Friday, March 27, 2009

Our 'Green' toys!

This is Becca, our HillCountry Dollmaker doll that Santa brought this year.

This is our kids' table and chairs with a couple Melissa and Doug toys. The kids love the abacus!

The horse, gnome home and gnomes are grom greenmountainwoolies on The wood blocks were made by a company sadly no longer in business.

The wooden cars are from a store on, as well as the I-Spy bag and purple bean bag(there are two but I can only find 1!)

The colorful things you see are the playsilks. They have all kinds of beautiful colors. The animal puzzle, train whistle and shape sorter were bought from a local fair trade shop. The animal puzzle and shape sorter are made by Montgomery Schoolhouse

These are our organic baby toys. All things from Under the Nile fruits to plenty of Haba toys, more greenmountainwoolies on Etsy and a few others I'm not sure where I found.

Lastly, handknit wool play food! We have a rather large collection. Unfortunately the cat seems to enjoy hiding them, too. Tiffany at Fair Trade Family did most of our items, she is on

Greening Your Baby

Everyone wants what is best for their kids. No one wakes up in the morning thinking, ‘Gee, how can I squash my kid’s imagination today?’ or ‘How can I expose her to more chemicals in our home?’ If the things I talk about aren’t for you, no problem. I trust every parent to make the best choices for their family, as I hope other parents trust me to make mine. The following are some other things baby related that we do in our home:

In the nursery:
I read a great article about a year ago talking through the various options people can choose to go ‘green’ for their baby. The author stated at the end, if you do nothing else, at the very least get an organic mattress. That stuck, and a few months later we had our first organic baby mattress. Go and google them. I’ll wait. …. Sticker shock? Yeah, I’ll say. They are expensive. And there’s no 5$ organic baby mattress you’ll find on As I attempt to also be frugal, the price was initially a huge stumbling block in my mind. Not only was I questioning whether it was necessary, but also if I could even manage to make the right decision seeing as how I wouldn’t be able to just buy another one should I not like the first. I’m all about doing it right the first time as much as possible! So what did I do? Well I googled the heck out of
‘baby organic mattress’ until I felt comfortable with the whys and the whats. Summed up:

Why did I buy an organic mattress? Because I never knew all of the chemicals I was exposing my sweet baby to. And it just makes sense considering the amount of time they spend sleeping. On a scale of 1 to 10 for things that may actually make a huge difference in my child’s health early on, this one is pretty far up there.

What did I buy?
I purchased our mattress from Dax stores. They are out of Nebraska, which is fairly close to us. Free shipping over 100$ was a nice thing, too! I also purchased a wool protector/puddle pad and organic fitted sheet. I have been happy with everything I’ve gotten from them to date.
Of course if you do get the organic mattress, it makes sense to get the organic bedding as well. Personally, I say skip everything but the crib skirt, fitted sheets and blanket for swaddling. For a baby, you don’t need the crib bumper, duvet cover, decorative pillows, etc. Which by the time you’ve purchased all the extra stuff it’d cost the same as getting organic bedding anyway.

In the playroom:
After all of the problems with toys made in China, I decided to phase out our plastic toys. Thankfully there was a great response to the China issue and more non-plastic, non-toxic toys became readily available everywhere! We have several Melissa and Doug items, although I’m not so thrilled with how the color rubs off of their toys(like a crayon, know what I mean?) Speaking of crayons, M & D have some awesome toddler crayons I highly recommend! From I found play kitchen dishes made out of recycled milk jugs, how cool is that? Made from recycled materials, non-toxic and food safe! (See We also got into many hand made items. Our play kitchen food is all hand knit from wool yarn and stuffed with clean wool. We have hand-dyed play silks for imaginative play (great for peekaboo, dolly blankets, capes, whatever. Kids like the texture of the silk). Wooden blocks, cars, kids’ table and chairs, dolly bed, etc. We have 7 plastic toys left. Yep, 7. A few old little tykes things, ride on toy, kiddie laptop and bilibo. (Granted, not counting the outside toys)
Some things can cost a lot. But if you’re smart they don’t have to. Our kids’ table and chairs I posted a ‘wanted’ on Craig list and scored an Amish made set that should outlast any and all kids. Same goes for the toddler rocking chair. Our Melissa and Doug were bought through, though we now have a local store that carries a nice selection! For the handmade items, they were purchased through and Fair Trade Family did almost all of my play food and they are on Hyenacart. Tell Tiffany I sent you! The one thing I saved up for and splurged on was Nina’s Santa present, a handmade doll done in the Waldorf style From HillCountry Dollmaker (also on It was fun getting to customize the doll just the way I wanted, down to her blue eyes and blonde baby pigtail hair!

(I will add pictures soon.)

There are many other areas to consider like skin care and clothing. I won't get into them as these things I think are easy to find now at your neighborhood Target/Walmart/Whatever. I would also like to get into organic food, but I’ll save that for another day, another post. In the meantime, here are a few things to read. Google up a storm!,2933,314741,00.html

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Part 3: How to Care for your Cloth Diapers

Hmmm it's been a while. So much for my once a week goal!

After all of the cloth diaper information on what to consider, now on to how to care for it and accessories needed!

First up, all detergents are not created equal. Cloth diapers must be absorbant, or you will have a wet mess. Most detergents over time leave a build-up on the cloth, creating a not so great barrier to moisture. (Think, the Mississippi on a half pipe with nothing holding it back- eee!) The biggest rule of thumb to follow is choose something fragrance and dye free. Personally I tend to use Planet or Purex Free and Clear. Some use Charlie's. Do not not use the Baby Drefts. Here is an awesome chart of the different soaps ranked by the star system:

Also, less is more. You do not need to use a full scoop of detergent. I probably average 1/3 or so.
I am also a big fan of oxyclean. Some people complain of their diapers being smelly. Mine have only been once- when I ran out of oxyclean. Some people say not to use this as it is hard on your diapers, I personally have not had any trouble with it and we've been at it for... almost 20 months.

Fabric softeners are another no-no. (Unless you use Ecover fabric softener, that's the only one I'm aware of that doesn't build up like traditional softeners) Some choose to use fabric balls, too.
For stains? Sun them! Seriously, it works wonders. You can also try soaking in oxyclean overnight.

My care routine:
Wet- into the wet bag until wash day
Dirty- into the wet pail in the basement safely away from baby until wash day. I do not spray but if some will easily fall off into the toilet, do that.

Dirty first- rinse cycle in cold. If they're bad, put through a quick wash on cold with just detergent and oxyclean.
Then add in your wet diapers. Around 10-12 a load is all you want to do. Quick wash cycle again with detergent and oxyclean on Hot. If available, next use your sanitization cycle or just wash on Hot and Heavy dirt. This time also add in a cap of Ecover fabric softener if you are going to use it.

And that's it! Please note, this works for me. It might not work for you due to different water qualities and washer options. In general, rinse, light wash, heavy wash. That should do it. From here you can hang or throw in the dryer on medium heat.

**If you notice your diapers repelling water, they need to be stripped and your care routine reviewed. You may be using a bad detergent or just too much detergent. To strip diapers, simply wash on hot 3 times with no soap or until you don't see soap bubbles in the water as they are washing. Some add a teaspoon of dawn, too(I have never done this).


--There are a ton of things you can buy. But what do you need? Sprays to take the stink out of the diaper? Eh, not necessary. But sometimes nice if you are out and would have to carry the wetbag around with you.
--Fancy 'diaper pail'? Nope. Don't waste your money, just get a regular trash can with a lid. Or better yet, skip the pail and use hanging bags. They work much better and don't smell. The only 'pail' I use is an empty kitty litter bucket next to the utility sink in the basement- dirty diapers soak in water until they can be washed.
--Wetbags? Definitely. All sizes. I like small ones for quick trips, medium for longer and large for at home in place of my 'pail'. We probably have 6 or 7 now. The zipper ones are the best for trips- the drawstring for home.
--Cloth wipes? Go for it if you can. We never got into it. Just couldn't seem to get into the crevices that well. I will try again for future babes and see about finding the right type of cloth for us, but in the meantime I just put the disposable wipes through the wash with the dirty diapers. Yep. They don't shred, they just come out clean! Sounds silly but easier than figuring out where to put the dirty wipe while dealing with a wiggly kid close to a poopy diaper. Need I say more?
--Snappis? If you are using prefolds, yep. Easier than pins.
--Babylegs? I love them. We have a large collection. Mostly for looks rather than function though!
--Diaper Liners? Probably a good idea. The flushable ones work great for people that would rather put as much dirty in the toilet as possible and keep it off the diaper. They have thin fleece ones that work awesome, too. Those you obviously wash, but at least the mess is kept off the diaper. They are also necessary when using diaper rash cremes. You DO NOT want to use a regluar creme with cloth. It will ruin your diaper by both staining them and stopping all absorption. There are cremes out there for cloth diapers if needed. Or just go to disposables for a day or two.

That's about all I can think of at the moment. If anyone has any questions, I'm always willing to help. Cloth can be tricky at first but really, it is a lot of fun. I know it lessens our impact on the environment in a huge way, can help save money and is healthier for our babies.

Next post, moving on from diapers to... whatever moves me! Or is next on the list. I'm the master of suspense.
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