Review of Soft Star nontoxic children’s shoes

IMG_2287

Note: I didn’t get paid for doing this review, it’s just based on my own experiences

I spent a ton of time looking up companies that make kids shoes that are nontoxic and this one which makes shoes in Oregon is one of the best. I’ve ordered Jack two pairs of these adorable shoes from Soft Star shoes which are nontoxic leather without formaldehyde. I love how eco friendly the company is. Not only is their leather safely processed, but when I emailed them for more information about it they said:

 Our leather is a by-product of the meat industry but we take every effort to use all of the leather (scraps for craft projects, schools, etc). We have a philosophy to  “walk lightly” on the earth and we do everything in our shop to do that.

I debated getting vegan shoes, but they are basically made from petroleum which is not eco friendly or safe for children.

Here are some pros and cons:

Pros:

  • They look like old fashioned adorable moccasins
  • The laces make them adjustable (more than shoes with elastic which didn’t fit Jack well)
  • They are pretty weather safe for rainy days
  • The company has many options such as sandals, shoes with elastic or velcro, and boots
  • You can choose from a large array of colors
  • They are hand made in the USA
  • The company makes shoes for babies through adults

IMG_2358

Cons:

  • The laces take longer to tie up than shoes with velcro or elastic
  • They are a little pricey (this version is $30, but others are $40+)
  • For Jack, the shoes were too easy to pull off, so I punched some extra holes and fixed the problem, but I’m sure that depends on the baby (Jack has pretty chubby ankles so things slide off his feet easily)
  • The soles are flexible but not as flexible as 100% leather shoes, so I think these are best for children, not 1st shoes for babies. The company makes other all leather moccasins that have elastic closure that would be better for babies because they are super flexible, although maybe less weather resistant.
  • softer soled moccasins from soft star

 

Nontoxic children’s balls

Jack with the crocodile creek ball

Jack with the crocodile creek ball

Jack (16 months old) is obsessed with balls, so much so that “ball” is by far his most used word. I of course wanted to find a natural and nontxic ball for him to play with, so I looked into a bunch of different options.

We have a dog that tries to steal and eventually chew up the balls, so I thought of getting Jack some wool dryer balls that are all natural, but I didn’t because of the dog. These for example are even organic, and I bet they would be great for babies since they are soft. You can even make your own at home apparently.

organic wool balls

These natural rubber balls also looked great, but I was worried that they would be too small so the dog could fit them in his mouth

natural rubber balls

There are also some plush organic balls like these, and I’m sure they would be great for babies.

organic ball

What we ended up deciding on was these rubber balls from Crocodile Creek which are made of natural and synthetic rubber because they are the most natural large non-plush ball I could find. I emailed the manufacturer and they sent me information showing that their balls tested free of any heavy metals. It would be better if they were all natural rubber of course, but this seems to be the best option if you are looking for a large ball that bounces. We’ve taken it outside and Jack had a great time bouncing it around. I especially like the world design because it seems educational! We got the 7 inch one which works well for Jack at 16 months.

crocodile creek ball

The other option we use often is letting Jack play with ball-shaped citrus fruits!

3.5

Amazon store is open

I’ve been working on it for a little while, and I finally have my amazon store up and running!

It has links to my favorite baby clothes, gear, toys, and cloth diapers. It’s all the same price as normal amazon but I get a small percentage.

Amazon Store

Thanks for your support and let me know if there are any other categories you think I should add!

-Thais

Easy vegan “sushi” snack

IMAG0649

I’ve been trying to eat more seaweed lately because it’s a vegan source of Omega-3s which are great for your health. Before I had a baby I would buy sheets of nori and roll real sushi with cut up veggies, but that is too time consuming for me to do now since Jack is always running around getting into things. The quick alternative I came up with which tasted great was wrapping some leftover vegetable fried rice in roasted seaweed sheets. It’s really quick and easy to just reheat the rice and put a spoonful in a sheet of seaweed and not have to worry about rolling it perfectly or sealing it closed. They don’t look as nice, but they taste great and are healthy!

IMAG0650

these are the seaweed snack sheets I used

Delicious dairy-free creamy stew (can be vegan!)

IMG_2357

 

This Brazilian stew has a potato and coconut milk base, so it tastes creamy and amazing! I made it with shrimp since I eat seafood, but you could use mushrooms to make it vegan.

Ingredients:

1 medium potato

2 red bell peppers, chopped

1 bunch of parsley, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 bag of frozen shrimp

1 can of full fat coconut milk

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

Dried basil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons of palm oil, or olive oil

 

Directions:

Cook a medium size potato until very soft. Smash it or blend it in a food processor with a little  coconut milk and salt and set aside. Fry onion and garlic in olive oil. Add parsley and dried basil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and red pepper. Add the  shrimp (I put them under water to defrost first). Add palm oil. Let this cook a little and add the coconut milk. Add the soft potato and let everything cook together .

Serve over rice. I used frozen organic rice because it’s so easy to make.

This tastes even better the next day! It’s also flexible- you can add tomatoes (I just didn’t because Jack is allergic), or other vegetables

Even Jack liked it, and he doesn’t like a lot of food!

Transitioning away from sleeping in a carrier

 

asleep in a woven wrap

asleep in a woven wrap

 

Since he was born Jack has been falling asleep for naps and bedtime in a baby carrier probably 90% of the time. I did it because it was easier to get him to sleep and stay asleep, and I enjoyed walking around with him because I could look at my kindle to pass the time or talk on the phone.

At 15 months, my husband had been wanting to transition him to falling asleep in bed, so my mom was visiting for a week and agreed to help me. I had tried several months ago but it took Jack hours to sleep and was too stressful for me to stick with it. This time though, I think he was developmentally ready and it was so much easier!

Our plan was to do our night time routine (book, diaper change, nurse in bed), play a lullaby on repeat in our room (he sleeps with us in a sidecared crib), keep the room dark, and not let him off the bed. If he cried I would hug him or breastfeed him but not let him leave the bed or carry him. I think this method is similar to the “crying in arms” technique. There is no way I would feel comfortable leaving my baby alone to cry, and even a few months ago I felt really upset about not picking him up if that’s what he wanted.

The first night we let him get really tired and put him to bed at 10pm. He was overtired and cried for a few minutes and then nursed. He alternated crying, nursing, and crawling around in the crib for about 45 minutes before he fell asleep. It was way better than the last time I tried which involved 2 hours of lots of crying (all with me hugging him). The next day we did bed time at 9 and it took about 30 minutes with just a little crying, and the days after that have been just a little crying and then nursing for 20-30 minutes. I’m glad Jack can go to bed without needing to be walked around now, and especially that it felt like he was ready for the change. The next step will be trying to get him to wake up less at night to nurse, but I’m worried that will be really hard!

Update at 15 months

1.sleepy

 

Jack is 15 months old now, and just within the past week started walking all the time. It’s really mind-boggling and amazing to watch a baby learn a whole new skill like that. It took several weeks of him walking a step here and there before it just seemed to click one day. It was probably the how to walk DVDs we play him… just kidding!

For several weeks now Jack has been switching off and on between mostly 2 naps a day but sometimes just 1. He’s always tired for his morning nap 2-3 hours after waking up, but sometimes he just doesn’t fall asleep for the afternoon one. Then we have a tricky situation where he gets exhausted by an early time like 5pm and I don’t know whether to let him sleep or not. The other day he took a 10 minute nap after breastfeeding at 5, but then stayed awake until 9pm! So I think from now on I’ll try to keep any really late naps to 5 minutes and see how it goes.

Today for example Jack woke up at 7am and napped from 10-11:30. I tried to get him to nap again between 2:45-3:15 and he wouldn’t fall asleep while I walked him around in the carrier, so we skipped the afternoon nap. I took him to the park at 5 to keep him busy and now he’s passed out after breastfeeding at 6:30. Hopefully he’ll stay asleep all night!

Jack’s also been crying more lately and putting his fingers in his mouth so I think he’s getting a canine tooth. We always have a hard time deciding about giving tylenol (all the chemicals and possible side effects vs. don’t want our child to be in pain or never sleep) so I’ve been trying to limit it to once a night. The ingredients list is frightening though- I don’t know why medicine for children needs artificial colors and flavors…

Jack has also started (finally!) eating some more solids, but still not a lot compared to other kids. The things he likes are either puff type textures like cheerio-type things or these baked pea snacks, or mushy stuff in a spoon like egg salad and refried beans. I need to think of some more things to offer him though, maybe that will help him sleep more…

Chemicals found in baby cord blood

This study is a few years old, but I thought it was pretty interesting and appalling. The link has a summary of findings and link to a video which is pretty interesting.

They took umbilical cord blood from babies and found an average of 287 toxins and chemical pollutants per baby, many of which were carcinogens or endocrine disruptions. Many were also banned 30 years ago.

It’s a good reminder to be careful what products you buy for your body, home, and what food you eat.

Women especially are exposed to an average of 168 chemicals when using an average of twelve personal care products each day (men use about half that).

It can feel intimidating when so many things around us are toxic, but this motivates me to make more of an effort to buy organic foods (or cook at home if I can’t find pre-made organic things), limit Jack’s time with plastic toys, vacuum often to get rid of flame retardants in the dust at home, and keep breastfeeding to ensure Jack has a healthy immune system!

Luckily Jack is just as  happy playing with pesticide-free lemons as with plastic balls

Luckily Jack is just as happy playing with pesticide-free lemons as with plastic balls

Reaction to the Ohio breastfeeding study

The recent breastfeeding study comparing siblings within families is all over the news lately, and people are interpreting it as that there are no differences between breastfeeding and formula feeding babies. I know that some women can’t or don’t have the support to breastfeed, and everyone is entitled to their own decisions. However, while I’m not a medical doctor I have a doctoral research degree and just wanted to point out some issues with the study that are getting overlooked.

These are the variables they included:

Child’s Physical health:

  • body mass index (BMI)
  • obesity
  • asthma

Behavior:

  • hyperactivity
  • parental attachment
  • behavioral compliance

Academic achievement:

  • reading comprehension
  • vocabulary recognition
  • math ability
  • memory-based intelligence
  • scholastic competence (academic performance)

There are several other important variables which have been linked to formula feeding which they did NOT include such as:

  • Childhood leukemia
  • Diabetes
  • SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)
  • Maternal breast cancer
  • Maternal ovarian cancer
  • Maternal diabetes

I think it’s great that people are doing research on breastfeeding and formula, but I hope this one article doesn’t convince people not to try hard to breastfeed (since it can be difficult at first) or for employers not to support new mothers because while it would be good if formula didn’t lead to obesity, I think your child getting cancer or dying of SIDS, or a mother dying of cancer are very important variables to leave out.

In summary: formula may not lead to more obesity or some academic or behavioral problems, but there is previous research showing it is related to leukemia, SIDS, and maternal cancers. 

Really easy kamut rice crispy treat recipe

kamut treats

kamut treats

 

I’ve made this dessert a few times and streamlined it so it’s as quick as possible and I can whip up a batch in literally 5 minutes while wearing Jack! I originally made it to use up a bunch of puffed kamut (an ancient grain similar to puffed rice) that I bought for Jack but he didn’t really like. I made it on the stove the first time, but then the next time I used the microwave and it worked just as well, but was faster and easier to clean up.

You’ll need (everything is approximate- this is hard to mess up!)

  • half a bag of puffed kamut or rice (3 ounces). I got it in the cereal section of whole foods
  • an entire bag of any kind of marshmallow (3.5 cups)
  • about 1/4 cup butter or vegan butter type substance

Directions:

  • I like to first take a glass container (about 9×9) and spread some butter to grease it, or use some coconut oil
  • Throw in the bag of marshmallows and the butter
  • Microwave for 30 seconds
  • Mix the stuff a little
  • Microwave another 30 seconds
  • Mix everything fairly well, then add the kamut/rice and mix so the kamut is coated
  • Smoosh the mixture into the pan a little with the back of your spoon
  • Let it cool to solidify before serving

If you eat it out of the dish you only have to clean 1 dish at the end! So low maintenance :) This is obviously not healthy with all the sugar, but at least you can use a whole grain like kamut and there are no trans fats or weird ingredients you’d find in store bought cookies.

I bet this would be good with other things added as well like chocolate chips, m&m type candies, or peanut butter chips