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Cutting Chemicals Out Of The Nursery

While aisle after aisle in the average store hold hundreds or even thousands of baby products, many of these contain chemicals that pose a shocking risk to your little one. Rather than choosing store-bought products because it seems more convenient, there are easy home alternatives to most of the products that you can buy.

Cloth Diapers

Disposable diapers are a $7 billion-per-year industry, and parents who purchase disposable diapers can expect to spend anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 on diapers in the first two years alone. Should your child take longer to potty train, that cost could rise dramatically. The cost to purchase, use, and clean cloth diapers costs on average only $600 in the first year, and that cost and drop in the second year since you already have the infrastructure for using cloth diapers in place. Not only are cloth diapers the fiscally responsible choice, they are the safer choice for children and they have a much smaller environmental impact. Disposable diapers contain certain chemicals that aim to make them particularly absorbent and odor-free. While these chemicals may serve their purpose, they are also often the culprit behind diaper rashes in children. The main drawback to cloth diapers is that you must watch them carefully—because they fill up easier than disposable diapers, they need to be changed more often to maintain comfort.

Cleaning Products

Home cleaning chemicals are some of the most toxic substances we interact with, and we unwittingly expose our children to these substances every day. The mess that comes along with having a child can make a parent feel like he or she is simply walking throughout the house with a cleaning rag behind the little one. When cleaning hard toys or surfaces, simply mix water and distilled white vinegar in a one-to-one ratio. Put this mixture in a spray bottle exactly as you would use a store-bought cleaner. The vinegar smell dissipates once the mixture has dried, and the vinegar does not pose any health risks to your children. If you are cleaning stuffed animals that do not have particular cleaning instructions, simply pop them into the washing machine along with a vinegar and baking soda mixture.

Baby Wipes, Shampoo, and Baby Bathroom Products

Homemade shampoo is one of the easiest purchased goods to substitute— simply use liquid Castile soap. If you like, you can add essential oils for fragrance, but plain Castile liquid works quite well, and is much more gentle than the heavily processed and chemical-filled shampoo you would likely find at the store.

Diaper cream might be one of the most crucial items to keep stocked in your child’s diaper bag, necessary to keep your child happy as well as comfortable. Coconut oil is a simple alternative to purchased diaper rash cream, though a little bit of work can yield a wonderful dry powder or wet salve to address the problem. Combine one cup arrowroot powder with a tablespoon of ground chamomile and a tablespoon of ground lavender. Each of these ingredients should be available at a health food store if you do not have chamomile and lavender in your garden. Make sure each ingredient is dried, carefully ground, and well mixed before pouring the mixture into a shaker, tin, or other sealed container. Similar to salt shakers, you may want to add rice or pearled couscous (slightly larger) to absorb any moisture left in the mix. For a wet salve, purchase a calendula plant and dry one-fourth of a cup of petals. Combine the calendula petals with olive oil in a crockpot or other slow cooker for about three hours. Strain the olive oil into a bowl, making sure no calendula petals make their way into the bowl. Heat this olive oil in a pan and add one-eighth of a cup of grated beeswax, as well as lavender essential oils if your child is over six months. This salve works wonders for diaper rash, cuts, dry skin, and minor burns. In other words, it is an easy catch-all salve that you can safely use with your child.

Every new parent goes through thousands of baby wipes throughout their child’s infancy, creating a huge addition to landfills. While homemade baby wipes require paper towels, and thus still create some waste, they are much healthier for your children to be around. Simply cut a roll of paper towels in half and place one of the halves inside a container capable of being tightly sealed. Make sure you remove the cardboard lining before you place the paper towels in the container. Add two cups of water, up to a quarter cup of Castile soap, and up to a quarter cup of vegetable oil. Castile soap is available at a host of online vendors and is likely also available at health food stores in your area like Whole Foods or Trader Joes. Rather than using the conventional, catch-all vegetable oil from the grocery store, choose a fragrant oil: apricot, almond, or coconut oil. There are hundreds of variations you can make to a basic homemade baby wipe recipe, adding different essential oils to address different health needs your child may have. If you are already cloth diapering, using cloth wipes may also be an option you want to explore.

Essential Oils

Lavender, for example, helps heal the skin. If your child suffers from any skin problems, this would be a wonderful addition to the recipe. Because lavender also serves as a sleep aid, you may want to make two sets of wipes—one to use during the day, and one to use before nap time or bedtime. Calendula, like lavender, can help promote healthy skin for your son or daughter when added to a product that they will regularly encounter—making baby wipes the perfect vessel for a few drops of calendula. If you do want to add essential oils to baby products, this step should wait until your child is at least six months oil. Studies have shown that children under that age tend to have more negative responses to products containing essential oils. If you are raising a son, steer clear of lavender and opt for lemongrass or thyme oil. Both lemongrass and thyme oil contain antibiotic properties, and lavender is much more likely to irritate boys’ skin. Similarly, avoid using soy in homemade products for girls, as they show the same propensity to react poorly to soy that boys do to lavender.

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