Don’t Surround Your Baby in Plastic!

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One thing that has always worried me a little bit about the typical baby’s life is the amount of plastic they are surrounded with. From swings and jumperoos to high chairs and diapers to an incessant amount of toys and tethers, it seems that everything the modern baby touches is plastic! In light of recent studies about the dangers of BPA and the chemicals that are leached from plastic in general, it seems only fitting that we should look for healthier and more sustainable alternatives to plastics for our children.

Lucky for us, there is a surge of artisans waiting to make our babies beautiful wooden toys, playlets, and high chairs! Not only are these items perfectly designed, but they are often sustainably sources, made by individuals in small companies, and are of heirloom quality. Of course, that means a higher price point, especially when compared to China-manufactured big box store toys. This begs the question: is it worth it, this quest to avoid plastics? Let’s take a look at the benefits of choosing wooden toys:

Healthier for your child. BPA has been villianized in recent years for it’s hormone-disrupting properties and cancer-causing agents, and rightfully so. But in addition to this, there are many other chemicals of concern in plastic toys, which often require batteries, are of concern for off gassing, and are regularly recalled for safety concerns. Wooden toys, void of these chemicals and never requiring batteries, can set our minds at ease.

Less environmental impact. Plastics rely on the crude oil industry, and take years to breakdown, if they break down at all. Many wooden toy manufacturers, in contrast, focus on using sustainable methods to source their wood, using wood sources that grow back easily or even that are somewhat of a nuisance (such as in the case of bamboo). Look for companies that work with the Forestry Stewardship Council! In addition, you can find great companies that not only source sustainably, but use plant based dyes and natural glues if they need to use these things in the design. Many toys are simply carved out of a solid piece of wood, perhaps embellished with a wood burning tool.

Heirloom quality. Plastic toys break, they are designed to. They are created to be a temporary fixation for your child, to be battered and bruised and then tossed away, easily replaced by the next chemical-laden gadget on the market. However, wooden toys are designed to last for generations- and they do. One toy can be passed down as an heirloom and barely look used at all. While the price point may be higher, you get so much more for your investment.

Encourage imagination and cognitive development. While plastic toys are designed to entertain, usually with a very specific purpose in mind, wooden toys have limitless possibilities. A set of blocks can become a princess castle, a boat, a tower, grocery store items- the possibilities are limitless. This flexing of the imagination paves the way for heightened cognitive development and encourages the child to think for themselves and be independent.

Here’s some of my favorite wooden toy companies:
Tegu
Grimm’s Spiel und Holz Design
Plan Toys
HABA Toys
Little Sapling Toys

On the whole, I would so much rather my child be surrounded by wood than by plastic. What do you think? Are there plastic toys that your child just couldn’t live without?

Easy Health Tips: For Ladies Only

But seriously, if you’re a dude, just stop reading. You don’t want this.

Ok, let’s get real. Periods suck, and our coping mechanisms suck worse- popping pills with who-knows-what long term effects, medications that could affect our long term fertility, binge eating terrible (yet delicious) things, laying on the couch in agony? Is there really no other option?

Since I first got my period, I can remember lying on the floor of my bedroom trying not to move and positioning heating pads on my back and belly to try to relieve the pain. Painkillers didn’t help, so soon I just didn’t bother. I just accepted that one or two days a month would be hell and I would just have to get over it.

In the past few years, however, experimenting with diet and alternative medicine has not done away with the pain and discomfort entirely, but certainly has made it manageable. I hope maybe some of these tips will help you!

CUT OUT caffeine, sugar, alcohol, processed foods-especially the week before your period. All of these things mess wi your body and prevent it from being in a place to properly function. Eat whole foods and drink plenty of water.

STAY ACTIVE. This is the hardest for me, but it really is worth it. Even taking a short walk outside in the morning can lessen cramping for the day and help things to flow smoothly-literally. There are also many yoga poses recommended for dysmenorrhea (heavy cramping) including child’s pose, bridge, wide squat, and pigeon. Be careful, though, to avoid inversions while on your period. This is a great sequence to try at home.

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wide squat pose

AVOID HORMONES LIKE THE PLAGUE. So many women in the US struggle with hormone imbalances caused simply by eating foods and using products that contain hormone disrupting agents. This includes meats that aren’t organic, many cosmetics that are filled with chemicals, perfumes, and conventionally grown produce, among other things. This is a fascinating subject, one that Jillian Michaels tackles thoroughly in her book Master Your Metabolism. Key points-eat organic. Be careful what you put on your skin and what you clean your house with. This is all effective how your hormones work and likely making your periods worse.

GET TESTED for a serious hormone imbalance. I found out a few months ago that I gave a hormone imbalance, and I now use a little cream before I go to bed and it has made everything substantially better- shorter, lighter periods, less cramping, less PMS before my period. Be careful, however, with treatment options- synergic hormones are dangerous and can cause even more damage in the long run as your body starts to adjust to the new hormone level. Look for a bio identical hormone replacement that works with your body to boost your levels. I like Emerita Pro-Gest, and I have heard good things ago Arbonne ProLief.

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TRY A TEA. There are many readily available tea blends for treating period symptoms, I have tried most of them and always had good results. My favorite is Traditional Medicinals Female Toner. You have to drink a lot (2-4 cups per day) of these teas to really get the benefits, but it is so worth it.

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DETOX BATHS with things like Epsom salts, activated charcoal, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda help pull toxins from your body that could be disrupting your hormones, interfering with bodily processes, and making your periods worse. The heat and relaxation of a bath don’t hurt, either!

BE BRAVE and try some alternative equipment. Tampons have always been the easiest thing, but they could be causing unnecessary discomfort by plugging things up rather than letting them flow. Pads avoid this traffic jam effect, and there are many great companies that make reusable pads that are easy on the pocketbook. I can’t stand the diaper feeling, so I have moved to a Diva Cup with great results- check them out here.

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Do you have any tried and true tricks to share?