Category Archives: Uncategorized

Help remove toxins from car seats

One of my most popular blog posts is about finding a non-toxic car seat.  It’s something all of us want.  A safe car seat with toxins.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel, a real chance that flame retardants could be removed from car seats.  There are studies showing they are not helpful in real world car fires.  There is recent legislation, H.R. 5359, that would allow car seats to meet a smolder test instead of an open flame test.  This would allow car seat companies to make car seats without chemical flame retardants (which many have said they would like to do but can’t currently do while meeting our current, outdated flammability standards).

Please support my change.org petition.  This will raise awareness of H.R. 5359.  Please sign and share with everyone you know!  Our children need this change – no more flame retardants in their car seats.

 

 

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Organic food for cheaper…

I’m pretty hard core about eating organic food.   I eat 100% organic (well maybe 99%).   Sometimes I buy deli food from my local co-op and it isn’t always 100% organic – but usually at least 95%.

I’ve looked for ways to decrease our shopping bill because when you buy quality, organic food it can get expensive!  We have a fantastic local co-op where I live and I pretty much exclusively shop there when I go out.  Super occasionally we go to Costco and buy the few organic items they have there.  Of course, I love our local farmer’s markets and go there as much as possible as well.

In addition to organic I also really care about where my food comes from.  My priority is both local and organic.  I refuse to buy organic if it is from China or Mexico.  I worry about if controls are actually happening there (is it really being grown organically) as well as the quality of the soil (lead and other heavy metals).  So I’m pretty picky 😉

When I’m not going to a store, there are two places online that I like buying from:

The first is Thrive Market.  I decided to finally try Thrive about a year ago.  I was hesitant at first because I didn’t know how much I would save.  When I started my trial membership, I saved quite a bit of money.  After the trial ends, there is an annual membership of $60/ year.  I decided to pay for the annual membership and see if I saved at least $60.  Within 6 months I had saved at least triple that amount.  I’m able to find products significantly cheaper than I can in my local grocery store.  With two young kids I’m also a big fan of having food delivered to my door step.  Thrive has become my go-to favorite place to stock up on foods that I love!  It’s like Costco for organic foods.  You pay a membership fee and get organic foods for less.  If you spend more than $49, then shipping is free.   It’s easy to stock up and get to $49.

The second store I love is Azure Standard.  Azure Standard is a bit unique.  You can have items shipped and you pay shipping OR you can find a drop point near you.  A drop point is usually at someone’s house who has asked Azure to be a site coordinator.  A semi-truck delivers food to the site coordinator’s house.  Each person’s order is in boxes.  I just show up and look for the boxes with my name on it and pick it up.  They have set delivery days.  Again, similar with Thrive, Azure has cut out the middle man and passes savings on to you.   Azure has a lot of bulk organic foods as well a fresh fruits and vegetables at a great deal.

Happy organic shopping!

 

Disclaimer:  I use affiliate links at times. It doesn’t cost you any more but does help support my time running my blog and this page. Other affiliate links might get you a discount which is a win, win! I appreciate you supporting my links as a way to help me offset my time by bringing info to you. I will never be swayed financially, and I will only post products and companies that I would, and do, personally use for my family.

 

 

Closed Facebook Group

I’ve just created a closed Facebook group as a way the Natural Baby Mama community can discuss non-toxic items.  Whether you are wanting to know what car seat to buy, questioning non-toxic baby items or items for you or your home, this is will be a great resource and open line of communication.  Please like the Natural Baby Mama Facebook page and join the closed group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/223493848003000/?hc_location=ufi.

I’m looking forward to interacting with you more in the closed group!

 

 

Back on the saddle

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged.  A lot has happened in our lives and I just needed to take a break.  We welcomed our second baby to our family.  He is the sweetest.  We also moved and did a remodel.

I had grand intensions of blogging again when I was pregnant but I was too tired and felt too sick to devote any energy to anything other than making it through the day.

Then we found a house we loved.  We did some work to it and then moved.  Moving with 2 young kids is not for the faint of heart!

I have so many blog posts to share with you all.  I am also going to go back through and update posts – including the car seat post!  I’ll also be updating links because I know some products don’t exist anymore and some links are not working.

I’m looking forward to connecting with you all again!

Testing my stuff for lead

I feel so lucky to have had Tamera from Lead Safe America come to my house and test my stuff for lead.  We live in an old brick tutor built in 1929.  We have the “desirable” leaded glass windows.  They are beautiful.  I would have never bought this house if we already had a child.  Actually I never even thought about the windows being toxic when we bought.  I just thought they were really pretty.  I stress about our windows on an almost daily basis and have had my son’s lead level’s checked 3 times in his 2 1/2 year life.  Each time the reading has been below 1.  After Tamera’s visit and finding out that some areas of our windows are 50% lead and creating lead dust on the window sill he likes to sit on I’m testing him again this week.  Lead is scary stuff and not to be messed around with.  We also have lead paint on the outside of our house (lucky for us we only have trim that’s painted since we are in a brick house).  Pretty much every old house has lead paint on the outside.  Ours is pealing, I’m too afraid to address it so I’ve put a thick primer over our outside deck to try and seal it in.  No scraping or trying to make things look pretty which is recommended when young children live in a house with lead paint.  Long story short, I wanted Tamera to come check out my house and all the stuff in it.  She spent a lot of time with us which I am so grateful for.  You can follow her, and the movie she is producing, on Facebook at Mislead: America’s Secret Epidemic.

We tested a lot of things but I’ll just post things that will apply to most people.  I’m guessing it’s not that exciting to see what the readings on my walls, outside and windows were to anyone other than my family 🙂

90 ppm lead is considered safe by our government.  I think it should be zero but this is what children’s products are suppose to keep things under.  Keep 90 ppm in your mind when you are going through these things.

Everything listed below was tested by Tamara and her $40,000 Nikon XRF analyzer that Nikon donated to her.  It’s the best piece of equipment out their to test for lead and other heavy metals.

Toys:

  • My Grimm’s toys tested clean, no lead or other heavy metals.
  • All my Plan Toys tested clean EXCEPT 1 blue excavator which had 22 ppm lead in the blue paint.
  • My Ostheimer figures tested clean with no heavy metals.
  • I did a small random sampling of wooden Etsy toys that were finished with beeswax and organic oil but with no paint, all were clean with no heavy metals.
  • Wooden doll stroller from Nova Naturals.  I had this tested because linseed oil can contain heavy metals.  I drilled the company before buying this and even talked to the manufacturer of the linseed oil.  I was told no heavy metals… and they were right.  There was no lead of any other heavy metals in the doll stroller.
  • That’s what my toys consist of so I didn’t test anything else except 2 beach sets.  Glueckskaefer wooden and painted metal beach set and gardening tools came up clean.  Spielstabil (owned by Haba) plastic beach set tested clean.  Tamera has tested Green Toys and they always come up clean too.

Bikes, trikes, and ride on toys:

  • Kettler trike (made in Germany):  Everything on the trike came up with no heavy metals except the tires.  They tested at 299 ppm lead.
  • Used / old Radio Flyer wood scooter with red rubber type handles probably from the early 90’s.  The red handles had 358 ppm lead.  Everything else on the ride on tested for no heavy metals.
  • Used Radio Flyer wood ride in car from the late 90’s or early 2000’s.  Everything tested negative for heavy metals.
  • Kettler (made in Germany) scooter didn’t have any heavy metals.  I bought this one used.  Ketter no longer makes any of their scooters in Germany, they are all made in China now.  They still make their trikes in Germany though.
  • Ride in pedal fire truck.  This was handed down to us but I wasn’t 100% comfortable with it knowing it was made in China.  No heavy metals were found.
  • Wooden balance bike (Pedobike) made in Germany.  No heavy metals.

Baby Stuff:

  • Baby Bjorn Baby Sitter chair – clear of any heavy metals
  • Chicco car seat – no lead or other heavy metals

Shoes:

  • Soft Star shoes came up with no lead or other heavy metals – yay!
  • Bobux, claiming to be non-toxic and use no lead – uppers tested clean and the soles on both pairs we have tested between 130 & 155 ppm lead.  I tested the Bobux Step Up shoes and it was the rubber soles that tested for lead not the leather.  At first we thought maybe my son had walked through lead dust (which could be possible) but then we tested the soles of his Soft Star shoes and there was no lead.  It’s Bobux not dust.
  • We bought used Western Chief rubber boots for my son.  The mom I bought them from said she bought them 3 years ago (so they are 4 years old).  I knew Western Chief was made in China but they use natural rubber vs synthetic so I thought they would be safe – wrong!  Boots were 1,600 ppm lead and the soles were 3,481 ppm lead.  Tamera said never buy used rain boots.  They have had a lot of recalls in the past few years on rubber boots.
  • My husband’s Nike Frees tested free of any heavy metals.  Doesn’t mean they are non-toxic though.  Nike’s clothes use toxic chemicals and I’ve been questioning these shoes.
  • My converse tested clean (owned by Nike).
  • My Aigile rubber boots – the uppers were clean and the soles had a lead level of 92ppm.  I bought Aigile boots because I thought, and they claim, to be made in Europe in addition to being non-toxic.  After wearing them a few times I noticed a Made in China stamp.  I was so mad, called the company and they said only a very few are made in China – right!
  • I went out and bought some shoes to test.  These companies claim to be non-toxic and lead free.  They are all made in China which is the one thing I try and avoid.  However there are very few companies that don’t make shoes in China (one of which being Soft Star).  Umi and BOGS are owned by the same company who said that they randomly test their shoes once a month to make sure they are heavy metal free.  They promised no lead.  The other is Keen who says they are non-toxic as well.  Obviously these were just testing for heavy metals not other toxic materials used to make shoes like formaldehyde or chromium in leather.
    • BOGS tested positive for lead 209-222 ppm lead.  So very disappointing!
    • Umi tested clean (canvas shoe).
    • Keens both pairs tested clean (a canvas and leather shoe).

Strollers:

Both the BOB and the Mountain Buggy tested clear for lead or other heavy metals.  I was very happy that my BOB didn’t have lead in the stroller since I found out the Prop 65 label is on the BOB when you buy it.  I didn’t notice it when I bought mine but I also didn’t know to look for it or what it even meant when we bought our Bob.

Antiques:

I love antiques, I love the history, I love not going out and buying new furniture and I love the look.  It turns out most antiques have lead (and I’m talking about non-painted, wood furniture).  We have a wood secretary that tested for 324 ppm lead.  I was so surprised.  Tamera said that whatever use to be used to finish wood contained some lead.  She said putting another finish on antiques would seal that in and make it safe.  Separately she tested the wood trim in our house (which was built in 1929) and it had low levels of lead – around 51 ppm.

Things with cords:

Cords can, and do, contain lead because of PVC used.  I had a few things that used cords tested.

  • My first thought was our Dyson vacuum.  I mean the cord gets dragged all around the house.  The Dyson cord tested for no heavy metals.  I was really happy!
  • Our air purifiers have cords that my son sometimes touches.  Both our Austin Air and our IQ Air tested for no heavy metals in the cords or the unit itself.

Other items:

  • We have two bedside lamps we bought at Pottery Barn.  The base had lead levels of 915 ppm and the shade had no heavy metals.
  • We have a bride and groom rubber duck (random, I know).  The groom had no heavy metals and the bride have levels between 1,053 and 1,101 of lead on her.
  • My husband has an old post hole digger from his dad in our garage.  It has 10,000 ppm of lead in the red paint (that is chipping off).
  • Kate Spade leather / fake leather (not sure what it is actually made of) purse had 67 ppm lead.

Kitchen:

  • Crockpot had a lead level of 56ppm.
  • We bought a salsa bowl when we were in Mexico and it had a lead level of 11,300 ppm.  Lesson learned don’t buy pottery from Mexico.  Tomatoes are so acidic that for sure lead was leaching out of them!
  • We bought several pieces of pottery when we were in Costa Rica and no heavy metals were found – yay!
  • Le Creuset
    • We have a very large blue soup pot that tested for no heavy metals on the inside and 63ppm of cadmium on the outside.
    • Red cast iron roasting dish with 12,800 cadmium on the outside.
    • Blue roasting dish – no lead, trace amounts of cadmium on outside.
    • Blue pot (smaller than the first one above) with no heavy metals.
    • Red loaf pan – 100 ppm lead on inside, 29,000 ppm cadmium on the red outside, 153 ppm lead on the bottom.  Really disappointing.  The lead on the inside and cadmium on the outside is a double negative for this loaf pan.
    • My lesson is that red generally contains cadmium which is a toxic heavy metal.  Opt for other colors.  Everything blue tested for no or very low cadmium.
  • Emilie Henry red ceramic loaf pan – 417 ppm lead on inside, 495 ppm cadmium on the red outside, 342 ppm barium.  I was disappointed that there is lead inside this loaf pan.
  • OXO brand ice cream scoop, metal, about 5-7 years old.  The flat scoop part had 944 ppm of lead – yikes!
  • Lenox China – no lead (yay!) but some small amounts of barium.
  • Denby dishware, pattern called white trace – no heavy metals.
  • Stainless lemon squeezer – no heavy metals.
  • Crate & Barrel white asparagus plate – 18,200 ppm of lead.
  • Ice cream maker – 76 ppm lead.
  • Ridel wine glasses – 300,000 ppm of lead!!!  That’s 30% lead and no these are not leaded crystal.  These were $20 per glass.  Ridel also sells more expensive wine glasses and the lead content is similar per Tamera.  Tamera said that lead leaches out of the glass at this level within an hour.   You better drink your wine like a shot out of these glasses 🙂
  • Vintage blue glass mason jar – the jar had no heavy metals but the vintage lid had 861 ppm lead and 1,537 ppm cadmium.
  • Weck glass canning jars – 142ppm of lead.  This made me really sad.  We moved over to Weck after learning that Ball Mason jar lids had BPA in them.  At that time they didn’t have the non-BPA lids available.  For whatever it’s worth, the talk is that the BPA alternatives aren’t good either but it’s the better of the these two options.
  • Anchor Hocking glassware (glasses, bowls ,plates) no heavy metals.

That’s my list!  I learned a lot and some were very surprising to me.  I am going to be making some changes in my future purchases.  From everything Tamara has tested Anchor Hocking and Pyrex seem to come up with no heavy metals.  From here on out I will be buying these brands.  It’s frustrating when you think you are buying quality products that are non-toxic only to find out they are.  Now I just wish I had one of these XRF analyzers to go shopping with me 🙂  If you want to learn more about lead, the issues it causes, and how to help support Tamara’s film please check out her Facebook page MisLead.

 

Why I buy an organic Christmas Tree (and lead free Christmas lights)

When I first read about organic Christmas trees I thought you have got to be kidding me.  Then I realized that most Christmas trees are sprayed with pesticides and potentially other toxic chemicals.  We bring the trees into our homes and our kids help us decorate the trees, we put their presents under the tree, etc.  A lot of us are trying to lead a non-toxic lifestyle, buying non-toxic toys, eating organic but one big way of keeping chemicals out of your house during the Christmas season is to buy an organic tree.  Here is a list of organic Christmas tree farms in different states.  You can also do a search specific to your area.  We found a great, small tree farm run by a really nice family that doesn’t use any pesticides (they were not on the list above).  They aren’t certified organic but they never spray their trees with anything.  We have made it a yearly tradition to buy our tree from them and it is the same price if not a little cheaper than the lots or bigger farms nearby.  If you aren’t a fan of buying a tree each year then consider buying a live tree.  Since writing this last year I did a post on organic, no spray, sustainable Christmas Trees in Washington State (so if you live in the state take a look at the list of tree farms).

I highly recommend staying away from artificial trees.  Most artificial trees are made with PVC which is a toxic substance.  Most PVC also contains lead (lead is a stabilizer in PVC).  Lead is extremely dangerous for kids to be exposed to.  It’s best to stay away from artificial trees all together.

Christmas lights also typically contain lead.  Environmental Lights makes lead free Christmas lights.  The lights are much more expensive than traditional lights but in my mind it is worth it.  Nothing like stringing lights on your tree that have lead on them.  If you aren’t able to purchase lead free lights then make sure you wash your hands after touching them and do not let children touch them.  I’ve read that possibly IKEA’s Christmas lights are lower in lead (not lead free) than most other brands (I never researched it any further than what I read).  The rational is that IKEA’s lights are also sold in Europe with stricter standards on lead than we have here in the US.

I hope you have a safe, toxin free Christmas!

Lead in Halloween Costumes?

Last year there was a report that a shipment of Halloween costumes coming from China to a port in Seattle contained 10 times the legal amount of lead.  I’m just going to ignore the part that there is a legal amount of lead allowed in Halloween costumes for this post (I think the legal amount should be zero).  There were 1,371 costumes that ended up being destroyed.  You can read more details in the King 5 article from 2012.  I would guess that this didn’t happen to be the only shipment that came in across the country with high levels of lead.  This is why I do not buy things from China.

What can you do to keep your children safe?  Here are the top things I would do:

– Don’t buy costumes made in China.

– Don’t buy used or wear hand-me-downs that you don’t know where they were made.  If they were made in China or don’t have tags then I wouldn’t buy it.

– Look for costumes made in the USA, Canada, or Europe.

– A great place to buy costumes is Etsy.  There are so many really cute options that someone would hand make for you.

– Break out your sewing machine and make one yourself.  I have committed to doing this for my son.  I mean there are some really cute costumes out there.  I’m pretty sure I can’t make one equally as cute but there is something special about making your child their costume.  I don’t really sew.  I was given a sewing machine by my step-mom years ago and I used it, for the first time in years, to make my son’s costume last year.  I’m telling you all this so you don’t immediately discount making your own!

So now that you have the costume down, what about face paint? 

Yep, it can contain lead too.  This study is a bit old (2009) but I don’t believe anything has changed with the regulations.  This report tested that 10 out of 10 children’s face paints contained low levels of lead and other heavy metals.  What do they suggest you do?  Find a costume that doesn’t require face paint or make your own using food grade ingredients (the linked report has a link to some recipes).  Another great option for face paint is Natural Earth Paint Eco-Friendly Paint Kits.  If I was going to paint my son’s face this is what I would use!

I hope your little ones have a safe, healthy, lead free Halloween!

Toys (No Plastic!)

My husband and I really didn’t want a bunch of plastic toys littered all over our house. It was one thing that we both felt strongly about when I was pregnant. Then I started doing more research about toys and felt even stronger about our no plastic toys rule. Plastic toys can have BPA, phthalates, and lead in them.  There are studies showing that plastic, even if it is BPA free, still leaches harmful chemicals.  After our son was born we made a second rule about toys – they can’t be from China. There have been too many toys that have been found to have high levels of lead that have come from China. Even my pediatrician, unprompted by me, told me not to buy toys from China because of the potential for lead. My son, like I’m sure every other baby in the world, LOVES to put things in his mouth. Lead isn’t good in any amount (nor is BPA or phthalates). So no plastic and no toys from China for us. This does come with its challenges at times. Sometimes manufactures are really sneaky about saying the company is from Germany (for example) then in really small print somewhere else on the box it says made in China. As my son gets older I see that this is going to be more challenging but I love a challenge! I’m happy to say at a year and a half old, he has no toys from China and no plastic.

Wood toys may be a bit more expensive than some plastic toys. We don’t buy a ton of toys. We have a good stash going but I feel we probably have less than other people. I would rather spend my money on quality toys. Quality over quantity! Also, don’t under-estimate the hours of entertainment a wood spoon and some measuring cups can provide.

Healthy Stuff has a database of toys that they have tested for toxic chemicals. Check them out here and see how the toys you have rank. I love the Healthy Stuff database – such a great resource!

The safest of all toys is unfinished wood. There are several toy companies that will finish toys in beeswax and an organic oil (like jojoba). This is a great option too. If you want to purchase some beeswax and organic jojoba oil for your toys (or other wood products) this Three Beeauitful Bees All-Natural Beeswax Polish is great!  They have 3 different types of polish and only the All-Natural is made with organic oil!  Just a note, if a toy is finished with a food grade mineral oil that means it is a petroleum-based oil. Just a FYI. You can decide if you want petroleum rubbed on your kids toys. I personally don’t. I also find it disturbing that food grade oil is made from petroleum. For wood that has paint, I always look for non-toxic water based paints or, preferably, vegetable dyed wood. I also really like to support local companies so if there is a choice I will buy something made in the USA first before other countries. Below is a list of companies that I like, companies I think are ok, and companies that look like they might be good but I don’t like. I just took some of the most popular wood / eco / organic toy brands out there otherwise this list could go on forever.

Disclaimer: I use affiliate links at times. It doesn’t cost you any more but does help support my time running my blog and this page. Other affiliate links might get you a discount which is a win, win! I appreciate you supporting my links as a way to help me offset my time by bringing info to you. I will never be swayed financially, and I will only post products and companies that I would, and do, personally use for my family.

Companies I like:

Plan Toys – I really like Play Toys. They make all of their toys in a sustainable factory in Thailand. In my opinion, they are the best non-toxic commercially produced toy maker out there. They are starting to make composite toys with their left over saw dust. I don’t love this (they use a non-toxic, formaldehyde glue) because it definitely looses the wood feel. You can easily tell which is composite and which is wood just by looking at the toy (you can even tell when looking online – it looks fake for lack of a better word). I don’t buy the composite toys. I get the no waste concept that the company is going for and it for sure is cheaper for them to make toys out of the left over saw dust than buying wood but I still prefer wood. We have quite a few toys from them. Some of our favorites are: the Happy Engine pull toy, the Dancing Alligator pull toy, the Punch and Drop, the Baby Car, the Oval Xylophone, the Roller, the Mini Recycling Truck, and the Drum. Also, their customer service is great. I needed a replacement drum mallet (because our dog ate ours) and they responded quickly and got one out to us for a small replacement fee.

Here is a statement from their website on where the toys are made and the quality: Q: Where are your toys made? A: Our toy factories are located in the city of Trang, which is located in the southern region of Thailand. The area is rich with rubberwood which we have successfully recycled for manufacturing toys. Our toys are produced entirely within our own facility, so we have complete control over every aspect of the manufacturing process. The wood we use is non-chemically treated; we use non-toxic, water-based dyes and non toxic glue. Our facilities and our toys reflect our respect for the environment and our commitment to designing unique natural playthings for children. Q: How can I be sure that PlanToys® quality and safety is superior to other brands ? A: You can always feel confident with PlanToys® because our wood is non-chemically treated and we use water-based colors that are safe for children of all ages. Our research teams have developed non-formaldehyde glue, which is non-toxic and totally free from unhealthy formaldehyde emissions.

Camden Rose – LOVE them! – I am pretty sure they are my favorite toy company. Everything they make is beautiful. They use high quality wood like cherry, maple and walnut. They are made in the US or in Peru where they support two fair trade, non-profit organizations. To read more about them click here. Really, their toys are beautifully made. Each toy I have from them always gets compliments. We have this hardwood stacker (my son loves this toys), the zoom car, wood eggs, wood milk and cups, we have a wooden rattle from them that is just beautiful to look at but I can’t find a link for it, and finally we splurged for my son’s first birthday and bought this kitchen. Yes, the kitchen is expensive and thankfully we had gift certificates to Amazon but even if we didn’t it’s worth it. It’s so nice to look at and made really well. We have it in our living room and I wanted something that I didn’t mind looking at every day. My son absolutely loves it and plays with it every single day. I looked at a lot of kitchens and this was the best option in my opinion.  UPDATE:  I was just made aware that Camden Rose uses a beeswax and food grade mineral oil (petroleum) polish on all of their furniture and toys.  They use their All-Natural beeswax and organic jojoba oil polish on all of their spoons, forks, bowls, plates, etc.. I called them about this and talked to the owner in length.  She told me the amount of food grade mineral oil in the polish is a small amount compared to the beeswax.  She also told me that it is non-toxic.  From the quick research I did, I found the same to be true.  There was a study done on rats and after 2 years of exposure to food grade mineral oil there was no difference in the rats.  Camden Rose will ship any toy or piece of furniture you would like unfinished.  It may take several more weeks but they will do that if you call them.  You can then finish it yourself.  I can not stress enough about the quality of their toys and how beautiful they are.  We get compliments on all of his Camden Rose toys.  So if not using food grade mineral oil is important to you just order it unfinished and finish it yourself.

Maple Landmark Toys – they make wooden toys in the USA. They have a huge selection that can be seen here. I first bought this teether from them and since have bought a few more things. I only buy unfinished toys from them as I don’t love what they use to finish their toys with. I have several things on my want list too!

Grimm’s – they are made in Germany. They use a water based paint or vegetable dyes on their wood. Their toys aren’t cheap but I am fixated with them. I really want this rainbow stacker but just haven’t wanted to pay the $40 for it yet. We just were in a toy store and my son was obsessed with a bus that they make. For some reason I thought the price was around $20 so I asked my husband to buy it. When we got home I saw the price tag and it was more than I thought it was!  Oh well, my son loves his buses and he carries this bus around with him everywhere now.

Little Sapling Toys on Etsy – I really love this Etsy shop. Isn’t this wooden engraved camera the cutest!? They finish their toys with beeswax and an organic jojoba oil. Check out their shop to find a lot of great teethers, rattles, blocks and toys.

Little Wooden Wonders on Etsy – My newest find!  I was on a mission to find a wooden push lawnmower toy for my son that had a non-toxic finish (I found several wooden push lawnmowers from other companies which used a petroleum finish).  I found exactly what I was looking for here!  They use beeswax and an organic jojoba oil to finish their toys.  Check out their selection of  wooden push toys, teethers, puzzles, and other toys here.  The push lawnmower is beautiful my son loves to play with it.

Smiling Tree Toys on Esty – I’ve ordered several things from them and am always happy.  They use a homegrown organic camelina oil/beeswax finish on all of their toys.  You can find all of their toys, teethers, step stools, and ornaments here.

A note on Etsy:  There are quite a few people making organic wooden toys on Etsy.  I haven’t purchased from these people but have looked and them and they use organic finishes on the toys.  Manzanita Kids and Bannor Toys (I would buy the natural, polished toys not the painted ones personally but it sounds like they use a non-toxic paint).

Under the Nile for soft toys – Under the Nile has organic, GOTS certified, soft, plush toys. I really love the veggie toys they have. My son loves chewing on the carrot! We also have the dog, the blanket friend toy, and sleep doll. I love that they are all non-toxic and GOTS certified to be free from harmful chemicals. They make all their plush toys with left over fabric from their clothes.

Elves and Angels – They make beautiful wooden toys, playstands, kitchens, house plan, doll furniture, and more.  All made in the USA.  Most of what I have looked at is unfinished which I love.  I like the ability to finish it myself with Three Beeautiful All-Natural Beeswax and organic jojoba oil. You can check out their beautiful toys here.

North Star Toys:  I purchased North Star’s busy boat for my son’s bath time.  He LOVES it.  It is now just a regular toy around the house.  He loves the little people in the boat too.  I did choose to have them make it unfinished which means that it can’t stay sitting in water for hours on end.  I just let it air dry on the side of the tub when we are done with bath time.  They use a food grade mineral oil on all of their toys.

Companies that I think are just ok:

Haba – They are a German company that has toys made in different parts of the world. A lot of the toys are made in China but they do have some that aren’t. So read the box if you are concerned about buying toys in China. Here is a statement from Haba on their quality and where their toys are made. Some of their toys don’t rank very well for toxicity on Healthy Stuff.  If I were to buy a toy from Haba I would reference Healthy Stuff first.

MiYim – they use to be all organic and use organic cotton filling in their plush toys. They have started using a poly fill on some of their toys. I would just read the labels before purchasing. I prefer an organic fill in the plush toys especially with a baby that is going to suck on toys. Without doing a ton of research on this it looks to me like they were possibly bought out. I don’t buy their toys anymore so I’m not doing any research on this. Just read your labels on these toys before buying since they seem to be making some changes (not positive ones)

Companies that I don’t love (and won’t buy):

Melissa & Doug – they seem to be the most popular wooden toy company. They moved production to China and for that reason they are on my do-not-buy list. They also had a lead paint scare multiple years ago.  The results on Healthy Stuff are mixed as well.

Hape – Wooden toys made in China

Wonderworld – Wooden toys made in China.

Dandelion – claims to be organic but aren’t all organic. They use corn as a filling and I am not a fan of supporting Genetically Modified corn. I am making an assumption that they aren’t using organic, non GMO corn here (based on the fact that 86% of our corn supply is GMO corn). According to their website they are also made in Asia (probably China) but they do state they have a new Florida warehouse. Just read your labels if you purchase from them. Made with organic cotton is not the same as 100% organic cotton.

Websites I like:  I buy a lot of toys from Amazon, Etsy, and a local toy shop but there are a few websites that have become my go-to sites when I’m looking for something new.  I really love Palumba (maybe because they carry a lot of Camden Rose products), Rosie Hippo, Nova Naturals, Little Spruce Organics (is one of my all time favorites!) and Pure Play Kids.  I always make sure I know info about the toys I’m ordering from.  Just because they are on a non-toxic toys website doesn’t mean they are up to my standards!  In full disclosure I have only ordered from Pure Play once and never from Rosie Hippo but I do go to both of these sites occasionally for ideas or if I’m on a search for something.

If there is a toy company you love that isn’t on this list please share it with me!

Natural Teethers

When searching for natural, or non-toxic, teethers I always got results for Natursutten Chill-It Teether.  I bought it early on before my son was teething.  I still just felt weird about him chewing on plastic.  Even thought it was free from BPA, PVC, etc it still is plastic.  I also always came across Sophie which he loves but it wasn’t as natural as I wanted it to be.  I use to always let my son chew on my finger which he seemed to like a lot. As he has gotten more teeth I have started using other methods more often. Getting bit a couple of times make you a little gun-shy. Those teeth are sharp! This lead me on my search for some other options. I wanted wood, organic cotton, or something along those lines… something that wasn’t plastic, silicone or rubber for him to chew on.  I found a couple of really great options that I LOVE!

My all time favorite is the teething Bunny and the teething Bonbon by Dress Me Up Organic.  It’s GOTS certified organic cotton with eco-wool on the inside of the part that they hold with their hands.  It keeps my sons hands warm while he is teething away on the frozen organic cotton.  These are my favorite!  We started with the bunny which my son loves… so much so that he cries when he sees me put it in the freezer!  A few months later I bought the Bonbon too since I thought it would be nice to have one freezing while he was using the other.  If I was just going to buy one I would buy the bunny over the bonbon. These are the best teethers ever.

I have a couple of wood teethers that I think are great too.  The first is this unfinished wood teether by Maple Landmark.  It’s simple and my son does like chewing on it.  I also have found some cute wood options on Etsy. I really like all the products from Little Sapling Toys and they have a great selection of wood teethers.

We also use the amber teething necklace which has become more popular lately (this is not the one I use, I bought mine locally). I think it works. It seems like when my son is fussy and pulling at his mouth he is less fussy once I put it on. I think it’s cute too and it definitely doesn’t hurt to have him wearing it. I always make sure to take it off when he is napping though.

Another great option is a carrot, or frozen carrot. Obviously, you don’t want to leave your child unattended with a carrot but it’s great for teething. I just peel it and he chews away on it. He doesn’t have enough teeth where he can get very much off of the carrot. Sometimes I think the more simple the better!

A Safe BUT Non-Toxic Car Seat

UPDATE 4/8/14:  Recently Orbit has made some changes to their car seat and the Oeko-Tek certification.  They use to be the only car seat manufacturer to have both the fabric and foam Oeko-Tek certified.  They no longer use the same company for the foam.  I was told that the foam company went out of business.  Orbit will not disclose any information about what flame retardant is being used in their foam.  I read a report that a third party tested the foam and it contained brominated flame retardants.  Orbit still claims that they don’t use brominated flame retardants.  They will not give me any information about when this change was made.  I am sending a sample of the foam from my car seat away to get tested to find out what flame retardants they use.  Until we have more information I personally would not buy the Orbit.  I don’t have an answer about which one I would buy though.  I will update this as soon as I know more. 

 

4/30/14 –  I had the foam on my Orbit tested and the foam inside the fabric came back positive with TDCPP flame retardants.  The Stryofoam attached to the car seat came back showing no flame retardants.  I no longer recommend Orbit.  I will update more soon.

What is TDCPP?

TDCPP, or tris (1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate, is an organophosphate flame retardant that is being used to replace PentaBDE. TDCPP, which is used as an additive flame retardant in resins, polymers, latexes, and foams, is most widely used in the US (annual estimations are 4,500-22,700 metric tons).1 There is evidence that TDCPP is a probable carcinogen and a developmental neurotoxicant2, as well as an endocrine disruptor in fish.

 

I have spent many of months agonizing over my son’s car seat.  I know that they have chemical flame retardants sprayed on the foam, the cover and the sun shade and it bugs the crap out of me each time I put him in the car seat.  It’s so, so bad for him.  Obviously, I’m aware that the car seat is keeping him safe and safety is my first priority which is why I keep using it.  I’ve gone back and forth and done tons of research trying to find the perfect car seat.  Here in the US there isn’t a car seat sold without the use of flame retardants (since it’s a federal law requiring it).  The thing I don’t understand is that wool and cotton are natural flame retardants – why don’t car seat manufacturers use those?

Before our son was born we went to a big box baby store and bought a car seat that rated well, and well frankly, we ended up buying the one with the fabric we liked the best.  We have the Chicco Keyfit 30 in Cubes.  As I was learning more about toxic items that my son was using when he was little I learned about how toxic a car seat can be.  I stumbled across the Environmental Work Group’s database and searched our car seat.  You can search your car seat here.  It ranked low for toxic chemicals which made me feel better.  Then of course I kept researching and realized that the EWG, while great, isn’t testing for everything.  Even though my car seat ranked “low” it actually just had a different chemical flame retardant used in it than what they were testing for.  When I looked up that chemical online I wanted to cry when reading the symptoms it can cause and the organs it affects.  So I began the search for the convertible car seat we would need to use since he was bigger.  I kept wanting to find one that didn’t use any chemicals which lead to many months of procrastinating.  This now makes me sad since my son continued to use his chemical filled car seat BUT we don’t even use the car seat daily (at least that is how I am rationalizing the continued use).  I also read that the sun shades are loaded with fire retardants so I took that off right away.  My search kept bringing me back to Orbit.  They are the ONLY car seat manufacturer to be Oeko-Tek 100 certified.  This means that they are the only car seat on the market in the US that tests for, and does not use, 100 toxic chemicals including most flame retardants and lead.  You can read more about Oeko-Tek 100 standards here.  You can also read more about Orbit’s safety here.

There has been a lot of talk about companies not using flame retardants in car seats anymore since so many parents are upset about it.  I’ve seen that Brittax is saying this (which from everything I’ve read is that they are using some of the worst chemical flame retardants still on their car seats).  From what I understand, they are NOT removing chemical flame retardants from their car seats but instead no longer will be using the chemicals they are currently using and will just be using new ones.  It’s a federal law to make sure the car seats are fire proof so the ONLY natural way around this is using wool and cotton.  There isn’t one company that is moving that direction, not even Orbit.

So what it comes down to is picking the least toxic car seat you can find with good safety ratings.  My choice for our convertible car seat is Orbit.  I know that they have to be tested according to Oeko-Tek and that makes me feel better.  I wish I had known all this information before our son was born and I would have started with the Orbit.  When you know better you do better.

If you want to go even a step further you can replace your car seat cover.  On Etsy The Sassy Stork makes some organic car seat covers.  She doesn’t have covers for every car seat brand.  This does remove the warranty on your car seat so if you are comfortable with that then go ahead.  Another option is Nollie Covers.  She has organic covers as well and does covers for most all brands of car seats.  They aren’t cheap but it may be worth it to you.  From what I understand using Nollie Covers doesn’t not void your warranty as she is the only car seat cover that is approved by the car seat companies.  I would verify this information before purchasing though.

A lot of people think that if they wash their car seat that will remove most of the chemicals which is not true.  The flame retardants are meant to stay in there and not be easily removed.  Using regular detergent will not remove the flame retardants.  I’ve read that using soap flakes can remove the flame retardants over time and many, many washes.  Using soap flakes is not recommended by car seat manufacturers and I believe it voids your warranty as well.  If you are trying to remove some of the chemicals that your baby is touching soap flakes may work.

UPDATE:  There are a lot of comments on this post related to Diono and if they use flame retardants in their car seats (fabric and foam).  They have told many commenters, and myself, repeatedly that they do not use flame retardants in the Radian car seat in several fabric colors.  I literally called Diono at least 10 times trying to get to the bottom of this but they kept saying that they didn’t use FR.  It came out today, months after they were telling us they didn’t, that they actually DO use flame retardants in their foam.  They won’t disclose which FR either.  So it is back to Orbit being the only non-toxic car seat on the market.

Good luck in finding a solution that works for you and your family!

PS – I decided I should have a disclaimer.  The disclaimer is this:  this is a decision you should make for  your family.  These opinions are my own.  I am not being paid to have these opinions.  You need to factor in the safety of any option that you choose.  I am not responsible for any decision you make with regards to which car seat you choose.