Category Archives: Parenting

How To Pick Safe Baby Bottles and Food Containers

Safe baby spoon

We’ve all heard it said that there are no rules to parenting. And while this may be true in most cases, when it comes to baby bottles, there are plenty of rules. Naturally, part of baby bottle safety is proper preparation and use. The other part, though, that can be harder to learn, is picking the right bottle.

The guiding rule for choosing safe baby bottles and other food containers is: the simpler the better. Sure, there are plenty of bottles out there that boast of new fancy innovations, from self-warming bottles to bottles shaped like teddy bears. While these may sound fun and convenient, often “add-ons” to baby bottles come with increased risk. Here, we’ll walk you through what to avoid when picking safe baby bottles and food containers.

Burn Risks

Of course, the best way to avoid burns is by ensuring that you never let your child near milk or other food that is too hot. However, accidents do happen, so it’s important to ensure that your bottles and other containers are extremely stable and will not tilt and spill, especially before the liquid has had time to cool down.

Plain, normally-shaped baby bottles are best to avoid spills. When bottles get too complicated, the risk of spills (and of burns) can increase. For example, in May 2022, one baby bottle with a “bumper” on the bottom (a circle of rubber intended to provide grip and ) was recalled; exposure to hot liquids caused the bumper to shrink, causing the bottle to tilt and spill. Some bottles may have fun shapes or add-ons, but these can be top heavy or more prone to spillage. For example 

Small Parts

As you know, one of the main baby rules is to keep small objects away from their mouths! While most baby bottles don’t include any small parts that pose a choking hazard, some water bottles meant for older children may. Make sure that any bottles you give your child are durable and do not have any small parts, like a spout, that may break off.

Chemical Exposure

Avoiding chemicals is one of the most-discussed areas of concern for baby bottles. With so much conflicting information out there, it can be difficult to know how to make sure your bottles, utensils, and food containers are actually safe.

First, buying bottles and food containers that aren’t made out of plastic is the best way to avoid these nasty chemicals. Plastic bottles can contain several scary chemicals, including phthalates and BPA, hormone disruptors (although the FDA banned BPA in baby bottles in 2012). In addition to these known chemicals, there are many chemicals used to create plastic food containers whose health effects are still unknown. Finally, plastic bottles can shed tiny plastic particles into the liquid they store, especially when the bottle is shaken, which your baby then ingests. While the health effects of microplastics are still being studied, there’s certainly cause for some concern.

If you do use a plastic bottle, make sure never to store breast milk or formula in the bottle, as the plastic can leach chemicals over time. If your bottle is cracked or worn (which sometimes looks cloudy, rather than clear), it’s time to get a new bottle, as these can leach chemicals more frequently. It’s also important to buy containers that have undergone food container testing to make sure that they’re durable and chemical free. Finally, never heat your plastic bottles in the microwave or wash them in hot water or in the dishwasher, as this can cause them to degrade.

Plastic Alternatives

Many companies these days are choosing to create baby bottles made of glass, which are not only non-toxic, but are also much better for the environment. Of course, glass does pose a risk of breaking, so many bottles come with a plastic or silicone outer layer; the glass keeps chemicals out of the bottle on the inside, while the plastic surrounding keeps the bottle crack free. You can also choose to buy BPA-free bottle liners that are disposable.

There are also a number of non-breakable options for non-plastic eating utensils, plates, and containers that are still safe for your kids. One great material is stainless steel, which is fully non-toxic and food safe. For example, our stainless steel flatware is designed for your baby to develop their fine motor skills, and even has fun animal designs! Stainless steel is also a popular choice for lunch boxes and food containers.

So, if you’re a first time parent or just restocking your collection, keep simplicity in mind next time you buy baby bottles or food containers for your kids. Simple materials and simple designs will help keep your child safe, happy, and well-fed!

Is Organic Food Better for Your Kids?

Stainless Steel Baby Spoon Made in USA

Is Organic Food Better for Your Kids?

We’ve all been there: stuck in the grocery store, holding the non-organic apple in one hand and the organic apple in the other (and maybe also trying to hold your fussy child!). With organic food’s popularity increasing right along with its prices, many of us have begun to wonder: is organic food actually better?

Particularly as parents, we want to provide our kids with the healthiest, safest option. This guide will walk you through what “organic” actually means, and discuss some of organic food’s benefits.

What Does Organic Mean?

The goal of organic farming is to reduce farming’s impacts on the environment and human health through improved farming practices. Organic practices can be used to grow fruits and vegetables, to grow grains, and to produce meat and dairy products.

While organic farming has included many sustainable practices over the years, the United States Department of Agriculture clearly defined the term “organic” with the creation of the USDA organic seal in 1990. Today, food producers can become organic certified by following a set of strict, federally-mandated organic guidelines. This includes:

  • No artificial fertilizers
  • No synthetic pesticides
  • No genetic engineering of crops
  • No antibiotics or other hormones for livestock

Next time you’re grocery shopping, if you look closely you may notice that food products may display a few different kinds of organic claims. For example, some foods are 100% organic or 95% organic and display the USDA organic seal, while others are merely “made with organic flour” or “made with organic ingredients.” Anything with ingredients less than 95% organic cannot carry the USDA seal.

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There are a few other food labels that are closely related to organic foods. For example, GlobalG.A.P. certification shows that every step of the food’s production process is done safely and sustainably, and Regenerative Organic certification shows that the food was grown using regenerative farming practices that improve soil health. However, these alternative labels are not yet found in most conventional grocery stores, so for now, keep your eyes peeled for the USDA organic seal.

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Benefits of Organic Food

While it’s clear that organic farming is less harmful to the environment, the health benefits of organic food are still subject to some debate. Here, we’ll discuss several benefits of organic food that have solid scientific support.

1. Better for the environment

The main, undisputed benefit of organic food is that it is much better for the environment than conventional farming. Pesticides and synthetic fertilizers used in conventional farming can have severe impacts on wildlife and ecosystems. For example, when synthetic fertilizers mix with water running off the farm, it can end up in the ocean and cause ocean acidification, which kills shellfish and other marine species. Insecticides like neonicotinoids can also kill off bees, which are crucial pollinators and allow us to produce enough food.

Additionally, organic farming improves soil health and focuses on improving the treatment of farm animals.

2. Lower pesticide residues

Organic farming doesn’t use synthetic pesticides, and therefore leaves less pesticide residue on the food. In fact, a 2019 study found that eating an organic diet reduces the amount of pesticides found in the body. This is important because many pesticides can have serious health impacts in large doses, including asthma, cancer, hormonal imbalances and reproductive harm. Pesticides have also been linked to increased behavioral and attention problems in children. While it’s possible that there isn’t enough pesticide residue on most foods to actually cause harm, there’s no doubt that you eat fewer pesticides when eating organic food.

3. More nutritious

While this is perhaps the most debated claim about organic food, organic food actually does have higher amounts of certain nutrients. A 2010 review found that organic foods have higher levels of vitamin C, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. Additionally, organic foods (not including wheat, oats and wine) have higher levels of antioxidants, which may help reduce your risk of disease. That said, eating organic food has not been explicitly linked to health benefits in humans.

4. Decreased levels of cadmium

Many conventional foods are grown using phosphate-based fertilizers, which adds cadmium, a heavy metal to the food. Studies have shown that organic food has lower levels of cadmium as a result of being grown without synthetic fertilizers. Cadmium is toxic in high quantities and can cause some types of cancer. However, some experts argue that we shouldn’t worry about cadmium in our food because it’s only present in very small, safe amounts.

Ultimately, the answer to the question “is organic food better for your kids” is yes. Not only is organic food better for the environment, which helps create a livable future for your children, but it does provide slightly more nutrients and fewer pesticides. While we can’t be sure just how much these benefits actually affect our health and our kids’ health, you certainly can’t go wrong by choosing organic, and you might get some extra nutrients along the way!


Image source: https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/Organic4colorsealGIF.gif

Image source: https://rodaleinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/Screen-Shot-2020-07-21-at-3.51.01-PM-e1599683024878.png

How To Sustainably Dispose of Old Toys

Okay, parents, it’s time to be honest. Is it possible that your child has too many toys? I know, I know, we all want to spoil our kids a little. But when the toys start overflowing the toy chest or covering every spare surface, it might be time to get rid of a few.

Unfortunately, the toy industry is typically pretty environmentally unfriendly, and simply throwing away old toys isn’t always the best option for sustainability. Let’s review a few options for how to sustainably get rid of your old toys.

1. Donate your old toys

The most eco-friendly option for disposing of old toys is to donate them. This keeps toys out of the landfill and reduces the need to produce new toys. Luckily, there are many different options for where to donate your toys that are still in working condition. First, if you’re lucky enough to have friends with kids, that’s a great way to make sure your old toys will get some use again! You can also choose to donate to a charity thrift store like Goodwill, that takes old toys and resells them. Cradles to Crayons is another charity that takes donated toys and gives them to families in need.

Additionally, many children’s and women’s shelters, hospitals, and daycare centers will accept toy donations. Some neighborhoods may even have toy libraries, where you can exchange toys for free. For an easy, online option, you can always choose to give away or sell your toys through an online marketplace like Ebay or Facebook. As long as the toys are in good shape, donation is a great sustainable way to make sure your toys make another kid very happy.

2. Recycle your old toys

Believe it or not, some toys can actually be recycled. Even better, some toys, like unpainted or naturally-dyed wooden toys, can even be composted. While the recycling rules usually depend on your local recycling center’s discretion, generally, toys made from recyclable materials like stainless steel and other metals can be recycled. Some towns also accept large, rigid plastic toys. Finally, many electronic components in toys can be recycled.

Recycling not only reduces the amount of new plastic that must be produced, but it helps avoid chemicals and microplastics leaching from landfilled plastic toys into the environment.  While some toys are tested to ensure that they don’t contain any dangerous (or restricted) chemicals, not all toys are, so it’s best to make sure that the toys can be processed correctly in a recycling plant.

That said, some toys can’t be recycled, so it’s important to double check the materials before you get rid of them to make sure you’re not “wishcycling” (recycling something that can’t actually be recycled, which makes recycling the whole bundle more difficult or impossible). Some local recycling centers may only accept some types of toys or plastics. 

If you’ve got a big bundle of toys and you’re not sure whether they can be recycled, check out toy company Mattel’s PlayBack Program, which allows you to simply ship old toys back to the company for recycling. Currently, the program is limited to only a few brands of toys but it is expected to expand in the future. The company TerraCycle also has a free recycling program for all Hasbro brand toys.

3. Upcycle your old toys

If you’re feeling a little creative, you can find a way to upcycle some of your child’s old toys. Upcycling is the process of repurposing something to give it a new use, rather than getting rid of it. A few examples include a container made of your kid’s old legos, or using old pool noodles to make door wreaths. Some creative folks even use repainted plastic animals as elegant bookends or decor.

4. Follow a “one-in, one-out” rule

Follow a one-in, one-out rule for new toys: when you buy a new toy, try to get rid of an old one. While this isn’t about getting rid of old toys, the rule can help you avoid ending up in the same position with toys everywhere (again). This can also help you make more thoughtful, eco-friendly decisions when buying toys, as you’ll have to consider whether it’s really better than the toys you have at home (after all, those are the most eco-friendly toys!).

Of course, the most sustainable thing you can do is to avoid buying new toys, as each new toy you buy has to be manufactured, which does have some negative environmental impacts. However, if you do choose to buy new to replace old toys, it’s important to keep sustainability in mind. Vote with your wallet to support sustainable companies. Choose toys made from recyclable, non-toxic materials and make sure to buy toys that will last a long time; there’s nothing worse than buying a new toy only to have to dispose of it in a month. 

Hopefully, next time you need to do a little decluttering, you can get rid of your old toys in a way that feels good for both you and the environment.

Kleynimals Advocacy for Lead-Free Toys

Kleynimals Lead-Free Toys

When I first set out to make Kleynimals stainless steel toy keys, my mission was to create baby keys that would be realistic, high quality, practical, eco-friendly and have enduring style.  My biggest goal, however, was to provide parents and babies with the safest baby products I could, which meant they would be non-toxic and lead-free.  Thus, after coming up with my original idea, the first thing I did was call the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission to make sure that I understood how to make my dream a reality based on the CPSC guidelines for baby product safety standards. Little did I know how this initial act put me on their radar… 

Shortly after I launched my Kleynimals toy keys in 2010, I received a call from someone at the CPSC.  My heart sunk into my stomach.  What had I done wrong that they were already calling? The person on the other end began to inquire as to why I tested my products for lead when it was not required for stainless steel products. My reply was that I simply wanted to provide parents with safe baby toys. As a mother, I wanted to know for certain that everything I gave my children was completely non-toxic, and other parents deserved the same assurances. Thankfully, at this point I received some reassurances that they were actually calling because they were impressed that I had gone above and beyond with my safety testing, and that yes, they had been following my product development since my original call (in 2009). At this point, they invited me to testify in trials that were being held to discuss more rigorous lead testing in children’s products.  I was honored to testify, but sadly was one of the only manufacturers present who was a “pro-testing” advocate. 

Now with a larger line of metal baby silverware and baby toys, I continue to be committed to offering safe baby products made in the USA from American sourced stainless steel. All of my products are tested to safety standards from multiple countries for both physical safety testing as well as toxic chemicals. They are all lead-free (and free of cadmium, BPA and all the other nasties). Parents can feel confident that when they give their babies Kleynimals products, they are only giving them the very best.  I hope you enjoy reading my testimony below. Thank you for supporting my small business! ~Kirsten, Mom, Founder, CEO

My Testimony:

Thank you for allowing me to present to you today.  I am a mother of two young boys and a recent entrepreneur.  I have been working on a toy product for two years and just recently launched my toy for sales on December 1st 2010.  The toy is a set of keys for babies six months and up that are made entirely of food grade stainless steel (stainless 304).  

I want to give a little background on my motivation to create this toy prior to talking through the logistics of testing.  Over the past six years, really since the birth of my first son, I have become more and more aware of the various toxins in our environment that I truly believe are leading to increased rates of illness in our population – whether that be developmental delays, autism or cancer.  My evolution started with food, and then moved to cleaning supplies, skin/hair care products and eventually toys and consumer goods.  I am not a scientist, so I am not here to present the facts behind how the various chemicals impact us, however, I am sure many of you have heard of the numerous studies – most recently about BPA and lead. I have become an incredibly skeptical consumer as a result, even if I don’t always have a study that proves my suspicions. What I know is that I have a friend who told me that in one week recently she learned of 6 people between the ages of newborn to mid 30’s who were diagnosed with cancer.  I hear stories like this all too often and I think that we should all be alarmed enough to insist on changes. 

The reality is that most kids put toys in their mouths.  I was not as sensitive to this with my first son, who absolutely loved Thomas the train, but fortunately did not put them in his mouth.  When many of the Thomas products were recalled because of lead in the paint, I sent all of the affected ones back to the company.  But, I did not worry too much from a personal standpoint because my eldest did not put toys in his mouth.  However, my second son has been a totally different story because he puts everything in his mouth. Therefore, as a consumer I find myself seeking toys that are from European companies because of the more stringent restrictions on toxic chemicals in their products (for instance, >90 PPM  of lead in a solubility test).  So, while I am particular about what I purchase for my kids, they also have generous grandparents who don’t specifically seek out European restrictions.  In fact, they more often purchase items from discount stores that come from China and that make me cringe when I see my youngest chomping on them.  

Thus, when the idea struck me that the market needed a better toy key alternative, I was committed to designing something that was absolutely safe for all kids, because in the end, it’s not just a personal thing – it’s not just my child that matters.  It’s also not just about making money.  It’s about providing a product that hopefully is a winning business model, but that ultimately is safe for the individual kids enjoying it.  It’s a product that does not lead a parent to cringe when their child inevitably puts it in his mouth. 

So, how did I get from that idea for a toy and commitment to safety to actually launching my product?  I was lucky in that I knew I could make the product out of a safe material – something that we eat off of and cook with every day – food grade stainless steel.  Honestly, the material itself was the motivating factor behind my idea.  When it came to the logistics of getting the toy to market, beyond the obvious cost of manufacturing, the other costs I had to consider were testing the product for compliance and liability insurance.  I never considered not testing, for that would have been a risk to my company for lawsuits and recalls.  And back to individual children  – it also would have meant risking their safety.  I also never considered not doing the lead testing because I wanted to be able to assure parents that I was offering a completely safe product.  From a consumer perspective, I know I want the assurances (again, back to my desire for European standards).  When it came down to the expense of it all, the liability insurance was what nearly led me to give up on my dream of producing the keys.  It was not the testing.  Liability insurance for someone like me was over $8000.  Testing, including additional testing for cadmium, lead and nickel, was still less than $1000, and of note, I was not required to test for any of these contaminants because I used stainless steel 304, but I wanted to go above and beyond the requirements.

Realistically, had the test results come back and were shown to have lead in the toy, I would have been rather devastated.  However, I made it clear in my purchase order with the manufacturer that I wanted material certifications for the stainless steel, and specifically that it could not contain lead. This was not difficult to request, and it seems to me that all manufacturers could require material certification prior to purchasing the material used for the components of their toys.  

If Europe is holding companies accountable to safeguard their citizens by having more stringent restrictions, what makes it so difficult to do here?  Back to my story about Thomas the Train since that is the one that affected my family (and this is not to single them out, because I know it has happened to many companies, god forbid it happens to mine)…But, would that company not have saved money by finding out before manufacturing their product what was in the paint?  Could we not take steps to ensure that components are safe before they are made into the final product?  Ultimately, I have to believe that the cost of a recall – both from the practical expense of performing the recall, but also because of the detriment to the brand – has to cost more than ensuring components are safe from the beginning.  And frankly, if it is a question of a company using a manufacturer who has misled them, a contract stipulating exactly what is expected as far as material should be part of the negotiations from the beginning.  If the product does not meet the specified safety expectations, that contract should denote that the manufacturer needs to take the financial risk so that they are held accountable.

Why is it that we cannot offer the citizens of the US the same kind of safety protections as are afforded European citizens? I truly believe that a responsible company is one who is honest about the end result of their product on the individual – whether that be a direct impact through chemicals in the product or an indirect impact through deleterious effects on our environment (for example, water and air quality). In the end, what costs us more as a country is treating illnesses caused by the harmful effects of known toxins like lead, especially in the most vulnerable little bodies that are even more susceptible because of their small size.  In the end, don’t we all want our loved ones to be safe… and isn’t everyone someone’s loved one?

Sustainable, Non-Toxic Toys: Where Are We Headed Next?

Sustainable Baby Toys

As a parent, you’re probably familiar with what the typical playchest looks like: full. of. plastic. Unfortunately, while plastic is certainly convenient, plastic poses risks both to the environment and your child’s health.

This guide will discuss current progress in the world of sustainable, non-toxic toys, and will walk you through how to pick toys that are safe for the Earth and human health.

What’s the Problem with Conventional Toys?

As you may have gathered by now, our reliance on plastic is one of the main problems with toys today. Not only is plastic extremely carbon-intensive, as it’s made from fossil fuels, but it also can contain harmful chemicals. 

Unfortunately, a whopping 90% of toys on the market today are made from plastic. This reliance on plastic has severe environmental impacts, ranging from contributions to global warming to creating large amounts of plastic waste. For example, plastic often breaks down into microplastics that litter our land and oceans. Finally, when plastic toys end up in landfills, they can break down and leach chemicals into the air, soil, and water. Not only does this harm ecosystems, but it can also cause exposure to these chemicals through our food and drinking water.

Many plastic toys contain dangerous chemicals or heavy metals such as cadmium and lead. For example, some toys contain phthalates, a class of hormone-disrupting chemicals used to soften plastics. While some countries like the US and the EU have begun regulating the use of phthalates in toys, many toys do not undergo appropriate toy safety testing and may still contain the chemical. While exposure to dangerous chemicals in plastic toys is fairly low, the risk goes up if the toy is broken or your child chews on it.

Luckily, many of the innovations that make toys sustainable also make them safer for humans.

Making the Move to Safe, Eco-Friendly Toys

1. Check your materials

The materials a toy is made of are the biggest indicators of both sustainability and safety. We’ll tackle safety first. As mentioned above, many toys are manufactured with dangerous chemicals. Instead of buying plastic toys, consider buying toys made from non-toxic materials like stainless steel, which is 100% non-toxic. In fact, most of us put stainless steel into our mouths every day in the form of silverware. 

Other non-toxic materials for toys include unpainted wood, natural rubber, or toys made with wood that use natural, non-toxic sealants and dyes.

Sustainable toys employ many of the same materials as non-toxic toys. After all, if it’s toxic to humans, it’s often toxic to the environment as well. Luckily, avoiding plastic and other unsustainable materials is getting easier every day, as many toy companies are beginning to produce toys from new materials. For example, researchers are working on 3D-printing toys made from beetroot puree, a material that is not only healthier for children, but also has a much lower carbon footprint.

Other more sustainable materials to look out for include:

  • Stainless steel, like Kleynimals toys, which are 100% recyclable and made from around 50% recycled materials
  • Cotton
  • Wool
  • Wood
  • Bamboo
  • Hemp
  • Other natural fibers

2. Ensure proper use

One of the main ways to make sure a toy is safe for your child is to make sure it’s being used as intended. Some toys can become dangerous when they’re taken apart, as this can cause choking hazards or exposure to toxic chemicals in toys. Some electronic toys may overheat. Make sure to read the instructions on any more complicated toys you buy to make sure your kid can play with it safely. It’s also important to monitor play, especially with toys with small parts or electronic toys. 

Your best bet, of course, is to simply use toys that are simple and non-toxic in every situation. For example, especially with babies and toddlers, there’s a strong chance that a toy will end up in their mouth whether it was meant to or not! Pick the safe option of simply buying a toy that is mouth-safe.

Finally, part of “proper use” is proper disposal when you’re done with the toy. First, you can always donate the toy to your local thrift shop. If the toy is beyond the point of usefulness, however, consider recycling it. Before chucking the toy in the trash, where it may end up leaching toxic chemicals from the landfill into our environment, check to see if the toy can be recycled. Many plastics and metals can be recycled, and some toys, like toys made of wood, might even be compostable!

3. Get safety-tested toys

As we discussed above, the best way to ensure your toys are safe is to buy toys made from safe materials. If you’re ever unsure, though, consider buying from manufacturers that adhere to strict toy safety testing procedures. This not only helps ensure the toy doesn’t contain harmful chemicals, but it also ensures that the toy is functional and safe to play with.

Some toys may also have sustainable certifications. For example, toys made from cotton may be GOTS certified, meaning they’re fully organic (which also means no toxic pesticides!). Another label to look out for is fair trade certification, which certifies that the toy was produced under ethical and sustainable conditions. 

4. Buy durable toys

Let’s face it – most kids are not exactly gentle with their toys. In fact, you can almost bet on toys ending up on the floor at least once, if not all the time! The best way to practice sustainability is to buy durable toys that you won’t need to replace every time they break. This helps reduce the need for more production of plastic, which helps limit the energy and emissions necessary to manufacture new toys.

Buying durable toys is also a smart measure to take in order to avoid small pieces breaking off and posing a choking risk.

Kleynimals toys are made entirely from stainless steel, so your child can truly put the toy through its paces without breaking it. And if (when!) the toy does get dropped, you can simply rub out any rough spots with a nail file to make it look brand new again!


How to Pick Safe Diapering Products: Nontoxic Diapers, Creams and Wipes

Safe Diapering Products

It can feel overwhelming when buying products for diapering your baby. There seem to be a million and one opinions on which diaper is the most leak proof, which rash cream is the most soothing and which wipes are the most effective.

As parents, safety is of course your number one concern. While there are many guides on how to diaper safely, many of us didn’t even consider the safety of the actual products we use. Unfortunately, some diapering products contain chemicals that can harm you and your baby.

If you’re wondering where to even begin, this guide is for you. Here are the basics on safe diapers, safe diaper creams, and safe diapering cleanup.

Safe Diapers

The main question when it comes to diapering is whether to use cloth or disposable diapers. Besides the possible environmental and economic benefits of cloth diapers, cloth diapers may win when it comes to safety as well.

Are Disposable Diapers Safe?

Disposable diapers contain many synthetic chemicals that may pose dangers to your health at high exposures. 

For example, many diapers use the chemical tributyltin (TBT), which is an irritant and which, at high levels, can cause nausea and diarrhea. Disposable diapers may also contain TBPP, a toxic plastic additive, as well as diethanolamine, a chemical used in a number of products that acts as a skin irritant. Lastly, disposable diapers contain sodium polyacrylate, which works to absorb liquids. Sodium polyacrylate is also an irritant and can harm your baby through skin absorption.

It’s worth noting that although disposable diapers do contain chemicals, the level of exposure is likely not high enough to cause health problems. For example, one 2015 study found that while diapers may contain phthalates, hormone disrupting chemicals, exposure levels are extremely low and likely not dangerous. 

So while some disposable diapers may be safe, research is still ongoing, and it may be a good idea to avoid disposable diapers for now.

How to Pick Safe Cloth Diapers

Luckily, picking safe cloth diapers is pretty simple. The safest fabric to use for your cloth diapers is organically grown, undyed cotton. 

Cotton grown with pesticides or using conventional dyes can cause irritation and other health problems. Learn more about safe fabrics for your children here[1] .

Safe Diaper Creams & Baby Powders

Many parents rely on diaper creams and powders to help protect their baby’s sensitive skin. It’s important to read the ingredients on these products in order to make sure they’re safe.

Creams

When it comes to diaper rash creams, you don’t want to risk causing even more irritation! Many diaper creams contain fragrances and other chemicals that irritate the skin or cause other health problems. For example, many diaper creams use petroleum oil, which penetrates skin, stays there, and may even cause cancer.

A good natural option is coconut oil, which hydrates and soothes skin. If DIY isn’t your style, many brands out there sell non-toxic diaper creams.

It’s also important to make sure that any creams you use have been tested for skin irritation and are not expired. A good rule of thumb is to buy products that have an EWG Verified mark, which shows the cream doesn’t use harmful chemicals. Use their website to search for safe personal care products for your baby.

Baby Powders

While baby powder likely does not help diaper rash, it’s still a popular product for leaving the skin soft and dry. However, talc-based baby powder can contain asbestos, which may cause ovarian cancer

If you must use a powder, opt for a cornstarch based, talc-free baby powder instead. (Make sure to keep the bottle away from your child, as inhaling large amounts is extremely dangerous.)

Safe Diapering Cleanup

Finally, you need to make sure that any products you use to keep you, your baby and the general area clean are nontoxic.

For example, some baby wipes contain formaldehyde, a carcinogen, which may be listed in wet wipe ingredients as “diazolidinyl urea” or “DMDM hydantoin,” among other names. 

Many other chemicals are used in conventional baby wipes in addition to formaldehyde, so it’s best to simply search for specifically nontoxic baby wipes. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website is a great resource, as they research and rate the safety of baby wipes.

If you’d like to simultaneously stay safe and reduce your waste from throwing out disposable wipes, use an organic cotton cloth wipe with a little water to do clean up. For extra hygiene, use a small amount of nontoxic, gentle baby soap.


Basement Ideas for Kids: How to Make the Perfect Playroom

Playroom design

If you have children, you know how much space they need to run around and play with their toys. Utilizing your basement by creating a playroom made especially for kids can be the perfect place for them to learn, grow, and explore. A basement playroom is ideal for homes without a backyard, rainy days, or for parents who want to have a dedicated play area for their kids. To help you get started, we reached out to experts from Charleston, SC to Toronto, ON to hear their best basement ideas for kids. Keep reading to see what they had to say.

Establish unique spaces for activities

When creating our playroom, we knew we wanted to create a spot for reading, creativity, and play. We planned out where the play area would be, and chose calming colors for the walls and decor to keep the space feeling fun, yet relaxing and inviting. We have a rock wall and we knew it was going to be the focal point of the room, so we started there and planned around it. Having a reading corner was also super important to me. We made sure the shelves were at a height the kids could grab books, and included a few cozy pillows to get comfy to snuggle up and read. – Jennifer McNeill

Create a ‘yes space’

Tired of saying ’no’ all day? Create a ‘yes space’ in your basement by filling it with safe ways for your child to explore and participate in motor activities like climbing and jumping. Items such as foam cushions, mini trampolines, and pikler triangles can be a great way to entertain your kids when outside play isn’t an option. – Dr. Brita DeStefano, Progress Through Play

Incorporate vertical play elements and open shelving

Don’t be afraid to go vertical with an interactive play element. Whether you have limited space or shorter ceiling heights, going vertical with play elements is a great use of space in a basement playroom. For example, a climbing wall designed to look like a mountain can be a great open-ended play element that’s also a statement piece that takes up no floor space.

Another tip is to ensure you buy or build some open shelving to store toys so children know what’s available and can make their own decision on what to play with. It also means they won’t be dumping boxes full of toys all over the ground to find what they want. It definitely helps any parents’ sanity when it comes to cleanup time. – Big Living Little Footprint 

Calm chaos white furniture

When it comes to basement ideas for kids and designing a playroom, my number 1 tip is to always lean towards high gloss white lacquer furniture for a playroom. It looks nice and it is kid-friendly. A white palette is good for furniture and storage in a playroom too because toys are so many different colors. Having a clean neutral base with your furniture and storage in a playroom gives the room a sense of cohesiveness and calm. – Home Taylored

Decorate with DIY artwork

It is recommended to use children’s DIY artworks instead of store-bought decorations. On one hand, incorporating these DIY artworks into the playroom can add color to the play space; on the other hand, the play space can become a showroom for the children’s works and record their growth. – Huale Toys

Get creative with paint and storage solutions

Paint and storage are key to a happy playroom basement. Bring in the fun with a paint color that enhances your space – stay light if your basement doesn’t get natural light but go bold if it does. Next, storage – it’s absolutely necessary when you have a playroom, but built-ins may not be something you’re ready to invest in for the long term. Consider other flexible options like baskets that will make clean-up a breeze. – Costner Studio

Let your child take the lead

From what I have learned, “how to assemble the perfect playroom” and “how to really love your child” might as well be the same question. From what color to paint the room (narrow it down to 2-3 colors you like and let your child/children choose) to what toy set-up to include, let your child take the lead. What has been most popular in our household has been setting up play that is multi-functional. For example, a “stand” can be a grocery store, an ice cream shop, or a tea parlor. One toy will get old fast, but setting up multi-functional toys and tools will let your child‘s imagination take shape.- Poppie Lady

Let the space grow with the kids

Make a space that will grow with the kids as their needs and interests change. Invest in a few key pieces that will work for kids when they are little, and also when they are bigger kids and teens. I suggest picking good seating, like comfy bean bag chairs and functional storage pieces to store toys, board games, and video game devices. Lastly, get the kids involved in creating the space as they will be spending the most time in the basement. – Coffee, Pancakes & Dreams

Create a system for toys

Only leave out as many toys as your child can independently clean up. Store the rest away, and switch them out weekly or when needed. This will make the toys feel new and your child will be inspired. Second, give every toy a space – no toy boxes allowed. Every toy can be displayed in a specific spot on a shelf (use a tray or small basket if needed) and return the item to the same place when done. This creates an instant minimalist vibe, helps your child not get overwhelmed by toy clutter, and helps to build concentration. Finally, create think zones – mount a swing from the ceiling for gross motor skills, create an art center, a reading nook, a building area or maker space, anything to divide up the space. – Stella Nova Montessori

Design a safe space for kids to play

The best playroom is one that your kids can spend time in safely. While playmats are a great option to protect your kids from a grimy basement floor, you need to make sure your playmat is nontoxic. Choose a playmat that does not use toxic materials like flame retardants or vinyl foam. Safe options should be clearly labeled “non-toxic.” It is also wise to have an air purifier and dehumidifier in your basement to ensure that the air your kids are breathing is as safe as possible. – Kleynimals

Tailor decor to your child’s interests

When creating a playroom two words come to mind – fun and organized. Although these two words may not sound like they go together, they definitely can. Start with a fun color scheme, maybe you have kids who love the ocean and want to add shades of blue, or you have nature lovers and want a mural, or princess lovers who want a beautiful canopy. There are so many fun options – most importantly you want it to reflect their interests. Another way we love to showcase our kid’s interests is through artwork on the walls, Minted is a favorite of ours with their amazing collection. Lastly, you must have storage. That’s the organizational piece to this puzzle. Storage bins, cupboards, shelves, you name it – just have places to store all of the toys so at the end of the day it can all be put away. – Beijos Events

Complete the space with a mini-trampoline

No basement playroom should be without a mini-trampoline. During long winters or hot summers, jumping on the trampoline will burn off excess energy, provide great exercise, strengthen your child’s neurological system, and elevate your child’s mood. Trampolines offer many benefits for your child while taking up very little space. – Smart Homeschooler

Create a free play area with no restrictions

If the children are toddlers I would hang some large silks or tapestry to lower the ceiling height in the designated area. If they are a bit older, I would make a snuggly reading nook for a comfortable reclining reading area. Books should be color-coded for easy return. The art area should have flooring, tables, counters, that can be washed (always keep in mind, this is a ‘yes’ area so it can get messy). Finally, always have a written or colored format for clean-up time like putting everything back in its station, basket, or container. – Live Love Organized

Incorporate versatile furniture

The more versatile the furniture, the more options you have for renewal of the children’s room without actually buying new furniture. What could be more exciting than to get several different furniture pieces in disguise of one – multi-functional furniture grows with your child. – Adensen Furniture

Utilize toy rotation and accessible shelving

A toy rotation is a great way to start turning the basement into a play area. A toy rotation requires child-accessible shelving and a small number of toys as this encourages more thoughtful play. Don’t be scared to bring in some color through the toys or through art above the shelves. – Color Me Monti

Originally published on Redfin.com

6 Tips to Help You Choose Safe Clothing for Your Kids

non-toxic tips for babies

From the time your child is a newborn, they’ll spend most of their time in clothes. While clothes keep us warm, keep us clean, and are a fun form of expression, some fabrics hold more risks than others.

This post will guide you through picking safe, nontoxic clothes for your child, so you can feel safe dressing them (or helping them dress themselves!) every day.

What Chemicals Should I Avoid?

Over 8000 chemicals are used in producing clothing. While not all of these chemicals are necessarily toxic, many of them are, and many we don’t even know enough about to know either way.

Some of the more well-known chemicals used in some textiles include:

  • Pesticides (used to grow cotton or other natural fibers)
  • Formaldehyde (a fabric finisher used to create ‘easy-care’ clothing or to reduce creases)
  • AZO dyes (used as a colorant)
  • Chlorobenzene (used to dye polyester clothing)
  • Phthalates (used to soften leathers and rubbers)

These chemicals can have harmful effects. For example, formaldehyde and AZO dyes are known carcinogens and skin irritants, and are even banned in some countries. Formaldehyde can also cause respiratory issues. Phthalates are known to cause disruption of the endocrine (hormone) system. Long term exposure to chlorobenzene can affect the central nervous system.

While serious health effects are unlikely to come from the low exposures we get from clothes, it’s still a good idea to avoid these chemicals. Avoiding these chemicals can also help protect your baby’s sensitive skin from irritation.

The following tips will help you avoid these chemicals and keep your kids safe.

1. Embrace Natural Dyes

As you can see, chemical dyes are one of the biggest health concerns when it comes to clothing. In fact, toxic AZO dyes are used to dye nearly 60-70% of all colored clothing.

The best way to avoid toxic dyes is to buy clothing that uses natural dyes. Many dyes are made from natural plant materials that still create beautiful colors. 

While many brands sell clothing that is made with natural, organic dyes, if you’re feeling creative, you can even take it a step further and make it yourself! Just buy a plain, organic cotton outfit and experiment with different colors by different plant materials, like blueberries, red cabbage and lemon peels.

Not only are these natural dyes safer, but they are also better for the environment, as many synthetic dyes create high levels of water pollution.

2. Buy Certified Organic Textiles

While some natural materials like cotton may be grown using dangerous pesticides that linger in the fibers, opting for organically and sustainably grown cotton is a great solution to avoid these pesticides and other toxic chemicals.

The best way to tell if a natural fiber is safe is if it has a GOTS certification. The Global Organic Textile Standard certifies products that use cotton farmed without pesticides. Many infant clothing brands are GOTS certified. While there are other certification schemes out there, GOTS is a great option, as it also considers the source of the fabric, which promotes ethical labor.

3. Read the Brand’s Chemical Policies

Many companies that have ditched harmful chemicals want to tell you about it! One of the best ways to choose safe clothing for your kids is to read a brand’s website for statements about chemicals in their clothes. 

Even some major brands like Target have started to release statements about their efforts to stop using unsafe chemicals in their products.[1] 

And if the company doesn’t release a statement on chemicals (or lack thereof) used in their clothing? It’s a fairly safe bet to say that they use harmful chemicals.

The Greenpeace campaign “Detox My Fashion” aims to reduce the use of chemicals in clothing that harm human health and the environment. Many brands have signed on to the campaign. You can find a list of these brands in Chapter 4 of Greenpeace’s report on the campaign progress.

4. Buy Vintage

Many clothing companies have started using chemicals only in the last half century or so, so buying older clothes is a great way to find safer clothing.

Buying used clothing also has the added benefit of being an environmentally-friendly choice, as you help reduce the amount of waste produced by buying new clothes.

5. Wash Clothes Before Wearing Them

Washing clothing before your child wears it helps to get rid of some of the irritating chemicals like bleach or textile finishes that may be used in the final steps of making the clothing. This is especially important when it comes to children, as they often have more sensitive skin. 

This isn’t a full solution, as some toxins can stick around through many washes. However, washing clothes does help to remove some of the most irritating chemicals.

Keep these tips in mind next time you buy clothes for your child, and rest easier knowing your child’s health is being protected.


Are Electronic Baby Toys Safe? How to Choose Safe Toys for Your Child

Are Electronic Toys Safe for Babies?

More and more baby toys these days are electronic or have electronic components. While these toys may be exciting, sadly, electronic toys can pose risks to your child. 

The risks associated with electronic toys include:

  • Burns: Electronic toys may overheat because of faulty wiring or circuit boards. This can burn your child.
  • Electric shock: Faulty electrical wiring or plugs can be very dangerous, and can cause electric shock. Electric shock is also a risk when an electronic toy is used near water. As we know, babies and toddlers can be messy, so make sure to keep liquids away from electronic toys.
  • Fire hazards: Overheating of electronic toys, especially poorly built toys, can cause fires.
  • Battery hazards: Batteries in toys can pose risks such as overheating and breaking down into small pieces that cause choking. Choking risks are especially high for babies, who are more likely to chew on toys.
  • Toxic materials: Some electronic toys contain dangerous substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) or polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE). These materials are generally only used inside the toy, so don’t worry – your baby is unlikely to come into contact with them. Of course,  it’s still best to buy toys without these substances!

Electronic toys are also environmentally unfriendly, as they are notoriously difficult to recycle. Additionally, research suggests that relying only on electronic toys, rather than more traditional toys, can harm a baby’s language development.

Here are some tips for choosing safe and stimulating toys for your baby.

1.    Choose Non-Electric Toys

The simplest way to avoid the dangers of electronic toys is simply not to buy them! All our Kleynimals toys are non-electronic and made from safe and nontoxic stainless steel. Our toys provide your baby with all the excitement and stimulation they need without the risks posed by electronic toys.[1] 

If you do choose to use electronic toys, it is best to mix these in with more traditional toys. Exposure to different types of toys, including simpler toys, helps your baby develop a wide variety of skills.

2.    Choose Well-Designed Toys that Comply with Safety Standards

Safety must be included in every step of a toy’s production. If you do choose to buy electronic toys, make sure it is from a trusted manufacturer that takes the necessary steps, such as testing for toxic materials, to ensure the toy is safe and functioning properly.

There are several regulations in place that work to protect you from the dangers of electronic toys. It is important to check that your baby’s toys have been tested for compliance with these consumer protection laws. For example, electronic toys stamped with a “CE marking” (a small CE symbol printed on the toy or packaging) comply with all safety regulations and do not contain harmful materials.

3.    Choose Sturdy Electronic Toys

Make sure your electronic baby toys are well-built and sturdy. Durable toys are less likely to break down, exposing you or your child to any harmful substances that may be used to create the inner electronic parts. Toys that break down are especially concerning for babies, as babies are likely to chew on their toys as part of the teething process.

Durable electronic toys are also less likely to experience overheating or other problems due to degradation. 

4.    Make Sure the Toy Is Used Properly

Electronic toys may have parts that are designed to be used in a specific way (for example, that spin in a certain direction). But we know that babies and children may not use the toy in the way it was designed! This improper use can cause potentially dangerous malfunctions.

If you do choose electronic toys, always watch your child when they are playing with the toy to make sure it is being used as it was intended. While most toy manufacturers put control measures in place that will avoid malfunctions no matter the situation, it is still best to use the toy as it was designed.

All in all, the risks of electronic toys can be safely managed by an attentive guardian. Of course, the most worry-free option is to simply buy non-electronic toys! If you do choose to use electronic baby toys, however, make sure you buy well-made toys of a wide variety to support your child’s development happily and safely.


4 Ways to Soothe your Teething Baby

Teething Baby with Sore Gums

Despite being a developmental milestone, parents may be surprised to find that the teething stage can be quite a challenge. According to Anastasia Williams, a doctor at Olde Towne Pediatrics, teeth start to emerge when babies are around four to seven months old. However, this development can be uncomfortable for your little one, especially when the baby teeth start peeking through. Dr. Williams points out that this process can even be painful for babies. On top of that, the kids may drool, bite their fists, and experience gum swelling. To soothe your baby during their teething phase, you can try the following these tips:

Provide Teething Toys

Once you noticed that your child is showing symptoms of teething, invest in soothing tools like teething toys. These toys are easy for them to grasp and chew on. Plus, it provides enough pressure to alleviate the soreness from their swollen gums. While these tools are certainly helpful, parents need to be wary of teething toys that contain toxins. In fact, our article on the ‘9 Ways to Choose Safe Teething Toys’ points out that PVC, phthalates, BPA, antimony, cadmium, and lead are just some of the harmful chemicals in these tools. To keep your little one safe, choose durable teething toys made up of materials like natural rubber, organic cotton, stainless steel, or food-grade silicone.

Provide a Wet Washcloth

You can also provide teething babies with a wet washcloth to bite. It works similarly to manufactured teething toys, but is more of a quick fix than a long-term solution. The coolness of the washcloth helps reduce inflammation around the gum area and, by biting into it, your baby can release the tension in their gums. For this quick solution, Baby Play Hacks suggests that you take a gentle baby washcloth and tie knots at each end. Then, soak one end in water. Once that end is wet, place the cloth in a ziplock bag before freezing it for half an hour. And once the makeshift toy is cool to the touch, you can give it to your infant to chew and play with.

Give Them Cold Milk

It’s worrying for parents to witness their babies refuse food. Unfortunately, this aversion towards food could be caused by many different reasons, including your baby’s teething stage. To help parents, nurse Rowena Bennett shares her pediatric knowledge in her book ‘Your Baby’s Bottle-feeding Aversion’. The book describes the causes of aversive feeding behavior in infants and helps parents find effective solutions. In this particular case, babies may refuse food due to the pain and discomfort felt during their teething stage. So, try giving them cold milk. The cool feeling will ease their aching gums, encouraging them to drink. You can do this with either breast milk or infant formula. Just note that breast milk has a shorter shelf life than formula.

Massage Their Gums

Teething symptoms can be difficult to deal with, especially when you don’t have access to the remedies stated above. For instance, your little one may experience the symptoms while you’re traveling outside. In these cases, you can easily soothe your baby by massaging their gums. The study ‘Teething Symptoms and Management During Infancy’ highlights that rubbing the gums can reduce irritation. As a result, it can also put a stop to finger sucking. Furthermore, this simple remedy decreases the pain your baby experiences from the erupting teeth. Just remember that it is important to wash your hands thoroughly before opting for this method.

Before your baby’s cute little teeth show up, they may experience uncomfortable and even painful sensations. Keep your little ones safe and comfortable during their teething stage by implementing these simple remedies. And before you know it, they’ll be showing off some pearly whites!