natural baby care

Lavender + Gentle Baby Bath Salts

I love using essential oils in our home for everything, and my beauty products are no exception. We create our own favorite combinations of oils and make roller blend, make our own cleaning products, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. This weekend I decided to take a little 'me time' and created a mini spa experience in my own bathroom. I plugged in the diffuser with balsam fir + lavender (my favorite combo for unwinding!), ran a hot bath, grabbed a book and soaked in the warm water infused with lavender + gentle baby bath salts. This is such a great way to relax and involves almost no effort! 

Gentle baby is one of my favorite oil blends for relaxing! It helps calm emotions and therefore great during pregnancy and for troubled littles. It's also amazingly soothing to the skin, so it's a great choice for adding to bath salts, either for me or for Elliot! Interestingly, many of the oils contained in this blend are used in high-end cosmetic products to enhance a 'youthful appearance.' And no home should be without lavender, the Swiss Army Knife of oils. We use it for so many things! 


Lavender + Gentle Baby Bath Salts:
1/4 cup epsom salt
1/8 cup coarse himalayan salts
3 drops lavender essential oil
2 drops gentle baby essential oil

Mix epsom salt and himalayan salt together, then add in essential oils and mix well. Store in an air-tight glass jar. When you are ready to use the bath salts, scoop out about 2T of the mixture and place it under the running water. This allows the aroma to diffuse throughout the water. Relax and enjoy!

Friday Favorite // Oils + Babes

One of the main reasons that I started using essential oils was that I wanted to have natural alternatives for all of the things that come with little ones. I wanted to be able to control my son's exposure to harsh chemicals in the products that we use - diaper cream, bug repellant, household cleaners, etc. There is a list of our DIY recipes here, but I wanted to share some of my other oily favorites for littles, from newborns to kids!

Oils:
+ Lavender: truly the swiss army knife of oils, we use this for just about everything - skin support, respiratory support, relaxing + unwinding, the list is endless! I use it in our linen spray, diaper rash ointment and wipe solution.
+ The Young Living Kid Scents collection: Sleepyize, Owie (we use a lot of this lately!), Snifflease, Bite Buster, and TummyGize.
+ Copaiba: a must-have for the early years!
+ RC: a must-have for the winter months, this blend stands for "Respiratory Congestion."
+ Purification: a main ingredient in our repellent, we also use this for respiratory support in the winter, and for a DIY room spray (love it on the dog bed!). This is a great alternative to those wall plug-ins that are unfortunately laced with formaldehyde. Our diffuser is constantly running, and this oil is our go-to.

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Other Young Living products:
+ KidScents Tender Tush: amazing ointment infused with essential oils that is great for skin support.
+ Rose ointment: another great one for skin support, we use this for making diaper cream, after-sun cream, etc.
+ Thieves spray + Waterless Hand Purifier: for being out and about and for all the things that get dropped on dirty floors.
+ Bamboo Diffuser: we splurged a little and got a second diffuser to keep in E's room, and it was absolutely worth it! This diffuser has a one or four hour setting, so I love putting just a few drops of oil in it and turning it on during nap time or before bed. 

Other oil-related items:
+ Gentle Babies: my go-to reference for all things pregnancy, baby and child!
+ A cute travel case for taking oils in the diaper bag.
+ Paracord bracelets work great as diffusers for older kiddos!
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And lastly, a completely superfluous item but one that has come in handy so many times, a diffuser paci clip, especially for long car rides and traveling!


More information on essential oils here and here

In the Bag

I love having a peek into the lives of other people... what they keep in their fridge, what their pantry looks like, what they keep in their bags... those tiny details and nuances that make their world spin. Sometimes it's a camera or a pencil and paper. Sometimes it's a book or magazine or a favorite lip balm. I find it interesting to know what items people can and can't live without, what things they take with them wherever they go. So here's a peek into my life, the things currently residing in my day to day tote.

+ The standard things: a kelley green wallet, my iPhone, car key, weekly planner, sunnies.

+ As much as I love real books, I keep my Kindle loaded with some of my current favorites. (And the case for those interested)

+ My favorite vannila-mint lip balm + a turquoise hair tie.

+ A lovely turquoise moleskine journal from my husband + a pen for writing all the lists, ideas and dreams.

+ Oily info + oil samples for sharing with friends.

+ Thieves spray and waterless hand purifier for all the public things... shopping carts, gas stations, child seats, door handles, things that fall on dirty floors (which is everything with a toddler!). Also, DIY foaming hand soap to go so we don't have to use the terrible-smelling chemical-laden stuff in public restrooms.

+ Oils (naturally) + a gorgeous case gifted from a now dear-to-me-friend*:
- Stress away roller for braving the grocery store with a toddler. It's also my summer perfume because hello lime + vanilla.
- Sunshine roller blend because, hello happy. Another great summer perfume.
- Diluted peppermint for tension, digestive support, icy cool relief!
- Seasonal trio + Breathe again rollers
- Owie for little man 
- Lavender aka my swiss army knife for everything


*I am constantly amazed by the incredible friendships that I have built through this oils community and the ways that the Lord has blessed me through those relationships. There are so many strong, intelligent, inspiring women that I now call friends that I would never have met otherwise. This community is such a blessing in my life and one of the reasons I am so passionate about sharing oils and helping people start this journey. 

DIY Outdoor Spray

When we first got started with essential oils, one of the things I most wanted to make was an outdoor spray. Since we do a lot of camping, hiking, and paddling, we are always on the lookout for natural alternatives to the chemical-laden sprays that are on the market. #ThankGodfor essential oils! Here is my tried and true recipe for our outdoor spray:

You will need:
A 4oz glass spray bottle
Filtered water
A pinch of epsom salt
5 drops purification essential oil
5 drops lavender essential oil
2-5 drops peppermint essential oil* (2 for using on little ones, 5 if for adults only)
3 drops lemongrass essential oil
Dissolve epsom salt in about 2 oz of filtered water, then pour into the glass spray bottle. Add essential oils and fill with remaining filtered water. Shake well and spray directly onto skin before heading out the door! Repeat application as needed!

We keep a batch made and typically split it into two small bottles, one that we keep near the back door and another that I keep in my bag during the summer.


If you want to know more about essential oils and why we use them, click here. To get started using your own oils, click here!

Thrive Market

When I shared our recipe for clean ranch dip/dressing, I mentioned that we purchased our new favorite mayonnaise from Thrive Market, so I wanted to share a little more about this amazing, new-to-us company. Thrive Market is basically Costco meets Whole Foods, but online and with charity to boot. For less than $5 a month, you can have non-GMO, organic, whole-food items delivered to your house (free shipping over $49!), get wholesale pricing, and give back to a family in need all at the same time.

This is huge for us because we live about an hour outside of the city and don't have access to Whole Foods, Sprouts or Trader Joe's without a special trip. Furthermore, we can't afford to shop solely at Whole Foods, so that means trips to multiple stores with a toddler in tow. Not really how I want to spend my time. I'd rather be in the kitchen prepping food, listening to Judah & The Lion and having impromptu dance parties with my son. #AmIRight? Plus, I would spend more in gas just getting to Whole Foods than I would on a monthly membership.

Thrive has something for everyone, whether it's gluten-free, paleo, vegan or raw, and they carry supplements, house, beauty and personal care items as well! We love being able to get our Dr. Bronner's castille soap, Seventh Generation wipes, and grass-fed protein powder delivered to our door. Thrive carries all our favorite natural brands like Bob's Red Mill, Earth's Best Organic, Earth Mama Angel Baby, Justin's, Annie's Homegrown, and so many more. 

Furthermore, for every membership purchased, Thrive donates a membership to a low-income American family. I really love this about the company, since it allows everyone the opportunity to have healthy, chemical-free food options that support health and wellness. 

Check it out and start your membership today and receive one month free!

DIY Summer Salve

DIY Summer Salve (Not waterproof, read on for the waterproof recipe):
30 drops lavender or myrrh essential oil
30 drops carrot seed essential oil (SPF 38-40)
Optional: 2T non-nano zinc oxide powder (SPF 20)
1 cup organic, raw unrefined shea buter*
2/3 cup solid organic coconut oil* (SPF 8-10)

Mix the shea butter and coconut oil in a mixer until smooth and fluffy, about five minutes. Add in essential oils and mix until well combined. Store in a glass container (we like these wide-mouth ones) or a BPA-free, high quality plastic tube, and use as needed! Be sure to re-apply this recipe after getting out of the water.

If you decide to add the zinc oxide for extra SPF follow this procedure:
Heat the coconut oil and shea butter on the stove in a double boiler. Stir continuously to combine. I do this with a mason jar in a small sauce pan to make mixing in the zinc oxide easier. Once the shea butter and coconut oil are melted, remove the jar from the water and add in the zinc oxide powder. Place the lid on the jar and shake well to dissolve the zinc oxide. Wear an oven mitt for this as the jar will be hot! Once the zinc oxide is dissolved and the salve has cooled a bit, add the essential oils and stir well. The salve will harden slightly as it cools. Store in a glass container (we like these wide-mouth ones) or a BPA-free, high quality plastic tube.
DIY Waterproof Sun Salve:
30 drops lavender or myrrh essential oil
30 drops carrot seed essential oil (SPF 38-40)
Optional: 2T non-nano zinc oxide powder (SPF 20)
1 cup organic, raw unrefined shea buter*
2/3 cup solid organic coconut oil* (SPF 8-10)
1/4 cup organic beeswax pastilles

Heat the beeswax, coconut oil and shea butter on the stove in a double boiler. Stir continuously to combine. I do this with a mason jar in a small sauce pan to make mixing in the zinc oxide easier. Once the shea butter and coconut oil are melted, remove the jar from the water and add in the zinc oxide powder. Place the lid on the jar and shake well to dissolve the zinc oxide. Wear an oven mitt for this as the jar will be hot! Once the zinc oxide is dissolved and the salve has cooled a bit, add the essential oils and stir well. The salve will harden slightly as it cools. Store in a glass jar or a BPA-free, high quality plastic tube.

*If you do not want your salve to smell of shea butter or coconut oil, use refined versions of both of these products.


To purchase your own essential oils at a 24% discount, click here. To read more about the therapeutic viability of oils, click here

DIY Thieves Spray

Among my favorite products from Young Living are the products from the Thieves line - household cleaner, foaming hand soap, waterless hand purifier, and thieves spray. We use the spray on anything and everything - shopping carts, our phones, Elliot's toys and highchair, the steering wheel in the car. We also use it to clean fresh produce, wipe down cutting boards, and freshen up the couch cushions. The list is endless.  And while I will definitely continue buying the pre-made spray in my monthly order, I wanted to have the option to make it myself. The recipe is really simple and uses things that are already in your bathroom cabinet. 

You will need:
2 oz dark glass spray bottle (I buy the pack of 12 because we use these for so many of our DIYs)
1 tsp organic witch hazel
10-15 drops Young Living Thieves essential oil blend
A little less than 2oz distilled water (enough to fill the bottle)

Add 10-15 drops of thieves oil and witch hazel to your clean spray bottle. Pour in the distilled water until the bottle is almost full, then replace the spray top and shake well. Use liberally on anything and everything! I keep a bottle in my car or purse, one at the kitchen sink, and one in the diaper bag. We also love this spray for traveling and for camping!


To learn more about essential oils, click here. To purchase your own oils (including thieves oil!) at a 24% discount, click here.

 

Nutrition Tips 02 / Feeding the Littles

One of the most frequently asked questions that I receive is about how we feed our little guy without turning to standard sugar and gluten-laden foods that are, unfortunately, so prevalent in our infant and toddler food options. Maybe it's because we have been at this whole food diet thing for so long, and maybe people over think these types of things, but honestly it isn't hard. I promise! It may seem against the grain (pun intended) to start your infant on pureed vegetables instead of oatmeal or rice cereal, but I am fairly certain that our nomadic ancestors didn't have access to Gerber Good Start cereal. #amIright?

My goal in this little space of the interweb is to help you make positive changes for your family, to share information that brings you to a place of health and wellness, and to support and encourage you along the way. For you as an individual and for your families. So with that it mind, here are some tips and tricks and recipes that we have found to be successful when starting solid food while living a whole food, paleo-esque lifestyle.

+ First foods: sweet potatoes, green beans, zucchini, carrots, butternut squash, acorn squash, cooked apples, bananas, avocado
Elliot's first food was a pureed sweet potato. We started him out around 4&1/2 months with just a tiny bit of solids every day to get him used to the idea. At this point, his primary source of nutrition was breast milk. He didn't start eating solid food consistently, three times a day until about 7-8 months.

+ Purees v. baby led weaning
This is a topic that you need to research and discuss as a family to decide which school of feeding is right for you. We tried more of the BLW approach, and it just wasn't working, so we did a hybrid, with purees being the primary source of solid food with soft chunks of food mixed in. My son has a super sensitive gag reflex, so for us this was best. 

+ More advanced foods: baked sweet potatoes cut into chunks, scrambled egg yolk with zucchini chunks, paleo zucchini bread or carrot muffins, roasted root vegetables, pieces of soft fruit, avocado slices, steamed broccoli or cauliflower 'trees', a whole, peeled apple, chunks of soft chicken, ground beef mix with butternut squash, goat milk yogurt, coconut milk/cream, other soft fruits like peaches, pears.

+ As your child gets older, start to slowing increase the consistency of his food and the size of the pieces. We went from pureeing a boiled egg yolk, to scrambling it in grass fed butter and mashing in some avocado and sometimes banana. Then we slowly increased the size of the avocado and banana pieces, and now he just east the scrambled egg.

Here is a peek at what a typical day for Elliot looks like:


BREAKFAST: egg + zucchini scramble OR a piece of paleo zucchini bread, half a banana or some blueberries, avocado slices, baked sweet potato or butternut squash, coconut milk/cream mixed with a little fruit puree
+ To make the egg and veggie scramble:
Steam sautee peeled chunks of squash or zucchini in grass-fed butter, ghee or coconut oil until soft. Add in your egg yolk and mix it into the vegetables until it's fully cooked. For a younger babe, we mashed it up more and added in mashed avocado. Now, we just put the pieces of egg/zucchini on Elliot's tray and let him pick them up to eat. Sometimes we use broccoli instead of zucchini for something different.

LUNCH: chicken salad, half a pear, sweet potato chunks, steamed broccoli or roasted veggies, a little bit of goat milk yogurt, some zucchini bread if he didn't eat it for breakfast
+ To make baby chicken salad:
Boil chicken breast (or cook in a crock pot, then shred) then cut it into small pieces. Add in a little bit of mayo (we like to make our own) and some seasoning if you wish (we like 21 Season Salute from Trader Joe's because it is tasty and salt-free). You can also just give your little one chunks of soft chicken without making chicken salad.
+ For sweet potato chunks:
Bake some whole sweet potatoes at the beginning of the week. To use, just warm slightly in a toaster oven, then cut off small pieces. Since it is a baked potato, it will be really soft.

DINNER: grass-fed ground beef with sweet potato or butternut squash, roasted vegetables (zucchini, parsnips, winter squash, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots), maybe some more avocado
+ For the ground beef:
Cook your ground beef as you normally would, then take out a small portion and mix in some soft baked sweet potato or butternut/acorn squash. We add in some grass-fed butter for healthy fat.

FORMULA: Elliot self-weaned around 9 months, and pumping at work isn't possible (long story), so we are making our own formula following this recipe. We only use 2tsp of sugar per quart because E gets enough good carbs from fruit and starchy vegetables at this point. We also decrease the amount of oil because we give him good fats from avocado, coconut cream and grass-fed butter. He takes about 3 bottles a day, one before each nap and one before bed. This works for us, so we are doing it. Do what works for you and your kids.

BOTTOM LINE: Elliot eats the same foods we eat, just in softer, more manageable forms. 

Other things:
+ We also make the Hidden Veggie Muffins from this cookbook (one of my favorites!). We make it into a bread because washing a bread pan is so much easier than washing a muffin tin.
+ We love the book 201 Organic Baby Purees and used it a LOT when starting solids.
+ When we were making purees, I would go to the farmer's market and stock up on organic produce, then cook and freeze it using this silicone freezer tray (LOVE) and these storage cubes. I would then take out enough cubes for a few days and place them in the fridge to defrost. So easy and convenient for taking to a sitter when you have a hectic schedule!
+ For convenience and for when we were out and about, we like these organic pouches in various fruit and vegetable combinations (just steer clear of yogurt and oatmeal/grain-containing flavors).
+ Now that Elliot is older, we like these glass bottles for his formula. When he was still nursing, however, we used these bottles that are more similar to breast-feeding.

It is so incredibly important to all of us as parents to give our kids the best start in life and support them as much as possible. Hope this helps give you some direction when it comes to feeding your littles!

Thoughts on Minimalist Footwear

We've been on the minimalist footwear bandwagon long before there was even a bandwagon to ride. It all started with our love of trail running, minimalism in general, and the book Born to Run. We started with Vibram Fivefingers, which we still use for weight lifting, camping and water hikes, but we have since moved on to other zero-drop brands for running as well as everyday wear. 

Image credit: http://www.lemsshoes.com/

Image credit: http://www.lemsshoes.com/

I also need to put this caveat out there, transitioning to minimal shoes is just that...a transition. The mistake a lot of people make is going straight from wearing traditional shoes with a thick sole or heel to jumping right into wearing minimal or straight drop shoes, or even worse, running in them! While my husband and I both run in minimal shoes, it takes quite a while for your feet to adjust and build the necessary muscles needed for support. All this to say, if you want to make the transition to a more minimal, natural shoe, take it slow to prevent injury (this awesome scientist has a lot to say about it and other mind blowing things if you want to read additional information. We may or may not be considering building a floor-level breakfast table).

In the beginning, the selection of minimal shoes was well, minimal (pun intended) and now includes some that are even fashionable, especially for men. Since several companies have cropped up, the selection is much better.

Here are a few we like:
Soft Star Shoes
Lems  Shoes
      + The Boulder Boot and Mariner are two of my favorites.
Merrell Barefoot Line
Vivobarefoot
Minnetonka (look for flat, flexible soles)

The topic of minimal footwear is especially important now because we want our son's feet to be allowed to develop naturally, which can be challenging if we place him in constricting or confining shoes. Thus far in his young little life, he has just been barefoot. But when the day comes, we plan to put him in minimal shoes (that are also completely adorable)! 

The other important aspect is to not wear shoes when you are inside, which is what we do. If you are like us and spend a lot of time at home, this is a great way to help with the transition. We try to implement a no shoes in the house policy anyway just from an OCD cleanliness standpoint. Also,  during the warmer months, we spend a lot of time barefoot on the porch and even (gasp!) in the grass.

One last piece of advice, there are minimal shoes out there that are not for everyone, so be sure to vet the companies and pick one that fits your lifestyle and needs. If fact, for all you runners out there, I would not recommend doing a lot of miles on pavement on concrete period, minimal shoe or not. The load and strain that places on your joints is __ at best. 

As far as fashion is concerned, I still love a great pair of heels, but save them for special occasions. My feet are so much happier! So here's to fashion and function and happier, healthier feet.

DIY Thieves Hand Gel + Spray

With a little guy in tow at all times, I have hand sanitizer or wipes stashed everywhere -- diaper bag, car console, purse, changing table, husband's truck. And since I am on a journey to eliminate the harsh synthetic chemicals we are all exposed to (and save money at the same time!) I decided to make my own version using my favorite of the essential oil blends, Thieves.

Thieves is definitely one of my favorite and most used oils. It smells so wonderful and promotes overall health. Win win. We diffuse it regularly, put it in on cotton balls in our car vents, and drink a drop in our coffee or tea to support our immune systems. So, naturally I chose this oil to make my own hand purifier. This recipe is simple and quick to make -- this took less than five minutes and it used things I already had at home! Not  to mention that it smells so wonderful and leaves your hands feeling clean and silky smooth.

Option 1 // Gel Sanitizer
You will need:
5 T pure aloe vera gel
4 T water|
1/4 tsp vitamin E oil
9 drops of Thieves oil
A high-quality plastic squeeze container

Place aloe vera and vitamin E oil in a bowl and combine well. Add in the thieves essential oil and mix again, then add in water and mix to a smooth consistency. I added the water one tablespoon at a time, mixing in between. If you want a slightly thinner gel, add one extra tablespoon of water. Place into a plastic squeeze container -- I found the scoop, scrapr, tap method to work best (scoop some gel onto a spatula, scrape into the container, and tap the container lightly on the counter). Keep in your purse/back pack/car/diaper bag or wherever!

OR

Option 2 // Spray Sanitizer
You will need:
Witch hazel (you can also use rubbing alcohol)
9 drops of Thieves oil
1 tsp aloe vera gel (optional)
Filtered water
4 ounce spray bottle

Fill your spray bottle about 1/3 full with witch hazel or rubbing alcohol, then add the thieves essential oil. If you're using the aloe vera, add it to the bottle, then fill with water and shake well. (The aloe vera just helps to keep the spray from drying out your hands.) I keep this one in my purse at all times  and use for shopping carts, high chairs, or anything else germy!


NOTE: You typically want to store essential oils or products made with EOs in glass containers; however, for products like this one, you can use plastic containers, just make sure to use high quality ones that are BPA free. 
Find more information on our favorite essential oils for the diaper bag here and general information about essential oils here.

Any suggestions made on this blog are very specific to Young Living essential oils and should not be used with oils from another source. Statements made on this website about Young Living Essential Oils have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products and information are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Anyone suffering from disease or injury should consult with a physician. Keep out of reach from children. If you are currently on medication, please DO NOT STOP.