What are Baby’s Developmental Skills and How Can I Help My Baby Develop Them?

What are the baby developmental skills that I keep hearing about?

You’ve probably seen product descriptions on toys that claim to help your baby develop various skills.

One of our most popular toys, the Plan Toys Baby Car, can help baby to develop hand eye co-ordination, visual skills and fine motor skills. But what exactly are these, and how can you help your baby develop these essential skills?

To see more on each of these crucial developmental skills, and specific ideas for helping your baby to develop these skills, click on each of the headings.

We’ll be adding a list of useful toys to this blog shortly, so be sure to check back!

Plan Toys Baby Car   Plan Toys Baby Car

Gross Motor Skills

Gross Motor Skills are large muscle movements and whole body movements, such as an infant learning to hold up her head, being able to sit up, and learning to walk.

Fine Motor Skills

Fine Motor Skills are skills using smaller muscles, such as those in the hands, fingers and thumbs. It’s these small movements that allow baby to pick up small objects in a pincher grip, and these skills are the building blocks for things like writing and getting dressed.

Visual Cognition

Visual cognition is the ability to see something and recognise and identify the object. This is the skill that baby needs to recognise familiar faces, and later to help them distinguish between colours, shapes and sizes.

Auditory Skills

Auditory skills are hearing skills. Hearing is one of the traditional five senses, and this ability affects the development of many other essential skills including speech, listening, learning and thinking.

Understanding Cause and Effect

Cause and effect is where children understand that their actions lead directly to an outcome or a response. In other words, if I do this, then this thing will happen.

Hand Eye Co-ordination

Hand eye co-ordination combines visual skills and hand movements to complete a task. It requires the coordination of eye movement with hand movement, and processing visual input to guide the  hand to reach and grasp while working out where the hand is in relation to other physical objects. In other words, a baby is learning to combine a whole bunch of skills into one seamless whole.

Mathematical Skills

These are skills that lead to mathematical thinking, for example, about colour, size and shapes; about classifying and balance; and about numbers and counting; symmetry and balance.

Problem Solving Skills

Problem solving skills allow your baby to recognise a need and work out a way to fix it.

Musical Skills

Music can help the development of lots of vital skills, including auditory, cause and effect, social skills and concentration.

Creative Skills

Play helps children develop their creativity and imaginative skills, such as role play. Creative play provides opportunities for children to try out new ideas, as well as new ways of thinking and problem solving.

Copyright © Vanessa Layton 2013


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Top Ten Tips for Buying Safer Baby Toys

baby safe toys

Top Ten Tips for Buying Safer Baby Toys

It’s important that babies and children have developmentally appropriate toys to help them with all the important skills that they need to develop. It’s equally as important, however, that the toys that you give to your baby or child are safe.

Here’s our top ten tips on how to buy safer baby toys:

1. Follow the age limits on toys – these are not based on developmental appropriateness, but on safety.

2. If you are not sure whether a toy is too small for a child under 3, place the toy into a toilet roll holder. If the toys fits into the toilet roll holder, it’s too small to give to a child under 3.

3. Avoid buying toys with cords longer than 10cms, or remove the cords. These can be a strangulation hazard.

4. If you are buying plastic toys, always check that they are free from Bisphenol-A (BPA) and PVC and phthalates. Children are particularly susceptible to these chemicals, as they are so much more likely to put them in their mouths.

5. Plastic toys should always be labeled with numbers 1, 2, 4, 5 or opaque number 7 plastics such as ABS (the stuff Lego is made from). See our guide to safer plastics, and if there’s no number on the toy, ask the manufacturer or avoid buying that toy.

6. When you are buying wooden toys, make sure that the finishes are all non toxic and that the paint is safe for children to put in their mouths.

7. Wooden toys should have smooth, splinter free edges.

8. Ensure that any metals are nickel free.

9. Always check that the toys you buy are well made, and can withstand twisting, pulling and banging. This is how babies and children play and learn, so the toy must be able to stand up to this.

10. Avoid buying cheap cosmetic jewellery for children and toddlers as these can often contain high lead or cadmium levels. There are good, reputable brands of children’s jewellery made from sustainable and safe materials.

Resilience Robbers by Michael Grose – Developing Resilient Kids

How to build resilient kids
How to build resilient kids

I’ve taken this article from the Plenty Valley International Montessori school newsletter, as I think there’s some really valuable ideas in this. The article was written by Lauran Skidmore, the Learning Support and Pastoral Care Coordinator at the school.

Resiliency Robbers by Michael Grose

Michael Grose is one of Australia’s leading parent educators. He has come up with 7 “Resiliency Robbers”, as he calls them. As Parents we sometimes do these to attempt to create the best environment for our children. Over parenting is simply a result of wanting the best for them. It is important to allow our children to develop resilience and strategies to cope when things don’t go their way.

Robber # 1:

Fight all their battles for them.

Nothing wrong with going into bat when kids struggle or meet with difficulty inside or outside school but make sure this is the last resort, not the first option.

Resilience notion # 1:

Give kids the opportunity to develop their own resourcefulness.


Robber # 2:

Make their problem, your problem.

Sometimes parents can take too much responsibility for issues that are really up to children to work out or decide. Here’s a clue if you are wondering what I am talking about: a jumper is something a mother puts on her son when she is cold!

Resilience notion # 2:

Make their problem, their problem.


Robber # 3:

Give kids too much voice.

In this era of giving children a voice it is easy to go overboard and allow them too much of a say in what happens to them. Kids often take the easy option to avoid hard or unpleasant situations.

Resilience notion # 3:

Make decisions for kids and expect them to adjust and cope.


Robber # 4:

Put unrealistic or relentless pressure on kids to perform.

Expectations about success and achievement are important. Too low and kids will meet them too easily. Too high and kids can give up. Too much and kids can experience anxiety.

Resilience notion # 4:

Keep expectations in line with children’s abilities and don’t put excessive pressure on them.


Robber # 5:

Let kids give in too easily.

Resilient learners link success with effort. They don’t give up because they don’t like a teacher or when confronted with multi-step or more complex activities. Similarly they don’t bail out of a sporting term half way through the season because the team is not winning or they are not enjoying it.

Resilience notion # 5:

Encourage kids to complete what they have started even if the results aren’t perfect.


Robber # 6:

Neglect to develop independence.

Don’t wait until they are teenagers to develop the skills of independent living. Start early and promote a broad skill set so that they can look after themselves if you are not around.

Resilience notion # 6:

Don’t routinely do for kids what they can do for themselves.


Robber # 7:

Rescue kids from challenging or stretch situations.

There are many times kids are put in situations that are outside their comfort zones for a time. For instance, giving a talk, singing at the school concert or going on school camp may be challenges for some kids. They are all situations that kids usually cope with so show your confidence in them and skill them up rather than opt for avoidance.

Resilience notion # 7:

Overcoming challenges enables kids to grow and improve.

Sometimes the manageable hardships that children experience such as a friend moving away, not being invited to a party or completing a difficult school project are fabulous learning opportunities. They help kids to stretch and grow. Dealing with them effectively also teaches kids that they are capable of coping when they meet some of life’s curve balls. That is a huge lesson to learn at any age!!



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Hello Charlie Wins WOMO Best Business Award

Hello Charlie is puppy-snufflingly excited to announce that we have won a Best Business Award from WOMO (Word of Mouth Online).

Why are we so excited about this?

When you live, eat and breathe customer service like we do here at Hello Charlie, it’s super fantastic to be recognised for the fact that we are doing a great job.

It’s even better, though, because it’s our customers who have let us know that we’re doing a great job. These awards are based solely on customer reviews. Our happy, smiling customers taking time out of their busy lives to let everyone know that Hello Charlie is doing good things for them.



That’s why we’re excited!

We’re a small business. We don’t take out glossy TV ads to pretend that we care about our customers. At Hello Charlie, we do our very best each and every day to make our customers happy and to make their day just that little bit sunshinier.

If you’d like to have a bit of a nosey at what other people are saying about us, leap on over to WOMO and check it out.

Oh, and if you feel like leaving a review while you’re at it – we’ll be sending you a voucher for 10% off your next order. If you were here, we’d give you a cup of tea and a bikky (and probably a big hug) by way of thanks. But you’re not, so we’ll have to share the love with a voucher ?

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Dirty Thirty – Ingredients to Avoid in Personal Care Products

Dirty Thirty Personal Skincare Ingredients to Avoid

Dirty Thirty Personal Skincare Ingredients to Avoid

The wonderful website Turning Green has a fantastically useful list of chemicals to avoid in personal care products.

I’ve reproduced it here, but I encourage you to go and have a look at this website – there’s heaps of useful information.


Function: Used to control sweat and odor in the underarms by slowing down the production of sweat.
Present in: Antiperspirants. Banned by EU.
Health concerns: Linked to the development of Alzheimer’s Disease; may be linked to breast cancer; probable neurotoxin; possible nervous system, respiratory, and developmental toxin.


Function: Solvent; hidden within “fragrance”.
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.
Health concerns: Linked to pancreatic cancer; easily absorbs into skin causing quick systemic effects; animal studies show hyperemia of the lungs; possible gastrointestinal, liver, and respiratory toxicant; possible neurotoxin.


Function: Antimicrobial agent, deodorant, preservative, biocide.
Present in: Moisturizer, sunscreen, facial cleanser, acne treatment, pain relief. Restricted in Japan and Canada.
Health concerns: Immune system toxicant; may trigger asthma; possible organ system toxicant; animal studies show endocrine disruption and brain, nervous system, respiratory and blood effects; possible carcinogen.


Function: Preservative.
Present in: Moisturiser, body wash, facial cleanser, makeup remover, anti-aging products. Restricted in Canada.
Health concerns: Immune system toxicant; lung and skin toxicant; animal studies show endocrine disruption and gastrointestinal, brain and nervous system effects; irritant.


Function: Solvent in polishes and treatments, prevents chipping.
Present in: Nail polish and nail treatments.
Health concerns: Repeated exposure causes skin dryness and cracking; vapours may induce drowsiness or dizziness; flammable.


Function: Anti-Oxidant; slows down the rate at which product ingredients change in colour.
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.
Banned by EU.
Health Concerns: Immune system toxicant; endocrine disruptor; probable human carcinogen; animal studies show brain, liver, neurotoxin, reproductive and respiratory toxicant.


Function: Surfactant, emulsifying or cleansing agent, penetration enhancer.
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.
Health concerns: Animal studies show brain, nervous system and sense organ effects; irritant; reproductive and skin toxin, alters skin structure, allowing other chemicals to penetrate deep into the skin and increasing the amounts of other chemicals that reach the bloodstream; may contain harmful impurities.


Function: Controls itching and eczema, softens and promotes the dissolution of hard, scaly, rough skin, also used in hair dyes.
Present in: Shampoo and hair dye. Banned by Canada and EU.
Health concerns: Known human carcinogen; skin and respiratory toxicant.


Function: used as foaming agents in shampoos and bath products, and as emulsifying agents in cosmetics; foaming and cleansing agents for “mouth feel”.
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.
Health concerns: Human immune system toxicant; forms carcinogenic nitrosamine compounds if mixed with nitrosating agents; animal studies show sense organ effects and skin irritation; may contain harmful impurities.


Function: pH adjuster.
Present in: Sunscreen, moisturiser, foundation, hair colour.
Health concerns: Skin and immune system toxicant; possible carcinogen; irritant; animal studies show endocrine disruption and neuro developmental, brain and nervous system effects; may trigger asthma.


Function: Solvent.
Present in: Nail polish products, mascara, tooth whitening, perfume.
Health concerns: Probable neurotoxin; possible nervous system toxin; possible carcinogen; irritant; highly flammable


Function: Disinfectant, germicide, fungicide, preservative.
Present in: Deodorant, nail polish, soap, shampoo, shaving cream. Restricted in Canada. Banned by EU.
Health concerns: Immune system, repertory, hematological, and skin toxicant; probable carcinogen and cardiovascular toxicant; can damage DNA; may trigger asthma; animal studies show sense organ, brain, and nervous system effects; possible human development toxicant.


Function: Anti-microbial preservative.
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.
Health concerns: Forms nitrosamines when in the presence of amines such as MEA, DEA and TEA; probable immune system, blood, cardiovascular and skin toxicant; possible carcinogen; animal studies show endocrine disruption, nervous system and organ system effects; may contain harmful impurities.


Function: Deodorant, masking, perfuming
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.
Health concerns: Immune system toxicant; possible neurotoxin; can contain between 10 and 300 different chemicals, many of which have never been tested for safety; see phthalates. Labelling can be confusing. If uncertain, check with manufacture.


Function: Antioxidant, fragrance ingredient, skin bleaching agent, hair colorant.
Present in: Skin fading/lightener, facial moisturizer, anti-aging, sunscreen, hair colour, facial cleanser and moisturiser. Restricted in Canada.
Health concerns: Immune system and respiratory toxicant; probable neurotoxin; possible carcinogen; irritant; animal studies show endocrine disruption.


Function: Preservative.
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Restricted in Japan.
Health concerns: Human toxicant; possible liver immune system toxin; allergenic.


Function: Colourant.
Present in: Hair dye, hair products. Traces found in some red lipstick. Restricted in Canada.
Health concerns: Probable carcinogen; developmental, respiratory, gastrointestinal and reproductive toxicant; reduced fertility; animal studies show metabolic, brain and nervous system effects; suspected nano-scale ingredients with potential to absorb into the skin.


Function: Preservative.
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Restricted in Canada and Japan.
Health concerns: Immune system toxicant; animal studies show restricted growth of the axons and dendrites of immature nerves, neurotoxicity and positive mutation results; can lead to a malfunction in the way neurons communicate with each other; especially detrimental to a developing nervous system.


Function: Sunscreen Agent; Ultraviolet Light Absorber, UV Absorber; UV Filter.
Present in: Sunscreens and makeup
Health concerns: Associated with photoallergic reactions and immunotoxicity. Probable carcinogen and endocrine disrupter; Enhanced skin absorption and bioaccumulates to dangerous levels; biochemical cellular changes. Developmental and reproductive toxicity.


Function: Preservative and anti-bacterial agent.
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.
Health concerns: May alter hormone levels, possibly increasing risk for certain types of cancer, impaired fertility, or alteration of the development of a fetus or young child; studies have found parabens in breast tumours; probable skin toxicant; animal studies show brain and nervous system effects.


Function: Forms barrier on skin; makes lipsticks shine and creams smoother; inexpensive skin softener.
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Banned by EU.
Health concerns: May be contaminated with impurities, linked to cancer or other significant health problems.


Function: Fragrance ingredient, plasticizer, solvent.
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Banned in EU.
Health concerns: Immune system toxicant; developmental and reproductive toxin; respiratory toxicant; probable neurotoxin; possible carcinogen and endocrine disruptor; bio-accumulative in wildlife.


Function: Hair colorant.
Present in: Hair dye, shampoo, hair spray. Restricted in Canada.
Health concerns: Immune system and respiratory toxicant; probable neurotoxin; eczema; possible nervous system, skin, kidney and liver toxicant; irritant; may trigger asthma and gastritis; shown to cause cancer in animal studies.


Function: Solvent, penetration enhancer, conditions skin, controls viscosity and keeps products from melting in high or freezing when it is cold.
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.
Health concerns: Alters skin structure, allowing other chemicals to penetrate deep into the skin and increasing the amounts of other chemicals that reach the bloodstream; animal studies show reproductive effects, positive mutation results, brain and nervous system effects and endocrine disruption.


Function: Surfactant, penetration enhancer.
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.
Health concerns: Alters skin structure, allowing other chemicals to penetrate deep into the skin, increasing the amounts of other chemicals that reach the bloodstream; Irritant; animal studies show sense organ effects.

26. TALC

Function: Absorbs moisture, anti-caking agent, bulking agent.
Present in: Blush, powder, eye shadow, baby powder, deodorant.
Health concerns: Carcinogen; link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer; talc particles are similar to asbestos particles and data suggests that it can cause tumors in the lungs; probable respiratory toxin;


Function: Antioxidant, solvent to improve adhesion and gloss.
Present in: Nail polish and hair dye.
Health concerns: Liver toxin; probable developmental, nervous system and respiratory toxin; possible cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, renal and sense organ toxin; possible carcinogen and reproductive toxin; irritant; highly flammable;


Function: Anti-bacterial agent, deodorant, preservative, biocide. Reduces and controls bacterial contamination on the hands and on treated products.
Present in: Antibacterial soaps, deodorants, toothpastes, mouthwashes, face wash and cleaning supplies. Restricted in Japan and Canada.
Health concerns: Probable endocrine disrupter and carcinogen; easily bio-accumulates to dangerous levels; irritant; animal studies show reproductive and other broad systematic effects; potentially contaminated with impurities linked to cancer and other significant health problems; studies have shown it can actually induce cell death when used in mouth washes.


unction: Fragrance ingredient, pH adjuster, surfactant.
Present in: Hand and body lotion, shaving creams, soap, shampoo, bath powders and moisturizer.
Health concerns: Immune system toxicant; possible carcinogen; animal studies show endocrine disruption; may trigger asthma; forms carcinogenic nitrosamine compounds if mixed with nitrosating agents.

30. 1,4 DIOXANE

Function: Penetration enhancer
Present in: Body lotion, moisturizers, sunless tanning products, baby soap, anti-aging products.
Health concerns: EPA classifies it as a probable carcinogen found in 46 of 100 personal care products marketed as organic or natural, and the National Toxicology Program considers it a known animal carcinogen. Acute (short-term) inhalation exposure to high levels of 1,4 dioxane has caused vertigo, drowsiness, headache, anorexia and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs of humans. It may also irritate the skin.

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How to Choose Breast Pads and Nipple Creams for Breastfeeding

How do you choose breast pads and nipple creams for breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding might be natural, but boy … it can be very hard going on your breasts! Here’s our guide on how to choose soothing nipple creams and breast pads for those hardworking breastfeeding breasts.

How to Choose Nipple Creams

Weleda Nipple Care Cream

EWG Skin Deep Rating: 1 (Low Hazard)

Water (Aqua), Sweet Almond Oil, Sesame Oil, Olive Oil, Ethanol, Yellow Beeswax, (Unbleached), Marigold (Calendula Officinalis), Flower, Lemon Juice, Marshmallow (Athaea Officinalis) Root, Jojoba Oil, Glyceryl, Monostearate (Vegetable), Horsetail (Equisetum Arvense) Herb, Lesser Nettle (Urtica Urens) Herb, Echinacea purpurea whole plant, Sodium Alginate (from seaweed), Silica, Angelica archangelica Root, German Chamomile (Chamomilla Recutita) Flower, Lavendula angustifolia Flower, St. John’s Wotr (Hypericum perforatum) Flower, Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis) Concentrate, Lecithin, Rose Maroc (Rosa Centifolia) Absolute Oil, Lavender Oil, Fragrance, Styrax Benzoin Gum.

Weleda Nipple Care Cream is available to buy at Hello Charlie

Nature’s Child Nipple Balm Certified Organic

EWG Skin Deep Rating: 0 (Low Hazard)

Sunflower Oil*, Olive Oil*, Evening Primrose Oil*, Beeswax*, Shea Butter*, Calendula infused in Sunflower Oil*, Natural Vitamin E*  

*Certified Organic

Nature’s Child Nipple Balm is available to buy at Hello Charlie

Lanolin Nipple Creams

There are a number of nipple creams on the market that are 100% medical grade, hypoallergenic lanolin. The instructions on these products say that the creams don’t have to be removed prior to breastfeeding. Products include:

  • Lansinoh Nipple Cream
  • Marcalan Nipple Cream
  • Nuk Nipple Cream
  • Medela PureLan

Lanolin based creams are a natural option, however, be aware that a small percentage of the population can have an allergic reaction to lanolin.

All of these products have rate as 1 (low toxicity) on the EWG Skin Deep Database.


The most natural nipple cream of all is breastmilk. According to lactation consultants, just smear a little around your nipples after each feed, and this should be all you need.

I have to say though, that this definitely didn’t work for me. Maybe it’s just because I have very dry skin, but I found that I needed a nipple cream when I was breastfeeding. However, you may find that you only need the nipple cream when your breasts are really sore, and the rest of the time you can get away with breastmilk. It’s definitely worth a go!

PawPaw Ointments

I’ve also heard of pawpaw ointment being used, but personally I’d be a bit wary of this as not all pawpaw ointment manufacturers disclose all their ingredients (Lucas is one of them that withholds all ingredients as it’s apparently too ‘commercially sensitive’ for them to share).

Unless you’re sure that they’re safe for baby to be ingesting, you either need to remove it before each breastfeed, or avoid it.

Ingredients to avoid:

Whichever nipple cream you choose, it’s a really good idea to avoid any that contain phenoxyethanol, as I know that there was a cream recalled in the US because it contained phenoxyethanol. It can cause nausea and vomiting, among other things, so it’s really not good to put on your nipples when you’re breastfeeding as your baby will then ingest it.

How to Choose Breast Pads

Reusable/Washable Breast Pads

As for breast pads, I’d always go with organic and I preferred reusables rather than disposables, but this is kind of a personal choice. It’s good to have at least 3 pairs if you’re going with reusables, as it means you don’t need to wash everyday!

Breast pads made from bamboo rayon are more absorbent than organic cotton, but this depends on how you feel about bamboo.

Hello Charlie stocks a number of different kinds of reusable breast pads:

Nature’s Child Breast Pads – these are all organic, and come in light, regular and large sizes, which is very useful as everyone has different breastmilk flows! Each pack has three pairs.

Pea Pods Bamboo Nursing Pads – these come in soft bamboo, in a handy pouch for washing.

Disposable Breast Pads

I’ve had customers tell me that having some disposable breast pads is really useful for the first few weeks, while you’re getting used to breastfeeding and the whole new baby things, and I think this is probably good advice. Once again, I’d recommend organic cotton breastpads, as some disposables can be chlorine bleached.

Hello Charlie stocks Organyc disposable breast pads that are 100% organic cotton, with no chlorine bleaching.


One of our lovely customers, Leah, made some great comments that I just had to share:

I used nipple creams when establishing feeding for each baby and had sore cracked nipples. I was happy with Lansinoh because it helped and it stayed on. I used breastmilk as well. Another great product was one that was handed to me by my Mum’s friend (it was almost as old as I was). It was a Medela Breast shell. The news ones look more flattering and comfortable than than mine but either way it worked. It is a plastic shield that sits over the nipple with lots of holes in it to allow air flow. It also keeps clothes from rubbing on a sore nipple making it worse. I have used both reusable breast pads and disposable pads and the reusable ones were so much better. I would have used them for my first baby if I’d have known that they wouldn’t be smelly or awkward and would be reliable. I used them for babies 2, 3 and 4. The only downside is that you don’t want to loose them under the cushions of couches or leave them on your friends coffee table when you go home!

Should You Use Baby Powder on Your Baby?

Should You Use Baby Powder on Your Baby?

Should You Use Baby Powder on Your Baby?It’s one of those scents that have become synonymous with babies – baby powder. For decades it’s been associated with being a symbol of freshness and cleanliness, used liberally for preventing nappy rash.

However, the American Academy of Paediatrics now recommends against using baby powder for concerns over respiratory problems. Talc is made of finely ground powder developed from magnesium silicate, a mineral composed primarily of magnesium, silicone and oxygen. The particles are light enough to be carried through the air and inhaled by baby, adversely affecting their breathing.

And that is the least of our worries, with the president of the industry’s Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association conceding in 2002 that talc is toxic and can reach the human ovaries. There is even a class-action lawsuit filed against Johnson & Johnson – arguably the most well-known manufacturer of baby powder in the world, as plaintiffs argue that the company has known about the risks of ovarian cancer with the use of these products for decades, yet failed to warn their consumers.

What are some alternatives to talc-based baby powder? 

At first, we moved from talc that contained asbestos, to talc that did not contain asbestos. Phew! What a relief. But as we learn more about the toxicity of talc, we started seeing corn starch based baby powders emerge. Corn starch is made up of larger particles that are less likely to be inhaled.

Common ingredients in non-toxic baby powders might include:

  • Aloe Vera for soothing and healing chafed skin
  • Arrowroot powder – a soft, herb based powder frequently mixed with corn starch, ideal for healing irritated or blemished skin
  • Corn starch, made from corn kernels
  • Kaolin clay, an absorbent mineral ideal for use on sensitive skin
  • Essential oils for natural fragrance

All the baby powders we stock here at Hello Charlie are based on corn starch.

Even if you are using a talc free baby powder, you still need to be careful when you’re applying it. Step back from your baby and apply some into your hand first, to reduce the risk of inhalation from particles in the air and prevent irritation. Be sure to store your baby powder high out of reach to prevent a cloud of powder being inhaled or trodden into the carpet.

If ‘less likely’ to be inhaled still concerns you, skip the corn starch baby powder altogether. 

Some say that corn starch can worsen a yeast infection of the skin and create a really bad nappy rash. It’s for this reason that baby powder, both talc and corn starch based, is used as a preventative and not a treatment. Always ensure that you remove any baby powder from the last nappy change, and thoroughly dry baby’s nappy area before applying more.

Some fresh air and a little sunshine during ‘nappy free’ time does wonders for preventing and treating nappy rash. There are also plenty of natural creams for treating nappy rash once it starts to develop.

Do you use baby powder or do you skip it altogether? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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Eight Top Tips on How to Get Rid of Head Lice

helpful hint head lice

We’ve had a fun time in our house the last couple of weeks trying to rid my youngest son of head lice. He’s in prep, and I noticed him scratch, scratch, scratching the other week. Sure enough, I checked his head and there they were – headlice!

Cue scratching from the whole family (although it was only the youngest who had them, thankfully). I can remember having headlice as a child, and the horrible chemical preparations my mum used on me to get rid of them. When we were talking about this the other day, mum was telling me that none of them worked, and she eventually poured metho over my hair and scalp. It did kill them, but apparently it burnt my forehead!

Thank goodness, we know a bit more about lice these days. I did a bit of googling, and came up with the following useful information about how to prevent and control head lice in your family.

1. You don’t need to wash everything in the house to get control head lice

Headlice feed on human blood, not on animals, and they need to feed 3-4 times a day. They dehydrate and die within 6 hours in a dry climate, and within 24 hours in a humid climate.

There’s no need to wash everything, as the lice will not survive.

2. You do need to wash hats and pillowcases to get rid of lice

Wash hats and pillowcases at 60 degrees celcius, or dry them in the tumble dryer on the warm or hot setting to kill them.

3. Headlice can’t jump

Head lice can’t jump – they have no knees! They can’t fly, either, as they have no wings. They can (and do) crawl from head to head, and can be transmitted by sharing things like hats and hairbrushes.

4. The best non-chemical treatment for head lice is conditioner and a fine tooth comb

Put any kind of hair conditioner on to dry, brushed hair. The conditioner stuns the lice, and allows you to comb them out easily.

Divide the hair into small sections, and comb through carefully with a fine tooth comb. Wipe the comb onto a piece of tissue or paper towel, and you’ll be able to see whether there are any lice or any eggs.

Comb through each section of hair 4 or 5 times.

Wash the nit comb out with very hot water to kill any remaining eggs.

Yes, we know how tedious this is. It’s even more tedious if you’ve got daughters with long hair. There’s always a silver lining, however. Look upon it as an excuse to spend time with your children, and chat to them about their day. Alternatively, you could do as we did, and watch Frozen together!

5. Prevent re-infection by repeating the treatment

Repeat the conditioner and fine tooth comb treatment every third day for 10 days until no more live head lice can be found.

6. No need to treat everyone in the family for head lice

Fortunately, you only need to treat the person who has the head lice. The whole family doesn’t need to be treated, although it’s a good idea to check everyone periodically – and you’ll all be scratching whether you’ve got them or not!

7. Try prevention with the homemade head lice remedy of tea tree oil

Pop a couple of drops of tea tree oil into a spray bottle with some water, and spray on to hair before school. Supposedly the head lice don’t like the tea tree oil smell!

8.  If you’re using a chemical head lice prevention preparation, you’ll need to alternate

Lice can become immune to chemical preparations, so if you do choose to use an over the counter, chemical preparation be prepared to change treatments each time.

I’m happy to report that we seem to be head lice free now. We did have one round of re-infestation, but having used the conditioner and fine tooth comb method to control head lice, and ensuring that we did the conditioner and combing every few days for ten days to control the whole nit life cycle – we’re free of head lice.

Not sure how long we’ll be free, though, as I watched my son give three of his friends a big head-to-head hug in the playground as we left school!

More information can be found at the Victorian Government Health website. Check out the Victorian Government’s handy PDF guide to preventing and controlling head lice here.

What’s your top tips for preventing and controlling head lice? Let us know in the comments below.



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How to Make Your Own Reusable Baby Wipes

It’s really easy to make your own baby wipes at home. You’ll save money, you know exactly what’s going onto your baby’s bum, and you’ll be saving the environment all at the same time.How to Make Your Own Reusable Baby Wipes

Washable baby wipes are brilliant – they really clean up the mess, and even a really bad blowout only uses a couple of wipes. On the occasions that I did use disposable wipes, I found that I needed more disposables than reusables to clean my babies up.

I used reusable wipes both at home and when we were out and about. I got into a routine, and I found it pretty easy. We were cloth nappying, so I used to throw the wipes in with the nappies. Even if you aren’t cloth nappying, though, it’s pretty easy to use washable baby wipes.

Vanessa’s Make Your Own Baby Wipes Recipe

Here’s how I used to do my reusable wipes. Wash them, and hang them in the sunshine to bleach naturally.

I have a big glass bowl, and I always put the next day’s wipes into the bowl (ususally about 15-20 wipes) and poured a kettle of boiling water over the top. Then I added a drop of tea tree oil and a drop of lavender oil to the water, mixed it around a bit and allowed the wipes to cool. The boiling water kills any leftover bacteria not killed by the sun, the tea tree oil adds some natural antibacterial protection, and the lavender gives a bit of soothe (and hides some of the tea tree smell, which I dislike!).

Once the wipes cooled, I wrung them out, popped them into a plastic container with a lid, and put them on the change table. I had a smaller container for getting out and about with, and I always had a biodegradable nappy bag to put any dirty wipes in.

I found this method really straightforward, and I did it for years with both my boys.

Another Foolproof Method for Making Your Own Baby Wipes 

The other option, which I like to think of as the dry wipes option, is that you make up a spray solution and spray it directly onto the wipes when you’re ready to use them.

There are loads of recipes for the spray solution, but here’s a really easy one:

  • 1 tablespoon of Dr Bronner’s pure castile soap
  • Couple of drops of essential oil (you can choose whateveryou like for antibacterial or aromatherapy)
  • 3 cups water

Mix it up and pop it into a spray bottle. You’ll need to do this every week to make sure that the spray doesn’t go off.

I’ve also seen versions of this where the water is replaced with three cups of chamomile tea (chamomile is a traditional remedy for nappy rash).

You can also use these solutions with cotton wool, like the Simply Gentle Organic Cotton Pleat or Baby Cleansing Pads.

Which cloth to use for reusable wipes?

Cloth wipes are pretty easy to make with some facewashers, or even some cut up flannel material (although in my experience, you really need to take the time to stitch the hems of flannel material, otherwise it frays). I’ve also tried Chux wipes after reading this idea somewhere, but I can tell you that these are a terrible option!

Here are three great brands that we stock at Hello Charlie:

Nature’s Child Organic Cotton Reusable Baby Wipes

Cost: 3 pack $9.95 (Buy Some)


Charlie Banana Organic Cotton Wipes

Love these – they’re so soft that our whole family uses them as facecloths, and I love them for removing makeup!

Cost: 10 pack $17.95 (Buy Some)


GroVia Cloth Wipes

Super soft terry cloth wipes. Not organic or bamboo, but they’ll still reduce your eco footprint.

Cost: 12 pack $17.95 (Buy Some)


Pea Pods Reusable Bamboo Wipes

Nice and soft, and in their own handy wash bag.

Cost: 5 pack $9.95 (Buy Some)


Under the Nile Organic Wipes

Gorgeously thick and soft and made from 100% organic cotton

Cost: 12 Pack $27.95 (Buy Some)

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Baby Development Skill: Problem Solving

Baby Development Skill: Problem SolvingWhat are problem solving skills?

Problem solving skills allow your baby to recognise a need and work out a way to fix it.

Your baby begins problem solving as soon as they are born. Crying is a baby’s way of trying to solve the problems of hunger, dirty nappies, or pain. They soon learn that a parent will come to fix the problem at the sound of crying.

How can you help your baby develop problem solving skills?

Childproof rooms so that baby isn’t confined to a pram or playpen. Exploring their environment will allow baby to discover and learn.

Allow your child to move around their environment as much as possible. A baby will learn that if she wants a toy on the other side of the room, she will need to crawl over to it.

Give your baby rattles and toys that make noises. Your baby will soon learnt she needs to shake the rattle to hear the sound.

As your baby gets older, she will learn basic problem solving skills such as how to push one toy out of the way in order to reach another.

Try giving your baby three toys. If she has one toy in each hand and wants to pick up another, she will have to put one down to pick up the other toy. These are basic problem solving skills.

Model problem solving for your baby. If a toy is inside the box, show your baby how to lift the lid off the  box to retrieve the toy, then put the toy back and the lid on and encourage your baby to try.

By allowing your baby to play with lots of different shapes, textures, and sizes of toys your baby will explore and discover by putting them in her mouth, turning them over, fitting them one way and then another. She’ll gradually learn to remember her solutions, and will be able to build on these to be able to solve more complex problems.



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