What are the essential products you really need to create a safe, non-toxic nursery for you and your little one?
As I sit here writing this post, a few months away from having my third child, I’m reminded of the the Luvs diaper slogan. You live. You learn. Then you get Luvs.
Though I don’t use this brand, I have to admit this was good marketing. And now it feels more relatable than ever. It’s not that I’ve perfected the mom thing. Far from it. Most days I feel like I’ve got a one way ticket on the hot mess express. But, it is true that as you live and learn, you become much more certain of the things you really need, and those you don’t.
So this is what I want to talk to you about, all you new (or even not new) moms and dads out there, wondering what baby care products you really need, what really works, and where to easily find them. I can’t make parenting any easier, but hopefully I can help you find some great, safer products that work for your new little one!
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All those lotions and potions
After my baby shower I accumulated a pretty large plastic bin filled with lots of different baby bath products. People just love to give you all sorts of lotions and potions and sweet smelling things when you’re expecting. Often they’re products they have fond memories of using with their own children. And it’s very sweet. Really, I don’t mean to sound at all ungrateful here. But to be honest, very few of those products were ever used.
Why? Well in case you haven’t guessed it by my blog, I’m a bit of a product snob. But only when it comes to products that are safe, clean, and non-toxic. Yup, when it comes to that, I’m picky and proud.
The products you choose for yourself and your family matter a great deal. The personal care industry is not regulated in the same way as the food industry. The last time a major regulatory law was passed was way back in 1938. Companies have a lot of shall we say, leeway when it comes to the ingredients and formulas they use in personal care products. The use of fragrance is a perfect example.
That’s why it’s so important to be your own advocate, and make the conscious choice to seek out cleaner, safer products whenever you can. Especially when it comes to little ones. Their developing systems are more susceptible to the effects of toxins. Pound for pound, their exposure to toxins is greater than that of adults. Not to mention that they put pretty much everything in their mouth.
First things first
Now before we dive in to my list of favorite non-toxic baby care products, I’ll reiterate something I say at the end of my posts. Everyone is different. I do my best to seek out, and try out, products that I feel are cleaner and safer choices for you and your and family. But always do you own research, and use your own judgement, when trying something new. Especially on little ones. What is great for my son’s sensitive skin may not work for yours, and vice versa. Makes sense right?
That being said, here are some of the awesome non-toxic baby care products that have become essential to my routine over the years. I’ve included EWG product ratings, when available, for those of you who like to reference their system (if you’re not sure what an EWG rating is, no worries, I talk about it in my post here).
You didn’t think I was going to forget about you did I? It’s super important to take good care of yourself too! I wish I could recommend a magic “feel completely rested” potion, but sorry, these products will have to do.
Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter
I’d love to tell you that a belly cream can prevent stretch marks, but sadly, it’s pretty much a genetics thing. That said, keeping your stretching skin well moisturized can’t hurt, and might even help a bit. I love using this belly butter because it’s rich and thick but not at all greasy like some of the balms out there. And no fragrance. It’s also great as a rich body lotion anywhere you’re feeling dry and itchy. EWG rating of 2.
Earth Mama Postpartum Cooling Spray
If you have a vaginal delivery, you need this stuff. Use it often and liberally postpartum and you’ll be glad you did.
Honest Organic Nipple Balm
This nipple balm is amazing for nursing. Much safer and easier to apply than lanolin. And the natural, organic ingredients make it safe for baby as well.
Laundry detergent is one of the products you’ll “use” on your baby before they’re even born. You’re going to want to wash all those cute little baby clothes before he or she arrives, so you might as well get off to a healthy start.
Soap box time (pun intended). Laundry products are big health offenders. Studies have shown that laundry detergents, fabric softeners and dryer sheets emit dozens of volatile organic compounds, many of which are classified as hazardous and toxic. Here’s a good article if you want more specifics. And here are my current favorites.
Molly’s Suds Liquid Laundry Detergent
I’ve found that even fragrance-free detergents can still irritate my skin, so I was thrilled to find a “green” detergent that actually works well. It’s great for the entire family. Also available in powder form.
Molly’s Suds Wool Dryer Balls
News flash. You don’t need to keep buying those (stinky and chemical-laden) fabric softeners and dryer sheets. Get some of these pure wool dryer balls to save money, soften your clothes and reduce drying time. Tip: Adding 1/2 cup white vinegar to the cup you’d normally usually fabric softener for will further reduce static.
Water is wet. Babies makes messes. Needless to say, cleaning comes with the territory.
Force of Nature All Purpose Cleaner
I use this one simple, non-toxic product pretty much everywhere in my house. I also clean just about every “kid” thing with this stuff – diaper pads, pacifiers, sippy cups, toys…you name it. Awesome for potty training messes and smells. It brings me no worries and great peace of mind. Carry a little bottle in your diaper bag too.
Baby Wash and Lotion
Like many new parents I took one of those baby care classes at the hospital before my first was born. I remember one of the nurses talking about how you should, for the most part, leave baby’s skin alone. Meaning, don’t over bathe them and don’t slather them with lots of lotions and creams. Healthy baby skin is pretty good at maintaining its delicate balance, and using too many products too often can disrupt that balance. I have to say I’ve found this to be true. You will of course need a gentle baby wash / shampoo and on occasion, a lotion or baby oil. Here are some good options.
Honest Shampoo and Body Wash
This body wash is gentle, comes in four lovely, natural scents (as well as unscented) and doubles as a shampoo. It’s a great body wash for you too. I use the sweet orange vanilla on myself and my kids. It’s subtle but smells divine. They make nice matching conditioners and bubble baths too.
Earth Mama Natural Non-Scents Baby Lotion
This company understands that what goes on your baby, goes in your baby. With an EWG rating of 1 this highly rated gentle lotion is a great choice.
Beautycounter Baby Soothing Oil
Traditional baby oils contain mineral oil, a refined by-product of petroleum distillation. There are some unfounded myths out there about mineral oil, however I much prefer natural oils like jojoba and coconut, which are more emollient (moisturizing) and beneficial to the skin. I love Beautycounter’s natural, organic baby oil. Bonus, it’s amazing on your skin too, especially after shaving. EWG rating of 1.
Diapers are very much a personal preference. One person will love a diaper and another will hate it. I also get asked, is it worth buying the “greener” chlorine-free diapers? I always say yes and here’s why. Diapers will be on your baby/toddler’s most sensitive areas almost 24 hours a day for years. Due to the duration of exposure, combined with the fact that the materials are often wet, I like to be cautious here and reduce unnecessary chemical exposure as much as possible. Not to mention that many of the big brands give my kids unexplained rashes.
Seventh Generation Free and Clear Diapers
I’ve tried several different greener diaper options over the years and found these to be the best balance of performance, value, safety, and availability. Once you know you like them, I highly recommend Amazon’s Subscribe & Save for diaper and wipe delivery. If you have five items in your order for the month, you’ll save 20%, which really adds up given how many diapers you’ll go through over the years (if you choose the disposable route).
Seventh Generation Free and Clear Baby Wipes
These wipes are thick, strong, not too dry and not too wet. They’re fragrance-free, safe, and a great value given their quality. For potty training however, I really love these flushable wipes.
Boudreaux’s Butt Paste Natural Diaper Rash Ointment
It seems like there are a million diaper creams out there. This is one is natural, easy to find, high in protective zinc, and preservative-free. I use it at the first sign of a diaper rash and it’s gone the next day. EWG rated 1.
Sun protection is sooo very important, as is choosing a safe sunscreen. See my post on the topic for lots more detail. But in short, you want to avoid chemical sunscreens and look for a physical sunblock – non-nano zinc oxide is the gold standard here. And they’ve come along way so don’t worry about looking like a ghost. Note: sunblock is generally recommended for babies 6 months and older (with other sun-protective measures recommended for babies under 6 months). Consult your pediatrician for specifics.
Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+
This is my favorite sunblock for my little ones, and the self-proclaimed “standard for safe sunscreen”. When I apply it diligently, it works amazingly well. There’s no greasiness to this one. I make sure to have a tube at home and in the diaper bag. Thinkbaby also makes a handy sunscreen stick which is great for quick touch-ups on the face and neck. EWG rating of 1.
Phew! If you made it though this long post, congratulations and thanks for sticking with me. I hope it will be a helpful resource for all of us busy parents out there. Leave me a comment and let me know what safe baby care products YOU are loving at the moment!
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Disclaimer: This site is intended to share my own experiences and opinions in an effort to help people more easily find safer products. It should not be considered health or medical advice. Always do your own research and due diligence before trying out new products.