Nursery

A Simple Addition for Cold Nights

woolino sleep sack

Colder nights mean layering up at our house. Even with the heat blasting, our daughter’s nursery is still cold at night. Wanting to keep her in natural fibers (sorry, fleece!), it took some researching to find the right solution. I discovered the Woolino Four Season Sleep Bag and so far we are loving it.

I finally landed on this particular sleep sack for a few reasons:
– 100% natural Australian merino wool inner lining and GOTS certified organic cotton outer (the wool was key).
– No flame retardants (because this is sleep-ware, many companies still put flame retardant chemicals on their sleep sacks.)
– Machine washable (It washes well. I hung it to dry.)
– Easy to snap on. It also has a zipper for nighttime diaper changes.
– The material is extremely soft and comfortable—far softer than I expected.
– Certainly least important, but there are several nice colors to choose from (we got the beige, shown above).

I started by purchasing the 2-4 year size since our daughter is just shy of two years and taller for her age. However, it was comically large. I exchanged it for the 2 months-2 years size and it is perfect, with room to grow (although it might be far too long for a two month old). I imagine by the time she outgrows it, she will be old enough to have blankets in bed.

On really cold nights, we dress her in two sets of long cotton pjs, two pairs of socks plus this sleep sack and never hear a peep.

A Simple, Non-Toxic Nursery

photo 2

When creating a nursery, I like to think of it as a calm, soothing little cocoon. Our nursery is made of varying shades of white and cream with natural fibers (seagrass, wicker, cane) added for texture. Both our son and daughter used the same room and if we have any more children, I don’t anticipate it will change very much for them. We keep the room comfortable yet spare—limited furniture, decorations, and toys. Like many parents, I also strive for it to be as non-toxic as possible (easier said than done!). If you are looking for ideas for your nursery, here are some suggestions:

Crib. We are not co-sleepers, so a crib is center stage in the nursery for our children. Ideally this would be made from non-toxic materials. (Here and here are some good posts about non-toxic cribs). Ours is from Ikea, but if I was doing it all over again, I’d get this one from Land of Nod. It is made by El Greco and seems to be wonderful.

Crib mattress and mattress pad. The mattress is the one serious, no-compromise-must-be-organic item in the nursery. Ours is from Naturepedic. If I was doing it over again, I’d get this one from Naturepedic without the waterproof cover (the waterproof layer is supposedly safe, but I’d still rather be more cautious. We have a waterproof  mattress pad anyway, so there is no reason for the mattress itself to be waterproof.) This is our organic mattress pad. Natural Baby Mama has a great post about all of this.

Crib sheet. Preferably GOTS certified organic cotton (companies can say the cotton is organic and then still treat it with chemicals). We like these from Naturepedic.

Chair. A comfortable place to sit, feed the baby, read books, etc is paramount. Unfortunately nearly all conventionally upholstered gliders/rockers contain excessive amounts of flame retardants. We had a very comfortable but very toxic glider. I’ve replaced it with a vintage, solid wood rocker with a cane seat and back. The caning makes it surprisingly comfortable (it has more give than solid wood).

Dresser. I don’t need to tell you that dressers are the perfect multipurpose piece of furniture. We use ours as a changing table, as well as a place to store diapers, creams and supplies, clothing, bedding and blankets. Ours is an old family dresser that will grow with our children and hopefully one day live in their homes.

Changing pad. This is another item that really needs to be organic. Conventional changing pads are made of polyurethane foam and contain flame retardants. Naturepedic makes an organic version (which is what we have). Here is the changing pad cover we use.

Bookcase. The shelves can house books and toys, while the top is a surface for a lamp, white noise and a plant (plants help filter the air. Peace lilies are great). Avoid pressed woods and MDF—ideally it would be made from a solid, hardwood with a non-toxic stain or paint.

Window coverings. Whatever you choose, make sure it adequately blocks out the light if that is a goal. We have cotton black-out curtains that I open and close for nap time and bed time.

Rug. Toxins are incredibly sneaky and rugs are often an overlooked haven for these guys. The ideal solution is hardwood floors (with a non-toxic finish) with a natural fiber rug on top (wood floors without a rug could be very loud and echo-y). Wall-to-wall carpeting is nearly always chock-full of toxins, which is why I strongly suggest steering clear from it if at all possible. (Side note: Do not ever remove wall-to-wall carpeting yourself. Ripping it up releases tons of toxins into your house and lungs. Have it professionally removed by someone who specializes in non-toxic removal). I love these seagrass rugs from Curran. They come in any size, and they are made without any treatments, pesticides or finishes (some companies treat their seagrass with pesticides, such as Pottery Barn). The backing is natural latex without any adhesive. Seagrass also naturally repels stains due to its naturally-occurring waxy finish. We have these rugs throughout our house, and I am thrilled with them.

Minimal art and decorations. I prefer to keep things simple and clean in this department. No need to go crazy and feel pressure from Pinterest to bedazzle every aspect of the room.

Mirror and clock. I like having a mirror in the room so I can see if that sweet little baby has dozed off or not on my shoulder! A discreet yet illuminated clock is vital during those nighttime rendezvous. More on this here.

White noise. Indispensable in a creaky old house like ours. We use an old ipod on a dock.

Baby monitor. Brace yourselves: we’ve given up the monitor. Once I learned that video monitors actually run on wi-fi (What did I think they used? Magic??) I removed it from the room. It wasn’t close to our children (probably five feet away), but I still felt uncomfortable. If we have another baby, we will use an old-fashioned noise-only monitor. The pros of the video aspect are not worth the risks to us. (Talking about wi-fi being toxic definitely could make you think I’ve gone off the deep end. Unfortunately, it might not be as safe as we think. The CDC recently issued a warning about it, and I imagine it will become a much more mainstream concern in the coming years. On that note, we’ve never allowed our children anywhere near our iphones, ipads or laptops, and we keep our wireless turned off in our house most of the time. We—the adults—also only use our phones on speaker or with a headset—never against our heads. No doubt your eyes have glazed over by now!)

A small selection of books and toys. Preferably all non-toxic (no plastic, no batteries, etc.). Fewer is always better when it comes to toys. I promise your children will not be bored! More on this soon. Here are some of our favorite baby toys.

Paint. This must be VOC-free (primer, too!) We use Natura by Benjamin Moore for all of our paint.

The Trick For an Awesome Bubble Bath

bubble bath tip

Maybe you already know this easy trick for a really bubbly bubble bath—but I just learned it. Instead of waiting until the bath is full and then adding the bubble bath (which always seems to require quite a lot to make it bubbly enough), add the liquid at the very beginning when there is barely any water (just make sure the drain is already plugged). It requires much less liquid and creates tons more bubbles. Children also love watching the bubbles build as the water fills.

If you’d like to know more about how we do baths, go here.

Two (Overlooked) Items for Your Nursery

There are two items I often find are overlooked when planning a nursery. Though not entirely necessary, I think they make life a lot easier: a mirror and a digital clock.

A mirror can of course be wonderful for aesthetic purposes, but I find it is crucial when you have that sweet baby on your shoulder and you are wondering whether he or she is asleep. Ours is over the dresser/changing table (on a safety hook). There was a time period when we were without a mirror and I found it so hard!

A digital clock is a bit of an eyesore I admit, but for middle-of-the-night visits to your baby’s room, it can be irreplaceable. It also helps when you are counting the minutes (literally) in those early days of breastfeeding. Make sure the numbers light up without having to press the clock and that it is visible from your glider, or wherever you feed the baby. Here are some ideas:

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Mirrors: 1234

Clocks: 1234

Your Diaper Bag is for You, Not Your Baby

This was a major ah-ha moment for me: when I realized many of the baby products I was acquiring were for me, not my baby. For example, the diaper bag.

Let me first begin by explaining I really don’t like “baby” stuff. That may sound harsh, but what about being a baby makes them like silly frills and crazy patterns? That’s something our culture decided for them. If you love those patterns and styles, by all means get it. But if you are defaulting to those baby-ish items because that’s what you see dominating the marketplace, I say buck the system and find something you want to look at.

To me, your diaper bag should be something you enjoy carrying around. First-time moms (me included) tend to bring the world when leaving the house. I get it—it is a safety blanket. But pretty much any bag (not necessarily a diaper bag) with decent space and a few interior pockets will do.

(Now that my children are one and three-and-a-half years, I just throw a diaper and some wipes in my purse. But that’s a story for another day.)

As it turns out, I did buy a “real” diaper bag when I was pregnant with our first child, and I happen to love it—I even took it to Paris sans children! When looking for your own bag, I suggest one with decent room, several interior pockets, comfortable straps, and a sturdy base. The beauty of approaching a diaper bag this way is that when you no longer need it for your children, you will have a lovely bag you will enjoy using. Here are some ideas:

Non-diaper diaper bag

1. Gap.   2. Tumi.   3. Lo & Sons   4. LLBean   5. Lands End   6. Serena & Lily

p.s. Pottery Barn Kids no longer makes my diaper bag, which is a shame. It was much more understated than what they have now. Similar to this, but without the bold stripes and more beautiful leather details. I got it in black.