Down here in Georgia, school is wrapping up, weather is getting warmer and we’re outside a lot. Preschool is official finished for the year and public schools are finishing up next week. That means it’s almost officially summer vacation! Swimming! Outside! Beach! Car Trips! Lightning Bugs!
In celebration of getting the new Sunscreen Cheat Sheet for 2013 online, I’m kicking off summer posting with a fun giveaway from my friends at Babo Botanicals. I love their products and keep the Lice Prevention line handy all year. They have so generously offered to give away a set of their Swim & Sport products to a SafeMama reader. The line includes the Swim & Sport Bubble Bath, Shampoo & Wash, Detangling Spray (this is great for the beach or pool, I spray it in after I swim to keep my hair from getting gnarly) and a tube of their new Clear Zinc SPF 30 Sunscreen! They all smell like green apples so it’s good for boys or girls.
Here’s how to enter:
I have finally released this years 2013 Sunscreen Cheat Sheet - this is the first pass of the year and I’ll add/edit as the summer season goes on. I anticipate a couple of changes or tweaks based on what the EWG does with their list this year. That always adds a dynamic to it, but here it is for now. As usual, some products have new formulas, some are the same as they have been the last few years. There are some great new products on the market. not all of them are “perfect” but there is something in there for everyone.
The new list is in the same place the last list was so if you have it linked somewhere (if you do thank you) no need to change the url. For the newcomers to SafeMama, welcome! All of my cheat sheets are located in a list linked from the top of the site. Any newly updated ones are noted. Please feel free to email me questions and I’ll try to answer them all. My kids, are finishing up with school this month and I am ready to hit the beach for some summer relaxation!
I get a lot of questions about my “favorite” toothpaste for kids. I used to use a few different brands but never really had a perfect solution. Recently Jack n’ Jill sent me some samples of their Natural Toothpastes and I fell head over heels in love with this brand. I’ll tell you about the technical reasons I love Jack N Jill Toothpaste…
- Made with organic ingredients
- Fluoride Free (xylitol instead)
- Sugar Free
- Color Free
- SLS Free
- No Preservatives
- BPA free recyclable packaging
- A 0 rating in the EWG Skin Deep database
So this seems to be enough of a reason to like it right? But then I tested it out on my kids. No matter how safe a toothpaste is, if your kids won’t use it, there’s no point. Jack n Jill sent us 3 flavours to try along with their compostable and biodegradable (handle) toothbrushes which are made with Non-GMO corn starch. We testing the Certified Organic Banana toothpaste, the Natural Calendula Strawberry and the Certified Organic Raspberry. Each toothpaste looks like a clear gel so no more messy blue paste in the sink, and my kids loved the flavours! My youngest liked the Natural Calendula Strawberry the best and he keeps that in his bathroom drawer for himself (little hoarder). I feel great having found a toothpaste for the kids without any unsafe chemicals that works and tastes great.
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I’m a little late in reporting on the fantastic goodies I received in the March Mom Box from EcoCentricMom.com. I probably sound like a broken record but I really do enjoy getting a box of fun eco-friendly surprises each month. Somehow, each month seems to coincide with something going on with me. This month provided a great selection:
Mama Willow Tree Green Tea Herbal Eye Balm – This little tube of loveliness is exactly what I need when I’m tired and not ready to be up at 6am with the kids. Packaged in a lip balm tube this glides on smooth and smells lightly like herbs and green tea. natural and organic ingredients that help de-puff and brighten dark circles. 5% of all sales are donated to a non-profit supporting women and children. How can you go wrong? Check out their other products on the website.
Nature’s Bakery Fig Bar – I just brought these along on my last long bike ride for a quick mid-ride snack. They come two in a pack (you can share! Or not). I loved the Whole Wheat Raspberry Fig bars and they kept me happy until I could eat a proper meal. All natural and kosher
Amazing Grass Kidz Wild Berry – Nothing can really take the place of kids eating vegetables but you try to stuff as much as you can in them while you have the ability, right? Amazing Grass is a great product, and I’ve used the regular adult versions for myself in smoothies and juices. This powder packs in an “amazing” amount of fruit and vegetable powders and somehow make it taste good. Love this stuff!
Heaven’s Alchemy Exquisite Perfumes – Commercial perfumes, while trendy and smell nice, are a big source of hormone disrupting phthalates and other toxic ingredients adding to your body burden I am not huge on perfume but when I do, I opt for natural perfumes that are based on natural oils rather than scented alcohols. Oil based perfumes last longer and you end up using less. Heaven’s Alchemy has a great line of perfumes free of alcohol, parabens, phthalates, dyes, or animal by-products. They smell gorgeous too.
Treefort Naturals Hemp Lemongrass Soap – I am kind of addicted to bar soaps and have quite a stock pile of them from local farmers markets. One thing I noticed is that I gravitate towards lemongrass and citrus scents. They’re so fresh. Treefort Naturals provided a chunk of their Hemp lemongrass soap in March’s Mom box and it smells divine. This soap lathers well, and rinses clean. the fresh lemony scent makes this a perfect kitchen hand soap. Simply natural oils, that’s it.
Essence of Vali’s Sleep – I don’t usually have trouble sleeping. If you know me, I train for triathlons so I am pretty zonked out by 9:30pm. However, I love the smell of natural lavender. It reminds me of my mother and her house and all things related to being home with your mom taking care of you. So I enjoy lavender oil often and this is a really nice authentic blend. Lavender is known for relaxation effects so it’s worth a try if you haven’t! Even I can use some help unwinding from time to time.
Snikiddy Eat Your Vegetables Snack Chips – I had no trouble testing these out. In fact I ate the whole bag sitting at my computer (that’s healthy behavior) and realized it was gone in about 3 minutes. I guess that’s a good sign that they’re tasty. I can’t believe I managed to keep these away from my kids! Delicious!
Go Raw Spirulina Energy Bar – Ok. I really try to be open minded and I had to be in the case of these spirulina energy bars. I mean they just don’t look all that appetizing but I figure hey, it’s certified organic, and is nut/wheat/gluten free so try it for the sake of others. They actually don’t taste all that bad if you can get past the color. These are also loaded with Omega-6 and would make a great compact hiking companion. Healthy calories that don’t take up too much room in your pack.
Waxelene The Petroleum Jelly Alternative – I have always been on the “no petroleum” bandwagon, especially since there are ways to avoid it. Why use that big tub of petroleum when you could use a natural alternative that works the same. Waxelene is the way forward. Natural oils and vitamin E to help heal and moisturize chapped lips, chafing, dry skin and for removing make up. Don’t put petroleum on you!
EBOOST – There are a lot of supplements and immunity boosters on the market, it’s hard to know what’s actually going to work and what’s just a bunch of nonesense. EBOOST is a natural vitamin supplement that utilizes green tea extract for the energy component rather than caffeine. No food dyes and made with natural flavors. Loaded with B vitamins, gluten and soy free. Tastes good too!
Also featured were some gift cards from Sprout San Francisco ($10), Mineral Hygienics ($15), and iTRAIN ($50). There was also a cute set of postcards from Hazel Village which creates handmade organic cotton animals for kids. Super cute! I feel compelled to mention that most the products featured in the boxes provide shopping discounts.
COUPON: If you decide to sign up, (these make great creative gifts for new or pregnant mommies) use the code ECOMOM10 for 10% off your purchase. You can choose monthly or buy in bulk to save some cash.
Winter can be long (as evidence of all these wintery weekends we have been having) and filling time with the kids, doing something together and productive, can be tough! When you want to just curl up on the couch with a movie, the kids are bouncing off the walls. So I recently took my kids out and about, despite the cold, on a day trip to the Tellus Science Museum right here in Georgia. My boys are always interested in figuring out how things work, so off we went. But it’s also an hour (two hours if you get lost, like we did) away and an all day activity so, as any mother would do. I packed. Water, extra clothes, and of course snacks. I packed up fruit slices, trail mix and a cooler of Stonyfield’s new product YoKids Yogurt sMOOthies. They are a delicious and healthier alternative to over processed foods. These little smoothies are certified organic and pack fruit and vegetable purees, protein, calcium and vitamin D. No high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors or flavors. As far as a treat goes, this is a good way to give them one.
Off we go!
We took in a show at their planetarium, perused the Gem Stone exhibits and of course went on a fossil dig and panned for gems:
Thank you Stonyfield Farm for an awesome treat for us and the kids. My kids have enjoyed these in their lunchboxes and on a couple other field trips. As a thank you, we’d like to give someone coupons for free YoKids Smoothies right here on SafeMama.com. Enter below to win 4 coupons for 6 packs of smoothies! You’ll also get a deck of 52 Fun Things To Do In The Car:
But as you can see, after the day we had, we didn’t need them. Saving them for the next road trip!
Disclosure: As a Stonyfield Yo-Getter, I received compensation and free Stonyfield Smoothies in exchange for my honest opinion.
For those that celebrate Easter, the holiday can bring loads of unhealthy (yet often delicious) treats, overloads of sugar and dipping hard boiled eggs in synthetic dyes to make those bright colorful eggs. I always enjoy this project with my kids however, as much as I love DIY, it’s an awful lot of work for a busy mom and then the actually time spent with the kids goes by in an instant. However, if you are determined to clean up your egg dyeing this year you have a plethora of options thanks to Pinterest (do you follow me there yet?).
Searching for “natural egg dye” will bring up an enormous amount of beautifully colored eggs:
If you want to get really elegant with it you can go the way of pantyhose and nature elements. Apply bits of herbs, leaves or flowers to your eggs and secure them in a knee high before dying:
Another great set of dyes and ideas from Green Child Magazine:
If you’re anything like me, you might go the way of an already made kit of natural dyes – and for that, there are many options! Last year I used the newly reformulated Eco-Kids Egg Coloring Kit. Our eggs came out really pretty and bright.
You can also check out the kit by Wee Can Too which makes their dyes from organic fruit and vegetable powders, natural fruit acids, and plant based vegan waxes. This company also makes nice paints and sidewalk chalk which is a great alternative to candy. More fun, less sugar.
I know I know, you still have to have a little fun with candy right? I hit up the Natural Candy Store every year for chocolate and jelly beans!
What are your favorite Easter ideas for keeping it natural?
I have introduced you to Simply Merino in the past. This line continues to be one of my favorites and my kids love the comfy pyjamas! If you’ve never explored merino wool as a clothing option I recommend it. Both my boys have sets of the thermal pyjamas and they are so soft and comfy for them without being too warm. These are perfect layering pieces for snowy days or out on the hills sledding and skiing. But they also function great as comfortable pyjamas or under clothes. Girls can wear them as leggings in the colder months under skirts.
But they carry a great line of other items that I think would make beautiful gifts for new moms like their Infant Gowns and Baby Sleepers. So soft and cuddly without trapping in heat like fleece can do. They also carry these really cute and SOFT toque hats for kids. Simply Merino sent each of my boys one in the Heather Gray color and they just love them. They keep their ears covered on the brisk windy days we’ve had and they are super soft. I wish they had adult sizes! The best part is all of the merino wool clothing and accessories are machine washable – I’ve washed them and dried them and they don’t shrink or warp.
Why Merino Wool? It is a natural and durable material that is perfect for children’s clothing and sleepwear. Due to the nature of the wool fibers, they take a beating without suffering much wear and tear. I’ve washed and dried ours hundreds of times without noticing any deterioration. They remain soft and cuddly. Merino wool also provides a comfortable way to regular body heat, which is especially important with babies who can’t quite do that as well as we can. Polyester and synthetic materials trap heat against babies skin while soft merino wool provides more of a temperature controlled “cocoon” around them allowing them to sleep better. It all sounds good but is that really the case? I believe so. My kids are “hot” sleepers so when I go in to do my last nightly checks, they can sometimes be sweaty and have all their blankets tossed around. When they are wearing their Simply Merinos to bed, they sleep a little less fitfully. Merino wool is also a more sustainable material which is always an environmental plus.
Simply Merino continues to be a great supporter of SafeMama.com so I encourage you to support them! Their clothing is superb and beautiful and makes a great gift or just as a treat for a kid you love. Simply Merino has provided my readers with a 15% off shopping discount good on your purchase through June 15, 2013! Enter code “safemama” at check out for your 15% discount.
Are you expecting a baby? Or know someone who is? One of my most frequent questions is how to make a baby nursery safe without going completely nuts in the process. Not easy to do when you start reading and learning about all the toxic chemicals we run into on a day to day basis. Babies are small and developing fast, so they are ultra sensitive to their environment, naturally! Here are my Top 5 things to focus on when putting together your nursery.
1. No VOC Wall Paint – You and your baby will spend a lot of time in your baby nursery and if you plan on painting it before your new arrival, consider the fact that wall paint, traditional paint, emits VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) into the air as the paint dries and after. Other finishes, glues and adhesives, carpeting materials and padding can produce them too and some VOCs are suspected carcinogens. So keeping the air as clear as you can by selecting VOC Free paint is a good step. The only reason I list this over carpeting is that some parents don’t have a choice about flooring. If you can stick to hard woods and a natural rug, great but not everyone has the option. Painting is something a majority of new parents do. So choosing something that won’t affect air quality is ideal. There are many on the market, but you have to be careful because while the base paints may be free of VOCs, the dyes and colorants added to make that perfect shade of pale blue or pink, might. One brand I trust is Mythic Paint who I have inquired with and they assure me that their paints and colorants are all VOC Free.
2. Natural Crib Mattress – Ok I know what you’re going to say. ”But they are so expensive!” and yes compared to commercial mattresses in baby stores they do carry a higher price tag. BUT! This is the one thing I think is worth the splurge. If you’re going to do anything to make your nursery a safer environment, this should be it. Your baby will be on it for up to 18 hours a day (babies sleep a lot!) and will continue to spend a huge chunk of each day and night napping on it. Traditional mattresses can contain flame retardant treated foams, phthalates, and vinyl. It’s wise to choose a crib mattress that is made with a more natural approach. My top choice is always Naturepedic Crib Mattresses. Along with the major concerns that also avoid the use of potential allergen materials. I have used a Naturepedic through TWO rough and tumble boys and it still looks brand new. It will go the miles and outperformed my expectations. My youngest still sleeps on it as a toddler mattress. I support this product not because they are one of my sponsors, but because I truly feel this is one of the safest options out there.
3. Furniture – Baby furniture can also be a source of indoor air pollution if it’s made with pressed particle board or MDF which can off gas formaldehyde and other VOCs. Hard wood is the best choice. Used furniture is an option but beware when buying used baby cribs – check to make sure the crib has not been recalled and avoid drop side cribs, which are no longer up to safety standards.
4. Safe Body Care Products – Skin care products are high on my list. Babies have this thin and easily penetrable skin that is so vulnerable to chemical exposure. Why would you slather your perfect newborn with synthetic ingredients, artificial fragrances and potential hormone disruptors? Choosing safe skin care can be hard to do and of course, there is always a cost issue. Brands free of as many parabens, phthalates, petro-chemicals and synthetics are best. My top choices include Earth Mama Angel Baby (I recommend ALL their products for mom and baby) and Dolphin Organics but there are some to choose from on the Skin Care Cheat Sheet that will meet your needs and price range.
5. Diapering - This is a big topic which I will expound on in the very near future. Diapers are on your baby all day every day, so why not have the least toxic thing next to them? I *know* this can be an area of contention with people who must use disposables versus cloth diapering but if you can swing it, there are tons of cloth diapering options that don’t have to be so messy and complicated. I really like the GroVia hybrid system of diapers that allow you to only have to wash part of the diaper. It’s less laundry and more manageable and has a disposable biodegradable option too. You can find the GroVia line on The Glass Baby Bottle. I used and loved them. BUT, there are tons of cloth diapering options, (cloth diaper enthusiasts everywhere can tell you what to get) it’s just a matter of finding the system that works best for you. If you need regular disposables, and believe me, I get it, try to choose some of the more environmental brands just to avoid the fragrances and phthalates alone.
Of course there are tons of things you can do to de-tox your babies environment, but I think the above five are some we can safely manage and invest in for long term. Car seats, home furnishings and air filters are other things you can look into changing
- Choose HEPA filters for your vacuum and home filtering to eliminate toxins and allergens
- Remove your shoes when you come home - babies crawl down there! You have safe flooring and then track in pesticides, bacteria and lead with your shoes.
- Get some plants – Plants are a great way to filter your home air
- Try to avoid furniture stuffed with flame treated foam.
What are your tips for making home safe for you and baby?
It’s that time again, the February Boxes from EcoCentric Mom were again totally awesome and as usual, my kids ran off with half the snacks. But I managed to try all the really good stuff (oh yes organic fair trade chocolate and shortbread I’m talking about you). Here’s what fun surprises awaited us this month in the Mom Box and the Baby Box!
February Mom Box
IN LOVE With Bodycare lip Balm – Anyone who knows me, is aware of my addiction with lip balm. I have several with me at all times. I am a lip balm hoarder. This brand of skin care is new to me but I am actually “in love” with this lip balm. The flavor is Key Lime Pie and its just a lovely combo of oils to soothe and protect your lips. No synthetic chemicals or preservatives here. My lips are buttery soft, which is hard to accomplish in the winter cold!
Sjaak’s Organic Milk Chocolate Bar with Almond Butter - If it’s any indication, I at this before I managed to even get a photo of the Mom Box – I ripped into it the second it got here. So delicious, organic and fair trade. These would be a great addition to any Easter baskets too. Mmmm - Or you can send them to me. I’ll eat them.
Lush Nuts Dark Cocoa Chili Flavor – Another snack I tore into… a natural healthy snack that feeds your need for a treat without completely ruining your diet. perfectly amount of crunch and bite. They lasted all of 1 minute in my house. They have some amazing flavors I’d love to try like Cinnamon Spice. Yes please.
Scrubz Natural Sugar Body Scrubz – I love decadent shower treats too. My skin is sensitive so I always choose sugar scrubs for my skin and this treat doesn’t disappoint. No harsh petro-chemical ingredients or artificial preservatives. Sugar, oils and aloe soften you up without the harsh chemicals.
Celadon Road Cucumber Eye Make Up Remover – This is a nice product and feels great compared to the oily stuff I normally use to remove eye make up. It goes on slippery smooth and leaves your skin soft and unharmed. While not completely chemical free, it is free of parabens and phthalates. I’m amazed at the softness left behind instead of greasy film. I enjoyed testing this out.
Life Tree Citrus Dish Soap – This dish soap delivers without the complicated mess of chemicals like in other dish soap. Cleaned my dishes, smells nice and a little went a rather long way. There were a hefty amount of samples in this months Mom Box and I haven’t even used two in the past week. Made my hands soft too.
Athena Greek Yogurt Bar – I kind of love all the delicious snacks these boxes provide me, except my kids keep stealing them. I did manage to try one out and it’s like dessert but with lots of protein, probiotics and Omega 3. The blueberry samples were really good… so good my kids took off with them, never to be seen again.
Goulibeur French Shortbread – I had no idea that shortbread would be featured in these boxes… two adorable little shortbread cookies came wrapped up and looking delicious. I’m grateful there were only two because they were so decadent and buttery. Went perfect with my afternoon tea. Only 4 ingredients and so good. And buttery. Did I mention the delicious buttery-ness?
Funky Monkey Fruit Snacks – My youngest saw the cute package in the box, snatched it and ran off outside with his new captured snack. I didn’t fret too much, since it’s 100% natural freeze dried fruit. Entire bag gone. I guess they were good. I wouldn’t know but they are 3 year old approved over here.
February Baby Box
IN LOVE With Bodycare Soothing Salve - A full sized sample of their Soothing Salve which is great for diaper rash or other skin annoyances. I personally stole it for my chapped hands. I really LOVE the ingredients selection of this line of products and would recommend it highly. I just adore companies who keep things clean.
Family Bedrock Siliconies Diamond Bangle – I plan to further review this companies products but this month’s Baby Box featured a silicone bangle which looks like jewelry but is safe for baby to chew on. I really think it’s crucial for mom to look fabulous when no one knows she’s been up half the night with a crying baby thanks to teething. Hey, smoke and mirrors, right ladies? These stylish bangles are great gifts for new moms and fit in diaper bags easily. Or slip it on your wrist and no one will be the wiser. They have cool necklaces too.
Lafes Natural Baby Lotion – I discovered Lafes last year when I was hunting for sunscreens (they have an SPF 20 for babies). Using certified organic ingredients they managed a lightweight lotion that has no scent, which is sometimes hard to find in natural products, typically loaded up with essential oils. No scent at all and goes on light and not greasy in the slightest. I stashed this in my gym bag for me actually. Hey, the kids steal all the snacks, I get to keep some of this stuff!
Celadon Road Green Alligator Bubble Bath – This smells like clean. Fresh aloe outside clean. It foams up and makes a massive bubble utopia in the tub. Who wouldn’t love that? Free of parabens, sulfates and dyes and loaded with organic oils and ingredients. A full size bottle was included in my box and it’s provided lots of bubbly fun.
Also included were the Athena Greek Yogurt bars (so good!), Goulibeur French Shortbreads, LifeTree Dish Soap! (see above), and added perks were a $10 Gift Card to Ringley.ca which creates natural and organic teething toys for baby, a $20 Gift Card to Blue Green Organix which is an online shop for Certified Organic food like meat, poultry, seafood and personal care products.
Start Getting Yours! I really love the surprise of natural products each month and I think you will too! This would be a great gift for a new mom or baby shower gift. When you sign up for your EcoCentric Mom box subscription be sure to mention you heard about it here on SafeMama
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Do you read KIWI Magazine? If not you should check it out.. it’s a great magazine focused on green family living with tips and articles focused on parenting and healthy living. Not only that, they now have the products they discuss in their new online shop KIWIshop. Packed with natural and organic alternatives for baby and kids, but they also feature tons of products for home like cleaning supplies, garden, food, vitamins, personal care products and pets. They carry a variety of my personal favorite brands like Earth Mama Angel Baby and Lunchskins.
SafeMama readers can enjoy 15% off your order with code “SAFEMAMA15” until the end of February.