Monthly Archives: October 2014

The Complete Guide to Non-Toxic Baby Products

Every parent wants the best for his or her child. But many parents don’t realize that there are harmful chemicals in many mainstream baby products. In this guide we’ll arm you with everything you need to know in order to make safer choices for your child. This is going to be a long one — below is a quick preview of what’s ahead so you can jump around easily.

UPDATE 2/17: I’m in the process of updating this post — I plan to update recommendations and links, and also to expand to additional categories. So far I’ve made it through the Nursery section.  If there is something in particular you’d love to see updated or added, leave me a note in the comments! 🙂

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Top Baby Finds on Etsy

Adorable & unique baby finds on Etsy - including wooden toys, organic clothing, and more!

This week we’re highlighting one of our favorite sources of unique and handmade baby goods: Etsy.

Etsy describes itself as a “marketplace where people around the world connect to buy and sell unique goods. Our mission is to re-imagine commerce in ways that build a more fulfilling and lasting world.” It’s also a Certified B Corporation (along with the likes of Patagonia and Seventh Generation), meaning it aims to “use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems” rather than being organized around the primary purpose of generating a profit.

Sounds pretty good, right? And there are lots of benefits for the discerning buyer as well: not only are you supporting an individual artisan or small business, but you’re getting something handcrafted and more unique (sometimes even one-of-a-kind) than the mass-market products sold at major retailers.  Many Etsy sellers also choose to use organic and/or sustainable materials, tend toward a more modern style, and produce their products locally.

For all of these reasons, Etsy products also make fantastic baby gifts!  Often the presents that get the most “oohs” and “aahs” at baby showers are the unique ones from Etsy. 🙂  You can directly purchase a product to give as a gift, or alternatively you can buy a gift certificate to many Etsy stores to allow the mama-to-be to order something that fits her tastes.

There are so many amazing sellers and products on Etsy that it would be impossible to feature them all.  So we will use this post to share just a few of our favorites. 🙂  (NB: We are not receiving any kind of compensation for this post or for the specific shops and products that we have chosen to feature.  We are just big fans and want to share some of our favorite finds!)

Natural nursery

We love Turn a New Leaf Designs for its natural nursery basics and bedding, including this fantastic organic wool duvet/comforter ($100) and organic wool-filled changing pad ($128).

turnanewleafdesigns_duvetturnanewleafdesigns_wool_changing_pad

Baby blankets

We love absolutely everything from the Organic Quilt Company.  Their expertly crafted baby blankets, quilts, burp cloths, bibs, hats, and towels are made from organic materials, come in a wide range of modern prints, and make perfect baby gifts.  We own and love their Essential Organic Baby Blanket ($32.50) — one of our top choices for baby shower gifts.

organicquiltcompany_baby_blanket

Petunias features its own digital designs on its quilts, wet bags, and bags.  Their Hoot Hoot quilt ($81) is perfect for a newborn photo shoot or as a floor mat.  Because they print their own fabrics, many of their products can also be personalized with your child’s name or birth details.

petunias_hoothoot

There are also tons of handmade baby quilts on Etsy at very reasonable prices.  This Windy Day/Gray Chevron quilt ($149) from Sunnyside Designs is an example of the gorgeous workmanship to be found.

sunnysidedesigns2_windy_day_quilt

Nursery decor

Wall decals are a great way to make a big impact on the look and feel of a nursery very quickly.  There’s a wide range of decals available on Etsy — from these simple, classy clouds ($35-45) from Katazoom to weeping trees and elaborate animal scenes.  You’re sure to find decals to match or inspire almost any theme for your nursery.

katazoom_cloud_decals

Prints are another great choice for adding some zest to your nursery in a jiffy.  We love the alphabet prints ($34.50) from Just Bunch Designs, created using decorative paper and acrylic paints.

justbunch_alphabet_prints

Etsy’s a great place to pick up a unique mobile for your one-in-a-million little one.  We love this felt safari-themed mobile ($90) from Drops of Color.

dropsofcolorshop_safari_mobile

And what about creating some order amongst the children’s books that you’ll be reading umpteen times a day? Can’t get much cuter than this sweet pair of owl/bird bookends ($60) from The Wooden Owl.

thewoodenowl_owl_bird_bookends

Fabric storage bins are great alternatives to ugly plastic totes.  We love these expertly crafted, made-to-order storage bins from Baffin Bags.  They are available in a variety of fabrics and sizes — from the 5×8″ version shown below (perfect for use as a diaper caddy; $18) to larger versions appropriate for toys.

baffinbags_sm_storage_tote

Organic clothing

If you’re looking for some unique threads for your little one, there are many sellers on Etsy who make handmade baby clothes — many with organic fabrics and modern prints.

North Carolina-based holdyoume is one of our favorite baby clothing shops.  They make pants, matching hats, headbands, and swaddle blankets in modern graphical prints.  Check out their adorable whale pants ($28-38):
holdyoume_organic_whale_pants

Sleeping gowns are a must for new babies, and we love the reasonably priced, organic full-snap gowns ($27) from Canadian shop Tootie & Dolly.

amandaannbrown_sleeping_gown

Baby shoes

Shoes with soft soles are perfect for crawlers, cruisers, and early walkers.  Many Etsy sellers offer made-to-order soft soles in a range of fabrics, including these wonderful nature-inspired shoes from Growing Up Wild ($28):

growingupwild_soft_soles

There are many products made out of recycled wool on Etsy as well, including these adorable owl slippers ($32) from Little Friends.  We’ve bought several pairs of slippers from Catherine over the years, some for own our littles and some as baby gifts, and all have been cherished.

littlefriendsco_owl_slippers

We also love Etsy for amazingly affordable (especially given the quality) soft soled shoes made out of leather, like these fabulous owl shoes ($24-27) from Starry Knight Design (are you noticing a trend here? we just can’t get enough of all these adorable owls!):

starryknightdesign_leather_soft_soles

Baby hats

There is no shortage of adorable handmade baby hats on Etsy.  Here’s a classic skull cap/knot hat sporting an adorable elephant print  from Paisley Pair Designs ($18).  Also available in many other fabrics.

paisleypeardesignsMT_elephanthat

There are also themed hats for every occasion.  In honor of the current fall season, here’s an adorable pumpkin hat from Handknit Hugs.

handknithugs_pumpkin_hat

 

Nursing and feeding

Infinity scarves are a great alternative to awkward nursing covers.  We love this highly-rated gray chevron cover ($20) from Hold Me Close.  It’s on our “if we ever have another baby…” list!

holdmeclose_nursing

Drool bibs are a must for little ones, and it’s easy to find unique, modern, and organic ones on Etsy.  This organic cotton woodland theme bib and burp cloth set ($25) from wilder & bean is just perfect.

wilderandbean_woodland_bib_burp_set

Also, could this organic penguin bib ($20) from down home amy (featuring an original illustration by the artisan) be any more adorable?!

downhomeamy_penguin_bib

Bathtime

We adore these organic hooded baby towels ($44.50) from Organic Quilt Company.  They come in a range of solids and colors.

organicquiltcompany_hoodedtowel

And don’t forget some organic washcloths.  CurlyMonkey has some organic hemp/cotton cloths that are great for bathtime and for wiping baby’s face ($11.50 for 6-pack).  They can also be used as reusable diaper wipes if you’re cloth diapering.

curlymonkey_washcloths

Wooden toys

Imagination Kids, based in Indiana, is a favorite Etsy shop that hand creates fantastic wooden toys from sustainably harvested wood and non-toxic paints. Their range includes animals, push and pull toys, stacking toys, and more.  Two of our favorites are this rainbow stacker (reminiscent of Grimms, but at a much more affordable price) and adorable hedgehog family ($25 each).

imaginationkids_rainbow_stackerimaginationkids_hedgehogs

Smiling Tree Toys, based in Minnesota, makes heirloom-quality, natural-colored wooden toys like this name-personalized truck ($20).  Its products are hand-crafted from certified sustainably harvested hardwoods and are finished with an organic oil-and-beeswax-blend finish.
smiling_tree_toys_truck

Beckman Woodworks makes lovely wooden rattles, stackers, and blocks that are finished with beeswax in Oregon.  This rattle/teething toy costs $18.

beckmanwoodworks_rattle

Hill Country Woodcraft in Texas makes a wide variety of wooden toys ranging from vehicles to push toys to stacking toys.  We are absolutely in love with this personalized fire truck ($20).

hcwoodcraft_firetruck

Bannor Toys in Iowa makes mostly natural-colored wood toys including this toy car set ($18).

bannortoys_car_set

Soft toys

bunbunbabydesigns specializes in baby gifts featuring modern fabrics. We particularly love their adorable decorative pillows/soft toys, like this fox and owl ($25 each).

bunbunbabydesigns_foxpillow bunbunbabydesigns_owl

Nicole’s Critters specializes in crocheted stuffed animals.  Our farm-obsessed toddler has this adorable sheep ($45) and is in love with it.  The seller was very happy to work with us to create a custom version out of 100% cotton yarn.

nicolescritters_sheep

 

100% organic stuffed animals are hard to find in most stores — but not on Etsy.  This pumpkin monkey ($76) from Yarn Miracle is hand knit with organic cotton yarn and stuffed with organic cotton batting.  A bit pricey, but an amazing choice if you’re in the market for a new best friend for your child.yarnmiracle_monkey

Miscellaneous

Lucy Darling makes some of the cutest bodysuit stickers around for your monthly milestone photos, including this zoo-themed set ($18).lucydarlingshop_milestone_stickers

Age blocks are also a great alternative, if you plan to be doing milestone photos past the bodysuit stage.  Check out this versatile wood age block set ($30) from Buggy’s Blocks.

buggysblocks_age_blocksFor kids in daycare or preschool, we LOVE the personalized clothing labels from Ananemone Labels.  You can choose from basic name only (in your choice of fonts) or a wide range of graphic designs; most designs are available in both sew-on and iron-on versions.  We couldn’t resist these adorable robot name labels ($18) for our resident toddler.  But word to the wise(r than we are): don’t try ironing them onto an insulated lunch box – you’ll melt it (oops!).

ananemone_clothing_labels


Well, that’s it for our Etsy round-up.  Hope you discovered at least one new product that you love for your little one or your next baby shower.  Did we miss any of your favorite Etsy shops or products?  Let us know in the comments!

WEAR ALL THE BABIES!!!
(An introduction to babywearing)

An introduction to babywearing from TotScoop. Includes babywearing basics, top carrier picks, and online resources for buying carriers and learning more about babywearing.

In honor of International Babywearing Week (Oct. 5-12, 2014), today on the blog we’re featuring some babywearing basics, our top carrier picks, and the top online resources for buying baby carriers and learning more about babywearing. 🙂  We are passionate babywearers, so whether you’re an experienced babywearer or just babywearing curious, our goal is to help you discover at least one new thing to help you to wear your little one just that much more comfortably or for just that much longer. <3

Why babywear?

For those who are not yet sold on babywearing, the answer is, in a nutshell: because it’s awesome!  Your baby will love it, because it will enable him or her to stay closer to you.  Studies show that babies who are carried cry less and are healthier than babies who aren’t.  And you’ll love it too, because your arms won’t fall off, and you’ll be able to keep your hands free for other things — so you can actually GET. STUFF. DONE.

Not yet convinced?  Check out these articles on the benefits of babywearing from Babywearing International, Dr. Sears, and La Leche League International.

What type of baby carrier is right for me?

There are a ton of options available, so selecting your first carrier can be a bit daunting.  Here is an overview of some of the main types of carriers from Babywearing International (BWI), to help get you oriented to the basic lingo.

In general, the best type of carrier for you will depend on both your baby’s age and your personal preferences.

For newborns (birth to 4-6 months or so), your basic options are a wrap (either stretchy or woven), a sling or pouch, or a newborn-friendly soft carrier (e.g. mei tai or Soft Structured Carrier/buckle carrier).  Newborn-friendly soft carriers include both infant-sized carriers (which are sized for smaller babies) and one-size carriers that can easily adjust to accommodate smaller babies well (for example, the base might cinch or snap in, or an integrated infant insert might be included).

For the baby stage (approximately 6 to 18 months), your best options are woven wraps (stretchy wraps will no longer be supportive enough) or a standard-size soft carrier.

For the toddler stage (approximately 18+ months), woven wraps and toddler-size soft carriers are your best bet (the latter will have a wider base and higher back to better support your child as compared to a standard-size carrier).

In general, if you want something that’s easy to learn to use and/or want to be able to pop baby in and out frequently, a soft carrier is probably a better option for you than a wrap.  Wraps are infinitely adjustable, but have a much steeper learning curve and can be challenging to put on in places like parking lots.  Also, if you have shoulder or back problems, avoid one-shouldered carriers (such as ring slings/pouches).

Our top picks for baby carriers

We’ve spent hours upon hours researching and testing out baby carriers for our upcoming baby carrier buying guide.  It hasn’t been published yet, but we’re happy to be able to share with you here a sneak peek of our absolute favorites.

Top newborn carriers (birth to 4-6 mo.)

Boba Wrap

The Boba Wrap ($38 at Amazon) is a favorite for newborns.  It’s similar to the popular Moby, but features a more stretchy, airy fabric (due to its 5% spandex content) which bounces back and is more forgiving to tie (though you need to be extra sure it is tied securely).  It’s also more reasonably priced, and less toasty than the Moby in hot weather.

boba wrap

Sakura Bloom ring sling

Ring slings are some of the easiest carriers to get in and out of.  Sakura Bloom ring slings are stunning — they’re definitely pricey ($88-198), but they’re gorgeous and incredibly luxe.  Both linen (sturdier) and dupioni silk (lighter weight) versions are available, and in both single (lighter) and double layers (more supportive).  If you’re looking for something cheaper and easier to care for, also check out the Maya Wrap Baby Sling ($80 at Amazon).

sakurabloom_black

Beco Gemini

Sized smaller than most Soft Structured Carriers, the Beco Gemini ($130 at Amazon) is a fantastic option for the first 10 to 12 months.  It accommodates a newborn with no insert, has an adjustable crotch width, and features a substantial padded headrest that provides excellent head and neck support.  The Gemini is more versatile than most carriers, allowing four different positions: front-facing-in, back, hip, and front-facing-out.  The only thing about the Gemini we don’t like is the safety buckles, which sadly are a two-handed operation for most people.

beco_gemini

Boba 4G

The Boba 4G, described below, is a standard-size Soft Structured Carrier that also elegantly adjusts to fit newborns well.

Top standard (6 to 18 mo.) and toddler-size carriers (18+ mo.)

Tula Ergonomic Baby Carrier

Tula carriers don’t yet have mainstream distribution (you won’t find them on Amazon or at Target), but they are extremely popular in the babywearing world — and for good reason.  They are extremely comfortable for most wearers, and their quality and craftsmanship are undeniable.  The standard-size Tula ($149) fits babies from 15 lbs.; it can also be used from birth with infant insert (sold separately, $40).  The toddler-size Tula ($169) is designed for use from 18+ months (or 32″ tall and 25 lbs.).

tula_blue_zig_zag

Boba 4G

The redesigned Boba 4G ($128 at Amazon) is a great choice that elegantly accommodates newborns through toddlers.  It includes an integrated, two-position infant insert that allows you to wear smaller babies legs-in (one setting is for newborns 7-10 lbs., the other for infants 10-15 lbs.).  After 15 lbs., you remove the insert and wear baby legs out.  Toddlers are also made fairly comfortable in the Boba 4G, despite the fact that the carrier body is not huge, through use of the Boba’s unique stirrups.

boba4g_kangaroo

Top woven wraps (all ages)

Woven wraps come in so many different materials, patterns, and lengths that it simply doesn’t make sense for us to recommend individual products.  So instead we’ll focus on introducing you to just a couple of our favorite wrap brands.  (It’s a slippery slope — once you get into wrapping, you’ll discover lots more wrap brands that are also great!)

Didymos

Didymos is the gold standard of German-style wraps.  Their wraps are somewhat expensive ($130+ for a standard size 5), but are high quality and supportive and have high resale value.  Didymos wraps are available many different designs, including their classic “Indio” geometric pattern as well as various stripes and jacquards.  They also release gorgeous Limited Edition models.  You can’t go wrong with a Didy!

didymos_iris

Girasol

Girasol is a German company that produces wraps woven in Guatemala using the traditional weaving methods of the Mayan Indians. Girasol wraps feature stunningly beautiful designs (e.g. rainbow stripes in gorgeous tones), are thin-to-medium in thickness, are reasonably priced, and require no break-in period — making them a great choice for beginners.

wovenwraps.com baby carriers woven wraps for traditional baby wearing

Best places to buy baby carriers

Buying new

As always, for convenience, and also often price, our favorite online retailer for baby stuff is Amazon.com.

If you want a wider selection and/or a more personal touch, you may find it worthwhile to visit a specialty baby carrier retailer. Their owners are very knowledgeable; many offer free consultations to help you find the best baby carrier for your needs. Some of our favorites include PAXbaby, Marsupial Mamas, Granola Babies, Heavenly Hold, QuirkyBaby, Wovenwraps.com, and Wrap Your Baby.

Some more narrowly distributed brands may be easiest to buy directly from the manufacturer for the broadest selection (e.g., Tula).

If you’re interested in testing out a carrier (or several) before you buy, PAXbaby, Granola Babies, Heavenly Hold, QuirkyBaby, and Tula all offer carrier rental programs.

Buying used

Here are some of the top destinations online for buying, selling, and trading used baby carriers:

TheBabyWearer (TBW) FSOT board (registration required… 30 posts required before you can sell anything)

Facebook B/S/T groups (you must join each one individually…many also have a sister feedback thread that you must join before you can sell anything)

eBay.com

Your local Craigslist board (as always, be wary of authenticity and deals too good to be true)

Where can I learn more about babywearing?

Check out these helpful resources to learn more:


Did we miss anything?  Let us know in the comments.

Hope you got at least one new piece of information to convince you to try something new!  Happy babywearing! 🙂

Note: All featured products and brands are editorially selected by our editors; we do not accept compensation in exchange for coverage.  This post does contain affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small proportion of any purchases you make after clicking on them (at no cost to you); thanks for your support!  See our full Editorial Policy & Affiliate Disclosure here.