Subo the Food Bottle: An Interview

subo the food bottle

Black & White Baby Books and Toys: Why are They So Good For Newborns?

black & white baby books and toys

How to (gently) get your child to brush their teeth

child to brush their teeth

For most parents, the phrase “I don’t want to brush my teeth” is rather familiar. While it may seem easiest to pry their mouth open and force them to brush, research suggests there are better ways that may positively influence children’s future dental health.

So, what does the literature say you should do to help children brush their teeth?

What is gentle parenting?

Gentle parenting centres around respect for the child. Parents who practise this approach generally avoid artificial or extrinsic rewards or punishments.

child to brush their teeth

These parents try to help their children habituate appropriate, or what we would call “good”, behaviours. The idea is the child should want to do the “right” thing for its own sake, not because it’s accompanied by a reward or because of the threat of a punishment.

Studies suggest this method is effective because children will go on to have superior social skills and fewer behavioural problems. The effect is believed to continue into adulthood.

Contrary to popular belief, this style of parenting does not eschew “consequences”. Rather, consequences are allowed to flow naturally from behaviour. Although, in the case of dental hygiene, we can’t let the natural consequence of not brushing lead to caries. So, what can you do?

When should you start encouraging dental hygiene?

One of the ways to ensure children brush their teeth, without resorting to bribes or punishments, is to start early. Dentists suggest brushing baby’s first teeth when they appear, even wiping gums, may help establish good dental hygiene early.

By starting early with dental care, it will become an established part of life and may cause fewer power struggles.

Does routine help?

Routine is said to be essential in children’s lives. Studies suggest routine can positively impact on children habituating positive behaviours because of the repeated exposure.

Families who provide a loving and consistent structure are more likely to have children who brush their teeth. Studies suggest taking a gamification approach creates an environment of fun around the routine of toothbrushing, creating better long-term oral hygiene.

Common areas that cause problems with brushing

One common issue is toothpaste. Children report not liking the taste or it making them feel funny. If your child won’t use toothpaste, but is otherwise OK with brushing, dentists recommend making the paste optional.

There are also many other flavours on the market besides mint, which some children may prefer to use and which may reduce the issue with refusal to brush their teeth.

But changing the toothpaste may not be enough. Studies suggest children’s refusal to brush teeth can create major family dramas, and parents report tooth brushing as a major site of power struggles. But effective behaviour management leads to children with fewer caries and healthy mouths.

Practical measures

When children refuse to brush their teeth, we can employ respectful methods to encourage them to develop good dental hygiene. Dentists report positive parent-child interactions and the use of positive discipline can result in good teeth brushing behaviour.

One example is having a special song that is sung only when the child allows their parent to brush their teeth.

Another strategy is reading stories about teeth brushing so children understand the importance of good dental hygiene.

Some suggest allowing your child to carefully brush your teeth, and then you can have a turn at theirs. This approach gives the child power and allows them to explore their feelings about having their teeth brushed.

Making it a game is another strategy. Perhaps you and your child can have a competition to see who can make the most spit at the end or whether you can count all your teeth as you go. Another option is to let the child start by brushing their toy’s teeth.

Having our children learn to brush their teeth in a calm and gentle way, without threats or rewards, is essential, with one dentist suggesting dental phobia is a problem when children have negative experiences at the dentist because of early childhood caries. Dental phobia is a fear of the dentist that prevents people with dental issues seeking help from a dentist.

These strategies can help children who are resistant to brushing to engage positively with dental hygiene. This approach takes longer than prying their mouths open and forcing them to have their teeth brushed, because you’re asking your child to engage with something they’re resisting. But the value is they will habituate good dental hygiene practices and you can end power struggles over teeth brushing.The Conversation

About the Author:

Rebecca English is a Lecturer in Education at the Queensland University of Technology

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Main image credit: Deposit Photos

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How to (gently) get your child to brush their teeth

Sustainability for Kids: How to Raise Them with the Environment in Mind

sustainability for kids

If you’re reading this blog post, you probably think about the environment and sustainability fairly regularly.

But although you’re aware of the environment and your impact on it, how do you teach sustainability for kids? How do you get them to care about what’s going on around them, and to be a positive force for change in the world?

sustainability for kids

How do you explain sustainability to kids?

The first step is getting your kids to understand what sustainability means. And of course, how you explain it depends on how old your children are.

At a basic level, something is sustainable if you can use it and it’s easy to replace. Let’s say you pick a dandelion. Another one will grow back pretty quickly, so that’s sustainable. But if you cut a tree down, it grows back slowly, so it’s not quite as sustainable. And if you take this rock out of the ground and throw it away, you’re not going to get another rock in that place. So that’s not sustainable.

We want children to understand that we want to have enough of the things that we need, forever. That’s stuff like good food, clean water, green environments and clean air to breathe.

Sustainability for kids: The basics

There are lots of tips for teaching your kids how to care for the environment. Simple things can have a big impact.

Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Repurpose. Recycle.

  • Start early by saying no to things like disposable straws, or single use water bottles.
  • Seek out good quality toys that have multiple ways to play with them, rather than poor quality plastic ones that soon lose their charm.
  • Give your kids gifts of experiences, instead of toys or stuff.
  • Don’t use plastic and disposables if you can help it. Start early by packing snacks and lunches at home, in reusable containers.
  • Get kids involved in separating out the garbage for recycling.
  • Use recycled objects to create fun games.
  • Repurpose stuff that’s no longer useful and turn it into something else. One of my kids’ favourites was using old clothes to make wheat bags for winter bed warmers!
  • Talk to kids about how things like balloons might be fun for a short time, but they’re really bad for the environment and animals for a long time.
  • Teach them to switch off the lights when they leave the room.
  • When they’re brushing their teeth, teach them to turn the water off when they’re not using it.
  • Walk, bike or take public transport whenever you can. It’s better for your health and the environment!
  • Pick up the rubbish you see when you’re out on your walks. You can make it a fun game when the kids are young, and by the time they’re older it’s a habit.

As always when it comes to raising children, and it’s no different when teaching kids about sustainability: they do what you do, not what you say. Model the behaviour you want them to adopt, and start as young as you can.

Open the discussion with your kids about sustainability

Talk to your kids about what they can do to help the environment. Encourage them to come up with ideas of their own. They’ll probably come up with some harebrained schemes (at least at first), but take them seriously and implement what you can.

You can read them books like Charlie and Lola: We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers or I Want to Go Green! But What Does That Mean? to get them started.

Tell them about the consequences of pollution and runaway consumption. For example, if you live near the ocean and see a plastic bag by the side of the road, you can explain how that plastic bag might end up in the water and hurt wildlife.

Create an emotional connection with nature

When it comes to learning how to bring up your kids to care for the environment, the best thing you can do is teach them how to care about nature on an emotional level.

When children are raised seeing the beauty and wonder of nature they’re more likely to want to protect it. An afternoon spent catching and releasing tadpoles down at the creek is worth more than any number of lectures in some stuffy classroom somewhere.

The research backs up this approach, too. Take your kids out in nature whenever you can. Go camping with them. Even if you live in the city you can always find some nature. Take them to the park and point out how the trees are all different and how pretty the flowers are.

Create a garden

If you have the time and space, a garden is a great idea. You can build ‘frog houses’ together, and set up a section that will attract the natural wildlife in your area, such as butterflies. You can use your fruit and veggie food waste to create a compost heap.

If it’s the sort of thing you’d like to do, backyard chickens can show your kids how we’re interdependent with nature. They give us food and we take care of them. They’ll see how chickens have their own personalities, and don’t start out as pieces of meat, wrapped in plastic on a grocery shelf.

Teaching ideas about sustainability for kids doesn’t have to be difficult. But it does mean that have to model the behaviour you want to see, and start raising issues on the environment and sustainability with the kids when they’re young.

When it comes to sustainability for kids, what other ideas can you think of? Leave your comments below.

Main image credit: Deposit Photos

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Sustainability for Kids: How to Raise Them with the Environment in Mind

Brand Spotlight: An Interview with Petit Kiddo

Petit Kiddo Morgan and Canelle

A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting these two amazing ladies, Canelle and Morgan, from Petit Kiddo. Hello Charlie was one of the first stockists of Petit Kiddo, and it’s a great product. The best way to describe it is as a 3 in 1 baby bum cleanser. It replaces wipes, barrier cream and powder and it’s based on a traditional French recipe called liniment oleo calcaire. Or in Australian, calcium oil liniment.

Whatever you call it, we love Petit Kiddo. It’s made in Australia and born in Bondi.

Petit Kiddo Morgan and Canelle

Recently, I caught up with Canelle and Morgan to find out more…

Tell us a bit about Petit Kiddo

Our business was born in Bondi, about 2 years ago. We decided to make an Australian version of some of the baby products we were missing. We want the best of our French background and our Aussie lives.

Petit Kiddo is about unique skincare for babies and children, inspired by French recipes, and made in Australia.

Our very first product is the Petit Kiddo Baby Bum Cleanser which is our very own version of the French liniment oleo calcaire; every French parents’ best kept secret.

What’s your background?

Let’s start with you, Canelle.

Good question! From a professional point of view; I studied Business and Marketing in a very Parisian Business and Management School. After that, my jobs went from managing teams for crew of helicopters on luxury yachts, to various roles as a PA, EA, marketing admin in the cosmetic industry, music industry, video games to name a few – in France, USA, and Australia.

On the personal side,  I was born in France. I grew up in a tiny cute village – Seillans-  on the hills located behind St. Tropez and Cannes. My parents had a restaurant where I met people from all over the world at a very young age. Away from the craziness of the French Riviera but not too far. Studying in Paris was a bit of a shock to the system but it was a good shock. All those experiences combined gave me the travel bug, and I studied in Italy, lived in NYC, and visited many other countries. When I met my soulmate it was clear we would keep travelling. We ended up in Sydney with 2 backpacks, and 1 job. This was almost 13 years ago.

How about you, Morgan?

I am initially a country girl from Dordogne, South West of France and grew up very connected to nature and natural products, just because that was what surrounded us.

I became a city girl when I started studying Architecture in Bordeaux, then I moved Delft in The Netherlands and from there finally to Sydney back in 2003.

I’m always struck by the difference between the two lifestyles. On one hand I envy the way my family still lives in France with their own veggie garden, and have a lifestyle that’s very connected to the elements of nature. On the other hand, I also like a big city lifestyle like the one I have in Sydney. But then you have to deal with the constant search for good natural products because I don’t always feel that mass production is healthy enough to consume. I lived for the past 5 years in Rome and that was actually a very good middle ground between my life in Australia and France.

How did you come to start Petit Kiddo?

Canelle: I’d been doing my version of what is now known as our Baby Bum Cleanser Liniment in my own kitchen for my kids. I always wanted to share it and make it in bigger batches but kids, jobs, moves, and life in general didn’t let it happen until about 2 years ago.

Petit Kiddo Baby Bum Cleanser
Petit Kiddo Baby Bum Cleanser

Very quickly I realised how big this project could be and also how good it would be to bounce my ideas, share my doubts, and enjoy the wins with a sidekick. So I asked Morgan if she would be interested in joining me. Back then, Morgan was in Europe, slowly making her way back to Australia with her family. I knew she had been using this particular baby liniment for years and I knew we could work well together.

A few months later, our first batch arrived in her home even before her furniture – which was still on a loading dock in Italy!

Petit Kiddo baby liniment is a natural product specially formulated for the nappy area.  You use it instead of using wet wipes. A bit of our liniment on a cotton pad or washcloth will leave the skin perfectly cleansed but also moisturised and protected by a thin layer of olive oil. It’s easy to use and no rinsing needed. Anyone who tries it is amazed at how good it feels on the skin.

Do you have any upcoming or new products?

Canelle: We recently developed a Face Paint Remover. It’s a make up remover specially formulated for children’s sensitive skin.

All our products are the results of our experiences and busy lives. Both Morgan and I have 3 kids, aged from nearly 11 to 4 1/2 years old. There’s a good mix of boys and girls. We have a great network of friends but no relatives nearby to support us. We have been through a lot together! A lot of fun, cuddles, laughs, as well as challenges and bumps.

Petit Kiddo’s range of products are unique. We are offering Australian parents the best ‘earth friendly’ option. Better than just water as it cleanses and moisturises; better than wipes as it replaces the combo wipes+moisturiser+powder. As a result, it minimises waste.

When we realised we were not the only ones to be missing out on this, got working on it and Petit Kiddo was born.

What’s your favourite organic/natural product? (not a Petit Kiddo one)

Canelle: I’d say another French staple ‘Le Savon de Marseille’ but as I can’t always get it, I love Dr. Bronner’s soap bars and liquid soap. Another one of my faves is the mascara from Ere Perez.

Morgan: I love some of Caudalie skincare products as well as the Bio Nuxe moisturiser.

In Australia, I recently discovered the coconut body polish from Coconut Tree, Tsuno pads and Noosa Basics. All amazing products!

Tell us a guilty pleasure of yours

Canelle: A good mojito and a good chat with no filters with my girl friends. Also, I recently started surfing – yeah right after 12 years in Australia, it was about time! – and I’m not that good yet, but this feeling when I manage to stand up on the board…it’s good!

Morgan: No more guilt feelings anymore…just pleasure 😉 in moderation. I love a glass of wine, a healthy treat, and a spa treatment. Like most mums I think? 😉

What’s something that’s guaranteed to bring a smile to your face?

Canelle: My kids playing, laughing, and dancing. Me listening to Jamaican music, from rock steady to reggae, anything… If live it’s even better. Live music with my kids is the perfect combo to make me smile.

Morgan: Funny comments from kids, meeting friends I have not seen for a long time, and staring across South Coogee Park watching for whales.

Tell us something interesting about yourself.

Canelle: My first name Canelle means cinnamon. Only my dad wasn’t sure of the spelling! (It should have two ‘n’s in French, too.)

Morgan: I have a few things. Funny? Most people call me Momo instead of Morgan. I’ve never worn make up in my entire life. And I have two professions, one as an architect and the other as a business owner of cosmetic for kids and babies – and I love both.

What are you reading, listening, or watching at the moment?

Canelle: Reading, I’m struggling to get through ‘Corps et Ame’ from Frank Conroy.  Actually I’m looking forward to going to France to have time to sit back, relax, and start the Vernon Subutex trilogy from Virginie Despente.

Listening, when working from home I listen to French online radios like Radio Meuh, Djam Radio or France Inter (when I need to keep informed about the French news). In my car I listen to East Side Radio and FBi Radio when the kids let me choose.  And always some good old Gregory Isaacs, Bob Marley, NTM, Noir Desir (French bands) on the playlist.

Watching, currently I’m binge watching ‘The Legend Of Korra’ on ABC iView with my kids.

In terms of movies, I only watch feel good movies. I can’t watch any apocalyptic or end of worlds or drama movies since I’ve had my first kid.

Morgan: I am reading a wonderful book by Elena Ferrante (part of the trilogy) ‘A Brilliant Friend’. I am listening to French radio when working, and I don’t watch TV at all so I really am unaware of anything being broadcasted…

Want to know more about Petit Kiddo? Shop the whole range here.

 

Image Credits: Petit Kiddo

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Brand Spotlight: An Interview with Petit Kiddo

Why it’s So Important to Go Non Toxic for Babies and Kids

non toxic babies and kids

Have you been thinking about choosing non toxic for baby? Wondering if it’s really worth putting in the effort to find non toxic products for your little one, when surely the stuff at the supermarket is fine?

Let me tell you, it certainly is worth making the effort.

Children’s developing bodies and brains are more sensitive to the effects of chemicals than those of adults. Also, children breathe, eat, and drink more for their size than adults, which means that chemical levels can be higher in children than in adults doing the same things.

why it's so important to go non toxic for baby and kids

Children are also close to the ground and put hands, toys, and lots of other things in their mouths. By reducing toxic chemicals in children’s products and around the house you can reduce the amount of chemicals that they take in.

What happens when children are exposed to toxic chemicals?

Many common household chemicals are endocrine disruptors. They may harm your child’s developing hormonal and reproductive system, causing permanent damage that’s sometimes even passed on to the next generation.

We can’t completely protect our babies from toxic. These chemicals build up in the body over time. So it’s important to do all we can to limit exposure as much as possible.

How much of this stuff is out there, really?

A 2013 analysis found 66 ‘chemicals of high concern’ in common children’s toys. For instance, cobalt, a toxic heavy metal that causes lung cancer and may affect reproductive health, was found in 1,228 individual products in 40 different categories. Cobalt makes a beautiful blue pigment that companies like Lego, Mattel and the Gap use to colour their toys and baby clothes.

We don’t know enough yet about the health risks of some of these chemicals to ban the use of them. Does cobalt in toys and clothes leach out and get into a kid’s bloodstream? How dangerous are low concentrations of methyl ethyl ketone? Nobody knows for sure, although it was reported in 400 products. (We know repeated exposure to high concentrations can damage the brain and nervous system.)

These days it’s easy to find non toxic baby and kids products. We don’t know the long term consequences of some of the chemicals being used in the products children are exposed to. I want my children to grow up strong and healthy, and that means using natural children’s products all the way!

Non toxic baby toys

You should start planning on going non toxic for your baby as early as possible, preferably as soon as you start trying to get pregnant. (A 2009 study by the Environmental Working Group found traces of 232 synthetic chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of ten American babies.)

Once baby comes home with you, she needs a completely non toxic environment as much as possible. The blood-brain barrier is still developing, so baby’s little brain is especially vulnerable.

First of all, do your research. Read labels, and ask questions. Be on the lookout for substances like:

  • Bisphenol-A (BPA)
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl)
  • Phthalates
  • Cadmium
  • Nickel
  • Formaldehyde based glues
  • Chlorine bleaches
  • Flame retardants

It might be easier just to look for what is there:

  • Toys made from solid wood and non toxic finishes, like beeswax and vegetable dyes
  • Soft toys made from organic fibres, such cotton, wool, bamboo and corn

Good quality, organic baby toys may cost more, but they last longer so your child will get more enjoyment out of them. And you can pass them on to brothers, sisters, cousins and friends.l Most importantly, you’ll know that your baby is safe. To get started, you can take a look at Hello Charlie’s shopping guide and selection of non toxic kids toys.

Safe baby food

A 2017 study by the Environmental Defense Fund found that there were actually more detectable lead levels in baby food samples (20%) than in regular food (14%). Some types of baby food had lead in over 40% of the samples!

Any amount of lead is too much, especially when it comes to babies. The worst offenders were:

  • Sweet potato baby food
  • Grape juice
  • Mixed fruit juice
  • Arrowroot biscuits
  • Apple juice
  • Teething biscuits
  • Pear juice
  • Carrot baby food

In general, it’s best to make your own baby food. (Check out our articles on baby led weaning for some helpful tips on what to feed baby.) If you do use commercial food, like we all sometimes do when we’re pressed for time, look for a high quality organic baby food.

When you’re feeding baby, it’s best to do it from non toxic kids dishes and utensils, made of safe plastic, stainless steel or bamboo. Melamine dinnerware is popular because it’s hard to break, but may cause kidney stones or other problems.

Non toxic baby bedding and nursery furniture

Your children spend at least ten hours a day sleeping, so you want to make their rooms as safe as possible.  There are great companies here in Australia that specialise in non toxic bedding and mattresses for children. You can find make organic clothes and hardwood furniture, too.

When you’re looking for soft floor mats, make sure that they’re formamide free. Hello Charlie carries soft toys and mats from Skip Hop and Boon, both of which test for formamide. Or go with an organic cotton version, like these ones from Wee Gallery.

When you’re decorating baby’s room, always make sure to use non toxic paint. Ordinary paints can contain toxins such as xylene, toluene and formaldehyde, which cause indoor air pollution – bad for you and baby. Even if you use natural paint, it’s a good idea to open the windows for at least 15 minutes every day to air out the house and prevent chemicals from building up in the air.

Natural skincare and hair products for children

The skin is the body’s largest organ. When you’re giving bub his bath, the warm water opens up the pores and allows ingredients in the baby soap or baby body wash to penetrate skin more easily. Another thing you need to watch out for is bubble bath, which can just as problematic.

Hello Charlie carries a wide variety of safe, non toxic baby washes, so you don’t have to worry while you wash. Our Safer Baby Bubble Bath Cheat Sheet will give you the lowdown on the most common baby bubble baths you can find in Australia.

Non toxic baby nappy care

A whiff of baby powder brings back nostalgic memories for most of us, but talcum powder is actually extremely harmful. It causes lung problems when inhaled and has been implicated in reproductive cancers, especially in girls. Look for a natural baby powder instead.

Nappy creams can be another cause for concern, since the skin is usually already broken when you apply them. I researched 56 natural nappy creams, and my results are available in the Biggest Ever Natural Nappy Creams Cheat Sheet for you to download for free.

Sunscreens

Australian summers (and even winters) are bright and sunny. You and baby need to protect your skin with sunscreens. I recommend a natural zinc based sunscreen – it’s better for you, baby and the environment.

Want to know more about what chemicals you should look out for when buying products for your baby? Check out our toxic living series here at Hello Charlie

 

Main photo credit: Deposit Photos

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Why it's So Important to Go Non Toxic for Babies and Kids

17 Fun Outdoor Play Ideas That Your Kids Will Love

Outdoor pretend kitchen

Summer is fast approaching and the kids need to be entertained! While a little time in front of a computer or TV screen is okay, encouraging kids to play outdoors has lots of benefits. According to a study done last year, outdoor play is important because “it promotes cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well being, offering the necessary conditions for children to thrive and learn.”

Getting your kids to play outdoors can take more effort, so we’ve listed a few fun ideas for outdoor play below.

Fun Outdoor Play Ideas

1. Bucket and Rope Pulley

Bucket and Rope Pulley
Bucket and Rope Pulley from Happy Hooligans

Your kids will love this outdoor activity. Bucket and Rope Pulley from Happy Hooligans involves only 2 things; a bucket and a rope and that’s it! It may look basic but this encourages your children to use their imagination, play creatively, and take calculated risks. Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, for hours of open ended play.

2. Build a Mudpie Station

Mudpie Station
Mudpie Station from My Small Potatoes

Who knew digging and scooping dirt could be so enjoyable? Building a Mudpie Station is super fun and it won’t cost you anything. You’re going to need a lot of dirt, some tubs and bowls, pebbles and twigs that you can easily find in your own backyard.

3. Sponge Ball Water Fight

Sponge Ball Water Fight
Sponge Ball Water Fight from Create Craft Love

Outdoor play can be heaps of fun with some water and colourful sponges. Children will have a blast getting wet with Sponge Ball Water Fight. And on a hot day, it can be a very enjoyable activity for the whole family.

4. Classic Tin Can Stilts

Classic Tin Can Stilts
Classic Tin Can Stilts from Juggling Act Mama

Tin Can Stilts is a classic game that’s simple to make and uses materials that you probably have around the house. Your children can take the stilts for a spin around the neighbourhood or do obstacle courses on stilts with their friends. They can also take turns and see who can walk fastest while on stilts. I’d suggest that they stay on the grass for that one, though!

5. Pool Noodle, Soccer Ball Kid’s Croquet

Pool Noodle, Soccer Ball Kid's Croquet
Pool Noodle, Soccer Ball Kid’s Croquet from Down Home Inspiration

Keep your children busy during summer with this Pool Noodle, Soccer Ball Kid’s Croquet. This activity is relatively inexpensive, quick and easy to make and will keep your children occupied for hours at a time.

6. Shark Run Game

Shark Run
Shark Run from FSPDT

This game from Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails is a fun gross motor activity that’s easy to set up. ‘Shark Run’ is great for encouraging your children to work on improving their core strength and use their imagination.

7. Olympic Rings Ball Toss

Olympic Rings Ball Toss
Olympic Rings Ball Toss from I Can Teach My Child

This outdoor play activity from I Can Teach My Child combines learning with fun. It helps develop gross motor skills and colour recognition. It’s a perfect game for toddlers to learn different colours as well as enjoy the challenge of tossing the balls to shoot them in the ring.

8. Rainbow Bubble Snakes

Rainbow Bubble Snakes
Rainbow Bubble Snakes from Housing a Forest

How cool is this? Rainbow Bubble Snakes are easy to make from stuff you’ll probably have lying around at home. Your children will have a blast blowing bubble snakes out of tin cans and watch the snakes get longer as they blow more air.

9. Giant Paper Aeroplanes

Giant Paper Airplanes
Giant Paper Aeroplanes from Fire Flies and Mudpies

We love paper aeroplanes! Who doesn’t? Put a twist on the classic paper aeroplanes by making giant sized ones. These Giant Paper Aeroplanes look like heaps of fun. Encourage kids to launch the planes in an open space like the park or in your backyard rather than the lounge room!

10. Build A Rain Gutter River For Running Water Play

Rain Gutter River For Running Water Play
Rain Gutter River For Running Water from Frugal Fun 4 Boys

Children love water play and it can keep them busy for hours. Building a Rain Gutter River is easy to do and simple to set up. Your children will have a great time pouring water down the river or watch their toys float down the ‘river’.

11. DIY Water Wall

DIY Water Wall
DIY Water Wall from Tinker Lab

Another fun water play activity is this DIY Water Wall. It’s inexpensive to set up, and children can keep coming back to it during summer. You can also have your children help you build the water wall as a family activity.

12. Making A Play Garden

Making a Play Garden
Making a Play Garden from The Imagination Tree

Play Garden is a wonderful outdoor activity that encourages sensory play. It’s perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. They’ll enjoy digging up the soil, getting muddy and planting seeds and flowers.

 13. Rainbow Bubbles (Outdoor Art and Water Play)

Rainbow Bubbles (Outdoor Art and Water Play)
Rainbow Bubbles from Gift of Curiosity

A water play idea from Gift of Curiosity is a great sensory game. Rainbow Bubbles encourages creativity and imagination. Only a few materials are needed to make this activity, all of which can be found around your house so it shouldn’t cost you anything.

14. Outdoor Kitchen – Pretend Play For Kids

Outdoor Pretend Kitchen
Outdoor Kitchen from The Little Years

This role play game is quick and easy to prepare. You can get the materials from your own kitchen, using stuff like flour, sprinkles, spoons, scoops, bowls, and etc. The outdoor kitchen idea is a great one for outside so that little ones can expend their creative energy without getting the house messy!

15. DIY Sand Box and Gravel Pit

DIY Sand Box and Gravel Pit
DIY Sand Box and Gravel Pit from The Imagination Tree

Here’s another outdoor sensory game that’s perfect for your toddlers and preschoolers – DIY Sand Box and Gravel Pit. Great for building sandcastles and landscapes of all sorts.

16. Outdoor Alphabet Match For Toddlers

Outdoor Alphabet Match For Toddlers
Outdoor Alphabet Match For Toddlers from I can teach my child

This one is good for toddlers to help them recognise letters. It’s another learning through play activity that will be a big hit with your children. You’ve got to love activities that encourage learning while having fun!

17. Colour Hop For Toddlers

Colour Hop for Toddlers
Colour Hop for Toddlers from I can teach my child

This activity is super easy, you will only need one thing, coloured chalks! Great for teaching your toddlers to recognise and match colours. This game will keep them playing and hopping for hours.

Have you got ideas for other fun outdoor activities? Leave your comments down below.

 

Main Image credit: The Little Years
Other image credits: Happy Hooligans, My Small Potatoes, Create Craft Love, Juggling Act Mama, Down Home Inspiration, FSPDT, I Can Teach My Child, Housing a Forest, Fire Flies and Mudpies, Frugal Fun 4 Boys, Tinker Lab, The Imagination Tree, Gift of Curiosity, and The Little Years

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17 Fun Outdoor Play Ideas That Your Kids Will Love

Baby Led Weaning: Should You Skip The Mush? (And Why You’d Want To)

baby led weaning food

More and more parents are skipping the purees and starting their babies on finger foods. They’re doing away with the spoon feeding, the food processor, the jarred baby food, and the weird pureed fruit and veg combos. Instead, they’re practising baby led weaning, a new approach to starting solids that has infants feeding themselves at the dinner table alongside the family.

baby led weaning food

While plenty of parents and medical professionals have praised baby led weaning for its many benefits (more on this below), attempting it can be a little scary, especially for first time parents. If you’re considering going the baby led weaning route, here are some things you need to know before you start.

What is baby led weaning?

In a nutshell, baby led weaning (BLW) is a way of feeding solids that hands the control over to the baby. The baby sits with the family during mealtimes and feeds herself finger foods instead of being spoon fed the traditional rice cereal or vegetable puree.

The term ‘baby led weaning’ was made popular by Gill Rapley, a British midwife, nurse, and breastfeeding consultant. ‘Weaning,’ in this context, doesn’t mean that you stop breastfeeding or giving your baby formula when you introduce solids. In fact, Rapley says that solid foods shouldn’t be pushed ‘at the expense of breastmilk’ (or formula) and that children ‘will phase out breastfeeding when they’re ready.’

How it’s done

Babies are usually able to begin to self feed at 6 months old, although some will wait until 7 or 8 months. When baby shows signs that he’s ready for solids, you offer a range of finger foods of varying textures and tastes.

Babies will often start by licking or sucking on pieces of food before they learn to actually gnaw, chew, swallow, and eat. Initially, babies eat very little food. This may cause frustration on the part of the parent, but it’s all just part of the BLW approach. Eventually, baby will actually eat and digest what’s offered. In between meals, keep giving breastmilk or formula. As your baby eats more solid foods, he’ll naturally start drinking less milk.

One big advantage of BLW is that you’re just giving baby what everyone else is having. Great first foods include avocados, bananas, and cooked vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots.  If you’re having spaghetti, let him have some of that. If you’re preparing a salad, set aside some chopped up cucumber for the littlest one. There’s no need for pureeing or mashing or straining.

Benefits of baby led weaning

According to Rapley and other BLW experts, there are lots of benefits from following this approach. These include:

  • Learning to like a variety of foods, which leads to less picky eating when baby is older
  • Learning to regulate food intake, which leads to less obesity in childhood
  • Developing fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, and chewing skills
  • Learning independence, confidence, and early decision making skills
  • Better eating habits for the whole family
  • Less expensive than buying processed baby food
  • Less time spent preparing pureed baby food
  • Stress free mealtimes
  • More quality bonding time with the whole family

Do’s and don’ts of baby led weaning

Look for signs that baby is ready for solids. You’ll know that he’s ready when he’s 6 months or older, shows interest in your food, starts grabbing food off other people’s plates, and shows a general understanding of what food is and what to do with it.

Offer solids when the rest of the family are also eating. This allows baby to mimic the adults’ behaviour and the adults to set an example.

Read up. It’s always best to do your research before attempting any child rearing practice you’re not completely familiar with. Rapley offers a step by step guide and answers to FAQs on her website.

Be vigilant. Observe your baby while she’s eating and make sure she’s in the correct sitting position.

Learn first aid. Before you attempt baby led weaning, you must be able to recognise the difference between choking and gagging. Your baby will often gag as he learns to chew and swallow. He may even vomit a little. You have to be able to recognise when he’s just gagging and when he’s choking and unable to breathe.

Stay calm. Don’t freak out when baby gags. If you do, you’ll just end up scaring him as well. Do your best to stay (or at least appear) calm and let your baby enjoy his meal.

Anticipate a mess. Especially at the beginning, most of the food you place on baby’s tray or plate will end up on the floor, the walls, her highchair, or her hair. Prepare for this by stocking up on silicone bibs and laying a tarp on the floor to catch spills.

Don’t expect too much. Keep in mind that while some mums and their babies may welcome BLW, it may not work well for you and your child.

Don’t give up. It may take up to 20 exposures to the same type of food before a child learns to like it. If your baby rejects a food, keep reintroducing it until he accepts.

Don’t stress. Don’t force or hurry or scold or get emotional. Just have fun with it!

*Important: Please consult your child’s doctor before attempting baby led weaning, especially if you have a family history of digestive problems or food allergies, your baby was born prematurely, or your baby has special needs.

Want more information on baby led weaning? You can also read up the whole series here at Hello Charlie.

Main image credit: Deposit Photos

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Baby Led Weaning: Should You Skip The Mush? (And Why You'd Want To)

Best Baby Laundry Detergents: Everything You Need To Know

baby laundry detergents

Babies are insanely cute, but they can get super dirty. And they sure do come with a ton of dirty laundry! Should you just use any laundry detergents when it comes to your baby’s clothes? Well, no.

We’ll tell you why, and let you know which are the best baby laundry detergents to use on your baby’s clothes.

baby laundry detergents

With baby clothes and nappies, you don’t want to use just any old laundry detergent. Babies are vulnerable to the toxic chemicals around them — and mainstream laundry detergents are particularly noxious. Many of the ones you find on store shelves are complex blends of harsh chemical ingredients that can cause problems for our health and on the environment.

When you use these products, you could be exposing your family to allergens, hormone disruptors, and possible carcinogens. Naturally, we don’t want that. So when it comes to baby laundry detergents, you might want to switch to a greener option.

Let’s take a quick look at why mainstream washing powders can be harmful to babies — and why you need to switch to natural laundry detergent. We’ll also give you tips on choosing the best baby laundry detergents out there.

But first things first…

Do you need a separate baby laundry detergent?

Not really.

Some families use two different detergents and do two separate washes — one for bub and one for the rest of the family. But even if you use a different detergent for his clothes, your baby will inevitably be exposed to the one you use for your own.

Laundry detergents can leave a film on clothing. Your baby will come into contact with this every time you snuggle or someone in the family picks him up. So instead of getting him his own baby laundry detergent, you might consider just getting a family friendly laundry product that’s hypoallergenic and has fewer synthetic ingredients.

What to avoid when looking for baby laundry detergents?

Optical brighteners

These are chemicals that make colours appear brighter and whites whiter. They don’t actually get clothes any cleaner; they just create an optical illusion to mask yellowing and stains. Optical brighteners are designed to stick to fabrics, where they come in close contact with skin and could cause a reaction. These chemicals are slow to biodegrade and tend to build up in the environment, posing a potential hazard to aquatic life.

Synthetic fragrance

Added fragrances are one of the leading causes of sensitivity to laundry detergents. Manufacturers add these chemicals to laundry products because we’ve come to associate certain scents with clean laundry.

Unfortunately, ‘fragrance’ is a catch all term for thousands of potentially harmful chemicals, some of which are allergens, hormone disruptors, neurotoxins, and possible carcinogens. As consumers, we have no way of knowing what’s actually in ‘fragrance’ because that info is considered a trade secret. So steer clear of ‘fragrance’ and ‘parfum.’

But remember: ‘unscented’ and ‘fragrance free’ are two different things. ‘Unscented’ means chemicals may have been used to mask or neutralise the smell of other ingredients. ‘Fragrance free’ means the product contains no fragrance or masking scents whatsoever. Sneaky!

Synthetic preservatives like methylisothiazolinone

Methylisothiazolinone is a powerful biocide (it kills microorganisms) that prevents laundry detergent from going bad. This chemical is a rising cause of allergic contact dermatitis in children and is linked with nerve cell damage.

Chlorine bleach

Bleach gets rid of stains and kills bacteria, but it’s highly irritating to the eyes, nose, and skin. When mixed with ammonia, it emits poisonous fumes. And when it combines with wastewater, it creates toxic organic compounds. You definitely don’t want this in a baby laundry detergent because even just passive exposure to it can increase your baby’s risk of respiratory and other infections.

Phosphates and EDTA

Phosphates help soften water and remove dirt and grease from clothes. The problem with these chemicals is that they upset the balance in aquatic environments. Phosphates enhance algal growth, which robs fish and other aquatic species of oxygen. Because of this, phosphates have been banned for use in laundry detergents in the United States and the European Union. They’re still found in laundry products manufactured elsewhere, so you still want to watch out for them.

Some manufacturers have replaced phosphates with EDTA. This is another sneaky chemical that is toxic to animals and biodegrades poorly.

Dyes

Dyes serve no real purpose in laundry detergent but they do wear down the skin’s natural protective barrier and can make your skin dry and itchy.

We don’t have to subject our babies to these potentially harmful chemicals for the sake of having clean clothes. Look for baby washing powder or liquid with essential oils instead of synthetic fragrance, washing soda instead of phosphates and optical brighteners, and bicarb soda instead of bleach.

What to look for in baby laundry detergents?

The best baby laundry detergents have to be both good for baby and good for the environment. Of course, it also has to get the stickiest messes and nastiest odours out. Here’s what we’re looking for:

Safe ingredients

Go through the label and look out for the big ingredient no nos we’ve already discussed.

Tough on stains

Ultimately, if your washing powder can’t get stains and odours off your clothes, it’s useless. Natural laundry detergents have to be powerful enough to lift off common baby stains like milk spills, dribble, and mushy peas, as well as tougher messes (and unpleasant odours) from poop explosions.

Safe for cloth nappies

Baby laundry soap has to really get the gunk out without creating buildup on your cloth nappies, if you use them.

Kind to the planet

Go with laundry products that are biodegradable and grey water safe. Concentrated formulas are great because they save on packaging. Similarly, baby washing powder is better than liquid because you’re not wasting resources moving around what’s mostly just water.

With all the different options we have, trying to figure out which laundry detergents are safe for our families can take up a lot of time. We know you’re busy, so we’ve done the hard work. For our Best Laundry Detergents Cheat Sheet, we’ve researched and reviewed 50 different laundry products for you to choose from. Get it here.

Best baby laundry detergents

The good news is that it’s easier than ever to find a natural laundry detergent that hits all of the baby friendly requirements. Here are the ones we’ve found that really get the job done but don’t have harsh ingredients that can irritate sensitive baby skin.

Abode Laundry Liquid Baby

This hypoallergenic baby washing liquid uses soda ash to strip off dirt, grease, and other messes from bub’s clothes without harming your family or the environment. The stain busting liquid detergent is grey water safe, 100% biodegradable, and highly concentrated — a win for both the planet and your wallet.

Ecostore Laundry Soaker and Stain Remover

Ecostore Laundry Soaker and Stain Remover
Ecostore Laundry Soaker and Stain Remover

This super powerful detergent eliminates the toughest stains and destroys the foulest odours. Around here, we love how it brightens our clothes and has our whites positively gleaming! The ultra concentrated formula is very economical — up to 25 washes from the 1 kg bottle. It’s fragrance free and suitable for sensitive baby skin, which means you can feel good about using this on bub’s clothes.

Resparkle Baby Laundry Powder & Soaker 

Resparkle Baby Laundry Powder & Soaker
Resparkle Baby Laundry Powder & Soaker

A soaker and a washing powder in one, this laundry detergent is perfect for highly soiled items and is formulated for hypersensitive skin. The formula uses 100% plant and mineral based ingredients and naturally kills bacteria and odour producing germs. The highly concentrated powder won’t leave residue on baby clothes and has a light gorgeous scent from green tea and grapefruit extracts.

Ready for clean, stain free onesies? Check out our best baby laundry detergents, soakers, and stain removers over at Hello Charlie.

Main image credit: Deposit Photos

Other image credit: Ecostore and Resparkle

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Best Baby Laundry Detergents: Everything You Need To Know

What to Look for in Disposable Nappies?

disposable nappies

I’ve been selling disposable nappies here in Hello Charlie for years, and I’m still fascinated by how they work. I know this makes me sound like a complete geek,  but the engineering behind disposable nappies blows me away.

disposable nappies

There are nearly 1,000 patents registered that relate to nappy design. A maxi (size 4) nappy holds up to 400 ml of water, yet your baby stays dry. Ever wondered how that happens?

 What’s in disposable nappies?

What parts does regular disposable nappies have?

  • top sheet
  • the surge layer (ADL- aquisition distribution layer) which draws moisture away from baby’s skin
  • the absorbent core which holds all the moisture and keeps baby dry
  • the back sheet (cloth like feel) and the the barrier layer – usually polyurethane: this is the part that stops the moisture leaking through onto baby’s clothes and keeps it all contained
  • elasticated leak guards and leg elastics so that you don’t get leaks
  • plus the tabs and side panels, and the sticky bit at the front panel where you fasten the nappy down.

What to look out for in disposable nappies?

First, what you really want is a nappy manufacturer who will disclose all of their ingredients. And look for the ‘free from’ claims. If a manufacturer doesn’t mention that their nappy is free from something, or won’t tell you, you can assume that it’s in there.

Inner lining

Often made with polypropylene or polyethylene (both of which are considered to be safe plastics), to hold the absorbent centre in. Some manufacturers infuse this layer with a moisturising lotion. As we know, moisturising lotions can contain all sorts of chemicals, including phthalates and petroleum based products.

It’s important to know what’s in the inner lining of a nappy, as this is the part that sits right next to your baby’s skin.

Absorbent core

The bulk of a disposable nappy is the absorbent centre. This is usually made of wood pulp and super absorbers.

Super absorbers were first used in disposable nappies in the early eighties, and the first ones used were sodium polyacrylates or SAPs. SAPs can absorb up to 30 times their weight in liquid, which means that nappies need a lot less of the bulky wood pulp, and are much more effective at containing leaks.

The fact that nappies absorb a lot of moisture also means that babies are a lot less likely to get nappy rash. Some of the eco nappies are now using some super absorbers made from biodegradable materials, such as wheat or corn. The natural super absorbers are not yet as effective as the SAPs, which is why there’s still a mixture being used even in the most eco of disposable nappies.

Do you need SAPs in your disposable nappies?

You want SAPs in a nappy, so that it’s not as bulky. That means that it’s more comfortable for your baby to wear, it’s not as bulky and heavy to ship, so there are less emissions. And when you come to dispose of it, a thinner nappy doesn’t take up as much space in landfill. However, some manufacturers use SAPs that contain phthalates, and that’s not good.

The wood pulp is often bleached, and often use chlorine based bleach, and this can leave behind dioxins.

And of course it’s important that the wood pulp used is from FSC certified sources, so that it’s sustainable.

Meanwhile, some nappy manufacturers put a fragrance in between the absorbent core and the outer layer. Fragrances can contain different toxic chemicals, which is why many people have allergic reactions to fragrances and perfumes.

Waterproof Outer layer

The outer layer is often made of polyethylene or polypropylene film, and prevents the nappies from leaking. This layer can contain phthalates, chlorine and can also be manufactured using organic solvents. Bambo Nature specifically says that their nappies doesn’t contain any of these.

Bambo Nature
Bambo Nature

Some nappy brands are using a biofilm for the outer layer. But it’s important to note that there’s no nappy that’s completely biodegradable. The technology is just not advanced enough yet, so be aware that any company claiming complete biodegradability. Most likely, it’s misleading.

Inks for cartoon characters

All those cute little cartoon characters on nappies are printed with ink. These can be skin sensitizers such as Disperse Blue 106, Disperse Yellow 3, Blue 106, Orange 37/76, Brown 1. Inks can also contain heavy metal pigments.

Dyes

Some brands use dyes, and these can also be irritating to the skin.

Tabs, elastics and glues

The sticky tabs fasten the nappy around baby, and the elastics around the legs to help prevent leaks. Glues are used to stick all these things together.

Glues can contain phthalates and elastics can contain latex.

Do you find this article helpful, you might also want to read ‘Nappy 101 – A Guide to Cloth, Hybrid, and Disposable Nappies’.

Main image credit: Deposit Photos

Other image credit: Bambo Nature

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What to Look for in Disposable Nappies?