5 Natural Non-Toxic Baby Items for Home
I'll start with a confession: I'm a recovering shopaholic. I used to love shopping and the natural high that came along with it. Bad day at work? Stop at the mall for a pick me up on the way home. Heading to Vancouver? Must find the Lululemon flagship store. But a few years ago, an friend gave me some insight into the true cost of the clothes we wear, and many of my then favorite brands. She challenged me to buy second-hand clothes, sustainably made clothes, or no clothes at all, for an entire year. Along the way, I realized:
- I was happier with fewer things.
- My closet was so full of clothes, I really didn't need more.
- I had more money for experiences (like weekend getaways and trips overseas).
Three years later, this challenge has become a part of every day life. I try to live a minimalist lifestyle. I buy second hand clothing, shop locally, and choose organic and items sustainably made in the USA whenever possible. All of this to say, when it comes to buying things for my baby, the same rules apply, and then some:
- Lifespan: Less is more - find items that will be useful over a long period of time.
- Portable: Items that are easy to transport from place to place (we travel a lot).
- Construction: Chemical-free, sustainable, organic, or made in the USA.
- Simplicity: Avoid sensory overload, and also, how many toys does one baby need?
As a new mom, I have ideals for baby Reuben. I want him to have time and space to dream. Reuben doesn't always need a toy or a distraction in front of him. I want him to be bored. When my mind wanders, I come up with ideas, I think creatively about the future, and I reflect on the past. I want my son to have time to dream, to be thoughtful and imaginative.
I also want my baby to learn to do things for himself, rather than have things done for him. There's a joke that kids are more interested in the boxes toys come in, than the toys themselves. It's true. A plain old cardboard box triggers more creativity. It makes a sound when it falls, it stands up on its own. It has flaps. Maybe baby can even fit inside of it or play peek-a-boo. Toys that light up, that need to be plugged in, that have automatic sounds, songs, and movement, don't make it into my house. I hope this helps my baby tap into his own creativity.
Here are five baby items we've loved (and used almost every day) in the first six months of Reuben's life. None of this content is sponsored, although I did reach out to these brands for referral links and discounts for my subscribers (you're welcome!).
I didn't want to buy this $200 pillow. I really tried not to buy it. I found a used Baby Bjorn bassinet, and I wanted that to work. But my baby wasn't a bassinet guy. He wasn't a swaddle guy, either. The only place he wanted to sleep was in bed with us. I didn't have the patience or the energy to keep trying the bassinet and the swaddles, so I let him sleep in between us for the first four weeks. He slept so well and for stretches of 4-5 hours per night from the start. How could that be wrong, I wondered? Well. My friends and family were concerned. They wanted me to have a barrier for the baby's safety. Enter Dock-a-Tot. A relatively safe place for the baby to sleep that fits right in bed, or anywhere your baby wants to sleep.
The $200 pillow helped all of us sleep better. Without the fear of rolling over, we knew our baby was not only sleeping soundly, but also safely. Around the three month mark, we moved baby Reuben into the crib in his Dock-a-Tot, and my husband and I had our bed back for the first time since the baby was born. At that point, Reuben was sleeping from 9:30pm - 5:30am. At four months, from 9:00pm - 6:30am, and now, at almost five months, from 8:30pm - 7:30am. From about four months on, he's been waking up in great spirits, babbling to himself for 30 minutes to an hour until we're ready to get him out of bed. When he sees us in the morning, we're greeted with big smiles. I don't consider myself an expert, but I think I've done something right.
Why it's up to my standards:
- Lifespan: Lasts longer than most baby sleep items - bassinets are good until the baby rolls over, but the Dock-a-tot will continue to be a safe place for the baby to hang in waking hours, long after he's done sleeping in it.
- Portable: I take this Dock-a-tot with us on vacation. It fits in a suitcase and Reuben has a familiar place to lie and sleep.
- Construction: The product is made in Sweden, and the material is breathability, non-toxic, and washable. The design was made to mimic the womb, which is probably why babies tend to relax from the moment they're set inside of it.
- Simplicity: This product can't rock my baby to sleep. It doesn't vibrate. It doesn't sing. It doesn't need to be plugged in. It's up to me to nurture my baby and get him to relax so he's ready for bed. If he wakes up and can't settle himself, I'm the one to comfort him back to sleep.
When Reuben wakes up in the morning, I feed him, change his diaper, and then he hangs out in tummy time for a while. When I'm ready to make breakfast, the Baby Bjorn Bouncer is the perfect place to set Reuben to keep him occupied.
The seat has three settings: play, sleep, and lounge, and the googly-eyed toy bar keeps him occupied. The bouncer seat is almost like a hammock, the thin, breathable, fabric seat conforms to the baby's body, and the seat gently bounces with Reuben's motion, or with my foot or hand tapping it.
Why it's up to my standards:
- Lifespan: Lasts longer than most baby bouncers. The seat's fabric can be flipped around to use as a toddler chair up to the age of two or 35 pounds, whichever comes first. Babies can start using the bouncer when they weight eight pounds.
- Portable: The seat is lightweight and folds down flat for easy transport.
- Construction: Baby Bjorn is a brand I trust - they use non-toxic fabrics and their designs are always functional - with baby's development in mind.
- Simplicity: Again, this product doesn't have bells, whistles, flashing lights, or sounds. It cannot be plugged in. The baby needs to do the work, which means the chair is not only relaxing but also teaching my baby about cause and effect, and strengthening his muscles since effort is required to make the chair bounce.
3. Jolly Jumper
You guys. My husband and I can't get over how great this product is for our baby and our own productivity at home. I searched and searched for an exersaucer or jumper for my baby that was non-toxic and the options were slim. Enter the Jolly Jumper. Made in Canada, this no fuss, no frills jumper helps babies improve their balance and develop rhythm and coordination. The supportive, adjustable seat provides firm support to keep baby's back and posture correct.
We chose the model that comes with a stand, but there is also the old-school door frame option. We liked the idea of taking it anywhere in our house, and even outdoors. Reuben jumps for 20 minutes before his morning nap, and again for 20 minutes before we begin his bedtime routine at 7:00pm. I swear he's sleeping better during the day and at night because he's truly getting his jollies out.
Why it's up to my standards:
- Portable: The stand can be moved into any room of our house, it doesn't need an outlet, and can even go outside.
- Construction: Made in Canada, the Jolly Jumper actually the original baby exerciser. It was invented in 1910, and has been sold globally since in 1948.
- Simplicity: Like all of the products on this list, this product isn't overflowing with tools to distract your baby. You can't plug it in.
As a new mom, I was struggling to read through all of the lists of baby development books, let alone actually read the books - and I'm someone who loves to read! So when my friend told me about the Lovevery Play Gym, which was designed around baby's first 12 months of life, my ears perked up. Not only is the product made of eco-friendly materials and easy on the eyes, it comes with a deck of informative cards that takes you through each stage of your infant's development.
The interactive play gym comes with various pieces - including a Montessori high contrast ball, a textured ring, a wooden pendulum bell, and interchangeable cards and mirrors to display based on your child's developmental stage.
I absolutely love how this play gym allows us to interact with our baby and play different games with him based on his development. Different areas of the mat are activated at each developmental stage, and it's truly amazing to see how Reuben engages with each new activity and challenge.
Why it's up to my standards:
- Lifespan: This play gym is designed to be useful throughout the first 12 months of baby's life, which is longer than most toys, thanks to many different interactive areas that become activated at each stage of development. Once baby outgrows the activities, the play gym can be used as a fort with a cover that creates a three-sided tent over the play structure.
- Portable: Like most play gyms, this one is easy to move around the house.
- Construction: The play gym is made with non-toxic, organic fabrics, untreated solid wood, and washable. I love its durability and the thickness of the mat.
- Simplicity: I'm sure you guessed, this product requires my baby to interact, learn, and do the work himself. There are no fancy lights, vibrations, colors, or songs, and he is completely enamored and challenged at the same time.
5. Thrifted Baby Clothes & Organic Jammies
Okay, last one in this round up. Baby clothes! As you know, everyone will tell you that you need a ton of clothes, and that you'll never have enough. The truth is, you'll probably have too much. 75% of the baby clothes I have for my son's first 12 months are hand-me-downs. 15% are thrifted, and 10% are new, and I still have way too stuff. I had clothes that he never even wore before they were too small. Babies grow fast. To give you an idea, my son weight seven pounds at birth, and he's weighing in at 20 pounds in month five.
My advice? Don't save special outfits for special occasions because they may grow out of them too soon. Second, buy used clothing knowing that other babies have probably worn those clothes only a handful of times before they too grew out of them.
I use sites like ThredUp and Poshmark to find gently used baby clothes and pajamas for Reuben. The clothes are in excellent condition, cost less, are better for my baby, and better for the environment. Washing clothes helps remove any chemicals that might be in the dyes or inks, so used clothing is actually cleaner in a sense.
Likewise, organic clothes are free of pesticides and chemicals and the fabrics are typically softer. Often, organic clothes cost more, but buying second hand levels the playing field. I can't recommend thrifting highly enough, but if you prefer buying new, I recommend organic brands like Finn & Emma, Hannah Anderson, and Kate Quinn. Stretchy, durable, organic fabric means the clothes tend to last longer, fit longer, and hold their value to pass down as hand-me-downs or save forever and ever and ever (am I the only one who does this?).
Why they are up to my standards:
- Lifespan: Babies grow (and outgrow clothes) way too fast. I loved used clothing because it extends the life of the item by allowing it to be worn by more than one baby. Organic clothing doesn't seem to shrink as much and retains its softness, so if you're buying new that's the way to go.
- Construction: I love buying organic when possible, the quality and construction is much better, and the fabric is softer. Unfortunately, it can be expensive especially considering how fast babies grow. Second hand organic clothes and pajamas are such great finds.
- What It's Not: These clothes may not be the trendiest, but I've found some beautiful, well-made thrifted clothes and hand-me-downs that have stood the test of time. Organic clothes tend to come in natural, gender neutral colors that can be passed down to the same or opposite gender - an added perk.
Links to my faves...
Dock-a-tot: Use My Link, Receive $10 Off.
Baby Bjorn Bouncer: Visit the site.
Lovevery Play Gym: Visit the site.
Jolly Jumper: Visit the site.
Poshmark: Visit the site.
ThredUp: Use My Link, Receive $10 Off.
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