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Be Green

Raising a green baby

Image courtesy of The Daily Green.

For too many families, the patter of little feet can mean an oversize eco-footprint. For many families, the patter of little feet can mean an oversize eco-footprint. But in this climate of economic recession, more and more parents are rethinking the way they bring up their kids. Especially babies--who can be rather expensive to feed and entertain! Not so at the Ayalon-McGuire residence. Rotem Ayalon, a long time CBC Radio One listener (and mum to 8-month-old Dahlia) shares her favourite tips and suggestions for raising an eco-friendly munchkin.
And don't worry, this isn't a piece about washable diapers (although they are unequivocally the greenest option in this province). But if you already know about washable diapers (or have decided they're not for you), here are some other ways to push the green envelope (while saving cash for the kid's college fund)
Read on!

Image courtesy E-how
Rotem's "Made with Love" Hand and Baby lotion
Makes 15 1ounce jars of lotion (plenty to share with friends!)

Oil base:
2/3 cup grapeseed oil or almond oil
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 tsp cocoa butter or shea butter
1 tbsp beeswax

To make the oil base:
Heat the ingredients until warm and melted using a double boiler. If you don't own a double boiler, you can fashion one using a pyrex measuring cup or mason jar and a regular cooking pot. Fill the cooking pot about 1/3 full of water and put all your ingredients in the pyrex cup or mason jar. Then place the jar in the pot of water (making sure the water doesn't overflow into the jar). Then heat until all your ingredients have melted.

Water base:
1/3 cup of distilled water or rose water
1/3 cup aloe vera gel
20 drops vitamin E oil (if you can't find drops, use capsules from the pharmacy)
5 drops essential oil of your choice (lavendar, rose, and sweet orange are favourites)

Mixing the lotion:
Mix the water base ingredients in a blender. Slowly add the oil base while the blender is still working. Whip till the mix is white and creamy.

For other fun handmade lotion recipes, try this link. Remember to always do a patch test. Just because something's natural and brilliant for someone else's skin or hair doesn't mean it'll work for you.

Also, while on the subject of making your own organic cosmetics, can I please share my ABSOLUTE favourite?

It's hands down Stephanie Tourles "Organic Body Care Recipes"
It's chock full of easy to make, divine recipes for all the family. They also make fabulous gifts for birthdays, showers and to cheer up sick loved ones while they heal.

Organic applesauce
The following recipe comes from wholesomebabyfood.com
5-10 large apples (try Macintosh, Gala or Braeburn!)

1. Peel, core and cut apple into slices/chunks
2. Place slices or chunks into a pan with just enough water to slightly cover apples
3. Boil/steam until tender; be sure to check on the water level and stir. That's it!
4. Apples may be mashed with a potato masher to achieve a smooth applesauce consistency. If your masher will not achieve a puree type of consistency, then follow steps 5 - 7

5. Reserve any left over water to use for thinning out the apples
6. Place into your choice of appliance for pureeing and begin pureeing.
7. Add the reserved water as necessary to achieve a smooth, thin puree
8. Add cereal (if desired) to thicken up the sauce
9. Ask your pediatrician about adding some cinnamon for new tastes!
HINT! You may also buy an "Adult" jar of "natural organic" applesauce from your local grocers! Make sure you buy the right kind however! Read the labels if you are unsure. The only ingredients should be apples and water or just apples! A few companies may add ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or citric acid to their Natural Applesauce; this is fine!

Moving along, here are some other great ways to help baby be green:

Image courtesy nicki3 on etsy.com

Washable Baby wipes
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we didn't have to buy so many disposable wipes? Not only would the planet benefit from less waste (and plastic wrapping), but we wouldn't need to spend nearly as much money every week. Rotem has a friend who made her a set of washable wipes as a shower present (great idea! I'm SO co-opting it!). They're really easy to make. Simple buy a couple of sheets from a thrift store (or use old cotton T-shirts you may have in the house) and hem the sides with a sewing machine. Your friendly neighbourhood tailor should be able to do this for you for a nominal fee, if you're not the crafty type. Bamboo, with its natural anti-bacterial properties is a great choice for this use.
Rotem's tip: Keep a thermos of water by your change table to wet the wipes. And then simply toss in the diaper pail (or create one for wipes if you haven't yet committed to washable diapers). Wash with regular laundry--or make enough that you only have to do the laundry a couple of times a week and have enough to keep in circulation!
For outdoor changes: You can wet a set of wipes and store them in a mason jar or baggie for trips to the park or mall.

And finally, toys!

You see those cupcakes? They all made from recycled felt! And they're handmade by Palm Tree Princess on Etsy.com
Now PT Princess lives in Hawaii, but it's this sort of toy that I wanted to illustrate: handmade, recycled... ideally local.
Rotem and Dahlia's tips for toys:

1. Don't buy: Most of the best toys are previously loved ones. Most mums have access to other mums with older kids who are more than happy to pass on outgrown toys. Dahlia loves these!

2. If buying, buy local: Grandparents and other family members may greatly desire to spoil your little one. Don't be a party pooper. Instead, insist that they AVOID PLASTIC and instead buy local, handmade toys made from organic cotton, wood and recycled materials. By doing this, you're not only suporting your local economy (important during a recession), but you're often helping a small artist (usually a mum herself) do something she loves while staying home with her children.

3. Everything's a toy! Obviously you have to be careful what you give an infant or toddler, but many household items (spoons, cardboard boxes, stuffed single socks) are endlessly fascinating for kids. Be creative. Brightly coloured plastic ISN'T the only or best way to stimulate little minds. Help baby play pattycake with pillows or teethe on an organic apple. She'll be thrilled and you'll save precious dollars (and landfill space)... not to mention the planet for her future use.

4. Make your own:
This tip is only for the crafty among us who actually dig this sort of thing. But if you're a knitter or like sewing, check out this link from Canadian Living Magazine. Plus, there's tons of great knitted and crocheted toy pattern books up for sale online. And there's this fabulous blog that I highly recommend.

Okay, so your turn. If you're a parent (or are thinking about becoming one), what tips do you have for saving money and the planet?
Leave me a comment or call the Talkback Line: (514) 597-5626

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Comments (4)

Alison Proteau


Some other ideas:
Washable wipes can be as easy as an extra pack baby wash cloths or cheap packs of regular wash cloths. Use a Sharpie to ID them as wipes in the laundry if necessary.
Knitters LOVE to make baby things. Ask your knitter (everyone knows a knitter)for toys made with superwash wools or organic cottons that you can provide. Patterns abound for blocks, balls, dolls, animals...you name it, it can be knit for a baby. Even clothes (hahaha).
I recommend Tightwad Gazette books for other recycling, repurposing, and money saving ideas for greener babies.
LOVE the lotion recipes ...thank you!!!!

Geeta says:
You're welcome Alison! I just made some of my own and I'm very impressed at how non-greasy it is. It's as if my skin just drinks it up! I love your ideas.
Meanwhile, for folks who want to know more about the book Alison recommends, here's a link:

Posted February 27, 2009 06:53 PM

lyn anjou


Your ideas on raising a green baby is the worst I have ever heard of
1- egg cartons are filthy and handeled by many different people

2- empty boxes (MAIL) have been
on trucks floors etc

3- for a baby to play with any
of the above is so wrong. Babies
are always putting fingers in mouth and eyes

4-It is not normal for a baby to have red cheeks and a red chin.

Geeta says:
I'm glad you brought these points up Lyn. But I have to respectfully disagree with you. I happen to know that Dahlia is extremely healthy. As are most of the babies in the world who grow up in cultures that are less obssessed with cleanliness and germs. In fact, populations that don't use harsh chemicals to clean their toys and homes, and who allow their babies to touch things and even come in contact with dirt on a regular basis tend to have healthier babies, fewer allergies and fewer autoimmune problems. Don't take my word for it. Check out these links:


My own mother let me chew on slippers and eat sand. And I remember literally PRAYING to get sick so I could stay home from school. Didn't happen very often--I was disgustingly healthy. There is a minimum standard of course and anything that comes into contact with blood must not be shared, but I can't help thinking that the average North American is ill served by his/her obssession with cleanliness.

Here's a scientific article (I know this may seem like heresy, but there's TONS of evidence that being germophobic is making our kids sick)


Posted February 27, 2009 07:43 PM

June Shen-Epstein


We are past the baby stage into toddler hood (2.5 years old) and definitely hand me downs and used items are best for price and environment. We also love to utilize the local library for fresh reading material, music CDs and kid's DVDs. No need to keep buying books! It is fun also to re-use magazine pictures to make artwork.

Posted February 28, 2009 03:30 PM

Alma Lefebvre


I would like a pattern to knit a toddler a sweater with the Montreal Canadiens. Thank you.

Geeta says:
I am not a competent enough knitter to write you a pattern, but I did find this:

You could plan your sweater using one of the recipes in Elizabeth Zimmerman's books (like "Knitting without Tears") and then work from the chart (link above) on the front.
Another great place to look for ideas and inspiration is Ravelry.com. You have to get a membership account (it's free) and then you have access to thousands of free patterns and access to photos of other peoples' interpretations of them (so you can modify based on others' mistakes).
Good luck! I'd love to see a photo of the sweater when it's done!

Posted March 7, 2009 04:30 PM

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