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BPA is back in the news. U.S. News World & Report published a very interesting article earlier in the week. According to the article, there’s a new study that sheds even more light to bisphenol A (BPA)– the same chemical found in those rigid plastic bottles that’s been quite the hot topic, especially among moms and dads. Apparently, there’s a link to heart disease and diabetes, and as the report reveals, adults may be at risk.

“The study of more than 1,400 people ages 18 to 74, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that those with the largest amount of BPA in their urine had nearly three times the risk of heart disease and more than twice the risk of diabetes as those who had the lowest levels. ”

“Other researchers say there’s enough evidence from previous animal studies to suggest that BPA is harmful to adults.” The article continues to say, Babies, though, are still most at risk. “They’re the most highly exposed to BPA through bottles and formula, so they get more on a per-pound basis.”

Here’s what the FDA says on their site:

Based on our ongoing review, we believe there is a large body of evidence that indicates that FDA-regulated products containing BPA currently on the market are safe and that exposure levels to BPA from food contact materials, including for infants and children, are below those that may cause health effects. However, we will continue to consider new research and information as they become available.

Canada has already banned BPA from bottles and various environmental groups among others are calling for a ban in the U.S. California made news recently by initiating, yet failing to pass the Toxin Free Toddlers and Babies Act. The Toxin Free Toddlers and Babies Act can be read about here and here.

Here’s what CNN had to say:

BPA is everywhere, used to make polycarbonate, a rigid, clear plastic for bottles, bike helmets, DVDs and car headlights. It’s also an ingredient in epoxy resins, which coat the inside of food and drink cans. About 93% of Americans tested by the Centers for Disease Control had the chemical in their urine. There is no safe level of BPA,” declared Dr. Nancy Snyderman, an NBC medical reporter, on the Today show.

So, what do we do about all this information?  First of all, before you go chucking all your plastic containers in the trash, consider alternatives.  With all these reports and new findings popping up, it’s certainly a topic to pay attention to.  In the meantime, here’s a few ways to avoid BPA courtesy of US News and World Report.

1. Buy your tomato sauce in glass jars.

2. Consume frozen or fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned.

3. Purchase beverages in plastic or glass bottles.

4. Use powdered infant formula instead of ready-to-serve liquid.

5. Think in terms of moderation.

Obviously, there are a myriad of ways to avoid excessive exposure to BPA, with the most obvious one as limiting consumption of products with plastic packaging.  Some are say #7 plastic is the number to avoid.  #1, #2 and #4 are the plastics that do NOT contain BPA.

For more resources and info. visit. the Environmental Working Group‘s website.

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It is estimated that a baby uses six to ten diapers each day, which translates to about 2,000 to 3,000 diapers each year. That’s a lot of diaper changes.

When Jack was a newborn, I previously reported that we ran the gamut of various conventional diapers. Thanks to gifts from friends and family, we had the opportunity to try out all the big brands like Huggies, Pampers and Luvs. But unfortunately like many newborns, Jack exhibited the traditional signs of super sensitive skin. After those endless diaper changes throughout the day, I’d notice that his butt was bright red by evening. I knew it wasn’t just a diaper rash; I was convinced it was more. Could it be the long list of chemicals in those conventional brands?

According to the Journal of Pediatrics,

54% of one-month old babies using disposable diapers had rashes, 16% had severe rashes.

I’m neither a scientist or an experienced mom, but in my effort to be both, a hypervigilant parent and educated consumer, I wanted to seek out the alternatives.

According to ecobaby,

the super absorbent chemical in disposable diapers, sodium polyacrylate, absorbs and holds fluids in the diaper.

Wired reported that

Sodium polyacrylate was removed from tampons in 1985 because of its link to toxic shock syndrome, a bacteria-caused illness. But no such connection has been proven for outerwear, including diapers, incontinence products and feminine napkins, which all contain the super-absorbent gel, said Celeste Kuta, an environmental scientist with Procter & Gamble, the leading seller of disposable diapers in the United States.

Grasping the environmental impacts of diapers, even before Jack was born, I was adamant about using eco-friendly diapers– including going the cloth route. Diapers made up 3.4 million tons of waste, or 2.1 percent of U.S. garbage, in landfills according to older stats from the Environmental Protection Agency. Like other new conscientious moms, I wanted to at least attempt to balance environmental impacts with convenience and baby’s comfort.

But given our apartment dwelling scenario, cloth diapering and its requisite frequent laundering would be quite trivial. So, following Jack’s cousin’s lead again, we set out to try out the many alternative diaper brands.

So I decided to post our experience (in installments) with the various brands we’ve tried, including cloth diapering. Since we were welcomed home with a big box from Tendercare last night, I’ll start with those.

**

Tendercare Diapers
A few weeks ago, our favorite baby store was out of our usual diapers in Jack’s size, so we decided to pick up a pack of Tendercare diapers. When we visited Jack’s cousin earlier this year, Katarina was wearing Tendercare diapers. I think Karen and Nick told us they were just trying them out.

On initial appearance, the diaper was thinner than the other brands we’ve tried. I liked how it was much softer in texture as well. The Tendercare diapers have the refastenable tabs, which is key for Wiggle Mcwiggleson. I think I have to refasten diapers at least 5 times before I can get it right, since this child flips and wiggles like a fish out of water. More on the refastenable tabs later…

I like how the Tendercare brand uses non-chlorine bleached woodpulp from sustainable, renewable forests. The fit on Jack, however, wasn’t as snug as other diapers. It turned out, he leaked right through the diapers a few times, too. On the otherhand, Jack IS a heavy wetter. Quite honestly, I’d much rather do extra laundry and deal with a few leaks than make him wear diapers filled with chemicals that irritate his skin.

The fact that these diapers are Chlorine Free is quite significant. The presence of dioxins in conventional diapers has been linked to a laundry list of side effects. Eco baby says:

Dioxin, the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is a byproduct of bleaching paper. Even in the smallest detectable quantities, dioxin has been known to cause liver disease, immune system suppression, and genetic damage in lab animals.

Back to the refastenable tabs, the second time we bought a pack of Tendercare diapers, we had the misfortune of picking up a bad batch. Basically, every single diaper in this pack had some sort of problem with the tabs– either the tab was hanging off or it was detached all together. The day after bringing home that pack of diapers, I forgot to replace the bad batch. So when I went to change Jack after dinner, he was sealed shut with packaging tape. Apparently, my mom refused to let the bad diapers go to waste and found the packaging tape (and went to town.)

Yes, Jack was wrapped like a 27-lb. package ready to be delivered– in a bad diaper with faulty tabs, no less.

Since an opened package of diapers can’t be returned, Jeff called the company to tell them about it. After a nice conversation with a lady in customer service, she asked Jeff to send the batch number and they would gladly replace them.

We got the box yesterday, a week after calling. They not only replaced the diapers but they gave us another pack and wipes too. Needless to say, we’re pleased that they promptly rectified the issue and with their stellar customer service.

The company touts other Tendercare features such as,
♥ Moisture Barrier Cuff
♥ Refastenable Tabs
♥ Breathable Sides
♥ Latex-Free
♥ Perfume-Free
♥ TBT-Free
♥ GMO-Free
♥ Hypoallergenic Top Sheet
♥ No Recycled Materials

The large size was $7.99 for 22 diapers, which calculates to about .36/diaper.

Despite the tab issue and the occasional leak, we’ll definitely use these diapers as often as we can. Tendercare diapers can be purchased at Amazon, Diapers.com, Buy Buy Baby, as well as other locations.

I just wanted to emerge through this ridiculous pile of papers that, sadly, is to blame for my continued absence this week.
Happy Friday, all! It’s supposed to be a scorcher in our area this weekend. It’s not even officially summer yet and we’ll have our ACs on high, for sure. Let’s just hope my flammable husband or the equally combustible heatbox baby both stay cool. I hope everyone else stays cool, where ever you may be!

Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve done a product review, so I thought I’d take the chance to free my mind from my “real” writing and discuss something yummy.
While we were home the other weekend, one of my girlfriends came over to visit with her baby. Jack and Gavin are typically in similar developmental categories. And so, Tanya and I love to share with each other new finds. When Jack wasn’t trying to shake Gavin out of his carrier or pummel him with kissies , he was snatching poor Gav’s snack out of his hand. (Crikey. Sorry, buddy! We’re working on our social skills.)

I noticed the snack was something I’d never really seen before. Its white packaging resembled something I probably would have found at our local Japanese grocery store. It was small, flat and portable, somewhat similar to a shorter version of a fruit roll up package. When Tanya opened the package up for Gavin, it was an interesting snack that looked like a flat, airy half of a Milano Cookie (minus the chocolate) or cracker-like surfboard. “It’s a rice rusk and he loves it.” she told me. She went on to tell me that she found the package at a store we no longer frequent.
damn!

But lo and behold, last weekend, when we went to our neighborhood organic grocery store, I found a green box–vegetable flavor–that looked strikingly similar to Gavin’s snack! sweet!

babymummum

After we picked up diapers, some fruit and cereal, Jack and I started the walk home. Since it was just about time for a mid morning snack, I pulled out the Mum-Mum rice rusks to entertain him for the 20 minute walk. I normally don’t let him eat in his stroller because, well, he likes to make art out of it. But thankfully, it was virtually impossible for him to paint any new masterpieces with his snack because 1) the rick rusk was practically crumb-less and not mushy like other teething biscuits 2) he devoured the rusk in the blink of an eye.

I knew it had to be a good if the snack since it had a mom-friend’s approval. But even better, it has the kids stamp of approval, too!

As I’m trying to foster positive eating habits, in hopes our kid won’t inherit my horrible sweet tooth and snack addiction, I try to stay away from all those big brand, markety snack-pack for babies and kids. {We’ll package this product all pretty and convenient for you and charge double or triple than what you can get on another aisle.} For the most part, I consider it consumer brainwash. I have a hard time paying extra for convenience when in most cases, that convenience is the antithesis of being green. So, I tend to pack a banana (best snack ever since it has it’s OWN natural packaging!) or whatever frozen fruit we have onhand.

Back to the Mum Mum rice rusk. The company originates from Taiwan and has permeated to other asian countries. Their presence in the U.S. and Canada seems fairly new, but I think they’ll do well against the big name baby brands–especially at the inexpensive price tag. A box of Baby Mum-Mum rice rusk runs about $2, and that’s here in northern NJ. Like I mentioned before, we bought ours from our local organic store, but I also saw them at a gourmet grocery store and at Whole Foods for about the same price.

The ingredient list is as follows: Japonica Rice, Sugar, Skim Milk Powder, Salt

the company touts the mum-mums as

  • dissolving easily
  • no artificial colors or vlavors
  • no preservatives
  • wheat, egg and peanut free
  • cholesterol free
  • baked, low in fat & no trans fat
  • no added fats or oils

The downside, to me, is the excess packaging. Two rice rusks are paired and packaged as individual snacks. As convenient as it is, I could do without the individual packaging. Other than that, the mum-mums don’t offer much sustenance. But from experience, I can tell you, they’re great as a time-killing distraction for a bored baby or a great way to keep them occupied until meal time. Considering these are the only snack that Jack can feed himself without destroying his clothes in the process, I consider them a mainstay in our diaper bag.
They also offer Toddler Mum-Mum, SuperSlim Brown Rice Crisps, SuperSlim Rice Crisps and Rice Crisps.

Like I playfully chant to Jack, “yum yum for the bum bum.”

Being green doesn’t have to be synonymous with extra $$green.  In fact, there are countless ways to be more eco-minded, where in some cases, you don’t even have to spend a dime.  All you have to do is take baby steps!

I did a search and compiled this list:

  • At work and home, Go paperless when possible. Request to be removed from mailing lists for any unwanted catalogs, newsletters, magazines, and junk mail. Visit newdream for more information.  Think before you print.  It is said that the average U.S. office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of copy paper a year.
  • Recycle. Recycling goes beyond paper and plastic.  Just about any kind of paper you would encounter in an office, including fax paper, envelopes, and junk mail, can be recycled. So can your old cell phone, PDA, or pager.  Check out Collective Good.
  • Watch what you drink. If you can, switch to filtered drinking water to reduce bottled-water waste.  At the very least, get larger jugs of water instead of all those bottled waters!
  • Eat Less Meat. Especially beef. The Worldwatch Institute says growing numbers of intensively farmed livestock are responsible for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and account for 37 percent of emissions of methane, which has more than 20 times the global warming potential of CO2, and 65 percent of emissions of nitrous oxide, another powerful greenhouse gas, coming from manure.
  • Take shorter showers, and use less heated water.
  • Buy Energy Star Appliances. It’s the mark of approval from the federal government. See the details at energystar.gov.  And with those energy-efficient appliances, run them only when you have full loads
  • Reuse or go secondhand. Before purchasing something, ask yourself if you already have it or something similar that can be reused. Can you buy it secondhand at a thrift store or on Craigslist?
  • Get/Give Stuff (for) Free If there’s something you need only once or twice, don’t buy it. Borrow and return it. Go to http://www.freecycle .org and join a local group to exchange or borrow stuff.
  • Go to the library! Instead of buying books that you might only read once, consider this:  there’s this glorious place I used to call my 2nd home– the library.  Even though you have to return them (on time!), the books are free.  Borrowing from libraries, instead of buying personal books and movies, saves money and printing resources. Consider donating the money saved to your local library.
  • Buy Local Buying anything imported across an ocean means a container ship transported it. Just one container ship traveling one mile produces NOx emissions equaling 25,000 cars traveling the same distance. Foreign manufacturers often use carbon-intensive industrial and environmental practices that are illegal here. Many imports are made in sweatshops where people labor in dangerous work environments and aren’t paid fairly. Reducing the demand for imports not only reduces our carbon footprint but also sends a message to big business that we want better for everyone.  Farmers markets, especially in the summer, are havens for the most fresh, delicious and local produce.
  • Don’t be a slave to convenience Even if dinner takes an extra 15 minutes to prepare, you’ll be ok…We’ll all be paying later for using convenience foods like packaged mixed salads, because they use a lot of resources to produce.

List compiled from Metroactive and Worldwatch.

Happy Earth Day, everyone!
Though our family has made some progress since going green, we still have leaps and bounds to go. Nevertheless, every step–big or small– makes a difference.

Earth Day, to me, surpasses green tv shows being advertised on the sides of city buses. It goes beyond the trendiness of being green for a day. It’s not about buying something just because it says it’s organic or because it says that it’s natural. earth day love

Being eco-conscious is about knowing what all of that means, and how it will effect future generations. A greener lifestyle isn’t just about bringing the canvas bags to the store or buying swirly lightbulbs. It’s about knowing the significance of renewable energy and conserving natural resources.

Many of us enjoy our daily conveniences, but it goes without saying that the toss-away, disposable mindset our society embraces has detrimental effects. Instead of buying big giant plastic toys, disposable consumer goods, toss-away conveniences, think sustainable, reusable and renewable. Being green is often viewed as a costly lifestyle, but it doesn’t have to be. In the grand scheme of things, being green shouldn’t be dictated by the almighty dollar.  The more mainstream all of this becomes, it becomes more attainable and more accessible.

Being green, to me, is about making indelible decisions that will impact, and hopefully, influence my child, my husband and our family.

Jack loves greenBeing green transcends the marketing campaigns and self-absorption of years past. As I’ve said before, many of my friends have observed greener lifestyles for some time now.
Best said by Five for Fighting, “We’re all we’ve got on this bouncing ball!”

Al Gore I’m not, but based on your emails, my little corner of the internet seems to be impacting a few. It’s a start. If not for our generation, make smarter, more environmentally-conscious choices for future generations.

Jack thanks you. (with open-mouthed drooly kisses, of course.)

More to come and a few giveaways too.

I’m not sure if I’ve talked about the love Jack has for his transitional cup. In case I haven’t, let me just say this child LOVES this cup. He thinks it’s so great, he will go on a baby hunger strike if we don’t give him his sippy cup while eating his food. (well, as much as a feisty 6 month old can) While we only fill this “magical” cup up with a few ounces of water to go along with his solids, I can’t grasp why he loves it so much. Perhaps it’s the alarming brightness? Maybe it’s because he’s thinks he’s cool when he uses his “wings” to get the water out? Or maybe it’s because of the novelty of this whole new development— I just don’t know.
Well, whatever it is, I’m glad he loves it as much as we do.

Jack hearts his cupThe kid has awesome foresight and he doesn’t even know it. As a newborn, he rejected some bottles we were given. Those bottles are now confirmed to be grouped in the polycarbonate bottles that are creating a lot of media buzz.
And now, as we turn the corner into 7 months, the kid is so enamored by this wonderful transition cup, which happens to be a Born Free BPA-free sippy cup. It’s one of the most highly regarded baby items in our home right now.

My kid’s foresight aside, the terms, polycarbonate bottles and BPA, have been in the news quite a bit these past few weeks. Just last week, The Today Show did a segment called, The Truth About Bottles. The show overviewed the dangers of certain plastic bottles which contain BPA.
That show created so much hysteria buzz, they did a follow up segment the next day to clarify some questions.

This report about Nalgene bottles being pulled made me feel the need to post the stuff I’ve found over the past few months as a new mom. But most importantly, The Times reported today that Canada is at the forefront and is moving toward banning bottles with BPA.

The health minister, Tony Clement, told reporters that after reviewing 150 research papers on B.P.A. and conducting its own studies, his department concluded that the chemical posed the most risk for newborns and children up to the age of 18 months. The minister said that animal studies suggest “there will be behavioral and neural symptoms later in life.”

This talk about polycarbonate bottles and BPA is not new news. Many researchers and blogs have been talking about it for years. It just so happens that it’s permeating mainstream media outlets and now, consumers are starting to pay more attention.

The GreenGuide said:

A 1999 study of polycarbonate baby bottles published in the Japanese Journal of Health Sciences found that new bottles, washed gently before using, leached 3.5 ppb of BPA into water, while extremely worn and scratched bottles leached levels of BPA as high as 28 ppb. Another 1999 Consumer Reports analysis found that BPA migrated from polycarbonate baby bottles into simulated formula when the formula was boiled inside the bottle for 20-30 minutes. And several scientific studies have reported that bisphenol-A can leach from plastic when heated, exposed to acidic solutions or after prolonged use. And baby bottles aren’t the only place BPA is found, a 2007 survey done by the Environmental Working Group found the chemical in formula as well.

HealthyChild.org, a nonprofit organization who are dedicated to protecting the health and well being of children from harmful environmental exposures, say:

Since the late 1990s, there have been allegations that the chemical industry has distorted science to show that BPA poses no threat to human health. The allegations of bias have carried over to the government’s current evaluation.

When we’re bombarded by so many tests, research and reports, what are we, as consumers, supposed to do? While we all try not to over-parent, I do believe its in our best interest to be educated consumers. As the saying goes, it’s best to err on the side of caution.

As the reports and research are flooding in, what does it all mean? I’m no expert here, but my livelihood depends on thorough research. And as always, I need to understand.

My personal research dates back to August 2007, just weeks before the boy was born. There’s a ton of research and reports out there, it’s hard not to get overwhelmed. So what does it all mean? Here is what I found:

What is BPA?

The Center for Health, Environment and Justice define Bisphenol-A (BPA) as a high-volume production chemical used to make epoxy resin and
polycarbonate plastic products, including some kinds of water bottles, baby bottles, and food storage and heating containers. It is also used in the lining of metal food cans and in dental sealants, and is an additive to certain plastics used in children’s toys. The chemical was first developed as a synthetic estrogen and was later polymerized to produce polycarbonate.

How is BPA harmful?

Bisphenol-A mimics estrogen activity and is known as an “endocrine disruptor,” a chemical that interferes with the hormonal system in animals and humans and contributes to adverse health effects. Bisphenol-A also causes a variety of impacts through mechanisms of action that are
probably unrelated to estrogenic properties.environment california

Bisphenol A is a developmental, neural, and reproductive toxicant, Environment California says. From their thorough report, Toxic Baby Bottles, they found that:

* Scientists have linked very low doses of bisphenol A exposure to cancers, impaired immune function, early onset of puberty, obesity, diabetes, and hyperactivity, among other problems.
* For example, in one recent study, a single, low dose of bisphenol A administered to a newborn rat resulted in hyperactive behavior.
* Bisphenol A is most commonly used to make clear polycarbonate plastic for consumer products, such as baby bottles. Through use, this plastic breaks down and leaches bisphenol A into liquids and food to which it comes into contact.

* The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found bisphenol A in the urine of over 95% of people they tested.
* Alarmingly, the median level of bisphenol A in humans is higher than the level that causes adverse effects in animal studies.

What do we do?

Environment California says,

Parents have the right to know about chemicals in the products they purchase for their children. In the absence of good government regulations, but armed with the knowledge that some chemicals are a cause for concern, parents can take a few simple actions to limit their child’s exposure to these and other toxic chemicals.
At the store, parents should select baby bottles that are made from glass or a safer non-polycarbonate plastic. At home, parents should avoid washing plastic dishware with harsh dishwashing soap and hot water, which may allow chemicals to leach out of the plastic.

Environmental Working Group makes these suggestions:

Nipple: Start with a clear silicone nipple.
Latex rubber nipples can cause allergic reactions and can contain impurities linked to cancer.
Bottle: Use glass.
Plastic bottles can leach a toxic chemical called bisphenol A (BPA)
into formula. Avoid clear, hard plastic bottles marked with a 7 or “PC.”
Water: Use filtered tap water.
If your water is fluoridated, use a reverse osmosis filter to remove fluoride, which the American Dental Association recommends avoiding when reconstituting formula. If your water is not fluoridated use a carbon filter. If you choose bottled water make sure it’s fluoride-free.

What is being done?

The government said they are investigating BPA in Infant Formula Liners, but much more needs to be done. Most importantly, Canada has banned the BPA bottles. It was also reported in the Times that NY Senator Charles E. Schumer, said in a statement that he intended to introduce a bill that would create a widespread ban on B.P.A.-related plastics. It would prohibit their use in all children’s products as well as any product use to carry food or beverages for adults.

What is safe?

As EWG suggests, avoid clear, hard plastic bottles marked with a 7 or PC. so what baby bottles does that leave? I know Born Free, Green to Grow, thinkbaby Bottles and Medela Storage System are all safe.
The Soft Landing, one of my favorite blogs, has done some great reports. The recently posted Learning Your Way Around BPA.

ZRecs, another of my must-read resource blogs, has a great lineup of safe(r) bottles and cups.

And if you need even more links, here are even more sites that I’ve compiled:

Plastic Chart
Bisphenol-A Free.org
ABC report on BPA
The Green Guide
Breastfeeding Blog
Chicago Tribune’s Julie Deardorff

Mama Knows Breast
Nature Moms
Baby Bargains-BPA Free Product suggestions
Plastic Bottles Suck- Babble
Baby 411 consumer alert

Last summer at my baby shower, one of the games that my cousin organized was the blindfolded baby food game. You know, the one where the participants taste the baby food and have to guess what it is…
Yeah. Well, we made the guys in attendance be the guinea pigs. We all know how it ended: grimaces and choking dramatics. But from that, I remember one of my brothers asking, “and you’re going to feed that stuff to the baby?”

AdvocadoAnd right after he asked that, I’m pretty sure I chimed in and said something about my desire to make my own baby food, following the lead of several of my friends.

I vividly remember getting a few chuckles and even a pessimistic, “Sure…we’ll see how long that idea lasts.”

Last weekend, we officially introduced avocados, marking Jack’s first foray into homemade organic baby food.

And survey says…it was a success!

So, here we are, some 10 months later and I am, indeed, making the baby food just like I had hoped.
And dudes? It’s much easier than I imagined.

According to Foodtimeline.org,

Up until the middle of the 19th century [in industrialized nations] infant food was generally made at home. Food historians generally agree that manufactured baby food, as we know it today, was a byproduct of the European Industrial Revolution. The first mass-produced baby foods were invented by scientists/nutrition experts and manufactured in the mid-19th century by innovative companies.

Generally speaking, commercially packaged baby food is a modern convenience, spawned by the venerable Gerber company. By the time baby boomers were having kids, commercial baby foods were a staple of the infant diet. From my research I found,

Baby food is a $1.25 billion a year industry in the United States. Just three companies–Gerber, Beech-Nut and Heinz–control over 95% of the market.

Quite honestly, perhaps due to my grandma’s old school influence, I don’t think we even had store-bought baby food back then. As babies, our menus consisted of porridge and Advocadomashed up vegetables. And so, can you imagine my excitement when I picked up Ruth Yaron’s Super Baby Food after a friend’s recommendation? Yaron’s book is quite possibly the bible to homemade baby food. It touts the ease, convenience and wholesomeness of making baby food at home with supplies you might already have. She overviews the significance of organics, how to cook, store and then freeze the homemade food into baby cubes. The book is a thorough reference to nutrition, different foods, recipes, as well as a plethora of other DIY tutorials, including recipes of porridge– the same food that I grew up eating. I still eat porridge whenever I’m sick!

As a DIYer and wannabe foodie, making baby food is hardly a far-fetched concept. For someone who only runs errands and drives on the weekends, the most time consuming aspect of the whole process was actually finding the car and then going to buy the vegetables (because I was too lazy to walk the 10 blocks.) For the most part, the gist of homemade baby food is shopping for economical quaAhhhhlity ingredients, mashing, steaming or cooking and then storing. It saves money and definitely not as time-consuming if you know your way around the kitchen.

I’m not exactly sure how much commercial baby food costs, other than the cereals I’ve bought, but I’m imagining each jar/package is somewhere in the dollar range. For about $5, I bought a bag of carrots, a Japanese Sweet Potato and a Yam at the organic store. After doing several batches last night, if I did my math correctly, I have almost 2 months worth of baby food. As I said before, I’m not against the prepackaged baby food at all. But, if I’m going to be cooking for my family anyway, why not go an extra step and cook for the kid, too? Not to mention, it’s much easier to control costs and minimize unnecessary packaging to make the food myself. There are various benefits of making the food at home.

Since we’re doing organic food, I know exactly what I’m buying; thus, I know exactly what he’s eating. We’re observing the 4-day wait rule so, besides avocado he’s only had the Japanese Sweet Potato. But based on his flailing arms and legs and his very wide mouth every time he saw the spoon, SweetJeff helping out with the baby food Potato was a success too.

The cooking part was the most seamless. (Well, almost.) Cooking and baking, to me, is another creative outlet. Besides washing dishes, being in the kitchen is fun for me. I read that steaming retains the most nutritional value of vegetables. There really isn’t much brainpower involved– or so I thought.

In my steamer, while we ate dinner, I steamed a Japanese Sweet Potato and Yam together for 35 minutes. Once they were finished, they were mushy enough to slice into cubes and plop into our mini Cusinart. Jeff felt that “pushing the button was the fun part.” After two minutes of pureeing, I was ready to scoop. While I scooped the sweet potato and yam into their containers, I decided to steam carrots to make a 3rd batch of veggies.

baby cubes

What I failed to do was add more water TO the steamer. Not so surprisingly, 15 minutes into the scooping, we started to smell burning paper. We looked around to make sure we weren’t catching the kitchen on fire.

And then the lightbulb went off.

Steamer was out of water.

Shit.

Jeff lifted the steamer portion to reveal what we already knew: I had successfully burned boiling water like a jackass.

Mental note: you need water to steam vegetables in a steamer.

Concerned about our precious freezer space and constant lack of ice cubes, I chose to buy 2 different types of storage/freezing options. I bought the plastic Baby Cubes as well as a silicone ice cube tray ($10 for 2.) While the Baby Cubes, in theory, are a great option ($5 for 10 ), I don’t think they’re the best route for us. I like how they’re silicone ice trayBPA-free individual closing containers, but I don’t like how I more than likely would have to buy more than one set in order to make the food in batches.

Jeff walked into the kitchen when I was making “silicone ice cube tray and bottle nipple stew.” I was actually sterilizing all of the above, but still, he thought it was hilarious to see me “cooking” the baby paraphernalia. Once I was finished cooking the trays and let them cool, I scooped the pureed yams into the ice tray. It almost felt as though I was painting the food into each respective cube. And for the most part, the trays held so much more food than the aforementioned cubes. But best of all, the silicone trays are literally and figuratively more flexible and conducive to batch storage.

In a way, making Jack’s food is redemption for my inability to be around as often during the work week. While nothing can replace my physical presence as his mother, I know in my heart that I am doing something for him that will hopefully go on to reinforce a love for delicious and nutritious food.

yum yum

Passed on by some friends and found from a few searches, here are some helpful links on homemade baby food:

Wholesome Baby Food
Organic Homemade baby food

Super baby food
Cusinart Baby

My apologies for not posting this any sooner… but I just wanted to post a quick note to let everyone know that Dena is the winner for the Dr. Bronner’s Giveaway! I’ll put them in the mail this week! Dr.Bronner's Body Balm Orange LavenderThanks to everyone for participating.

And just another quick note, to celebrate Earth Month, I’ll be putting together even more giveaways. As soon as I figure them out, I’ll be sure to post!

Minus some excessive clingyness last night, we had a productive and enjoyable spring weekend. Jack was happy to be out and about while we ran our usual errands and picked up various babyproofing and baby food accoutrements.

With the little happy face in mind, I wanted to mention HappyBellies, the latest Mama Likey, or should I say, Jacky Likey product in our house.

HappyBelliesRight at the 5 month mark, I mentioned that we started to introduce rice cereal. Because of the severe food and environmental allergies that run in my family, I did even more obsessive research to thwart the same destiny upon our kid. Since his eating habits began with me, we made the choice to go as organic as possible leading up to his introduction of solids.

Even before we began to Green our family, Jeff and I knew we wanted to make our own baby food. But at the same time, I’m not opposed to the commercially packaged stuff, either. Before I did my research on the homemade stuff and was introduced to Super Baby Food by a friend (thanks, Brett!), I went to pick up baby rice cereal. There were various choices, but none that really stood out to me. I think I was at Target and noticed that my store only had 2 brand choices for rice cereal– one was conventional, the other organic. I picked up the mainstream organic brand and considered myself good to go. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, I thought. It’s just freaking cereal.

When I went home to do research and follow up on the brand, I was a bit mystified to see this report and this one too . Obviously, the recalls occurred in the past. But still, they occurred. A lot of times these recalls are voluntary, but to me, still a bit bothersome.

While I was somewhat ok with starting out with the one brand I’d chosen, I felt like there had to be something else I could try.

With the many resources around us, I was convinced that there had to be an alternative. Enter HappyBellies by Happy Baby.
I first saw the HappyBellies cereal as one of my recommended purchases on Amazon. Pretty green canister, happy babies on the label… it looks good. So, when I saw it in person at the Whole Foods in the City last month, I was elated. You’d think I was the one who would be eating it! I picked up the brown rice cereal and heeded our pediatrician’s advice and prepared a small serving mixed with breastmilk.

To start, I made it a little more watery since we were introducing an entirely new texture.

Even before I could finish stirring cereal, Jack had his mouth wide open. The entire process went well, aside from my inability to keep up with his voracious appetite. Brown rice cereal was a hit and a great precursor to our adventures in solid foods.

Happy Bellies made this baby’s belly very happy.

ghblogo.gifSo what makes Happy Bellies different? Well to start, it’s organic and includes probiotics. They are, as they state, the only organic immunity boosting probiotic dry cereals on the market.

Pro-who?

Probiotics. The “good bacteria.”
Probiotics are small molecules that help maintain the natural balance of organisms, also referred to as microflora, in the intestines.
According to Happy Baby,

Probiotics are “friendly bacteria” that live in our intestines and help the immune system by discouraging the growth of harmful disease-causing bacteria.

What’s the benefit?
The immune system boost provided by probiotics can actually prevent health problems and treat a variety of ailments. Strains of these healthy bacteria have been shown to:

1. Reduce colic in infants
2. Prevent eczema and allergies–> this is a big one for us, considering our family history
3. Reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome–> and uh, this one too.
4. Help manage lactose intolerance
5. Promote bowel regularity, and
6. Prevent infections in the intestines and elsewhere in the body including bronchitis and pneumonia.

In addition, it’s reassuring to know that a revered pediatrician worked with the Happy Baby team to develop healthy meals.

Dr. Sears says,

Happy Bellies cereals easily and conveniently provide the necessary probiotics to achieve solid early development.

Happy Baby also offers frozen organic food, too. And more recently, they introduced HappyBites and Secret Sauce

We haven’t tried it yet, but in theory, their frozen organic food is reminiscent to the homemade baby food cubes popularized by the Super Baby Food phenomenon. It’s a great model (and one that I plan to follow.)

cerealBut for those moms who don’t have the desire or time to make their own organic food, Happy Baby provides a great alternative.

Having enjoyed the brown rice cereal and the oatmeal, Jack gives his (open mouth) stamp of approval.

dr. bronner's lip balmI finally got the last giveaways out in the mail, so it’s time for a new one!

Sandpaper elbows and chapped lips are big indicators that it’s been a cold winter in our house. I’m normally addicted DCT, but lately, I have a new fondness for Dr. Bronner’s. It’s relatively non-greasy, effective and longlasting. I’ve been toting the Peppermint lip balm with me for the past two weeks. Ingredients include Organic Avocado Oil, Organic Beeswax, Organic Jojoba Oil, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Peppermint Oil, Natural Tocopherols.

Dr.Bronner's Body Balm Orange LavenderI’m not naming names, but someone’s been rubbing their elbows in the tub of the peppermint body balm. And behold, after a few days of application, this person’s elbows are as good as new. The balm is made with organic jojoba oil with organic beeswax, avocado and hemp oils soothes dry & chapped skin anywhere. An added plus for those ink lovers, it’s supposed to be great for protecting tattoos. It really is like magic.

I honestly had no idea Dr. Bronner’s even made a skin balm. It’s a good thing they do. The soaps are a staple in our house. (the soap, alone, deserves its own post soon) It turns out, Dr. Bronner’s & Sun Dog’s Magic line offers a range of lotions and balms.

But both, the lip balm and skin balm, are really great products. The fact that they’re organic is a huge plus, too.

The giveaway is for the orange and ginger flavored lip balm and orange lavender body balm. I’ll leave it open for a week and announce a winner at the end of next week.

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