Natural and non-toxic products for baby + mama: All the good stuff to stock your shelves

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There are plenty of things we want more of in our lives, but toxins are not one of them. With so many natural products on the market today, it can be confusing to figure out the good, the bad, and the ugly in our everyday choices. And we know that buying exclusively organic and toxin-free won't work for most budgets.


So how do you pick and choose? We started with the products we know to be as natural as possible and that deliver on their promises. Here's our list of some of our faves for mamas and babes.

1. Beautycounter

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Beautycounter's full line of skincare, sunscreen, and beauty products was founded on a mission to get safer products into the hands of everyone. (Cue the ??) We are huge fans, in particular, of their cleaning and moisturizing products. The Charcoal Cleansing Bar cleans the day's makeup remnants - even mascara! - better than anything we've tried, leaving your skin detoxified and brighter. For even the driest skin, the face oils keep your skin moisturized and smooth all night long.

Pro tip: Have specific chemicals you're trying to avoid? Beauty Counter's The Never List gives a download on everything they will never put in any product. Plus, they list all the ingredients for every product on their website.

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2. Blue Lizard sunscreen

We found choosing a natural sunscreen to be one of the most overwhelming tasks. But we landed on Blue Lizard Baby, which we think rocks for many reasons. It uses only natural mineral barriers (including Zinc Oxide); it has no potentially irritating chemicals; it offers broad spectrum UVA and UVB skin protection; and it's very highly rated by EWG. And, unlike lots of Zinc-based sunscreens, it's easy to apply and doesn't leave a thick, white coating behind.

Pro tip: The bottle turns pink when exposed to harmful UV rays, reminding you to cover up. How useful—and fun— is that?

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3. Native deodorant

Deodorant might be the last thing you think you need to upgrade, but did you know most leading deodorants have aluminum in them? Native is both aluminum- and paraben-free. With ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, and baking soda, you'll stay cool, dry, and toxin-free— seriously. We didn't believe it until we tried it, but now lavender & rose is our favorite new underarm smell.

Pro tip: This deodorant is so great, even your hubby will love it—so you may want to buy two!

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4. Noodle & Boo

Much loved by celebs and real moms alike, Noodle & Boo's mission is to use wholesome ingredients that are optimal for sensitive skin. Every Noodle & Boo formula is hypoallergenic and clinically-tested by dermatologists and pediatricians to minimize the risk of allergic reactions. The Newborn 2-in-1 Hair & Body Wash is mild and moisturizing. (And tearless, as we may just have tested it out on one of our kiddos who didn't even seem to notice a little soap in the eyes!) We also love the silky, sensitive Baby Mud sunscreen that absorbs super fast.

Pro tip: You know that indescribable, amazing baby smell that's so fleeting? Somehow Noodle & Boo perfectly captures a bit of it. If you're suffering from a case of baby fever, you've been warned...

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5. Water Wipes

Water Wipes are touted as the “world's purest baby wipe," and we must say, we couldn't agree more! They're made with purified, softened water + a tiny drop of grapefruit seed extract—that's it. They're hypoallergenic, help prevent diaper rash, and won't irritate your little one's super sensitive skin. And, they do a great job of cleaning faces, hands, and tiny tushes. ??Water for the win! ??

Pro tip: Since there aren't any chemicals or preservatives in these wipes, be sure to keep the package sealed tightly when not in use to avoid any drying out or mold issues.

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6. Awair

File this one under the “amazing-products-you-never-knew-you-needed" bucket. Did you know that indoor air can be five times more polluted than outside air? That can affect everything from asthma to allergies to sleep quality. Awair is like your personalized home toxin tracker. It constantly evaluates a room's air, letting you know about the temperature, humidity, CO2, chemicals, and dust levels at any time. Founded by an engineer dad after his first born suffered from eczema, he decided to build a device to better track the air around her—and aren't all the best ideas born from parents in need?!

Pro tip: We recommend testing the air quality in every room; you'll be surprised to see how much it can vary in terms of dust and chemicals depending on location.

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7. Vintner's Daughter

Dubbed the “face oil to end all face oils," Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum is loved by everyone from us to Gwyneth Paltrow. After several weeks, we seriously believe the nutrient-rich botanicals and essential oils left our skin brighter and more hydrated. We're the first to admit this isn't for everyone; the $185 price point is a lot to swallow; however, if you're looking for one super-luxe item to indulge on, this serum is it.

Pro tip: Apply each night after cleansing to face and neck for best results, and don't forget to apply sunscreen each morning for continued skin protection.

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8. Honest Organic Breathe Easy Rub

There is nothing sadder than a sniffly, sick babe, and nothing worse than feeling like a helpless mama. Honest's Breathe Easy Rub can help! It's the perfect organic alternative to traditional chest rubs and is great for easing babe's cough and cold symptoms. Organic eucalyptus and tea tree oils help support clearer breathing, while lavender and rosemary oils help calm your little one. Added benefit: it makes your baby smell sooo good! (I bet you didn't think that was even possible, huh?)

Pro tip: We apply this balm to the bottoms of our little one's feet then cover them up with warm socks right before bed.

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We only include products we've tested and loved in MotherlyLoves. Through affiliate programs, we may receive a revenue percentage if you purchase through our website.

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Is there anything cuter than adorable hairstyles on kids? We love when little ones look put together and a chic hairstyle is the icing on a cake.Mamas have upped their game and are delivering trendy, inspo-worthy looks beyond basic ponytails.

We get that creating no-fuss hairstyles (preferably ones that don't require toddlers sitting more than 10 minutes) isn't exactly stress-free and shelling out cash for a stylist isn't something we'll spring for. But we're all about easy styles that we can practically create with our eyes closed. Say hello to getting out the door faster! To be fair, there are a few here that are a tad complicated, so you'll want to screenshot them and share with your mama friend who is a master stylist.

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To help you nail the best kid hairstyles, we've compiled a list of 41 cool hairstyles for little ones from Instagram:

Pigtail buns

This classic style never gets old. If you're concerned about it being too light, loosen it up a bit by adding volume at the roots.






Criss-cross braids

Add a touch of style to a traditional braid.






Top knot

When rushing and don't have time, just throw up their hair in a top bun.



Side braided ponytail

After a few hours on the playground, braids tend to end up on the side of their heads, so why not create it into a style?



Cornrows

We're not going to front—cornrows are tough to create. But if you can get it, it's a style that will last weeks. Need help? Check out these YouTube videos.






Waterfall braids

To add a little more pizazz to a regular braid, braid hair on the side and loosen it a bit at the root.




Triple buns

A bun is probably the easier hairstyle a mama can create, but throw in a dash of style by adding two more bun. Create the look by securing buns from the top of the head to the nape of the neck.








Bun + bows

Add a bow for instant fun.









Lifestyle

When the Coronavirus (COVID-19) started making headlines in early 2020 the expert advice was simple: Don't panic.

This week the CDC warned that the outbreaks of the virus will very likely happen in the United States, but it's important to know that officials still don't want parents to panic, they just want us to be prepared.

"We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad," the Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, told reporters during a news briefing Tuesday. "It's not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen," Dr. Messonnier said.

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It is totally normal to read this and be concerned mama, but there are several things we need to unpack before we let our anxiety overwhelm us.

Here is what you need to know about the Coronavirus response in the United States:

Top doctors are preparing for this

As the virus has spread rapidly overseas America's top doctors have been monitoring the situation. In not quite two months' time 80,000 people have contracted the illness and fewer than 3,000 of those people have died.

In the U.S., 53 cases have been confirmed (most of those were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan or people who caught the virus while traveling overseas). There have only been two cases of person-to-person transmission on U.S. soil, according to the CDC.

The CDC has more than 1,000 professionals working on the response to this virus, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, epidemiologists, veterinarians, laboratorians, communicators, data scientists and modelers.

"CDC staff members are working with state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments and other public health authorities to assist with case identification, contact tracing, evaluation of persons under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19, and medical management of cases; and with academic partners to understand the virulence, risk for transmission, and other characteristics of this novel virus," the agency states on its website.

And while there have been delays in implementing Coronavirus testing measures in the Unites States, experts are working to resolve issues and make testing more efficient. As the New York Times reports, the health and human services secretary "told a Senate panel that federal and local health departments will need as many as 300 million masks for health care workers."

In other words, the experts in the United States are preparing to fight this virus and they want the American public to be prepared, too.

This could impact school, work and daily life

That's why the CDC is telling us to get ready, not to cause panic or anxiety but just to set the expectation that life could be disrupted by this virus. "Now is the time for businesses, hospitals, communities, schools and everyday people to begin preparing," Dr. Messonnier said Tuesday.

She says schools may have to close or otherwise adjust to an outbreak and students may have to start doing tele-schooling online. She also wants businesses to start preparing to hold meetings remotely rather than in-person and to encourage telecommuting during any outbreak. Community activities like sports and church may also have to be canceled or modified.

As the New York Times reports, "Scientists don't know who is most susceptible to the new coronavirus. Children seem less likely to be infected. Middle-aged men seem to have been disproportionately infected, according to some studies."

This could be really disruptive for families

It is true that the scenario Messonnnier is outlining could be really disruptive for families. No one wants this to happen, but if it does have to happen it's a good thing we are getting the heads up.

Here are some steps you can take to prepare for possible interruptions to daily life:

  • Talk to your workplace about any plans it has for operations during an outbreak.
  • Speak to your child's school or childcare provider about how it plans to operate in a worst-case scenario.
  • Ask your doctor for an extra prescription of any medications your family needs, just in case an outbreak makes going to the pharmacy not possible.

Here's how to protect yourself + your family from the Coronavirus

The CDC does not recommend that we all go buy face masks. Face masks are only recommended for people "who show symptoms of COVID-19...[and] health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility)."

Instead, here's what we can all do to avoid the illness, according to the CDC:

  • "Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe."

We know this is serious and kind of scary, mama. But please, don't panic. Know that pandemic experts are working to keep your family safe. According to the CDC, the "National Institutes of Health (NIH) and their collaborators are working on development of candidate vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19."

On Tuesday, President Trump said the coronavirus is "very well under control in our country" and "is going to go away." The health experts who work for the government are doing everything they can to prove the President right, but they do want the public to be ready in case it doesn't go away as fast as he (and all of us) would like.

News

For nine months, your mother was all you knew.

Before I held you in my arms, your mother held you and never let you go.

Before I sacrificed time for you, your mother gladly sacrificed her body.

Before I consoled you when you were upset, your mother consoled you with just the beat of her heart.

Before I comforted you when you were restless, your mother comforted you with just the sound of her voice.

Before I could do anything for you, your mother gave everything for you.

Your mother is the reason I hold you today.

Before you were even a twinkle in my eye, you were in your mother's heart. Your life, your safety, and your very existence depended on her. Something I'll never be able to repay.

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It will take a long time for you to understand the weight, the depth and the immeasurability of your mother's love for you. But someday, when you have children of your own, you will understand what I now see so clearly.

So, I'll hold you tight. But I'll hold your mother tighter because my love for you grows the more I understand the measure of a mother's love.


This essay was previously published here.
Life

What would bath time be without rubber duckies? Probably not as much fun—but also a whole lot cleaner, according to a study published in the journal Biofilms and Microbiomes.

That's because it turns out those squeaky toys are far from squeaky clean thanks to “potentially pathogenic bacteria" in four out of the five bath toys examined by researchers.

For the study, Swiss and American researchers looked at the biofilm communities inside 19 bath toys collected from random households as well as six toys used in controlled clean or dirty water conditions. They found that all of the examined bath toys “had dense and slimy biofilm" on their inner surfaces. What's more, 56% of the real-use toys and all of the dirty-water toys had fungi build up. ?

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Although the researchers note exposure to bacteria and fungi may have some benefits, the strong existence of grime in bath toys is still concerning. They note, “Squeezing water with chunks of biofilm into their faces (which is not unexpected behavior for these users) may result in eye, ear, wound or even gastro-intestinal tract infections."

Besides tossing all your bath toys, what can parents do?

The researchers say more experimental work is needed. But, for starters, it doesn't hurt to remove water from the toys after usage or give them a good, regular dunk in boiling water. The researchers also said they would like to see more regulations on the polymeric materials used for many bath toys.

There is, however, one simple solution—it just comes at the cost of rubber duckie's squeak. “In fact, the easiest way to prevent children from being exposed to bath toy biofilms is to simply close the hole," the researchers say of toys like this water-tight duck. “But where is the fun in that?"

[A version of this post originally appeared April 13, 2018. It has been updated.]

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