Teething is an unpleasant time for babies. It’s incredibly uncomfortable and the little darlings don’t even know what’s going on. No wonder they’re upset. Here are some natural options for teething remedies.
Why you need to use ‘natural’ for teething remedies?
Many over the counter teething remedies contain benzocaine. However, FDA warned that the use of benzocaine can lead to a serious and rare condition called ‘methemoglobinemia‘.
Methemoglobenemia does decreases the amount of oxygen flowing through the bloodstream and children under 2 years old are in particular danger. This statistic makes it particularly important to use natural pain relief for teething babies.
When can I expect teething to start?
Most babies start teething around 6 months old, but it can start as early as 4 months or as late as 12 months. (Teething ages seem to run in families. Look at your family history to see if you’re early, average or late teethers.)
9–11 months: top lateral incisors (either side of the top front teeth)
10–12 months: bottom lateral incisors (either side of the bottom front teeth)
12–16 months: first molars (back teeth)
16–20 months: canines (in between the incisors and molars)
20–30 months: second molars (behind the first molars)
Most children have all their baby teeth by the time they’re 25–33 months old (about 2 and a half years).
When teething first starts you’ll usually notice your baby crying more than usual and having trouble sleeping. She’ll act fussier, and may stick her fingers in her mouth to try to relieve the discomfort. Teething pain can affect her jaw, ear, or even shoulder, so you might see her rubbing those areas. Her gums will look red and swollen – blisters might form over the erupting teeth as well.
Your baby might lose her appetite, when she was a healthy eater before, but want to bite down on anything and everything. (This is where natural teething toys come in handy.) She might also get a rash around her mouth that looks like eczema. (It’s not, though, it’s usually just irritation from increased moisture and touching her face.)
What are not teething symptoms
If your baby experiences fever, diarrhoea, cough or cold symptoms you should probably bring her to the doctor if they don’t go away in a day or two.
Previously, these were considered as normal teething symptoms, but doctors no longer believe that. It’s possible baby might have picked up some sort of bug while she was sticking everything in her mouth. Probably nothing to worry about, but a visit to the doctor can set your mind at ease.
How to get some natural pain relief for teething babies
One of the best natural teething remedies is simply your attention. Talk to your bub, play with her, and give her a gentle massage to distract her from her pain and help her relax.
There are also many fantastic non-toxic options for teething remedies available in the market:
Apple Park Farm Buddies Organic Blankie – These non toxic polyester-free organic cotton blankies can be soaked in water and kept in the fridge. The cold feels good on baby’s sore gums, and when she’s not teething she’ll have an adorable blankie to snuggle with.
Boon Gnaw Teething Tether – This BPA, PVC and phthalate free tether clips to Baby’s clothes so teethers, rusks and cutlery don’t end up on the floor. It’s dishwasher safe too.
Hevea Panda Teether – This 100% natural rubber teether’s soft and has a textured surface to soothe Baby’s gums. Its shape makes it easy for little hands to hold on to, and you can just boil to sterilise.
Qtoys Natural Ring Wooden Teether – These wooden teethers are made from fair traded sustainable forests in Vietnam. The rings are coloured with natural materials and finished with beeswax. It’s a safe surface to chew on and babies are less likely to gag on the chunky shape.
If you’ve heard about baby led weaning (BLW), you might be interested in this new (old) method of weaning baby onto solid food. (After all, our ancestors didn’t have blenders to create purees or refrigerators to keep them in!)
Baby led weaning simply means that you let baby explore feeding himself while he still gets most of his nourishment from breast milk or formula. Start at around six months or so when he’s physically mature enough to sit up on his own and pick up bits of food. Ideally he would then put them in his mouth and eat them, but let’s be real here – most of the food will end up anywhere and everywhere else, especially in the beginning. That’s okay. It’s all part of the process.
What to feed baby
So baby led weaning sounds like a great idea – but what do you feed him? Depending on your baby’s age he can eat almost anything older children can. (Remember, baby led weaning should start at six months or older.) If you’re breast feeding, baby is introduced to the flavours of your favourite foods through your milk, so that will make things easier.
In general you should start with soft, easily gummable foods. Cut them into batons the right size for little hands to hold, lay out a selection on his high chair and let him figure it out. He’ll probably see them more as toys than actual nourishment, but if you let him eat with the family he’ll soon learn to copy what the big people are doing.
It’s a good idea to let him have his milk first so he’s not that hungry. Feeding himself will be difficult at first, and hunger will just make him frustrated and upset.
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Soft fruits like banana, avocado and melon
Steamed hard fruit such as apples, pears and mangoes
Steamed vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower and broccoli
Boiled egg yolks
Chunks of soft pasteurised cheeses
Roasted sweet potato or pumpkin
Pieces of cooked liver (lots of iron)
Soft cooked pieces of whatever you’re having for dinner (minus the salt)
If you can squish the food between your finger and thumb, it’s probably fine for baby.
And don’t be afraid to introduce baby to grown up food.
If you’re having pasta you can give him a few pasta shapes in sauce.
As baby gets older, give him thick cut cucumber chips and pieces of tender meat.
Baby led weaning foods to avoid
Baby’s digestive and immune systems are still developing, so wait until he’s older to introduce more difficult foods.
Foods that might lead to choking, such as grapes, cherry and grape tomatoes, nuts, and whole sausages
I have two boys. Both of my sons do ballet. My youngest begged for six months to do ballet. He was three and has been doing it ever since. My eldest who started when he was 13. My boys are chalk and cheese. One of them is a football loving, adrenaline seeking, stereotypical boy (if there is such a thing). The other one is quiet and bookish has always loved dressing up in sparkly outfits and playing with makeup.
As they’re getting older, we’re having more and more discussions about how people are different. We talked about the marriage equality vote, and how it’s important that people love someone and are happy.
Recently, we’ve had a friend whose son brought home a boyfriend for the first time; and another friend whose child is identifying as gender neutral/non binary. One of my son’s friends wanted to know if I thought there were really over 500 genders.
Kids are thinking about these things and asking questions. So I think that it’s important that we think about it, and raise our kids in a way that’s accepting of gender differences.
What is gender anyway?
It would probably be a good idea at this point to talk a bit about what gender actually is.
Your sex is determined by your biology – whether you have male or female sexual organs, XX or XY chromosomes and so on. (Although some people are born intersex, with both sets of organs or neither. Likewise, some people are born with XXY or XYY chromosomes, or other variations.)
More and more people are questioning what it means to be a boy or a girl, a man or a woman. Cisgender people feel like they pretty much fit in with their gender role as defined by their society. Some people are transgender, which means that they feel like the opposite sex from which they were born. Studies have shown that children as young as 5 years old think and act like the gender they identify as, not their biological sex.
“While future studies are always needed, our results support the notion that transgender children are not confused, delayed, showing gender-atypical responding, pretending, or oppositional — they instead show responses entirely typical and expected for children with their gender identity,” the researchers write.
Aside from cis and trans, people can be gender fluid, which means that they don’t want to let society define their behaviour. They may seem androgynous, or appear masculine one day and feminine the next.
Gender in the modern age is a spectrum, not strictly assigned into two rigid categories.
Sexuality, or who you’re attracted to, is completely different from gender. Someone might be a manly man, who wears leather, has big muscles and spends a lot to time working on his car, but be attracted to other men. Another man might be slim, dress in colourful, fashionable clothes and work as a hairdresser, but be attracted to women. He would still be heterosexual.
Sexuality, like gender, is a spectrum. Some people are very straight, some people are very gay. Many people are somewhere in the middle. Others might not be sexually attracted to anyone at all.
In Australia, men earn an average of 15.3% more than women in total. If they’re both working full time, a man will earn about $27,000 a year more than a woman, on average. There are a lot of reasons for that, but a large part of it is created by the gender expectation that a woman will do most the caretaking for children and elderly parents.
Quitting your job to stay home with the children can really damage your career, as can taking time off to care for them when they’re sick.
Some ideas for raising children to accept gender equality
Start talking to your kids when they’re little. Children become conscious of their gender identity around the age of 3 years old, so don’t be afraid that you’re bringing it up too early. Storybooks are a great way to open up the subject, and there are some wonderful, age appropriate books for little ones. Here’s a few that were recommended to me by my lovely local library:
Lee is a pea. All of his friends are peas; except Colin. Colin isn’t a pea.
And so begins the deliciously funny story of two very different friends: a small green pea and a tall orange carrot stick. Colin the carrot can’t do everything the peas can, but he has some special carrot-y qualities that make him a very good friend to have.
Every night, Bailey dreams about magical dresses: dresses made of crystals and rainbows, dresses made of flowers, dresses made of windows. . . . Unfortunately, when Bailey’s awake, no one wants to hear about these beautiful dreams. Quite the contrary. “You’re a BOY!”
Then Bailey meets a new friend who encourages him to become the person he feels inside, and together they begin to make dresses.
A blue crayon mistakenly labeled as “red” suffers an identity crisis. Everyone tries to help him to be red, until a new friend helps him find the courage to be his inner self – blue!
Model the behaviour that you want your kids to see
Let your children see your values. Treat yourself the way that you want your children to be treated. Don’t complain that your hate your thighs, or call yourself ‘stupid’. Treat yourself with respect and your children will pick up on that.
Dad needs to be on board, too. When he’s helping around the house and doing his part to raise the kids, he’s teaching them how to be the kind of man that you want them to be. Boys and girls with highly involved fathers grow up to be happier and healthier, mentally and physically. They’re more likely to do well in school and later on in life, too.
You don’t have to be defined by social expectations of your gender
Let your kids dress up and play with any and all sorts of toys. Don’t divide their chores up into ‘boy chores’ and ‘girl chores’. Get boys doing housework and girls doing yard work – they’ll thank you for it later.
Think about gender stereotypes when choosing toys, books and even clothes for kids. Ask them about their favourite colour, don’t just buy blue for boys and pink for girls – and be ready to answer comments about girls wearing boy’s clothes, or boys choosing to wear a skirt.
Teach kids about healthy sexuality
Use real names for body parts. Children need to know how their bodies work. And part of that is being clear about what things are called. Give honest, but age appropriate, answers to questions about sex and sexuality. Let your kids know that you’ll answer any of their questions about sex, no matter how uncomfortable you might feel about it.
They’ll probably bring their questions to you, but don’t wait to be asked. Don’t be afraid to bring up the topic – they’ll probably be much less embarrassed than you are.
Teach them about consent, too. Don’t force them to hug or kiss someone if they don’t want to – even if it’s a close family member. They have the right to stop the interaction whenever they start to feel uncomfortable or unsafe, no matter who it is. Teach them to respect other people when they say ‘no’ and ‘stop’. Learning about appropriate boundaries can start at a very young age.
Teach kids that all people are different, and you don’t need to have a label
Tomboy, princess – every single person in the world is different. You don’t need a label to identify or explain who you are. What’s important is that you can accept yourself for who you are, and be happy being you.
Find this helpful? You can checkout other parenting articles here at Hello Charlie.
The Best Baby Soap & Baby Wash: Researched and Reviewed
Every day, our children are exposed to at least 27 different chemicals through personal care products. And most of these chemicals have not been tested for safety on children.
Think about when you wash your baby.
You put him in the tub and add some baby wash. For a start, baby skin is up to 30% thinner than adults’ skin. The water is warm, which opens up the pores of his already very thin skin. The heat also vaporises some of the chemicals, and your baby breathes them in. Your baby accidentally swallows some of the water, and you splash some in his eyes.
Baby wash might be a ‘rinse off’ product, but there are lots of opportunities for those chemicals to get into your baby’s delicate and developing body.
So what exactly are the ingredients in your baby’s bath products? Are they safe? How can you tell?
Ingredients in baby soap have been linked to endocrine disruption; skin allergies; and even heightened risks of cancer. And although some of the big guys have cleaned up their acts over the last few years, there are still plenty of irritating and even toxic ingredients in some brands of baby wash.
Many of these big companies still don’t list the ingredients on their websites. If you shop online, you can’t tell what’s in the packs. You physically have to go to supermarket, and stand there in the aisle searching up ingredients on your phone. Take your baby shopping with you while checking on ingredients? Good luck with that!
It’s easy to understand why so many of us just grab a pretty looking pack, only to get it home and find that not all the ingredients are great.
So that’s where Hello Charlie comes in. I’ve been to the supermarket, taken photos of all the products, then brought them home and looked up all the ingredients for you. Read on and find out which baby soaps and washes get the Hello Charlie recommendation, and which ones you (and your baby!) should avoid.
I’ve researched 59 different baby soaps and baby washes ! I didn’t do all of the mainstream ones, because I know that they’re going to be mostly the same. But I did try to do as many ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ ones as possible. The list of baby soaps that I’ve reviewed are all in alphabetical order, below.
If for some reason you don’t want to read the ebook, but you still want the best baby soaps and baby washes for your family, jump right on over to Hello Charlie. We stock only the best products that I’ve researched and reviewed, so you can be sure that if it’s on Hello Charlie, it’s safe and non toxic.
Further reading on non toxic Baby Soap & Baby Wash
We’ve got lots of other articles that you might find useful, too:
It’s impossible to review every single product for baby soap & baby wash available in Australia, but I did try to include all the ‘natural’ ones. If I’ve missed your favourite, let me know! Drop me an email at email@example.com with the name of the baby soap and a link to the ingredients, or pop it into the comments below.
I can’t promise that I’ll get to it straight away, but I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Baby led weaning (BLW) is a practice that involves sitting babies down with the family at mealtime and letting them have what everyone else is having. No cereals, purees, and mash, just real food cut up into portions that baby can feed himself. Letting a 6 month old feed himself sticks of fruits, veg, and meat seems downright dangerous, doesn’t it?
Yet more and more parents are shifting from starting solids with pureed foods to baby led weaning.
But is baby led weaning safe? Is it worth the mess or the worry that bub could choke on a broccoli floret? Let’s go through some of the pros and cons of baby led weaning.
First, what is baby led weaning?
The basic premise of baby led weaning is that by the time babies are ready for solids (at 6 months or older), they are actually physically able to eat finger foods. This means there’s no need to go through the puree stage.
Instead of feeding your baby rice cereal from a spoon, you just give her what the rest of the family is having and let her get on with it. This will, of course, result in a catastrophic mess, especially at the beginning, but some parents report that the benefits are well worth the effort.
Baby led weaning pros and cons
It’s a great way to introduce the different looks, flavours, smells, and textures of food. This helps children become more adventurous with their food choices later in life and may help decrease the risk of them becoming picky eaters.
It helps babies develop dexterity, hand eye coordination, and fine motor skills.
It can offer baby a more balanced meal. With BLW, the whole family shares a meal consisting of different dishes. With traditional spoon feeding, baby will sometimes consume just one specific food per meal.
It teaches appetite control. Baby feeds himself and therefore learns to recognise when he has had enough. Learning to eat according to his appetite could mean that he’ll be less likely to overeat when he’s older.
It’s cheaper. Because bub is eating the same food as the family, there’s no need to buy prepackaged baby foods or the equipment needed to make purees.
It gets parents to be more present at mealtime. Because everyone is eating at the same time and at the same table, parents are more involved and baby gets to be a part of family meals from the start. It also lets parents model mealtime behaviour and lets bub observe the table manners shown by the family.
It eliminates the mealtime power struggle. Baby led weaning is all about respecting bub’s decisions on what and how much to eat. This helps avoid the coercing, begging, and stress that often accompany family meals.
The worry that bub will choke on her food. Before starting BLW, you need to be able to recognise the difference between gagging (common when infants start solids) and choking (requires intervention).
The epic mess.
It can be a waste of food and money. In the beginning, much of the food will end up on the floor and the walls. The good news is that as soon as bub learns to pick up smaller pieces of food (at around 9 months), mealtime won’t be as messy.
It can be a waste of time. All that post meal cleanup! Tip: spread newspaper under the high chair and invest in good bibs. (Or you could do what I did, and just let the dog clean up!)
So there you go. If you want to learn more about baby led weaning, stay tuned for the rest of our BLW series. And for affordable, adorable, and eco friendly baby feeding tools, hop on to Hello Charlie.
Last but not least, before you attempt baby led weaning, please consult your health professional, especially if your child has digestive problems or special needs. Good luck and happy feeding!
Bath soaps for adults often contain harsh synthetic ingredients. But that’s not true for children’s bath products, is it?
Unfortunately, it is. You’d think companies would be careful of the ingredients they use in products for babies and children. But that’s not always the case.
The Environmental Working Group says that every day the average child is exposed via body care products to 27 chemicals that have not been tested for children. You may find these chemicals in baby soap, body wash, shampoo, lotion, and other personal care products for children. Many of these chemicals have known links to cancer, hormone disruption, brain damage, and allergies.
How safe is your baby soap and baby wash?
Baby soap and baby washes are rinse off products. So you’d think that they’re not an issue, right?
While baby soap and baby wash are “rinse off” products and (ideally) don’t stay on bub’s skin too long, there are other ways by which ingredients in these products can enter the body.
When you give baby a bath, the warm water opens up her pores. If there are toxic ingredients in the baby body wash, they enter the skin faster, your baby’s largest organ.
Aside from that, the warmth of the bath vaporises many chemicals. And your baby breathes them in. Babies and toddlers like to put their hands in their mouths, so it’s easy for them to swallow these ingredients. It also gets in their eyes.
What’s in baby soap and baby wash?
Most baby wash and liquid baby soaps have water acting as the solvent for the other ingredients.
There are emulsifiers that increase the product’s foaming action, make it thicker, and help the oils and water mix properly.
You’ll also find detergents, which do the actual cleaning, and surfactants, which make bubbles.
When the main ingredient is water, it’s a perfect breeding ground for mould and harmful bacteria. Preservatives protect the product and stop it going off.
Finally, there are often fragrances that help the product smell nice (and hide smells from some of the other ingredients).
Ingredients to avoid in baby soap and baby wash
Some ingredients can potentially cause health problems. So read your labels! And avoid baby bath products that contain any of these:
Benzalkonium chloride (also known as BZK, BAC, BKC) – a skin and respiratory irritant. And this chemical can cause severe eye irritation which can be toxic to the immune and nervous systems.
Benzyl alcohol – not good for products used around the mouth. It can cause severe allergic contact dermatitis.
Formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasing chemicals – formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen and can cause leukaemia and various other types of cancer. It’s also a known respiratory toxicant and a potent allergen.
Parabens – are chemicals that can mimic the hormone oestrogen and wreak havoc on the endocrine system. And they can cause developmental disorders, reproductive problems, neurological disorders, and cancer.
Phenoxyethanol – is another potential allergen. When ingested by infants, it can depress the central nervous system and cause respiratory distress and vomiting.
Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) and methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) – MIT is an irritant and allergen that has been banned from leave-on products in the European Union. Also, MCI is a contact allergen.
Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate – formaldehyde releaser that can cause skin and eye irritation even at concentrations lower than 1%.
Diazolidinyl urea – also a formaldehyde releaser. Can cause contact dermatitis.
Emulsifiers and others
PEGs (polyethylene glycols) – can be contaminated with ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen, and 1,4-dioxane, a possible carcinogen. PEGs are penetration enhancers. That means they allow other ingredients to be absorbed more easily through the skin. That’s not a good thing when there are other toxic chemicals in the product.
Propylene glycol – also a penetration enhancer. It’s potentially toxic to the liver and kidneys, can cause mild conjunctivitis, and is a skin irritant.
Dioxane – you won’t find this on labels because it’s a chemical byproduct, not an ingredient. But it’s incredibly common. It was found in 57% of all baby soaps tested by EWG in 2007. 1,4-dioxane is possibly carcinogenic to humans and is toxic to the brain, kidneys, and liver. It’s commonly found in ingredients that end in -eth.
Ceteareth-12 / Ceteareth-20 – more penetration enhancers. May be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane.
Cocamidopropyl betaine – can cause allergic reactions in some people. Was voted Allergen of the Year in 2004 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society.
Cocamide DEA – a common ingredient in “no tears” baby soaps and shampoos. DEA is an allergen and can irritate the skin and mucous membranes. Cocamide DEA has also been linked to organ toxicity and may be contaminated with nitrosamines, most of which are possibly carcinogenic.
Laureth-4 – a skin and eye irritant. May be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane.
Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulphate (SLES) – both can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, and lungs. SLS is a penetration enhancer that breaks down the skin’s moisture barrier. SLES is often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane.
Fragrance, perfume, or parfum – these are catch all terms for potentially dangerous ingredients that companies are not obligated to reveal. Synthetic fragrances have been linked to eczema, allergies, and neurological problems. They can also be drying and irritating to skin.
Phthalates (often found in synthetic fragrances) – endocrine disruptors that can affect sperm health and other reproductive problems.
Synthetic colours and dyes are only there to make the baby bath products look more appealing. They aren’t necessary and they can contain heavy metals and cause allergic reactions.
How to avoid the toxic stuff
With so many natural baby products available these days, there’s really no reason to stick with toxic brands.
I know the sheer number of options can be overwhelming. Doing your own research on which baby soaps and washes are best takes a lot of time. So we’ve done the work for you.
Check out our handpicked selection of baby bath products at Hello Charlie and grab our new Safer Baby Soap & Baby Wash Cheat Sheet.
Walk into any big box baby store and you’ll be overwhelmed by the amount of stuff made from plastic. From baby bottles and sippy cups to high chairs, dummies and baby bath tubs, not to mention all the items packaged in plastic: nappy cream, baby wash, baby lotion, wipes and all that. Is it hard to go plastic free when you have a baby?
Plastic is practically ubiquitous and—unfortunately—is problematic in so many different ways. It’s one of the worst pollutants man has ever made.
To start with, the production of plastic is a dirty, wasteful process. Next, it off-gasses toxic chemicals throughout its lifetime. And when it finally ends up in landfill, it doesn’t biodegrade, which means that every single plastic toy, toothbrush, and bottle cap you ever used is still somewhere out there, sitting underground or floating in the ocean.
You probably already know about BPA (bisphenol-A) in plastics. But do you also know that “BPA free” may not be any better? Experts say that some of the plasticisers that replaced BPA may actually be more dangerous for our children.
Knowing all this, it seems to me that one of the best ways to protect our families—and our planet—is simply to avoid buying plastic whenever possible.
And, yes, that includes when you’re about to welcome a new baby into the family. Trust us, it’s not as hard as it sounds!
Try swapping out common baby items with these nonplastic alternatives:
Did you know that a baby will use about 3,800 disposable nappies in the first 2.5 years of life? And that each disposable nappy can take as long as 500 years to decompose?
Ditch the disposables and use cloth nappies, even if only part time. Brands like Bambino Mio and Pea Pods make lovely one size cloth nappies your bub can wear from day 1 up until potty training time, further reducing your baby’s carbon footprint.
Instead of disposable wet wipes that contain plastic fibres (and come in plastic packaging), use reusable cloth wipes or washcloths. You save money and the environment – and avoid harmful chemicals!
Glass baby bottles
One of the best ways to reduce your baby’s exposure to BPA, phthalates, and other nasties is by using glass bottles instead of plastic ones.
Glass is good because it doesn’t leach at all. Get one with a silicone sleeve to prevent breakage. This one from Cherub Baby has a clever temperature warning sleeve that changes colour when your baby’s milk is too hot.
Safe-T-Bottle makes “the ultimate baby bottle” from shatter and heat shock resistant Tuxan borosilicate glass. Because of its smooth surface, this baby bottle attracts fewer bacteria and is easier to sanitise than plastic bottles.
Stainless steel sippy cups
If, like many of us, you have a kitchen drawer filled with cracked, warped, and leaky plastic sippy cups, it’s time to make the switch to glass or stainless steel. Both of these materials are safer, sturdier, and—let’s face it—look much nicer than plastic.
Make My Day has 3 in 1 sippy cups that convert into 3 different styles (sippy, easy to grip cup, and tumbler) so your child can use them for years. They come in adorable colour combos, are made of high grade 304 stainless steel, and are BPA and phthalate free.
Cherub Baby offers an adaptor pack so your little one can continue using their wide neck glass baby bottles as sippy cups.
Bamboo dishes, bowls & cutlery
These won’t be needed right away, but if you’re already stocking up on baby dinnerware, know that you’re not limited to plastic. Nowadays, there’s an absolute wealth of plastic free brands making children’s plates, bowls, and cutlery from bamboo, glass, and stainless steel. Unlike plastic and melamine, these materials are safe and eco friendly.
Brands like Love Mae and Bobo & Boo make bamboo dishware that are sturdy, easy to clean, completely biodegradable, and super stylish.
Stainless steel food storage
For storing baby food and toddler snacks, swap out your plastic containers with stainless steel. These mini ones from Kids Konserve are the perfect size for tiny servings, are great for travel, and become part of your child’s lunch kit when she starts school. For more stainless steel options, check out Onyx and Ever Eco.
Latex dummies and teethers
Plastic dummies and teethers may contain chemical softeners and artificial colours. Choose 100% rubber latex instead. Hevea and Natural Rubber Soothers make wonderful dummies and teethers that are minimally processed, nitrosamine free, and reasonably priced.
Avoid all plastic toys. From the latest pricey gizmo to the cheap ones you get with fast food kids’ meals, just say no to them all.
Why? First, because plastic toys can contain BPA, phthalates, and even lead. And we all know how much babies and toddlers love to put toys in their mouths! Second, because plastic toys break almost instantly and inevitably wind up in the trash bin. Also, to me, plastic often doesn’t look or feel very nice. And, of course, we know that plastic is very bad for the planet.
Wood, on the other hand, is safe and better for the environment. It’s durable and, with proper care, will last a really long time. If you get a well made piece, your children’s children (and maybe their children) can still enjoy it. And wood is just beautiful to behold and beautiful to the touch.
Your baby can also go plastic free in the bath. These bath toys from Hevea and CaaOcho are 100% natural rubber and completely nontoxic. No need to panic if bub starts chewing on these.
Skincare in glass jars or tins
There are tonnes of natural skincare products available for little ones, but few that come in zero waste packaging. Not only do Badger Balm and Nature’s Child make skincare products that are absolute must haves, they also put them in recyclable glass bottles and tins.
Eco friendly dental care
Check out the bamboo toothbrushes from Go Bamboo and Pearlbar. Jack ‘N Jill Kids also have biodegradable resin toothbrushes for kids. They’re gentle on baby gums and teeth and are light enough for toddlers just learning to brush on their own. Best part? They all have fully biodegradable handles. Put the nylon heads into the bin, and the handles into the compost when you’re done.
Nonplastic first aid
You can even go plastic free in your first aid kit! ‘Bandaids’? No, thanks. These nonplastic adhesive strips from Patch are made with 100% organic bamboo fibre and are BPA free, hypoallergenic, and suitable for all skin types.
More plastic free baby needs
Here’s some more nonplastic items you might find useful:
Have you ever been told that you’re picking your baby up too much? Has a well meaning neighbour or family member pooh-poohed the mother baby attachment and said that you need to put that baby down or you’ll spoil him? Well, science shows that there’s no such thing as holding your baby too much! Let’s talk about the concept of kangaroo care.
What is kangaroo care?
The term was first coined in Colombia in the 1970s by neonatologists Edgar Rey and Hector Martinez. Their wards didn’t have enough incubators for all the sick babies. So they took a page from nature and sent the infants home to be cuddled. The mothers were instructed to hold the babies (in nappies but otherwise bare) upright between their bare breasts. Also, to breastfeed whenever possible.
Especially for newborns, skin to skin contact with their mothers has incredibly beneficial effects, even twenty years later. Research shows that not only do these babies have a better bond with their parents, they were significantly healthier, and showing better brain function. They are even earning higher wages!
The way to healthier, happier babies
The first few months of premature infants’ lives are really rough. They’re isolated in an incubator, poked and prodded, with doctors sticking tubes in them all the time. All this stress can make them less responsive to gentle touch. It seems as though they feel their environments as painful and withdraw.
However, premmies who experienced regular gentle touch, whether from parents or hospital caregivers, were more sensitive to touch and showed improved brain development.
Even as little as one hour a day of skin to skin contact with their mothers led to better sleep, better hormonal responses to stress, and better cognitive function – 10 years later. And it isn’t just mum – dads and babies benefit from cuddle time too!
The sacred hours
The first couple of hours after a baby is born are so important for a new baby. Wherever possible, baby needs a warm welcome to the world. And how better than skin to skin with someone who cares for him?
Newborns (assuming they’re not in urgent need of immediate medical care) should spend their first few hours lying skin to skin on their mothers’ chests. Not only is it calming for both mother and baby, it allows the baby’s breastfeeding instincts to kick in. Newborns will actually find the nipple, latch on and start suckling all by themselves if left in peace to follow their instincts.
So the next time someone tells you that you’re ‘spoiling’ your baby, tell them they don’t know what they’re talking about! All the scientific research supports you and you can cuddle your baby as much as you want.
Looking for more articles about motherhood? You can see our tips on feeding your baby on the first year here.
I met the lovely team behind JAK Organics last year, and they’ve quickly become one of my favourite local brands.
JAK Organics has a ‘no compromise’ ethos, and they’ve done an amazing job in ticking as many eco boxes as possible. Their products are 100% natural, biodegradable, compostable, vegan, and cruelty free. Aside from these, their products contains no GMO, no palm oil, and they use sustainably sourced ingredients and materials.
Plus, their products are also effective and affordable.
JAK Organics is Australian owned, designed, and made. The only products that aren’t made in Australia are the wipes, because of manufacturing limitations.
Recently, I caught up with the team to find out more…
Can you tell me a bit about JAK Organics history?
JAK Organics is made up of 3 sisters (Jemma, Alysha, and Karissa + 1 soulsister Kate, who interchanges nicely being another ‘K’). Having all grown up in the Sherbrooke Forest in Victoria, we have a well developed respect and deep love for nature.
As sisters we were brought up by a health conscious mum. She had an impressive veggie patch and brewed her own kombucha. She taught us everything about the importance of living a life without unnecessary chemicals.
When we were growing up, it was not the ‘in-vogue’ thing to eat a predominately vegan diet, make your own avocado face masks, or almond meal scrubs. Lucky for us we have a mum who put health first! The bonus was clear skin, bright eyes, and shiny hair.
Our dad, being the entrepreneurial type, has always encouraged us to dig deep and follow our dreams. He taught us that there is almost always a way around ‘no’ if you are passionate enough about something. JAK is the perfect avenue for us to follow our passions and cultivate change in the mass chemical populated skincare marketplace.
What inspired you to start JAK Organics?
Our mum’s words of wisdom echoed loudly as we entered the next stages of our lives. When we became mothers we refused to use most commercial products.
However, for the sake of convenience, we succumbed to using commercial baby wipes. From there it was the terrible rashes that followed. The process to recovery is what really spurred us on to create JAK.
We didn’t want to expose our babies to anything that would irritate their skin or compromise their immune system. So we started making our own coconut oil soaked paper towel wipes. They worked. However they were clunky, they ripped easily, were ugly, and hard to travel with. It generally failed in the convenience department.
And because oils and water don’t mix in the natural world, and we wouldn’t compromise on our ‘all natural’ ingredients list. It took the better part of 3 1/2 years perfecting our formulas before releasing them to the marketplace.
Why is natural and organic so important to you?
Mainly because ‘natural and organic’ have always been at the centre of most of our daily choices from a young age. It’s always been really important to us.
Consumers are now so much more aware of the importance of natural products. As a result, it’s putting a great deal of pressure on commercial companies to clean up their act. We couldn’t be happier!
This growing knowledge means that more and more people are making better choices, and supporting manufacturers that are bringing those better choices to you.
What do you use as a preservative?
For our botanical SCRUB, all rounder SOOTHE balm and GLOW wipes, we don’t use any preservatives – it’s just the raw ingredients that make up these three skin treats.
In our other wipes, because they contain water we need to use a preservative. For our BABY, FACE and BODY wipes we use a certified organic preservative combo of potassium sorbate and sodium levulinate. It is important to note that it is the certified organic versions of these preservatives that we use.
We use these preservatives from their originals source: mountain ash berry for organic potassium sorbate and sugarcane cellulose for sodium levulniate. The non organic versions are not naturally occurring, they are synthetically made chemicals.
In our AQUA water wipes we use certified organic preservative of glyceryl caprylate mixed with silver dehydrogen citrate. Unfortunately there’s no certified organic version of this available. However it is non GMO and palm oil free, it’s made from coconuts, and the salts of silver respectively. This preservative combo offers a broad spectrum antimicrobial function so it won’t breed unhealthy bacteria and mould!
Are all your ingredients certified organic?
We use as many certified organic ingredients as possible when we’re making our products.
All the ingredients in our botanical SCRUB, our all rounder SOOTHE balm, and our GLOW wipes are.
Not all the ingredients in our BABY, AQUA, FACE, and BODY wipes are certified organic but we use as many as possible. For instance, our BABY wipes contain 9 out of 13 ingredients that are certified, where as our closest competitors have only 1-3 certified organic ingredients. We are yet to find a pack of wipes that has more certified organic ingredients than ours.
What was the very first item you launched?
Initially we were planning to release our BABY wipes first. However, our FACE wipes were released first due to some manufacturing hurdles. Then SOOTHE and SCRUB came along to create a no fuss but highly effective skincare routine.
From the success of our FACE launch and by popular demand, we were then able to launch our BABY wipes, BODY wipes, GLOW, and AQUA wipes.
We started with a focus on the personal wipes segment because it was a good challenge. There are many barriers to the entry in the marketplace and it was a space that really needed to be shaken up. We wanted to make baby wipes safer, better for the customer, and better for the environment.
Is there a JAK Organics product that is a customer favourite and why?
Our BABY wipes are definitely our most popular due to the amazing skin benefits, good function (great for poos as the oils literally dissolve the stick), and they help reduce nappy rash. But our AQUA and FACE wipes come in at a close second. Our FACE wipes are actually attracting quite a cult following amongst makeup artists, models, and beauty loving eco warriors.
Personally, what product are you most proud of? Do you have a favourite?
Definitely our BABY wipes and our SOOTHE balm due to the countless messages of gratitude for bringing out a product that genuinely helps people in their daily lives. We get so many parents telling us how our wipes have helped cure their babies’ nappy rashes and our SOOTHE has been praised for helping heal customers acne and even lupus reactions. My personal favourite to use however is the BODY wipes. They’re reinvigorating, and moisturising to the skin. And they smell amazing! They are perfect to help us stay fresh in our busy lifestyles.
What’s next for JAK organics?
We have some very exciting product developments coming up that we can’t wait to share with you this summer. We are also always looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint and plastic usage, and are on a constant endeavour to find a biodegradable option for our packaging.
Does your child have trouble falling or staying asleep? Don’t worry, it’s not at all uncommon. Most children will struggle with insomnia at some point in their young lives. Studies indicate that as many as 1 out of 5 will experience insomnia and about half will have some type of sleep issue.
Sufficient restorative sleep is important for growth and overall health. If your child isn’t getting enough, his memory, mental health, and ability to learn and stay focused in school can be affected.
Doctors don’t recommend sleep medications for children (unless absolutely necessary), so it’s a good thing there’s loads of natural sleep remedies to try. Aside from establishing good sleep habits (going to bed at the same time every night, avoiding screens before bedtime, keeping a bedtime routine), here are our favourite natural remedies for insomnia.
Natural Sleep Remedies
It’s always a good idea to have some chamomile around when you have kids. It’s a great herb that treats a variety of ills: colic, colds, headache, irritability, indigestion, and more. It has a mild sedative effect, so if you give your child a cup of chamomile tea before bed, it’ll help ease her into sleep.
Magnesium oil wipes
Studies have found that having insufficient magnesium in the body can lead to a host of issues, including insomnia. Fortunately, you can boost your (and your child’s) magnesium levels with supplements, sprays, and these handy Sleepy Toes Towelettes. Infused with diluted magnesium oil, these are a perfect addition to your child’s bedtime routine. It helps relieve mild anxiety and restlessness, eases growing pains, and promotes restful sleep.
Relaxing bedtime bath
Speaking of bedtime routines, make bedtime baths more soothing by using a body wash with calming essential oils. The Base Collective’s Hair and Body Wash contains the sleep inducing combo of lavender and chamomile, and is infused with magnesium to soothe tired muscles and cramps. Jack N Jill’s Serenity Body Wash uses white cyprus and lavender for relaxation.
Amp up the bath’s relaxing effect with an aromatherapy balm like Badger’s Night Night Balm or The Base Collective’s Baby Balm. Night Night Balm has a sleep promoting blend of lavender, Roman chamomile, sandalwood, mandarin, and spearmint, while Baby Balm contains lavender, chamomile, and magnesium. Both smell divine and will have your child drifting off to sleep in minutes.
If you have a diffuser, add some lavender oil or this Child Calming Remedy blend to induce the zzz’s.
White noise machine or apps
Some children find it easier to sleep with a white noise machine that generates soothing sounds. If you don’t have one, use a fan or an app on your phone. You can also try playing calming nature sounds or instrumental music. Set the mood by dimming the lights half an hour before bedtime, turning off all distractions, and turning on the white noise. This can train your child’s brain into recognising when it’s time to sleep.
Sleep inducing foods
Certain foods support the production of melatonin and tryptophan, both of which are essential to a healthy sleep cycle. Rice, bananas, ginger, porridge oats, radishes, and tomatoes are rich in melatonin while chicken, fish, beans, pulses, eggs, dairy, and sprouted grains are rich in tryptophan. If your child is having trouble sleeping, try to give her these foods at night. But don’t push your child to eat more at dinner, as a heavy meal right before bed will actually make falling asleep more difficult.
Mum should be sleeping well, too
Your sleep habits also have an impact on your family’s well being. A recent study showed that children sleep more poorly if their mums suffer from insomnia symptoms. These children fall asleep later, don’t get enough sleep, and spend less time in the restorative deep sleep stage. Interestingly, whether or not the fathers also experienced insomnia didn’t seem to affect the children’s sleep habits. If you’re dealing with insomnia, we have some natural remedies for adults here.
While sleep problems are common among children and adolescents, chronic insomnia may be related to conditions like ADHD, depression, sleep apnoea, and thyroid disease. If something doesn’t feel right, check with your doctor right away.
Please note: Always consult your doctor before incorporating essential oils, herbs, and supplements into your or your family’s sleep routine.
Have you used a natural remedy to help with your child’s sleep? Let us know what works for you in the comments below.