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Recycling Baby Gear

Find a new home for those baby necessities with these 5 spots for recycling baby gear.

Recycling Baby Gear

When you’re stocking up on necessary items in preparation for baby, the prospect of recycling baby gear feels a million years away. But there gets to a point when all those baby things that you needed so badly in the beginning suddenly aren’t so useful. Your baby grows out of them or you move on from that particular stage.

Rather than throwing them away, there are many resources for reuse and recycling that can give these important baby items a new home--or at least offer you avenues to dispose of them properly. Here are a few of our favorite recycling spots for some of the most popular baby (and new mama!) items.

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Car Seat. Most people don’t realize that car seats can expire 5-6 years after they are made, and the plastics that are used to make these seats can weaken and deteriorate over time. Although there are currently no companies in NYC that accept car seats for recycling, we found one in nearby New Jersey at Shade Tree Garage. Through this program, you can submit your expired infant and car seat for recycling and as an added bonus get a $20 discount on oil changes! Don’t live in the NYC area? Find your local car seat recycling destination here.

Baby Clothing. Babies grow out of their clothing so quickly. The best way to get maximum use out of your kids’ clothing is to reuse it by passing it along to someone who may need it. Bring your like-new items to a swap meet like Little Swappies, an event where you can exchange items that you no longer need for someone else’s like-new items. Little Swappies also offers textile recycling through their partnership with Reuse NYC, which is a great family-friendly way to teach your kids how to reduce, reuse and recycle. Everything that’s not swapped at Little Swappies is donated to their charity partner Room to Grow, so you can rest assured that every item is going to someone in need.

Crib Mattress. Even if you convert your crib into a toddler bed, eventually that child-size mattress will just be too small. Rather than send your crib mattress to the local landfill to join the other 40 million mattresses disposed in the U.S. every year, choose a crib mattress made with recyclable materials. Newton crib mattresses, for example, are made with no foam, glue, latex or springs, making it 100% recyclable. Since not all recycling facilities will accept mattresses, Newton will either direct you to the closest recycling facility or send return packaging and arrange recycling for you. You can also find a list of mattress recycling facilities here.

Breast Pump. Breast Pumps are a great tool to help you get baby on a bottle, and keep your baby breastfed longer. But at some point, one day, you’re not going to need it anymore. A new program, Medela Recycles, has created a way for moms to properly recycle electric breast pumps. Every pump they receive will support the donation of a brand new hospital-grade Medela Symphony® Preemie+TM Breastpump and breastfeeding supplies to a mom staying at a Ronald McDonald House due to having a baby in the NICU. That way, she’ll continue to have the same high-grade pump she had in the hospital while easing her nursing transition when she goes home. Medela Recycles provides a way with both recycle and impact another mom’s breastfeeding journey. For more information, visit Medela’s site.

Nursing Bras. Breastfeeding mamas can build up quite a collection of nursing bras. After you’ve weaned, you’ll likely have many nursing bras that you no longer need but are still useful. The best option is to pass them along to someone in need via The Bra Recyclers. With a mission to recycle textiles so that they don’t end up in landfills, this organization recycles and reuses bras, redistributing them around the world to families in need. Learn more about how to submit a bra to be recycled and/or reused here.

This post was brought to you by Newton, and innovative new crib mattress designed to help your baby get a safer, healthier sleep. Get an exclusive 20% discount* on a Newton crib mattress with the code GREENWEEK.

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    Why right now is the best time for a drivable getaway

    Flexible schedules mean more vacation options. 🙌

    Looking back now, last winter feels like a lifetime ago. At the time, my husband and I were eagerly planning our summer vacation just as we've done in years past. You know how the next part goes: COVID-19 came into the picture and changed our plans not only for vacationing, but for so much else in life.

    In the time since then, we've gained a truly valuable new perspective on what matters—and realized we don't have to look so far to make beautiful memories with our kids. By exploring getaways within driving distance of our home, we've developed a new appreciation for the ability to "pack up the car and go."

    Of course, that isn't to say that travel is the carefree adventure it once was. With COVID-19 still a very big part of the equation, we've become much more diligent about planning trips that allow for social distancing and exceed cleanliness standards. That's why we've exclusively turned to Vrbo, which helps us find nearby accommodations that meet our new criteria. Better yet?

    Thanks to the money we've saved by skipping air travel and our remote-friendly work schedules, we're able to continue with the trips throughout the fall.

    Here are a few more reasons we believe it's a great time for drivable getaways.

    Flexible schedules allow us to mix work + play.

    After months of lockdown, my family was definitely itching for a change of scenery as the summer began. By looking at drivable destinations with a fresh set of eyes—and some helpful accommodation-finding filters on Vrbo—we were able to find private houses that meet our needs. (Like comfortably fitting our family of five without anyone having to sleep on a pull-out couch!)

    With space to spread out and feel like a home away from home, we quickly realized that we didn't need to limit our getaways to the weekends—instead we could take a "Flexcation," a trip that allows us to mix work and play. Thanks to the ability to work remotely and our kids' distance-learning schedule for the fall, we're planning a mid-week trip next month that will allow us to explore a new destination after clocking out for the day.

    We’re embracing off-season deals.

    With Labor Day no longer marking the end of our vacationing season, we're able to take advantage of nearby getaways that mark down their rates during the off season. For us in the Mountain West, that means visiting ski-town destinations when the leaves are falling rather than the snow. By saving money on that front, we're able to splurge a bit with our accommodations—so you can bet I search for houses that include a private hot tub for soaking in while enjoying the mountain views!

    Vacationing is a way to give back.

    If we've learned one thing this year, it's that life can change pretty quickly. That's given us a new appreciation for generous cancellation policies and transparent cleaning guidelines when booking trips. By seeing both of these things front and center in Vrbo listings along with reviews from fellow travelers, I feel confident when I hit the "book now" button.

    Beyond that, I know that booking a trip through Vrbo isn't only a gift to my family. On the other side of the transaction, there are vacation home owners and property managers who appreciate the income during these uncertain times. What's more, taking getaways allows us to support our local economy—even if it's just by ordering new takeout food to enjoy from our home away from home.

    While "looking ahead" doesn't feel as easy as it once did, I am confident that there will be a lot of drivable getaways in our future.

    This article was sponsored by Vrbo. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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    Tips parents need to know about poor air quality and caring for kids with asthma

    There are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    When wildfires struck the West Coast in September 2020, there was a lot for parents to worry about. For parents of children with asthma, though, the danger could be even greater. "There are more than 400 toxins that are present in wildfire smoke. That can activate the immune system in ways that aren't helpful by both causing an inflammatory response and distracting the immune system from fighting infection," says Amy Oro, MD, a pediatrician at Stanford Children's Health. "When smoke enters into the lungs, it causes irritation and muscle spasms of the smooth muscle that is around the small breathing tubes in the lungs. This can lead to difficulty with breathing and wheezing. It's really difficult on the lungs."

    With the added concern of COVID-19 and the effect it can have on breathing, many parents feel unsure about how to keep their children protected. The good news is that there are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    Here are tips parents need to know about how to deal with poor air quality when your child has asthma.

    Minimize smoke exposure.

    Especially when the air quality index reaches dangerous levels, it's best to stay indoors as much as possible. You can find out your area's AQI at AirNow.gov. An under 50 rating is the safest, but between 100-150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children with asthma. "If you're being told to stay indoors, listen. If you can, keep the windows and doors closed," Oro says.

    Do your best to filter the air.

    According to Oro, a HEPA filter is your best bet to effectively clean pollutants from the air. Many homes are equipped with a built-in HEPA filter in their air conditioning systems, but you can also get a canister filter. Oro says her family (her husband and children all suffer from asthma) also made use of a hack from the New York Times and built their own filter by duct taping a HEPA furnace filter to the front of a box fan. "It was pretty disgusting what we accumulated in the first 20 hours in our fan," she says.

    Avoid letting your child play outside or overly exert themselves in open air.

    "Unfortunately, cloth masks don't do very much [to protect you from the smoke pollution]," Oro says. "You really need an N95 mask, and most of those have been allocated toward essential workers." To keep at-risk children safer, Oro recommends avoiding brisk exercise outdoors. Instead, set up an indoor obstacle course or challenge your family to jumping jacks periodically to keep everyone moving safely.

    Know the difference between smoke exposure and COVID-19.

    "COVID-19 can have a lot of the same symptoms—dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and chest pain could overlap. But what COVID and other viruses generally cause are fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches. Those would tell you it's not just smoke exposure," Oro says. When a child has been exposed to smoke, they often complain of a "scrape" in their throat, burning eyes, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or wheezing. If the child has asthma, parents should watch for a flare of symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing or a tight sensation in their chest.

    Unfortunately, not much is known about long-term exposure to wildfire smoke on a healthy or compromised immune system, but elevated levels of air pollution have been associated with increased COVID-19 rates. That's because whenever there's an issue with your immune system, it distracts your immune system from fighting infections and you have a harder time fighting off viruses. Limiting your exposure to wildfire smoke is your best bet to keep immune systems strong.

    Have a plan in place if you think your child is suffering from smoke exposure.

    Whatever type of medication your child takes for asthma, make sure you have it on-hand and that your child is keeping up with regular doses. Contact your child's pediatrician, especially if your area has a hazardous air quality—they may want to adjust your child's medication schedule or dosage to prevent an attack. Oro also recommends that, if your child has asthma, it might be helpful to have a stethoscope or even a pulse oximeter at home to help diagnose issues with your pediatrician through telehealth.

    Most importantly, don't panic.

    In some cases, social distancing and distance learning due to COVID may be helping to keep sensitive groups like children with asthma safer. Oro says wildfires in past years have generally resulted in more ER visits for children, but the most recent fires haven't seen the same results. "A lot of what we've seen is that the smoke really adversely affects adults, especially older adults over 65," Oro says. "Children tend to be really resilient."

    This article was sponsored by Stanford Children's Health. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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    Mama, all I see is you

    A love letter from your baby.

    Mama,

    I can't see past you right now, I'm so small and everything's a little blurry.

    All I see is you.

    When you feel alone, like the walls are closing in, remember I'm here too. I know your world has changed and the days feel a little lonely. But they aren't lonely for me.

    You are my everything.

    When you feel like you don't know what you're doing, you're making it look easy to me. Even though we're still getting to know each other, you know me better than anyone.

    I trust you.

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