Healthy on a budget: 6 ways to navigate organic + affordable nutrition for toddlers

“The good news is that organic is becoming more affordable than ever.”

Healthy on a budget: 6 ways to navigate organic + affordable nutrition for toddlers

Raising a toddler these daysredefines overwhelming. Not only do we have to make sure they don’t toddle intoa toilet, we have to make sure they are eating a healthy diet, not chewing onphthalate-laden toys, and not biting the other kids in daycare.

At this age, toddlers tend tobecome more particular about their eating habits. This can be terriblyfrustrating when we’ve spent hours making a balanced organic meal from scratchand they only want to eat Cheerios.

I’ve faced this struggle with both of mychildren, and although sometimes I am determined to starve them into eating chickenpiccata, more often I compromise with organic Cascadian Farms O’s andhormone-free milk.


Not only is it exasperating—itcan be expensive! If you are hoping to provide clean, wholesome, and less-worrisomenutrition for your toddler (without blowing your entire life savings), these six strategies for going green on a budget are sure to help!

The good news is that organic is becoming more affordable than ever.

1. Big businesses making small changes.

As corporations begin to listen toconsumers who are voting with their dollars, it’s now possible to find a reasonably priced pound ofgrass-fed meat at Costco and organic coconut oil at Walmart.

Even the bigconventional brands are taking steps to make their products a bit better, eliminatingartificial flavors and colors from popular kids’ cereals and mac and cheese.

2. Mind your peas and cucumbers.

As far asproduce, the Environmental Working Group releases annual lists of the “DirtyDozen and Clean Fifteen”—the fruits and vegetables most and least likely tocontain pesticides. You can download a handy appto keep track.

You’ll usually notice that apples, berries, and stone fruits like peaches tend to top the dirty list.

For 2016,the dirty dozen consists ofstrawberries, apples, nectarines, peaches, celery, grapes, cherries, spinach,tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers.

The clean fifteen are avocados, sweet corn,pineapple, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mango, papaya, kiwi,eggplant, honeydew melon, grapefruit, cantaloupe, and cauliflower.

It’s alsoa good idea to go organic with anything where you eat the skin. Notice thatavocado, kiwis, and pineapple
areon the low pesticide risk list, partly because you’ll
 be removing that inedible rindwhere much of the nasty stuff lives.

3. Go organic online.

Organicpantry items, such as grains, broth, spices, condiments, and snacks can bebought at discount prices from sites like Lucky Vitamin and Thrive Market. Some sitesallow you to save more by buying in bulk or setting automatic re-orders foritems your family uses regularly.

There arealso coupon sites for natural and organic products including Mambo Sprouts, The Greenbacks Gal, and Organic Deals. Whole Foods Market has alsolaunched a new rewards program complete with in-app coupons, and Berry Cart is a new app with cash back onselect natural brands.

4. Save those seeds.

It’s easyto say “grow your own,” but sometimes you spend money on seedlings and soil toyield only four cherry tomatoes. However, if you have a green thumb or even a luckyseason, you could score big.

This year I planted sugar snap peas from seeds andmy kids have been having a ball picking and eating them. Even if you only havea small outside space or a windowsill, herbs like basil, mint, and parsley areeasy to grow and can be dried for continued use.

5. The freezer is your friend.

You can save money by buying in bulk and freezing, especially when seasonal items likeorganic berries go on sale. Freeze fruits and vegetables, homemade baby food, grass-fedmeat, large batches of soup, and baked goods. You can also buy frozen organicproduce when it is cheaper than buying fresh.

6. Feed baby wisely.

If you areusing formula, you know how expensive that can be—another great reason to breastfeedif you can. But if at some point you do choose to purchase formula, going withthe powdered version not only decreasesBPA exposure, it reduces packaging and is much less expensive than ready-madeor condensed formulas.

And, althoughit may seem obvious to some, homemade baby food is seriously cheaper than allthose little jars. Plus, it doesn’t need to be time consuming if you make largebatches and freeze them in portions.

These tips won’t keep yourtoddler from throwing spaghetti against the wall, but at least you can feel abit better knowing you didn’t spend a fortune on the gluten-free pasta and organictomato sauce. ?

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I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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