Cooking with Kids: Easy Recipes to Make for Dinner

Zucchini-Pea-and-Mint-Spaghetti

Cooking with kids? Easy recipes for dinner will get them in the kitchen with you, and polishing off everything on their plate!

You get to bond with your kids and teach them essential life skills at the same time. Start with these easy, but tasty recipe ideas.

Zucchini, Pea and Mint Spaghetti

Zucchini, Pea and Mint Spaghetti

It’s an unusual kid who doesn’t love pasta, so start them off with this simple spaghetti recipe. It’s not the usual red spaghetti as this uses olive oil and a few other ingredients. You children will enjoy making this, plus it’s healthy and absolutely delicious.

Classic Tomato Spaghetti

jamie oliver classic tomato spaghetti
This Classic Tomato Spaghetti from Jamie Oliver might be simple to make, but the flavours are amazing, especially if you use good, ripe tomatoes. It’s a great way introduce pasta to your kids, because it’s so quick and easy. For very young children, get them to sprinkle the basil and grated cheese on top and watch it melt.

Fish Cake Fingers

Fish Cake Fingers

Get your kids cooking and get some brain food into them with these yummy fish cake fingers. It’s also a great way to develop your children’s mashing, flaking and rolling skills.

Sloppy Joe Sliders

Sloppy Joe Sliders

This sloppy joe sliders recipe is great for little hands to help with, and it’s packed with flavours that the whole family will love. Kids will have lots of fun assembling the sliders.

Potato Gnocchi Pasta

Potato Gnocchi Pasta

If you’re not Italian, and you want to try something new with the kids in the kitchen, try making these Italian Potato Gnocchi Pasta. These gnocchi are very easy to make with just three ingredients, and kids will have heaps of fun kneading, shaping and rolling the gnocchi.

Fresh Corn Cakes with Summer Salsa

Fresh Corn Cakes with Summer Salsa
Fresh Corn Cakes with Summer Salsa

These colourful and tasty fresh corn cakes are healthy and quick to make. Your children can help you mix the ingredients to create a batter. Then ask them to top the cakes with the colourful salsa.

Mini Pizza Bites

Mini Pizza Bites
Mini Pizza Bites

Kids will love making and eating these mini pizza bites. Not only are they cute and delicious, they are also very easy to make. It’s an excellent way to start your children learning how to knead dough and assemble ingredients one by one.

Baked Crunchy Honey Cornflake Chicken

Baked Crunchy Honey Cornflake Chicken
Baked Crunchy Honey Cornflake Chicken

These chicken tenders coated with corn flakes will be your children’s new favourite. They are quick and easy to make, so simple that the kids should be able to do them without much supervision.

Zucchini Pizza Boats

Zucchini Pizza Boats
Zucchini Pizza Boats

Your children will absolutely love making these zucchini pizza boats. They look good, and they’re a healthy alternative to standard pizzas. It’s a great way to incorporate play with cooking.

Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Fritters
Zucchini Fritters

If your kids are reluctant vegetable eaters, try them with these zucchini fritters. Ask the kids to help mix the ingredients, beat the eggs and add cheese. Kids are often more inclined to try things that they’ve made themselves, and they’re so yummy that the taste will have them coming back for more.

Paprika Beef Taco Cups

Paprika Beef Taco Cups

Cute and delicious, I reckon that kids will love to help make and eat these paprika beef taco cups. Who doesn’t love dinner in a cup?

Golden Frittata

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Golden frittatas are an easy weeknight meal that the kids will be able to help with easily. There’s lots of protein and veg, so serve it with a salad for a light and easy dinner.

Homemade Alphabet Soup

Homemade Alphabet Soup
Homemade Alphabet Soup

This simple homemade soup would be great to cook with little ones. Lovely and warming for a cooler day, and kids will love it even more if you use alphabet pasta!

Chicken Wraps

Chicken Wraps
These chicken wraps are tasty and fun to make, and they may even convince kids that they like salad! If that’s really not going to happen, it’s easy for kids to leave out the stuff they don’t like and fill the wraps stuff they do like.

Stuffed Jacket Potatoes

Stuffed Jacket Potatoes
Stuffed Jacket Potatoes

Simple, cheap and tasty, stuffed jacket potatoes are fun for kids to make, too. They’ll love assembling and stuffing each jacket potato.

Rainbow Veggie Flatbread Pizza

Rainbow Veggie Flatbread Pizza
Rainbow Veggie Flatbread Pizza

These colourful and yummy veggie flatbread pizza is sure to be a hit with kids. They’ll love creating a rainbow with veggie toppings, and they’ll be getting most of their daily vegetables in one hit!

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Cooking with Kids: Easy Recipes to Make for Dinner

 

 

 

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

Here’s An Easy Peasy Skincare Regime For Teens and Tweens

teen skincare routine

Ah, puberty! That period when you’re starting to really care about how you look – only for your hormones to begin wreaking havoc on your skin. For some teens, pimples are few and far between. For others, they’re painful and constant and life altering. Here’s are some tips on skincare regime for teens and tweens.

Get your teen into good skincare habits by using natural products. We’ve got some some natural skincare regimes for teens and tweens that can help at this time of change.

skincare regime for teens and tweens

If you dealt with breakouts and other skin issues at this age, then you know how much of a toll it can take on your self confidence. This is why it’s important to help your teen or tween develop a good natural skin care regime instead of working to fix skin issues later on.

Natural skincare regime for teens and tweens

Not all teens will appreciate the importance of skincare at this point, but try to start them young nonetheless. A good skincare regime is quite simple, really: just cleanse, tone, and moisturise. Sun protection is a must for daytime. Spot treat when necessary. Exfoliate or apply a mask once a week or whenever skin feels particularly dry.

We recommend:

When I was a teenager, we didn’t give much thought to the ingredients in our skincare products. Fortunately, times have changed and we’ve become more aware of the chemicals in mainstream skincare. For teens and tweens, choose natural skincare products with as few ingredients as possible.

Facial wash

808 Dude Zit Free Face Wash for a good teen skincare routine
808 Dude Zit Free Face Wash

A mild facial cleanser is all that’s needed to get rid of dirt, sweat, and excess sebum that can clog pores. Make sure your teen uses this twice a day: in the morning to get rid of oil that have accumulated overnight and before bed to get rid of makeup and other debris from the day.

A common mistake is scrubbing too much and trying to remove every trace of oil. Remind your teen not to overdo it, as doing so will only have her skin overcompensating by pumping out more oil. At this age, even face washing can be a chore. Two good alternatives are micellar water, which requires no water and no sudsing, and makeup remover wipes, which are a good option for lazy days and when on the go.

Here are some of our facial wash recommendations; 808 Dude Zit Free Face Wash, Acure Brilliantly Brightening Micellar Water, Acure Incredibly Clear Acne Towelettes, and one of the favourites, Lavera’s Cleansing Gel.

Or she could try a solid cleansing bar, like the charcoal one from The Australian Natural Soap Company.

Toner

Toner rebalances skin’s pH after cleansing. Go with an alcohol free toner, which won’t damage young skin’s natural moisture barrier. Here are some alcohol free toners your teen can use; Harmoni’s Kiss Toner Passionflower & Rose and Zkin Organics Clear Skin Toner.

Moisturiser

Harmoni's Kiss for a good teen skincare routine
Harmoni’s Kiss

Another common mistake is thinking that when skin is already oily, moisturiser is no longer needed. Young skin needs water though, not more oil, so go with an oil free, water based moisturiser.

This one from Harmoni’s Kiss is lightweight and calms breakouts with a blend of lavender, mandarin, and ylang ylang essential oils. Unless your teen’s skin is extremely dry, moisturiser can be limited to daytime so skin can ‘breathe’ overnight. 

Another good one is the Acure Incredibly Clear Mattifying Moisturiser. The lightweight formula helps control sebum production, and helps to rejuvenate damaged skin.

Acne treatment

Weleda Aknedoron Cleansing Lotion
Weleda Aknedoron Cleansing Lotion

Covering up spots with globs of makeup isn’t the right way to get rid of them. Neither is trying to scrub them away with abrasive scrubs, which will only irritate already inflamed skin.

If your teenager is dealing with acne, skip the harsh scrubs and astringent toners. Instead, look for products with natural chemical exfoliants like salicylic acid, lactic acid, and glycolic acid. A good example would is Lavera’s 3 in 1 Wash Scrub Mask.

For when the odd pimple pops out, dab on a spot treatment like the Acure Incredibly Clear Acne Spot or 808 Dude Clear Skin Spot Free Gel. The Necessity Zit Stick is a go to for those suffering from congested skin. It’s an easy to use solution that uses a blend of antibacterial essential oils to flatten spots and help prevent scarring.

Necessity Zit Stick
Necessity Zit Stick

Facial mask

Once a week, use a mask to buff away dead skin buildup and draw out impurities. A good one can also help dry out existing blemishes and keep new ones from popping out. Try Redmond’s Bentonite Clay Healing Clay.

Redmond Bentonite Clay Healing Clay
Redmond Bentonite Clay Healing Clay

Sunscreen

Most of the wrinkles that will appear on your child’s face later in life are from sun exposure she gets in the teenage years. Get your teens or tweens into the habit of sun protection. Remind them to use sunscreen or a moisturiser with SPF every day, even if they’ll only be in class all day.

Wotnot Sunscreen for Face
Wotnot Sunscreen for Face

The trick to getting young ones to slather on sunscreen is to get one that feels nice on the skin. If it’s too greasy or sticky or heavy, you’ll have to nag them every day to apply it. One of our favourite sunscreens is the Wotnot Face Sunscreen. It’s lightweight, non comedogenic (won’t clog pores), and is perfect for using as a primer under makeup. But the best part is that it’s zinc oxide based. Aside from offering good sun protection, zinc oxide calms inflammation and dries out pimples.

You can also try Simple As That Sunscreen.

That’s basically all natural skincare regime for teens and tweens, to get them started. Remember to keep it simple and to stick with products that are formulated with good ingredients, and for sensitive skin. Apart from the above, it’s also worth looking into natural nail care, lip care (highly recommend Hurraw!), period care, and hair care (greasy hair can lead to clogged pores and acne).

What natural skincare products have your teens found useful? Share below!

Image credits: 808 Dude, Harmoni’s Kiss, Weleda, Necessity, Redmond, and Wotnot

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Here’s An Easy Peasy Skincare Regime For Teens and Tweens

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

What Are Hormone Disruptors (And How Do You Avoid Them)?

hormone disruptors

Hormone disrupting chemicals are all around us. They can be in the air we breathe. You’ll find them in the skincare you use. They’re even in the food that we eat.

So what exactly are hormone disruptors, and what are they doing to our bodies?

What are hormone disruptors and how do they work?

Hormone disruptors (also called endocrine disruptors or EDs in the scientific literature), are chemicals that act on your hormonal system. They usually work in one of three ways:

  • Fool the body into thinking that they’re naturally occurring hormones. Some examples are:
    • Oestrogens (the female sex hormone)
    • Androgens (the male sex hormone)
    • Thyroid hormones, which control your energy levels and affect many other systems in the body
  • Block the natural flow of hormones
  • Interfere with the way your body makes its own hormones. They might affect the liver or other organs that regulate your system.

Endocrine disruptors can have long term, even permanent effects. A foetus is especially vulnerable, because this is a time of such rapid development. Research has shown that early environmental exposures in utero can cause chronic diseases and disorders during adulthood. It’s also possible for these genetic changes to be passed on to subsequent generations.

Hormone disruptors can cause cancer and infertility in men and women. They may be linked to early puberty in children, as well as other problems.

However, researching the effects of hormone disruptors is difficult. Different dosages, different environmental factors, how old you are when you’re exposed, how long it takes for effects to appear after exposure. All of these factors make research extremely complicated.

hormone disruptors

Common hormone disruptors

Many commercial household products contain endocrine disruptors. Food and drink packaging can contain endocrine disruptors. And of course, there are hormone disruptors in polluted air and can affect you through skin contact.

So what are the some of the common chemicals linked to hormone disruption?

Phthalates

Phthalates make plastics more flexible. They’re in many products, not just plastics and vinyl. Personal care products with solvents can have them too (especially fragrances). They’re known to cause fertility problems in males. They’re also toxic to the liver, kidneys, thyroid and immune system.

BPA (Bisphenol A)

Polycarbonate plastic (recycle numbers 3 and 7) have BPA. A 2004 study done in the USA found BPA in the urine of 93% of the 2,517 people studied. Some were as young as six years old. BPA usually makes its way into the body when you heat up your food or drink in a container that uses BPA in the plastic. Acidic food (like tomato sauce) can cause the BPA to leach into your food. Some dental sealers and composites contain it as well.

And it’s not just BPA. As consumers have become aware that BPA is an issues, manufacturers have been switching to alternative Bisphenols, like BPS. They then proclaim that their product is “BPA free” but neglect to mention the BPS!

Get to know your plastics, and choose safer plastics, or avoid plastic altogether where you can.

Heavy metals

We all know that lead and mercury are highly toxic, partly because of their effects on the hormonal system. Other heavy metals, such as cadmium, lead and nickel can also cause major problems. You might think that this problem has been solved, but a 2017 study found unacceptably high levels of lead and nickel in coffee pods. Some even contain low levels of phthalates for a double whammy.

Parabens

Some skin and body care products use parabens as preservatives. They’re easily absorbed through the skin and can mimic oestrogen in the body. When you’re reading labels, avoid ingredients ending in ‘paraben’, such as methylparaben, proplyparaben, and isopropylparaben.

Flame retardants

Flame retardants are full of toxic chemicals. Brominated flame retardants affect the thyroid and may also interfere with the oestrogen system.

Pesticides and insecticides

There are around 105 pesticides that are also endocrine disruptors. Even old ones that aren’t in use anymore, such as DDT, still hang around the environment affecting wildlife. In humans they can cause male infertility and breast and prostate cancers, among other problems.

What you can do

It’s easy to read scaremongering articles and decide that everything is toxic and there’s nothing you can do to protect yourself and your family. However, there are some simple steps you can take that will greatly reduce your exposure.

Wash your hands

Wash your hands frequently, especially before you eat. Teach your children to wash their hands properly (rub soap over them for at least 20 seconds and then rinse thoroughly). If you live in a big city, wash your hands as soon as you come home. This simple step will wash many contaminants down the drain. Just avoid anti bacterial soaps, which don’t really help and can be toxic.

Avoid fragrances

When you’re choosing soap, go for the unscented version or choose products scented with essential oils. Most synthetic fragrances contain phthalates. And you never know which ones, because fragrance ingredients are trade secrets. Companies don’t have to disclose them.

You can keep your house fresh by opening windows for extra ventilation and emptying the rubbish often. (Keep an eye out for scented garbage bags and the like too.) When you go to get your car cleaned, ask them not to give it that ‘new car smell’. Or better still, clean it yourself using natural products and essential oils if you want a scent.

Dust and vacuum often

Flame retardants can be found in a lot of furniture and electronics, and even baby products. It’s often shed as dust that accumulates in your house.

Get a vacuum with a HEPA filter, and dust regularly with a damp cloth, to minimise your family’s contact with this stuff.

For further reading, check out our ‘detox your home’ series of articles.

Steer clear of plastics

Store your food and drink in glass and stainless steel containers. If you can’t swap all your plastic containers right now, that’s okay. Just don’t use them to store fatty or acid food, don’t put hot food in them, and never ever microwave them.

Protect your food with reusable beeswax coated cloth wraps or the wonderful Agreena silicone wraps. If you’re taking your lunch, put your sandwich in a reusable lunch bag instead of plastic.

Be cautious about cans

Many cans are lined with BPA to stop them from corroding. Sometimes new chemicals are used instead, which might not be any safer. Look for glass jars instead, or cans that are BPA free. Or if possible, avoid cans altogether and go with fresh or dried.

Watch what you eat

Some foods, like soy, contain phytoestrogens, which are natural plant compounds that are weak estrogen mimics. More research needs to be done to determine whether this is a problem. In the meantime, eat a good diet. Eat whole foods, not processed foods.

Buy organic vegetables as much as you can to avoid pesticide residues. If you don’t have access to organic vegetables, then try to get vegetables with least pesticides. (It’ll be better for the environment too.) Go for the ‘Clean 15’ – avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbages, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, mangoes, eggplants, honeydew melons, kiwis, cantaloupes, cauliflower, and broccoli. And choose ‘spray free’ wherever you can.

Use green cleaners

Look for safe laundry detergents and household cleaners. Baking soda and vinegar do a great job cleaning up stains and messes. Many commercial products don’t list the ingredients, so you never know what’s in them. In addition to exposure through skin contact, these products can pollute the air inside your home as well.

Want to avoid toxic chemicals from your family and home? Read more of our articles on Natural Home.

Main image credit: Deposit Photos

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What Are Hormone Disruptors (And How Do You Avoid Them)?

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

Natural Teething Remedies for Your Baby

natual teething remedies

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.

natural 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.)

Which teeth come in first?

There are always outliers, but, in general, babies’ teeth come in this order:

  • 5–7 months: bottom incisors (bottom front teeth)
  • 6–8 months: top incisors (top front teeth)
  • 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).

Teething symptoms

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.

Apple Park Farm Buddies Organic Blankie
Apple Park Farm Buddies Organic Blankie

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.

Boon Gnaw Teething Tether
Boon Gnaw Teething Tether

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.

Want to know more about natural teething remedies? You can also read Guide to Safe and Natural Teething Remedies for Baby . 

 

Main image credit: Deposit Photos

Other image credits: Boon and Apple Park

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Natural Teething Remedies for Your Baby

How to Raise Kids with Gender Equality in Mind?

Kids with gender equality in mind

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.

Kids with gender equality in mind

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.)

Gender is the social construction placed upon your sex. It’s how your society tells you that you should act, feel and think based on your sex. You can easily see how gender roles have changed throughout history and from country to country. For instance, if you’ve ever read Homer’s Iliad, he talks about how Achilles, one of the greatest heroes of ancient Greece, wept and grieved over the death of his friend Patroclus. Nowadays, ‘boys don’t cry’.

What does it mean to be male or female?

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.

Gender and sex

via GIPHY

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.

Gender equality

In Australia, men earn an average of 16.2% 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.

raise sons like daughters gender equality quote

Some ideas for raising children to accept gender equality

Start early

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:

Colin and Lee Carrot and Pea by Morag Hood

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.

Worm Loves Worm by J J Austrian

When a worm meets a special worm and they fall in love, you know what happens next: They get married! But their friends want to know-who will wear the dress? And who will wear the tux?

The answer is: It doesn’t matter. Because worm loves worm.

10,000 dresses by Marcus Ewart

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.

And Tango Makes Three: by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Roy and Silo are just like the other penguin couples at the zoo – they bow to each other, walk together and swim together. But Roy and Silo are a little bit different – they’re both boys.

Then, one day, when Mr. Gramzay the zookeeper finds them trying to hatch a stone, he realises that it may be time for Roy and Silo to become parents for real.

Red: A crayon’s story: by Michael Hall

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

 

Main image credit: Pixabay

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