Euphoria’s Blog for Green Mamas

advice, news & freebies

How to Swaddle an Infant: Tips & Blankets August 11, 2009

Filed under: Baby & Toddler — Rachel @ 6:30 pm
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Every new parent should learn how to swaddle.  Swaddling calms fussy babies and helps them to sleep longer and to stay on their backs, reducing the risk of SIDS.  Plus, it creates a bedtime cue that’s easy for mom, dad, grandma or babysitter to recreate anywhere. 

Don’t be intimidated.  Anyone can swaddle.  If you’re pregnant, plan to ask your nurse or a relative to show you how to swaddle your newborn.  There’s nothing better than learning in person.  If you don’t have a good teacher, take 6 minutes to watch this YouTube video:  Swaddling Methods.  The video very clearly teaches two methods of swaddling, the “basic” method (which is the one I always used) and the Aussie method (which is ideal for older babies).  Showing real babies being swaddled and demonstrating with a doll, this video is the clearest, most helpful tutorial I’ve found. 

When swaddling is not working, you’ve probably either used the wrong type of blanket or are wrapping too loosely.  First of all, get the right blanket.  A good swaddling blanket is large and square.  Many receiving blankets are 40″ square, which will swaddle a newborn.  For a larger baby, you  need a larger blanket.  Buy large 47″ square receiving blankets, which can swaddle a newborn and a 10 month old.  A good swaddling blanket is also thin and stretchy.  It should be thin, because a thick blanket will not tuck in securely.  It should be stretchy so that you can make a tight swaddle, without making baby uncomfortable.  I really loved using my Aden & Anais swaddling blankets.   Now we also offer an organic version that’s cut in the same ideal dimensions.  Having the right blanket makes it easier to swaddle tightly.  A swaddled baby should look like a little burrito!

Nervous that baby will overheat?  With what we know about SIDS, you’re right to be concerned about swaddling baby in a warm blanket.  But, an ideal swaddling blanket is thin, remember?  Those made of cotton muslin are extremely breathable.  Whether it’s summer or winter, dress baby as the weather requires and swaddle, knowing that the blanket adds little additional heat.  If your baby’s ears are hot or red, or if she’s sweating, unwrap her and remove her clothing.   Then, re-swaddle in just a diaper!

Swaddling does take practice. But, in a few days you’ll be able to swaddle like a pro.  Dads, especially, are often superb swaddlers.  They don’t shy away from pulling that blanket tight!

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Preparing a Birth Pool for your Homebirth July 30, 2009

Filed under: Pregnancy — Rachel @ 8:32 pm
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http://www.waterbirth.org/mc/page.do?sitePageId=38425&orgId=wi

If you’ll be giving birth at home, consider using a birthing pool.  Whether or not you decide to deliver in the water, you may enjoy laboring in a warm birth pool.  At one reader’s request, I did some research for choosing and preparing your birth pool.

Your midwife may offer pool rental services.  This is an eco-friendly choice, since professional grade pools can be reused to avoid waste.  Be sure to ask questions so you understand what type of pool you’ll be using.  Will it be big enough for one or two persons?  Maybe you’ll want your partner to support you while you labor.  Are the sides comfortable to lean against and high enough for your liking? 

Also, what about toxicity?  Most birth pools are made of vinyl, a phthalate-filled plastic that emits toxic fumes.  Unfortunately, vinyl seems to be the only reasonable option for an inflatable pool, but there are ways to limit the toxicity.  A new pool should be inflated and aired outside for 3-7 days (the longer the better), which will help toxic VOC’s to release.  Your midwife probably provides a reusable pool with single-use liners.  Ask if she can air out the liner for you, or leave it with you so that you can air it out.  If your midwife’s reusable pool doesn’t include a liner, find out what cleaners she uses to disinfect the pool.  Harsh cleaners must be rinsed excessively, so your baby isn’t born into a chemical soup.  If at all possible, choose to rent a pool with a single-use liner, so cleaners aren’t necessary. 

You may also choose to purchase your own birth pool.  Don’t worry about getting one with a heater built-in.  Vinyl easily retains heat, so this isn’t a problem for most births.  One of the most popular birth pools is actually a kiddie pool!  The Aquariumfishy pool has a padded floor and high sides that make it perfect for birthing.  Moms report excellent results with this pool, which is sturdy and strong enough to lean against.  Its affordable price ($30-40) makes it single-use without the need of a liner.  But, buying and throwing out a toxic vinyl pool every time you give birth is not so eco-friendly. 

I’ve only come across one birth pool made with phthalate-free vinyl – Birth Pool in a Box Eco.  At $190, this birth pool is not cheap, but it’s certainly well-made.  I can find nothing but good reviews!  It has a seat, handles for stabilization, adjustable height and disposable liners.  You’ll still want to air out this pool, but you’ll rest a little easier knowing that the plastic is more eco-friendly and non-toxic than other options.  Buy an extra liner for use when you do a test run.  And, when you’re done, you can store it carefully for your next homebirth or sell/give it to someone else who can use it!  The plastic can be damaged by extreme heat or cold, so store at room temperature. 

After purchasing or renting your pool, you’ve got some more work to do.  You’ll want to test drive the pool.  This sounds silly until you realize how many things can go wrong!  You need a tarp to place underneath to protect your floors and discourage slipping.  Next, you’ll need a pump for inflating the pool.  Depending on your pump, it can take 30 minutes+ to inflate.  If it takes long, consider keeping your pool inflated those last 2 weeks to cut down your setup time. 

To fill your pool, you’ll need an aquarium hose or RV hose that runs to your sink.  The shorter the hose the better, so as to keep that water warm.  Add to that an adapter so that your hose can be fitted to a sink in your house.  No, you don’t want to use a garden hose instead.  There are hygenic problems with that approach!  When you fill the pool, you’ll ideally use cold water for the first bit and then go to hot.  This is so that the plastic is not damaged by exposure to scalding hot water.  Lastly, you’ll need a method for emptying and deflating the pool.  The bucket approach works, but will take a looooong time.  With a newborn at hand, this is not a good time for tedious tasks. 

So many steps!  That’s why you need to do a trail run.  The trial will give you confidence that your pool is airtight and watertight, plus it’ll ensure that you have all the right parts on hand for the big day.  Be sure to time how long setup takes, so you know during labor what to expect.  You can shop for all the various waterbirth supplies to inflate/deflate and fill/empty your birth pool at Your Waterbirth.

Enjoy your birth!

 

Secondhand for Baby: What’s Safe & What’s Not January 27, 2009

Filed under: Baby & Toddler,Eco-Friendly Living — Rachel @ 3:00 pm
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I’ve saved many a pretty penny by purchasing baby clothes, baby strollers and even a baby carrier secondhand.  If you’re pregnant and looking to buy the best, safest products for baby, I’m sure your shopping list is looking a bit pricey.  Here are some tips from Healthy Child Healthy World that will help you cut costs where it’s safe to do so:

Bath Products:

Safe: Used baby bathtubs are fine as long as the lining isn’t full of mold or mildew.

Not Safe: If the tub has an odor of either of these, say no thanks because they can be hard to remove. Also, skip secondhand bath seats, bath rings, and inflatable tubs since they have been responsible for many deaths among babies.

Healthy Child Recommendation: In addition to mold and mildew, look for scratches or other signs of wear and tear in the plastic. Old plastics are more apt to leach chemicals and the scratches can also harbor for bacteria.

Car Seats:

Safe: A car seat that has all its original parts and labels, has never been in a crash, and fits your car and child is OK.

Not Safe: Products more than six years old are outdated, and most likely too run down to be considered safe.

Healthy Child Recommendation: It is dangerous (and illegal in some states) to reuse a car seat that has been in an accident. Only accept a hand-me-down from someone you trust. Don’t ever buy one from a yard sale or thrift store.

Cribs:

Safe: Any crib that was manufactured after the year 2000 should be fine, as long as it is not broken or missing any pieces.

Not Safe: Prior to 2000, cribs were held to different safety standards, and will not be acceptable for your baby, even if you slept soundly in them. Any crib with cutouts in the headboard, and corner posts over sixteen inches pose serious risks for a child’s safety.

Healthy Child Recommendation: Use the money you saved on the crib for a nice organic mattress (or at least an organic mattress cover). Your baby will spend most of her daily hours with her face nestled into her mattress.  Make it a healthy one!

High Chairs:

Safe: Say yes to a hand-me-down high chair if it has a five-point harness to prevent your child from climbing out and a fixed crotch post that prevents him/her from sliding out the bottom.

Not Safe: Old-fashioned wooden high chairs with removable trays or arms are considered dangerous and uncomfortable for the baby, in addition to not being up to newer product safety standards.

Strollers:

Safe: Strollers made after 2007 when new safety standard were published are safe.

Not Safe: Any stroller made prior to that date, or has missing, loose, or broken

pieces is not.

Healthy Child Recommendation: Accept the stroller, but ditch the PVC rain guard.

Toys:

Safe: Stuffed animals and most children’s books make fine hand-me-downs. In the case of lead in used toys, there are many home lead inspection kits which can be purchased for under twenty dollars which will tell you whether the toys have surface lead contamination.

Unsafe: Avoid any toys that are chipped, as well as any small parts that can fit through a tube of toilet paper, since they present serious choking hazards for small children.

Healthy Child Recommendation: Toss stuffed animals in a dryer on high heat or in a freezer for 48 hours to kill any dust mites (especially if your child has dust allergies or asthma). Make sure books don’t smell moldy. Politely decline plastic toys (especially if they are worn or if they are made from PVC (#3), PC (#7) or an unknown plastic).

Used Clothing:

Safe: As long as buttons and snaps are on tight and none of the thread is unraveling from the fabric, the used clothing is fine.

Unsafe: Pass on any article of clothing with drawstrings because they pose a strangulation hazard.

Healthy Child Recommendation: Recently, many children developed rashes and skin burns from children’s tag-less clothing. Watch for these items and monitor your child for any reactions.

by Janelle Sorensen

Courtesy of Healthy Child Healthy World: a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit inspiring parents to protect young children from harmful chemicals.

 

Essentials for Baby’s First 6 Months December 9, 2008

Filed under: Baby & Toddler — Rachel @ 5:10 pm
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That first pregnancy, there’s so much to do!  Research about pregnancy, birth, and baby care basics.  Plan the nursery.  Prepare for breastfeeding.  Think about your parenting style, caregiver arrangements, vaccinations, and more.  Phew! 

And, then there’s the work of aquiring all that baby stuff.  I think registering lists found in most magazines and baby super-stores are overwhelming and designed to make you spend, spend, spend.  What do you really need for those first 6 months with baby?  Here’s my list:

  1. A Carseat.  An infant carseat, like Graco’s snugride, makes errands possible without disturbing baby’s sleep.  Priceless.
  2. A Baby Carrier.  What’s easier to store than a stroller, more soothing to baby and easier to use in crowded public spaces?  Answer: a baby carrier.   Experience the freedom and bonding experience that this centuries-old tradition creates.  If money is tight, skip the stroller, at least for now. 
  3. A Sleep Space.  This may be your own bed.  But do purchase or choose (so you’re ready to purchase) an additional place for baby to sleep alone and unattended.  A moses basket on a rocking stand (available at EuphoriaBaby.com) is absolutely ideal for the first few months.  A crib will be used until baby is 2-3 years old.  Be sure to buy a non-toxic mattress and mattress protectors.  Conventional mattresses filled with polyurethane foam and conventional vinyl mattress pads are completely unsafe and should be banned.
  4. Clothing.  Everyone loves to gift baby clothes.  See what you get for your baby shower before stocking up.  Choose simple, unfussy options so baby is comfortable and happy.  Stick to only natural fibers (cotton, wool, silk), which are soft and breathable.  Buy at most one pair of soft leather baby shoes for 3-6 months , but realize that these are just for looks, as baby is not likely to be crawling yet.
  5. Diapers.  Save money, save the environment and avoid chemical exposure by cloth diapering your baby.  I suggest starting with 18 diapers for a newborn.  It’s possible you may need more, but better to start with 18 and add as needed, than buy more than you  need.  18 One-Size BumGenius diapers will last most children from newborn to potty training.   
  6. Feeding Supplies:  If you plan to breastfeed, buy 3 nursing bras: one to wear, one in the wash and one that’s clean should you spring a leak.  Also needed: nursing cream, nursing pads, 3 or so bottles for occasional use (Adiri’s are a great choice for breastfeeding moms), and a breast pump (an affordable, non-electric pump will do fine for the occasional, weekly bottle).   Add non-toxic bowls, spoons and natural fiber bibs later, when baby is ready for food. 
  7. Pacifiers.  Start with 2 pacifiers.  Even if you plan to discourage pacifier use, you’ll want them handy for difficult situations in the middle of the night or when you’re unable to pick-up your crying child (such as in the car).  If your child takes the to pacifier (which I think is a very helpful tool), you’ll want more than 2, but wait until you’re certain what kind baby likes.  Be sure to buy BPA-free choices, like our natural rubber pacifiers at EuphoriaBaby.com.  You’ll also want a sturdy pacifier clip, if your child likes the pacifier. 
  8. A few Toys.  Keep them simple and natural.  2-3 wood and cloth teethers and rattles from reputable companies such as Haba and Selecta.  2-3 soft baby toys such as cloth blocks, balls, and manipulatives.  2-3 wooden baby toys that make clacking sounds or squeak or spin.  Avoid plastic.  Avoid overstimulating products that have a million things for baby to do.  Avoid electronic toys with lights and recorded sounds.  Natural sounds created by your own voice or a real bell are more nurturing and don’t require dangerous and wasteful batteries.  Above all, avoid excess!  Your baby does not need a new toy to discover every week.  Young children learn from repetition, are soothed by familiarity and are learning from your example about how many things they should want/need.  Excess ruins the magic of play, while creating more work for you in cleaning and storing.

What about baby swings, bouncer seats, play mats, exersaucers, crib toys, and the list goes on and on?  Generally, Americans buy babies too many toys and gadgets designed to engage the baby so the caregiver can do something else.  Marketers tell you that you must have these things to survive with baby, or failing that, they tell you that these things will improve baby’s life.  Don’t believe that last line, one second.  You are your baby’s best source of stimulation, education and brain-boosting interaction any day!

Little ones are awake and ready to engage for short periods of time each day.  Be with your child during those times.  Carry her.  Lay on the floor with her.  Talk to her.  You will never get this time back, and you will never regret these moments.  When you must get something done, put her in the carrier so that she can be stimulated by watching your tasks, all the while able to go to sleep when she’s ready.  Then, when she sleeps, put her down and do that something else, which required your baby-free energy.

 

Once Upon a Mattress September 2, 2008

Filed under: Baby & Toddler — Rachel @ 3:47 pm
Tags: , , ,

I’m reading a wonderful book for creating a safe, “green” home, “Healthy Child Healthy World” published by a national non-profit by the same name.  This excerpt, written by actress Laura Dern, is long but worth reading: 

Once Upon a Mattress

“We hear the news that we’re having a baby and we want to be really healthy and careful.  So we eat organically, avoid mercury in fish, don’t drink, don’t smoke: we don’t use hair color or paint our nails.  We spend all this energy and time creating a really healthy environment – and then we totally switch gears.  We stop thinking about health and somehow lead ourselves to believe that the most important thing for the baby when it comes home from the hospital is… a pretty room…. And so we choose the coolest crib design, instead of the safest or healthiest crib.  We pick the absolute cutest linens, even if they’re covered in flame-retarants and other chemicals (never mind that baby can hardly see at first).  Unwittingly we put loads of toxic chemicals into the room as we strive to make it look right.

But think about it: A newborn baby is spending something like sixteen hours a day asleep.  And that newborn baby’s face is pressed against that space, breathing in what is probably a fresh-off-the-conveyer-belt mattress whose off-gassing is at its height.  On top of that you put a bleached, chemically treated cotton sheet that’s newly dyed – oh, but it’s really cute! – and perhaps not even washed first, or washed in a conventional detergent that’s high in chemicals.  Then ther’s the crib itself, which is often made of partical board, and which continues to off-gas for a long time.  Unbeknown to you, you’ve created an environment with risks when all you wanted to do was make your baby happy and safe.  But it looks good.  Even though the kid is not going to enjoy it for the first two years of his life. 

Most of us do it because nobody told us not to….”

The article goes on, but I’m sure you get the gist.  And, to confess, I’m guilty of exactly what Laura Dern describes.  I read and make careful choices about my pregnancy to give my children a healthy start, but I placed them on conventional, vinyl-topped mattresses and used cheap, chemically dyed and treated bedding without a clue.   

Laura’s right, nobody told met not to.  I would have listened.  That’s why I’m telling you.

 

How to choose a Healthy Baby Bottle July 10, 2008

Filed under: Baby & Toddler — Rachel @ 3:53 pm
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As a boutique-owner, I am constantly contacted by manufacturers who would like us to stock their products.  There are a whole slew of BPA-free baby bottles on the market today, but we only offer two on our site at EuphoriaBaby.com: Adiri Natural Nursers and Weego Glass Bottles.  Why?   It is my philosophy to offer only the best products, that is to do the shopping and research for you so that you can get on to enjoying your life.

For those of you who love information (and if you love information, you’re probably reading my blog), I thought you may like to know why I recommend these two bottles.  So, let’s talk dirty about some of the other BPA-free bottles on the market….

Born Free:  Available in BPA-free plastic and glass, Born-free is in big box stores.  These bottles are vented, but the venting system is complex and composed of many parts to wash, track, and store.  Life should be simpler.  Adiri bottles are.  Although they are wide-neck, nothing compares to the natural feeding experience provided by the breast-shaped Adiri nipple.  For finicky babies, it’s easier to switch from breast to bottle with Adiri every time. 

Dr. Brown’s:  Available in plastic and glass, just like Born Free.  Unfortunately, they also have a complex, multi-part venting system that’s a pain in the rear, just like Born Free.  Plus, they are not available in wide-neck, which is preferable for breastfeeding babies as it encourages a proper latch. 

Green to Grow:  These bottles are cute, but have no venting system.  Users have reported frequent nipple collapse (when baby sucks the nipple flattens), which is no fun for anyone.  Plus, the cuteness factor should be weighed against the fact that they are made from polyethersulfone (P.E.S.) plastic, which scratches VERY easily.  Popular retailers even mention that they may arrive scratched when brand new! 

Think Baby:  Think baby bottles do have a venting system, and it’s not so part-intensive like Born Free.  However, they are made out of polyethersulfone (P.E.S.) plastic, just like Green to Grow, so they get all scratched up with gentle use.  Bummer.  I still might consider these for my store if it wasn’t for the fact that Adiri bottles are just so much better for breastfeeding babies.   It happens all the time: parents stock up on one bottle system only to find that baby completely rejects it.  I feel confident that Adiri bottles, with their breast shape and tactile nipple, will be the right bottle the first time.

“What about your Weego Glass Bottles?” you may ask.  Some parents are so fed up with plastic, that they’d prefer to use glass and take no chemical risks.  Weego bottles are naturally BPA-free, since they’re made from glass.  As opposed to a simple glass bottle (such as those offered by Evenflo, Dr. Brown’s or Born Free), Weego glass bottles have a colorful silicone sleeve that protects the bottle from breaking.  I’ve dropped one from my full height onto a wooden floor and nothing happened.  So, Weego bottles are safe… but really, they’re just so adorable!!!  How could I resist that?

 

In summary, when you’re deciding on the best bottle for your baby, keep these factors in mind:

  1. BPA-free, of course
  2. A venting system is a must.  Adiri’s system is built into the base so there are no extra parts to manage.
  3. If you plan to breastfeed, look for a wide-necked nipple.  Adiri Natural Nursers mimic the breastfeeding experience better than anyone, hands down.
  4. An attractive bottle would be nice…  Adiri bottles are very scratch-resistant and rather modern-looking too. 
 

One Virtual Baby Registry June 26, 2008

Filed under: Pregnancy — Rachel @ 2:18 pm
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Customers often ask if Euphoria has a gift registry system.  We don’t have one now, but we will have one in a few months.  In the meantime, I just tell customers to try Kaboodle.  Kaboodle is an online registry system that let’s you create a registry with items from any and all stores online.  That means you can merge your registry from big box stores like Babies R’ Us or Target with your favorite hard-to-find items from stores like EuphoriaMaternity.com.  It’s a great way to encourage gift-givers to consider buying those cool BPA-free baby bottles or that Beco Baby Carrier you’re dying to get, while still presenting options from local stores.  Kaboodle is a full registry system that allows you to share your registry and allows gift-givers to “reserve” items to prevent duplicate orders.  It’s very user-friendly.  I think it’s fun that on Kaboodle you can also discover other interesting items from like-minded Kaboodlers.  And, of course, Kaboodle is free.