like, and assists the couple in advocating for their birth plan and personal wishes for their birth. Doulas also help couples sort through options if a crisis emerges, providing them with evidence based information to better aid them in making an informed decision.
Doulas usually also assist in supporting breastfeeding, helping with the first few hours of life, ensuring a good latch and good positioning to encourage a good start to the breastfeeding relationship. Most doulas also visit the family in the first week or two postpartum to assist with difficulties that may crop up while breastfeeding, provide some postpartum education, and provide reassurance and emotional support. Some doulas may provide additional services in the postpartum period and often are very knowledgeable about community resources that could be helpful to the family in the postpartum period.
Doulas are a valuable resource if woman want someone who is knowledgeable about labor, birth and breastfeeding to accompany them during their pregnancy, labor and the birth of their baby.
Did YOU have a Doula or do you plan to use one?
Are you going to be welcoming a new baby soon or know someone that will be? Well, having a baby shower is one of the most fun things about being pregnant, at least it was for me. I generally didn’t enjoy being pregnant but I certainly loved the anticipation and getting to share my excitement with those closest to me. Baby showers are just a wee bit magical don’t you think?
The folks at Once Upon a Treehouse have shared some baby shower tips with me and I am passing them along to you…along with the opportunity to win one of their fabulous handmade dolls. Can you believe that my little girl never much cared for dolls? I played with them until I was 14ish years old so that was a tough pill for me to swallow. In fact I still get a warm gooey feeling when I look at dolls and I especially love handmade dolls.
Baby Shower Tips
Comments in italics are mine…
* Select the theme and color scheme based around the nursery decor – If you are unsure of the nursery decor, I suggest a “natural” color scheme and theme such as outdoors, forest, jungle, etc. It works for both sexes.
*Ask guests to bring along a copy of their favorite childhood book, and they can even inscribe a special message for baby to be – For me that would have to be The Pokey Little Puppy!
* For a shower activity do a group craft and have the guests create something for the new nursery walls or decorate onesies and burp cloths – Cloth diapers on a line would be adorable too
* Have a station with an iPad/phone to take a short video of each guest and their special message for the new parents and baby
* Display seasonal planted flowers or herbs in spray-painted pots for centerpieces that double as the party favors – You might even have your guests do the planting as a fun activity if the weather permits
* Have a few quick and easy games like, have each guest cut a piece of ribbon the length they think will best fit around the honoree’s belly, and the closest one without going over wins
* Instead of spending time on watching the honoree open gifts, ask guests to bring the gifts unwrapped or in a gift bag and have a large table or area where they can be displayed - Love the idea of no gift wrapping!
* A small box filled with a few miniature cupcakes of different flavors is a favor everyone will love! – A waste free favor/gift idea as well :)
Ready to win an adorable handmade doll? The cutie pictured above is what the winner will receive. Her name is Daisy and she is a dollhouse doll made of cotton, wool, and wood. The face is hand painted and she is made in Europe. Ages 3+. Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter, a winner will be chosen on 4/17. Good luck!
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