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How to ease cold symptoms naturally March 21, 2017 14:55

The recent bout of colds in the family brought us to the paediatrician, where it sure seemed like cold season with kids all sniffly and accompanying adults surreptitiously swiping at their own noses too.  Inspiration for the blog thus - how to ease cold symptoms naturally, especially if you are looking to reduce the chemical load on your child and yourself!

1. Rub on some peppermint essential oil

Peppermint essential oil, diluted with a carrier oil (like jojoba or coconut), works great rubbed thickly onto the throat & chest and dabbed under the nose, up to 3 times a day.  Peppermint essential oil works topically to help relieve cold symptoms - and, to be honest, the incredible scent just makes you feel much better!

2. Gargle with saltwater

A saltwater gargle, made by dissolving half a teaspoon of salt in a small glass of warm water, can give some relief to a sore or scratchy throat.  Little ones under 6 may not be able to gargle successfully though.

3. Trust the ol' trusty honey lemon

Warm lemon water mixed with honey is not only soothing but also healing, helping to clear up congestion.  Upgrade that honey to Manuka honey for its remarkable antibiotic and antibacterial properties!

Or try this super-powered cold-buster tea adapted from Yuri Elkaim's Feel Better Tea here -

Feel Better Tea

www.yurielkaim.com

  • Green tea (however prepared, in loose-leaf form or a tea-bag)
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (the more potent type with ‘the mother’)
  • 1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed
  • Manuka honey

Steep the green tea for 1 minute, before adding the apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and honey.  Enjoy immediately! 

4. Take ginger water

Ginger water, made by boiling ginger slices in water, can help soothe inflammation and relieve that throat pain. 

If you are feeling lazy with the cold and all, simply get a cup of teh halia or halia from an Indian food stall!  [Halia is plain ginger water (served with milk and sugar, unless you request otherwise), with the addition of black tea.]

Ginger is a strong anti-inflammatory, which comes with impressive immunity-boosting powers.

5. Do a little massage at the sinus area

A little self-massage on your sinuses can help clear congestion in the area!  

To figure out where the pressure points are, draw two imaginary vertical lines (parallel) from the inner corners of your eyes down to the corresponding outer corners of your nose.  Imagine placing 4 dots along each vertical line, at evenly-spaced intervals - the topmost point being at the corner of your eyes, and the bottommost point just outside of the corner of your nose.  The 3 lower spots on each vertical line (ie. all save for the spots at your eyes) are your target pressure points.  Now, you are ready to perform the massage.

Using the index finger of each hand, and moving from the highest point down to the lowest point, put firm pressure on each of those spots in small circular movements.  10 seconds on each point works well.

This nifty acupressure trick was taught to me by Dr Vivien Chong! 

6. Eat to boost your immunity

Fuel up on Vitamins A and C to strengthen your body's defences!

Vit A supports healthy tissue and cell membranes, as well as mucous membranes (like those in your mouth and nose), which reduces your vulnerability to infectious organisms.  Vit A also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  Foods rich in Vit A include animal foods like eggs, fish oil, butter, and liver.

Vit C supports infection-fighting T and B cell function, and phagocytes (which gobble up harmful bacteria).  Foods rich in Vit C include kiwis, citrus fruits, berries and peppers. 

7. Stay warm, rested and hydrated

Fighting the immunity battle is tough on your body, so make it easy for your body to focus its attentions on the battle!  

Now, with these effective natural treatment tips and remedies, you should be well on your way to recovery.  But do listen to your body - if symptoms persist, go see a doc!


6 tips for a greener Christmas! December 05, 2016 04:26

The holiday season is filled with house-decorating, gift-giving, festive feasting, fancy parties... and at the end of all that bustle, a mountain of waste to clear?  Well, let's reboot and make Christmas zero-waste this year.  Here are our best tips for putting back the green in the ol' red-and-green -

1. Plan ahead.

The rule for grocery shopping comes in helpful for Christmas shopping too.  Working out in advance what you really need and want (decorations, gifts, food etc) before hitting the stores can help cut down on overbuying and impulse buys!

2. Shop with your reusable bags in tow.

Because those plastic or paper bags from all the different stores really add up!  

3. Be mindful of the packaging waste.

While shopping online, check if your retailers can minimise packaging waste.  This applies to online groceries, as well as other purchases. 

At Pur'itsy, we ship orders with minimal packaging - and most times, that means no extraneous packaging at all, when our trusted in-house delivery specialist sends it straight to your home!

4. Pick the right gifts.

Choosing good-quality and durable gifts maximises the utility of the present and minimises wastage.  

Or when it comes to that person who seems to already have everything, how about gifting experiences instead?  Like tickets to a show, or an online subscription.  These can give as much pleasure without the waste.  

Gifts also don't always have to come from a store.  If a friend loves your baking, a jar of home-baked cookies could be a welcome gift!

5. Rethink gift-wrapping.

Spare a thought for the rubbish you are gifting your family and friends - and we're not talking about the actual gift.  Does the short-lived gift-wrap really bring joy commensurate with the effort of getting the gift wrapped (whether it be the manual effort or those long wrap queues at the mall) and the wastage?  Avoid gift-wrapping, if you can - or, if you must, get innovative with reusing materials.  We've tried reusing gift wrap (so long as your gift is smaller than the original!), or using glossy magazine pages or festive brochures to great effect! 

6. Cut the festive excesses.

In the preparation of these once-a-year feasts, we can sometimes get overenthusiastic with the amassing of precise ingredients for the 'traditional' dishes or with food quantities.  If you find yourself throwing the same old expired jars year after year, or always having far too much leftovers, break with tradition and rework that menu this year! 

 

countryliving.com

 

And if you're getting the house spick and span for the guests this green Christmas, we heartily recommend our green cleaning recipes here and here!

 

 


DIY pampering, fresh from the kitchen! September 28, 2016 21:01

Baby's asleep, toddler's in school, and you've finally got some precious me-time... only to realise that you're all out of pampering body treats!  (I mean, who has time to stock up when you struggle even to get a bath in?)  Fret not - simply raid the kitchen!  Here are 6 common kitchen staples that would do well repurposed for some clean and green body TLC -

1. Sugar, as body scrub

You know those costly brown sugar scrubs they sell in stores?  Save your money.

Combine sugar with olive or coconut oil in a 1:1 ratio, and use on your body for wonderfully silky skin.  The mixture keeps well in an airtight jar for future use! 

thekitchenmccabe.com

2. Coffee grounds, as body scrub

Yes, you heard me right - don't throw out those coffee grounds!  Not only do they make a most aromatic body scrub, the caffeine within may be absorbed into your skin (the longer you leave it, the better) and help improve circulation to your skin!  

Use it alone on wet skin, or combined with coconut oil or olive oil (whatever you have handy!).

3. Coconut oil, as hair treatment

Coat your hair with coconut oil, and wrap it all up in a hot towel (or, if you're lazy to heat up a towel, a shower cap - but applying heat will open up the cuticles of your strands so the hair treatment penetrates faster).

Leave on for 30 minutes, or longer (I know peeps who do it overnight), for the hair-healthy oils to soak right in.  Wash it out with shampoo, and you're done!

Cheaper and more long-lasting than those salon treatments! 

4. Honey, as facial mask

Honey's healing properties have been prized since ancient times - so you know it will definitely make a good facial mask.  It is super hydrating, and its antibacterial properties help calm acne-prone skin.

Smear honey evenly onto a clean face, leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes, and rinse off with warm water!  Then, proceed with your usual facial routine.

All types of real honey works, but raw unfiltered honey gives the best results! 

5. Plain unsweetened whole-milk yoghurt, as facial mask

Yoghurt is a superfood for your skin!  Why?  It's packed with vitamins and minerals that nourish and revitalise dehydrated skin, as well as AHAs which exfoliate skin and help fight zits!  It also has a mild bleaching effect on skin - way better than using those harmful whitening chemicals!

Spread yoghurt on thick onto a clean face, leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes, and rinse off with warm water!  Then, proceed with your usual facial routine.

If you are in the mood for a bit of mixology, a good recipe is 1 tsp yoghurt + 1 tsp honey mixed together and applied thickly onto a clean face!

Go with Greek yoghurt or other thick variety.  Far easier to slather on than the runny type.

6. Avocado, as facial mask

Avocado is loaded with healthy fats that hydrate and nourish the skin.  Its rich Vitamin E content and antioxidants don't hurt either! 

Mash up a ripe avocado, and layer it thickly onto a clean face.  Leave on for 10 to 15 minutes, and rinse off with warm water!  Then, proceed with your usual facial routine.

Can be easily combined with honey or yoghurt, or both!

Now, you're all set to stun with your glowing skin and silky tresses - all thanks to natural and non-toxic ingredients!

Want to detox your household clean-up routine too?  Check out cleaning recipes that use only natural ingredients here!


Cleaning up your act: 7 more simple & natural DIY cleaners May 28, 2016 00:17

After receiving numerous requests for additional recipes following Part 1 of this feature, we've finally gotten round to putting down more of our not-so-secret home recipes!  These make much safer alternatives to toxin-laced conventional cleaners, and we like how gentle they are on our hands (and nostrils).

Whip your house in shape with common household ingredients, using our simple recipes below! 

1. Laundry brightener

Throw in 1 cup lemon juice with your laundry, in addition to your detergent.  

We're really not fond of optical brighteners often found in conventional laundry brighteners because they contain toxic compounds and are harmful to aquatic life!

earth911.com

2. Fabric softener and deodoriser

Add about 1/2 to 1 cup vinegar to your softener dispenser - and voila!  The sour smell dissipates fast so you won't smell like vinegar, promise.

Conventional fabric softeners often contain a cocktail of toxic chemicals, including artificial fragrances with undisclosed ingredients.

3. Collar stain remover

Because you know they don't just come off in the wash...  Make a paste with distilled white vinegar and baking soda, and add a couple drops of eucalyptus essential oil.  Then scrub the stains out with a toothbrush for gentle stain removal!

4. Fabric or carpet deodoriser

Sprinkle baking soda generously on the fabric or carpet, let it sit for 15 minutes, then vacuum.  You can also add a few drops of essential oil, if you want some scent aid.

Works well on upholstered furniture that you can't wash!
_

5. Cutting board cleaner & sanitiser

To clean, disinfect or remove tough food stains from wooden cutting boards, sprinkle salt liberally on the cutting board, slice a lemon in half, squeeze it onto the soiled surface, rub, and let sit for 10 minutes before rinsing.

6. Chrome cleaner

For your chrome bathroom and kitchen fixtures, mix 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar and 1/2 tsp liquid castile soap in a spray bottle.  Shake well and clean away!

7. Air freshener

Mix 2 parts water, 1 part isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and a few drops of an essential oil you like in a spray bottle.  Not for use on silks or delicates!  

What I love about making my own cleaners? Besides the safety to children and pets, the eco-friendliness and the cost savings (which can be significant especially when you’re now buying “green”-branded cleaners!), it’s awesome that my under-sink cupboard is no longer stuffed with single-use cleaning products! 

Want to detox your household pest control too?  Check out tried-and-tested natural repellents to common household pests here!


5 amazing uses for coconut oil that you may not know about! April 15, 2016 01:52 2 Comments

Unless you live up on a mountain (and one untainted by technology, at that), you must have heard about coconut oil and its myriad uses in the kitchen and beyond.  We adore coconut oil because it allows us to substitute many store-bought items (with their long ingredient lists and dubious chemicals) in our home with an all-natural (yet totally effective) replacement.  And, as if coconut oil isn't already enough of a do-it-all, here are some lesser-known uses that we think you should know about -

 Coconut oil

Source: forksoverknives.com

 

1. Deodorant

Coconut oil won't act as an anti-perspirant, but its anti-bacterial properties help prevent bacterial growth that is the main cause of the stench!  Swipe a thin layer on for some natural odour control.

2. Shaving oil

The razor just glides over it beautifully.  Added bonus: Coconut oil's anti-inflammatory properties helps prevent post-shave irritation, and it leaves your skin silky-soft!

3. Baby diaper cream

An all-natural and highly effective diaper rash cream!  The moisturising, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory components of coconut oil help soothe and heal baby’s skin while reducing pain.  It also forms a waterproof barrier that helps prevent future irritation. 

Why we love it?  No toxic chemicals as are usually found in store-bought diaper creams!

Do use a liner though, if you are using cloth diapers to avoid affecting their absorbency!  (And if this advice comes a tad too late, laundering the cloth diapers with a non-toxic dishwashing liquid strip the diapers of the oil and restores their absorbency.) 

4. Cradle cap remedy

Got the tip from the lovely Red Miller.  Just massage coconut oil into baby's scalp, leave it on for a while (15 minutes, or longer), and then gently rub the scalp with a warm washcloth - a textured terry cloth one works best!  

5. Eczema salve

Read all about using coconut oil to soothe eczema from our blog post here!  

When picking your coconut oil, do go with virgin coconut oil!  As opposed to refined, bleached and deodorised coconut oils, virgin coconut oil undergoes much less processing (all coconut oils are processed since coconut oil needs to be extracted from coconuts!), is produced without chemicals and hence, retains much more of its antioxidants and skin-loving benefits.

Curious to know how simple natural products can heal the skin?  Find out more natural remedies to eczema here! 

Tried-and-tested natural repellents to 5 household pests March 24, 2016 03:50

Being a parent has made me gentler on the creepy crawlies I share my house with.  Somehow, having kiddo present as witness leads me to scoop them up on scrap paper and release them out into the wild (ie. out the window), rather than just squashing them flat without a second thought.  That, and I'm a lot more wary about using common bug sprays (which are generally poisons that contain chemicals that have been shown to be carcinogenic and to affect the brain and nervous system on exposure) in a home where tiny humans practically live on the floor.  

All that said, I don't view them any more kindly when they invade my space now than I used to, so here is what I do for natural and effective pest control -

1. Ants

Oh, these used to drive me nuts in the kitchen - even with those stick-on ant repellants (or ant powder or whatever it was I could get my hands on) out in full force...  until I found out what worked better!

Natural pest repellent: Coffee grounds (or used coffee capsules) make for an aromatic repellant for ants (and a convenient one at that if coffee is a regular at your home!).  Peppermint (whether the fresh variety, dried, as used teabags or in essential oil form) is another one that works well.  Just leave them around areas where ants are about.

farmersalmanac.com

2. Cockroaches

They have survived since the stone ages so they can survive anything.  Better to chase them away with aromas they don't fancy.

Natural pest repellent: Pandan leaves (also known as pandanus or screwpine) have been used in Southeast Asia for years to repel cockroaches.  Simply cut the leaves and tie them in a knot.  Replace when dried out.

3. Spiders 

They are only ever cute in that nursery rhyme.

Natural pest repellent: Any citrus scent - spiders have a distaste for citrus.  Make a spray out of orange or lemon essential oils (or juice, if that works better for you) and water!  I spray this around the home once a week.

4. Mosquitoes

Natural pest repellent: Neem, citronella and eucalyptus oils work to keep mozzies away when applied to clothing or (with appropriate dilution) on skin.  I also tried adding them to my mopping water for a blanket repel, but that made my tiled floors a tad too slippery for unstable toddlers.

[If your child does get stung, breastmilk or lavender essential oil (the latter, appropriately diluted) helps with the itch.]

5. Centipedes

While not a common household pest, I had the good fortune of meeting a few in my previous home...  and given the panic and mayhem they cause, I wouldn't wish them on my enemy.

Natural pest repellent: Cayenne pepper.  I used the powdered form at all entrance points to discourage them from dropping in.  (Sure, it raised questions when people saw the red powder, but would you rather have centipedes instead?)

I have to say, I rather like the potential good karma I must be getting from choosing repelling over killing!
--
Looking to detox your house cleaning routine too?  Check out cleaning recipes that use only natural ingredients here!

A quick FAQ guide to reusable feminine pads March 01, 2016 08:00

Since we introduced GladRags' organic cotton reusable pads in our store, we've had quite a few questions on just how to use them.  And whenever we talk to the uninitiated about them, we get that "Seriously?!!" look - a lot.  So we figured it wouldn't hurt to put up an FAQ guide to using reusable cloth pads here on our blog!  

 

Source: www.onepunkymama.com
[Featuring the GladRags pantyliner]

 

Q:  Seriously?!!

A:  We kid you not.  We get that it sounds gross to some of you but, if you think about it, it's not all that different from using cloth diapers with your child (who, yes, even does the #2 in them).  And, if you get a stain on your panty, do you throw it out or do you wash it?  

Q:  But why?

A:  So many reasons!

(1) They're incredibly soft and comfortable.  It's cloth after all!  

(2) They work just as well as disposables.  We were impressed with how well they performed absorption-wise when we first tried them!

(3) They're all-cotton and free from plastics, chemical gels and other synthetic nasties - sounds like a good proposition for something that sits so close to your bits, no?

(4) They're reusable over and over again, so you needn't add to the plastic waste problem every moon cycle!

Do you know the average woman will use 12,000 to 16,000 disposable pads, tampons and pantyliners in her lifetime?  That is a LOT of single-use waste (and we're not even talking about the packaging waste etc)!  Take a stand against single-use disposables, and choose a quality reusable cloth pad instead!

(5) They save money!  

Remember those 12,000 disposables?  What seems like a small expense on each pack of sanitary disposables, can really add up over your lifetime!  While cloth pads are an initial investment, they pay off over time!  

Q:  How do you use them?

A:  Daunting as it may seem to first-timers, cloth pads are really very simple to use!  

The GladRags pads are easy to wear - they come with press-studs to keep the pad snapped in place around the gusset of your undies. No glues!

The GladRags pads also consist of one holder and two inserts, and this allows you to make them mini or maxi by using one, two, or even three inserts!  Awesome versatility.

If you want something more visual, check out the product demo videos on our product pages here (just click into your product of choice)!

Q:  More importantly, how do you clean them out?

A:  It's simple, really!  There are two ways to go about it -

(1) Rinse them out by hand, the same way you would stained undies.  They rinse out fairly easily!  Once the excess blood is rinsed out, they are good to go straight into the washing machine!

(2) Just soak them directly in cold water until it's time for laundry!  (You might want to change the water daily if laundry day is not so soon...)  

Feel free to add a drop or two of an enzymatic detergent as a pre-treatment or to the soaking water, for added protection against staining.

Either machine-wash cold or hand wash, and line dry or tumble dry low.  Don't use bleach or fabric softener, and store flat to eliminate wrinkling (or use cool iron if desired).

Q:  Anything else you'd like to tell me about them?

A:  How about our favourite feature of the GladRags cloth pads?  Because the pads are all-cotton and breathable, you don't get the odour you sometimes get with synthetic pads!

Q:  Tell me more about GladRags the company.

A:  GladRags is a small company that manufactures the pads in Portland, Oregon, United States. 

Q:  Okay, you've got me.  Tell me, which pad is more suitable for me?

A:  That depends on your needs.  

If you want something for moderate flow days or light bladder leakage, go with the GladRags Day Pad.  With both inserts in place, the Day Pad is the equivalent of an average disposable maxi pad.

If you want something heavy-duty for postpartum recovery (for the uninitiated, yes, there will be blood), as an all-nighter pad or on heavy flow days, go with the GladRags Night Pad.  It has awesome coverage front and back.

Q:  How many do I need?

A:  For a typical moon cycle, GladRags recommends 6 to 12 Day Pads and 1 to 3 Night Pads.  

But you can always start small.  I started out with just one night pad to make sure I really liked it before I got more (and I most certainly did!).  

Q:  So where can I buy them?

A:  We've got just the place for you here.

Looking also for a reusable substitute for baby's wipes?  Check out why we think hankies are a good idea here!


Why a hankie is a great idea for baby February 27, 2016 01:53

My recent trip to Japan with the kiddo reminded me of how big handkerchiefs are over there.  The Japanese carry on their person a handkerchief every day, to dry their hands, wipe their brow or for whatever other purpose it happens to serve.  Indeed, the handkerchief is to paper tissues what a cloth diaper is to disposable diapers (and regular customers or readers of our blog would know how we're all for reusable diapers).  And I just think that using hankies or cloth napkins with our lil' mess monsters is the perfectly sensible thing to do.

Rather than going through disposable wipe after disposable wipe (and we all know how much wiping is done around little ones), cloth is reusable and inexpensive.  If you already use cloth diapers, it's not a stretch to convert to cloth wipes too.  Once they are soiled, simply toss them into the laundry!

Using cloths as wipes also removes a very common source of toxin exposure - disposable wipes (even those marketed for babies) are often soaked in a toxic cocktail of chemicals.  Given how the solvent on your wipes is left sitting on your child's delicate skin after use, it is important to check your product labels.

To get started on using cloth, you don't really need anything fancy - any appropriately-sized-and-textured cloth you can get your hands on will do.  Me, I breathed new life into a gift of (never-used) table napkins by repurposing them into my new do-it-all diaper bag essential.  And, to be honest, I often find myself using my Bébé Au Lait nursing cover too, especially if I forget to replace the napkin after taking it out to wash - the nursing cover's a great size!

When out and about, a cloth comes in really handy after a hand wash (paper towels in public bathrooms do run out afterall), to mop down the mess on face & clothes, and to towel sweat off a child who's had too much fun.  No more tissue shreds to fuss with!

I've even used it as a bib (or sunshade) in a pinch - possibilities are endless!

Source: weevintagebaby.com

Consider also using cloth wipes for the delicate bits!  For after-potty wipes at home, I repurposed a set of baby facecloths that I felt were too rough.  I find that terry cloth (especially the rougher side) is far more effective at getting things clean than smooth disposables! 

Thinking of making the switch to reusables in more aspects of your daily life?  Find out how modern cloth pads can easily become part of your routine here!


3 easy DIY recipes for stuck-home-thanks-to-haze fun October 16, 2015 00:34

Going stir-crazy cooped up at home with your little ones in the haze?  We've got quite the cure.

Here are some non-toxic recipes for homemade fun, that require nothing more than pantry ingredients you should already have lying around (so you don’t even need to leave the house to get some!).  As always, safe enough to eat (though I wouldn’t advise it)!

And don’t worry, they’re so simple your kid could make it - actually, that would help entertain them for longer!

1.  DIY play dough 

1 cup flour
½ cup salt
1 cup water
1 tbsp cooking oil
2 tsp cream of tartar (optional for improved elasticity and as added preservative)
Food colouring of your choice (optional; preferably organic or naturally derived from foods, to avoid synthetic colorants)
 

Mix flour, salt, water, cooking oil and cream of tartar (if using) in a saucepan, and stir over medium heat. Once the mixture becomes dough-like (which doesn't take long at all!), remove from heat and knead until it becomes smooth. Work in the colouring, if using, until you achieve your desired colour. 

With cream of tartar, your play dough keeps for a few months in an airtight container and a cool place.  Without, I’d say a month or so?

TIP:  To make it a more multi-sensory experience, I like to scent the playdough with essential oils or by using coconut oil as the cooking oil ingredient!  

IDEAS: 

  • It's not just about moulding sculptures!  Help your kid practise motor skills with cookie cutters, toy knives and other tools.
  • Introduce sticks, feathers, googly eyes and other bits & pieces to jazz things up.  (Idea courtesy of Sharon of Jelly Bean Attic.)

 

Source: minieco.co.uk

2.  DIY glue

1 tbsp cornstarch
Cold water
Boiling water
A drop of vinegar (optional as a preservative)
-

Add enough cold water to dissolve the cornstarch completely, and then slowly add hot water while stirring, until the mixture turns translucent and thickens to a glue-like texture. If you’re using vinegar, add it and mix thoroughly.

Without vinegar to preserve the glue, it keeps for 1 – 2 days in an airtight container at a cool place. Without vinegar (and the accompanying vinegary smell), it keeps for up to a week under the same conditions!

May seem unimpressive, but don’t underestimate how fun can a child derive from paper scraps, bits & pieces and glue!  

3.  DIY paints 

1 cup cornstarch
½ cup cold water
2 cups boiling water
Food colourings of your choice (preferably organic or naturally derived from foods, to avoid synthetic colorants)

A dash of vinegar (optional as a preservative)

Do the same with the first three ingredients as per the glue recipe at #2.  Then, when you’ve got the right consistency, mix in the colouring and the vinegar (if using) – because the texture is fairly thick, you will need to add a fair amount of colouring if you want more intense colours.   Feel free to divide the recipe up into smaller portions to use with different colours.

Let your kids paint the town red (or other colour) with their fingers or paintbrushes!

TIP: Mahjong paper is great for containing mess.

And while you are playing chief mixologist, why not check out some DIY home spa pampering recipes for yourself here?


Why you shouldn't give your child an aluminium water bottle September 25, 2015 22:07

Metals are metals are metals right?

Well, no.

While they hardly look any different from each other, there is one huge difference between aluminium and stainless steel.

And that difference lies in its safety when used with food and drink.

Unlike stainless steel, aluminium can leach harmful substances when it gets hot or comes in contact with anything acidic.  Studies have also linked aluminum exposure to Alzheimer's disease.  So, to ensure that the drinks inside aluminum bottles are safe, the bottles must be lined with something.

And that something is commonly plastic resins or baked-on epoxy - both of which can leach BPA and other harmful chemicals, or can get scratched, exposing the aluminum underneath.  Ceramic is another material used to line aluminum bottles, but it's more rigid and can crack.

On top of that, the bottle lining can retain flavours and odours, which can make your drinks taste funky.  We've even had a friend who thought her kid would never drink water - until she realised that it was the funny taste from the SIGG bottle that her child refused, not water!

Stainless steel, on the other hand, does not leach toxins as plastics or aluminium do(es) - but do pay attention to its grade.

Stainless steel comes in different grades, with the grade referring to its quality, durability and temperature resistance.  Only 18/8 and 18/10 stainless steel are considered food-grade.  These two grades are resistant to corrosion by various food acids, and display increased corrosion resistance compared to some other grades of stainless steel (now you know why that stainless steel foodware you bought nonetheless rusted on you!).

As is the case with glass, food-grade stainless steel does not retain or impart flavours or odours.  In fact, it's the same material that has been used in milk pasteurisation, beer brewing, cookware and eating utensils for years!

In short, definitely look for 18/8 or 18/10 stainless steel in your next metal bottle

If you're in the market for a stainless steel baby bottle or sippy, do check out our Pura Kiki range here.   Pura Kiki is an award-winning brand of stainless steel juvenile bottles that are 100% plastic free - and stylish to boot!  They come in both single-walled and insulated versions to suit your needs.

Pura Kiki range

If you are looking for a bottle for your older kids or yourself, Pura Stainless carries a range of stainless steel bottles suitable for older children and adults.  These bottles come with a revolutionary feature not seen in other bottles on the market - their bottle caps come with a stainless steel plug so your water never comes into contact with plastic.  

Sounds like something you'd want?  Get your Pura bottle in your favourite colour here.

Want to know why you should be careful with which diapers your baby wears?  Find out how to pick a safe and non-toxic one here!


4 amazing natural remedies for eczema July 16, 2015 12:42

After our earlier post here on what natural goodness helped cure kiddo’s eczema, there has been a lot of interest in the other natural eczema remedies we mentioned.  So here, as promised, is our follow-up blog post. 

Why did we prefer these remedies to commercial or prescription lotions or creams, you ask?  Again, it has to do with our preference for natural when natural works just as well (if not, better!) than artificial.  With delicate newborn skin already so irritated, we didn’t want to pile on more potentially irritating chemicals.  And we absolutely loved that these remedies were good (and safe!) enough to eat! 

So here's sharing our 4 favourite natural eczema remedies!  

1.  Chamomile baths 

institutefornaturalhealing.com

Steep your child in chamomile tea!  

We all know about chamomile’s calming properties at bedtime, but who’d have known they work for soothing the skin too?  Chamomile’s anti-inflammatory properties help alleviate skin irritation and ease the itch of eczema. 

We used the chamomile bath on kiddo every day – even when we went on holiday (I really didn’t want to deal with flare-ups when abroad!).

Here’s the simple recipe –

A big handful of loose dried organic chamomile flowers (you could also use loose-leaf chamomile tea or chamomile tea bags!)
A small pot of water (about 1.5L)


Give the flowers a rinse to reduce unwanted residue.  Put them in the pot and add water.  Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower heat.  Brew for at least 15 minutes (I’d usually go for an hour).  Let cool before adding to bathwater.

If you look around, advice differs on how to make the bath (whether to brew the flowers or just steep them in boiled water, for how long etc) but this is what worked best for us and is what, to us, is the most efficacious use of the flowers.

Where to buy:  You can buy chamomile tea leaves or bags easily at supermarkets in Singapore.  If you’re looking for dried flowers, you might need to head to iHerb.

2.  Japanese honeysuckle baths

blog.seasonwithspice.com

Japanese honeysuckle (also known in Mandarin as jin yin hua) is a Chinese medicinal herb that has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Now we’re no TCM expert but we were told by a wise old woman that you can’t use this everyday because it is pretty potent, so we kept this only for the occasional eczema flare-up. When a flare-up occurred, we would do this bath for 3 consecutive days (or alternate days) before stopping. And we definitely found this to give speedy resolution for the redness and itchiness!

Here’s the simple recipe –  

A small handful of loose dried Japanese honeysuckle flowers
A small pot of water (I use about 1.5L)

Same instructions as for the chamomile bath!

Where to buy:  You can buy Japanese honeysuckle at Chinese medicinal shops in Singapore (we used Hock Hua) but you may have to ask for it with its Mandarin name.

3. Lavender essential oil


healinginourhomes.com

More floral relief!  Similar to chamomile, lavender calms for sleep and soothes the skin.  Lavender essential oil has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, and are great in the first aid kit for insect bites and burns! 

As with all essential oil usage on baby, dilute dilute dilute!  We add a few drops to a full dropper bottle of virgin coconut oil.  And yes, this is the same bottle of VCO that we used religiously as described in the earlier blog post here.

(After kiddo’s first year, we stopped with the lavender because his eczema had already improved so much – so we know that VCO continues to work independently too!)

Where to buy:  Essential oils are easily available at departmental stores or essential oil specialists.

4. Raw unrefined shea butter 


mokoshskincare.wordpress.com


Extracted from African karite trees, shea butter is rich in Vitamins A and E, and is known for its healing properties.  

It is an incredibly thick and effective natural skin balm, that is solid at room temperature (and we’re talking equatorial climes here) but melts to a usable texture as you work it in your hands.  It has a fairly intense smell, which I would term smoky – but frankly, I didn’t care about its scent as long as it worked.  (But maybe try mixing in some lavender essential oil if it bothers you!)

To me, this was too rich to slather all over the body (that’s what the VCO is for!) so I only used dabs of shea butter on kiddo’s eczema patches. 

Get it in its raw unrefined form for maximum skin-loving benefit. 

(And remember what I said earlier about loving that the remedies are pure enough to eat?  Well, shea butter has long been used in cooking in Africa!)

Where to buy:  There is a shea butter specialist store in town, and there’s iHerb. 

Now, the curious thing about eczema is that one man’s meat is another man’s poison when it comes to its 'cures' – there are some well-known natural eczema remedies that just didn’t work for kiddo.  Like an oatmeal bath we tried which just made him itch more (a check with a naturopath confirmed that it happens), and tea tree essential oil which seemed to irritate his skin! 

We also heard it said that a remedy may work for a while and then stop working so you may need to keep trying new things, but this hasn’t been the case for kiddo – all the abovementioned remedies worked from the beginning and continued to work throughout the mercifully-short lifespan of his eczema.

So do try these natural remedies out and tell us how they work for you! 

A healthy home makes a healthy family!  If you are looking to detox your household routine, check out our tried-and-tested list of effective yet natural cleaning recipes here!


Baby’s eczema: Finding nature’s cure July 01, 2015 23:38

As those of you who’ve been following this blog know, kiddo once had eczema.  We get asked a lot by desperate parents (especially parents who also share our preference to shun steroid creams) what we used on kiddo.  And most are surprised when they hear that our answer’s as simple as it is – but more on that in a bit.

We learnt that the dry reddish patches on kiddo’s body were eczema in the third month of his life.  His condition wasn’t the worst – but our paediatrician warned that it could get worse if we didn’t keep it in check.  She told us that there was no real cure for eczema, but that it could be managed with moisturizing, moisturizing and more moisturizing (and keeping those fingernails short!).  And no, breast milk with all its miraculous healing powers didn't work here. 

She left us with a jar of steroid cream - “just in case” - acknowledging our concerns on the side effects it would cause.

Once home, I put the jar away and hoped I never had to touch it.

A frantic bout of research tossed up a few names of eczema creams sold by commercial brands, but the desire to avoid slathering kiddo with dubious ingredients (yes, found even in the ‘organic’ brands) eventually led me down a different path.

And that’s how I came to discover the surprising efficacy of some natural remedies I might otherwise have passed up trying.

(We tried many and some worked, some didn’t.)

What made me try these remedies in the first place is the fact that these are all-natural and actually ‘safe enough to eat’ with no known side-effects.  But what convinced me to keep going were the results – every time I used them on kiddo, I saw his skin getting better and better. 

So what exactly did we use?

Virgin coconut oil.

cheeringfornutrition.com

As opposed to refined, bleached and deodorised coconut oils, virgin coconut oil undergoes much less processing (after all, all coconut oils are a refined product since coconut oil needs to be extracted from coconuts!), is produced without chemicals and hence, retains much more of its antioxidants and skin-loving benefits.

It just so happened that I had bought virgin coconut oil for use on kiddo’s cradle cap (and yes, it worked for that too), so I had a bottle handy when I first read about coconut oil being a “miracle cure” for eczema.

But frankly, I would not have believed what magic it could work if I hadn’t seen it in action myself.

Before trying coconut oil on kiddo’s eczema though, I did a check with our paediatrician.  She agreed that coconut oil is known to be helpful for eczema unless, of course, kiddo happened to be one of those unfortunate souls with a coconut allergy.  (Thankfully, he wasn’t.)  She also told me that coconut oil disappears real fast and needs to be re-applied every hour in order to be effective.  (I baulked.)

Being lazy (ok, lazily conscientious), I decided four times a day was the max I would go – once in the morning upon rising, once during his nap, once after his bath and once while he sleeps at night.

Somehow, that still did the trick and I can’t tell you how proud I felt when, a month later at our next well baby visit, our paediatrician was amply impressed at my good work.  (Of course, I never did tell her I didn’t follow the hourly rule!)  Kiddo’s eczema had gone from being all over his body to being limited to just his joints.

We kept up the coconut oil treatment, although our diligence steadily decreased as his eczema improved (now, we only do it after his baths).  Kiddo’s eczema affected only the fronts of his ankles by his sixth month, and then just on his right ankle by the end of the first year.  Unfortunately, however frequently I moisturized that area, that front of his right ankle just remained unhappily pink, dry and itchy. 

But this story still has a happy ending.  And for that, I have to credit my mother for finding the silver bullet.  Because I had started work and my mom landed the daily post-bath moisturizing duty, she discovered something I had not previously thought of – that massaging the coconut oil into the skin (as opposed to just applying it onto his skin) made a real difference. 

And what a difference it made.  Now, his right ankle is looking just fine, thanks for asking.  The occasional dryness, sure, but nothing a dab of coconut oil won’t erase. 

Pity we only learnt this at 18 months, but hey, better late than never, right?

I’m not sure where that jar of steroid cream is sitting now, but no loss anyway.  Having shared this find to some of my friends who suffer from eczema even as adults, I hear it actually works far better than their steroids.  What can I say, nature knows best!

Interested to know what else we did to supplement the routine coconut-oiling in our battle against baby eczema?  Check out our blog post here to learn more natural remedies for eczema!

Looking to maximise the utility of that jar of coconut oil you now possess?  Head straight to our list of amazing (but little-known) uses for coconut oil here!


Play it safe: Picking a safe and non-toxic disposable diaper for baby June 09, 2015 04:14

Your baby wears her diaper constantly against the most intimate parts of her delicate skin; yet, you'll be surprised to learn what harmful chemicals are allowed to go into these diapers unnoticed! 

Here's what to look out for when buying a disposable diaper to keep your baby safe and healthy (and dry, of course).

i.huffpost.com

Top 3 offenders often found in disposable diapers -

1.  Chlorine

Many disposable diapers are bleached with chlorine to make them look clean and white, leaving behind trace amounts of dioxins as a byproduct. Dioxins are persistent environmental pollutants that can cause an array of health problems including developmental delays, damage to the immune system, interference to hormonal function. And they’ve been classified as a likely human carcinogen (a substance capable of causing cancer). Even if dioxins don’t wind up in the diapers after the bleaching process, they still end up in the water supply as an environmental pollutant. Personally, I prefer my diapers to actually be clean than to just look it. If you’re with me, go chlorine-free for your baby’s diapers. 

2.  Perfumes

I don’t know what perfumes in diapers actually do for you or your baby, but I do know that they often contain potentially dangerous synthetic chemicals.

Thanks to US trade secret protection, manufacturers are permitted to use the word “fragrance” or “parfum” on their product label to mask the actual ingredients making up the scent. But typical fragrance ingredients have been linked to allergies, asthma, respiratory and skin irritation (including diaper rash). [I know every parent practically takes diaper rash as a given, but kiddo (with what his sensitive skin and mild eczema) has never had a single episode of diaper rash (ever) in his two years of being diapered in cloth and eco-disposables.]

Resist the scent and pick fragrance-free instead. 

3.  Phthalates

Phthalates are a family of chemicals added to plastics to soften them for increased flexibility, and are commonly found in the outer liner of disposable diapers. Because they are not chemically bound to the plastics they are added to by design, they are continuously released from the plastic into the surroundings.

Now, paediatric experts are increasingly getting concerned about these substances and here’s why you should be too. Phthalates have been associated with potential toxic effects to the developing endocrine and reproductive systems, to which infants are particularly vulnerable.

Sniffing out which diaper’s got phthalates isn’t easy though because they aren’t required to be disclosed; so if you’re concerned, go with a brand that actually specifies that there are no phthalates in their diapers.

Now, before we round this off, it’s probably good to discuss Super Absorbent Polymers (SAP) here too. These are the gel crystals found in the core of disposable diapers to give them their absorbency. While there is no credible evidence showing that SAP is unsafe to humans, many parents have taken a cautious stance towards them, especially upon discovering the chemical gel on their baby’s bums (yes, SAP leakage does happen – and more frequently than is desired)!

Unfortunately, SAP is found in basically every disposable diaper. If you want to avoid them entirely, you would have to cloth-diaper (which we at Pur’itsy recommend for true eco-friendliness!). The next best thing would be to find a disposable that is capable of containing the SAP effectively. For that, look for quality and durability in the diaper materials.

It's not just the diaper you need to be careful about.  Find out why you should also pay attention to the bottle you are giving your child here


Go green: 15 simple tips for eco-friendly travel May 26, 2015 06:55

As we gear up for vacations over the upcoming long weekend (and many there are this year), do pause to consider if you can make your travel plans a little kinder on the Earth. Global travel isn’t easy on the environment but there are things we can do to reduce the size of our eco-footprint without cancelling our plans. 

Here are 15 simple tips from us to help make your trip that bit greener –

Before you go

1.  Consider flying economy instead of first-class.

The smaller your airplane seat, the more bang for fuel’s buck, the smaller your carbon footprint.

2.  Be picky about your hotel and tour providers.

Check that your hotel and tour providers share your environmental ethics.  Where you can, look for companies that hire locals, have a long-term affiliation with the community, take the effort to reduce their energy consumption or conserve the natural environment.

3.  Pack light.

Less weight = less fuel = less environment impact.  Works for planes, trains, buses, cars, you, everything.  So just do it.  Life’s just easier when you travel light.

4.  Eschew those travel size containers.

You know those travel size toiletries they sell at the pharmacies and supermarkets to make life easier for you?  Well, they don’t really make life easier for Earth.  All those resources gone into making tiny tubes, jars and bottles that last you a handful of days but live forever (well, almost) thereafter in a useless state.

Try instead:   If this is not your only holiday ever, consider buying a set of refillable bottles that you can reuse again and again every trip.  Bonus: You can now bring along your favorite brands wherever you go, even if they don’t sell travel-sizes!

5.  Choose eco-disposables for the baby.

We get it, cloth diapering can be hard to keep up when you're away from home.  But instead of discarding your environmental values along with the diaper, consider buying eco-friendly disposable diapers that leave a far smaller eco-footprint than traditional disposables!

What makes a disposable diaper green(-er)?  Look out for diapers that are free of chlorine, latex, artificial dyes or perfumes (chemicals that can harm the environment and your child) and made from sustainable resources.

(For more on this, see here.)

6.  Have a reusable water bottle handy.

Your eco-friendly habits don’t have to stay at home!  Use your bottle on the plane to save on the multiple disposable (small) cups they serve you – just be careful not to store water in it until you finish all the necessary airport clearances.  At your destination, have your bottle ready for the tap (if safe in the country) or water coolers.

Even if you end up having to buy water, you can get a full gallon-size to fill your reusable bottle with – that’s still less plastic waste than many smaller disposable bottles!

If you haven’t already got a reusable water bottle, we have great suggestions for you right here.    

7.  Bring along a reusable shopping bag.

Not only does that keep you from accumulating extra packaging waste along the way (you know you’ll dump it by the end of the trip to save on luggage weight), it frees up your hands for more shopping!  It also tends to make for a easy beach bag – I love multitaskers.

8.  Suspend newspaper delivery for the duration of your trip.

Saves the trees, and it’s safer anyway – a pile of uncollected newspapers tells unsavoury characters that your house has been left unwatched and is ready for invasion.

9.  Unplug non-essential electronic appliances at home.

Appliances like the TV, sound systems or the oven continue to suck electricity even when turned off – so just unplug them altogether.  You don’t need to run two “homes” on your bill.

While you’re there

10.  Go green.

Literally.  Try public transport, cycling or walking where possible.  Helps with the additional calories consumed – and in some cities, the traffic – too.

If you have to drive, there’s always a way to drive greener – get the smallest vehicle you need, avoid idling, keep your tires properly inflated and try to stick to the speed limit!

11. Take only maps and brochures you need. And share if you’re in a group.

And when you’re done, recycle them – or better still, save them for your next trip!

12.  You don’t need to return to a brightly-lit and perfectly-cooled room.

I know some hotel guests like to insert a business card into the keycard slot just to keep the electricity going when out and about.  Is that really necessary?  Just because you’re not actually paying for it, doesn’t mean the Earth isn’t!

13.  Support the hotel’s green efforts!

Oh, don’t be a skeptic.  Sure, washing sheets and towels less regularly saves hotels money – but what’s wrong with doing the environment good doing you good too?  Reuse towels and sheets if you can!  And watch your own water usage – it’s a scarce resource in some countries (including Singapore, really).

14.  Leave those stones untouched.

And the seashells.  These seemingly-useless inanimate objects do play a part in preserving their environments.  For example, shells provide homes and hiding places for marine organisms, contribute to the global carbon balance and help prevent beach erosion.  So leave them in their natural homes.  If you have to take anything, make it a photograph instead.

15.  Leave those unopened toiletries at the hotel.

So it can be used by the next guest.  Less usage = less wastage.

There you go - not that much to add to your to-do list, but what a difference it can make. 

Now, if you are also looking to green up your household routine while on the ground, check out our tried-and-tested natural cleaning DIY recipes here!


Cleaning up your act: 7 simple natural DIY cleaners May 09, 2015 13:36 2 Comments

It’s odd to think, but conventional household cleaners really are far from clean!  

Commercial cleaning products tend to contain toxic chemicals (many of which are particularly unsafe for pregnant women, young children or pets), and can adversely impact aquatic wildlife when released into waterways.  

And have you read those labels?  Frankly, I just don’t feel comfortable having baby crawling about on or eating off a surface coated with something that comes with a poison warning!

 

housecleanersingapore.com

 

Good news is that you don’t actually need these store-bought cleaning products to keep your house in tip-top shape – you can easily make inexpensive and effective cleaners that are safe for baby and you (and much kinder to the earth!).

Can't believe that they work?  Well, how about if I told you that when my helper joined my household (I lived without for a long time) and learnt my DIY cleaning recipes, she was so impressed that she shared them with all her friends?  Not only was she taken by the efficacy of the cleaners, she really appreciated how gentle they were on her hands after all those years of using harsh solvents!

And it’s not hard at all to make your own.  In fact, you probably already have all the ingredients you need in your house!  

 

Common household items with cleaning superpowers

Distilled white vinegar

The champion of natural cleaners.  This acidic superhero can cut grease and wipe out tarnish, soap scum, mineral deposits and more.  Plus, it creates an environment that inhibits the growth of mild, mildew and some bacteria including salmonella.

Where to buy?  Supermarkets or grocery stores.  

Baking soda

Absorbs odours and a great natural abrasive. 

Where to buy?  Supermarkets, grocery stores, baking supplies stores.   

Lemons

The acid in lemon juice remove dirt and rust stains (I use them on my knives).  Especially effective when mixed with salt – a brilliant scrubbing paste.  They also deodorise (I put lemon halves in my fridge - after I juice them, of course).

[I have to admit though that I'm not crazy about using them where there is an alternative, because I just can't see myself adding lemon-squeezing to my list of chores on a regular basis - but they are great at what they do so I have to honour them here.]

Where to buy?  Supermarkets, wet markets, whatever. 

Salt

Its granular texture makes it perfect for scouring.  Try it mixed with lemon juice for an effective rust or mould & mildew remover!

Where to buy?  Supermarkets and grocery stores.

Tea tree oil

Extracted from the tea tree plant, tea tree oil is known for its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.  It's potent so don't go overboard.

Where to buy?  I know there are some big companies out there (and yes, I buy from them), but when I'm just using it for cleaning, I don't need anything fancy.  Try departmental stores.

Liquid castile soap

Okay, you may not already have this in your home - but now that you know about it, what's keeping you?  This vegetable oil-based soap efficiently loosens grime and dirt (like other soaps) but is far gentler - and so versatile!

Where to buy?  Supermarkets.

Making your own: Recipes 

Now that you know the cleaning properties of each of these ingredients, you are actually well on your way to concocting your own DIY cleaners.  Afterall, there are no hard and fast rules for proportions, and you can easily make it up as you go along.  But I know some of us prefer to start the exploration off with some clear instructions, so here’s sharing 7 simple DIY recipes!

1. All purpose cleaner 

Mix 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp liquid castile soap and 2 cups water in a spray bottle.  Shake well.

I use it on everything, including the dining table and for small floor clean-ups.

Tip:  If you haven't got baking soda, just the soap and water work great too!

2. All-purpose disinfectant

Mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 10 drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle.  Shake well.  

I use this on the potty, changing pads, and on areas in the house that are prone to mould or mildew growth.

If you're dealing with mould or mildew growth, spray it on the surface and let it sit for 30 minutes before wiping off the mould or mildew.

Tip:  If you don't have tea tree oil on hand, just vinegar works fine.  I actually use just a 1:1 vinegar-water spray on baby's toys and playpen.

3. All-purpose abrasive cleaner

For a mild abrasive, mix 1 tablespoon liquid castile soap with 1/3 cup baking soda.

For tougher jobs, combine 1 2/3 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup liquid castile soap and 1/2 cup water.  Mix well and add 2 tablespoons vinegar.  Apply immediately, scrub and wipe off.

Great substitute for Cif.

4. Glass and window cleaner

Mix together water and vinegar in a 1:1 ratio.  

To remove the waxy buildup left by conventional glass cleaners, add 1/2 teaspoon liquid castile soap to 1 cup each of water and vinegar.

5. Oven cleaner

Dampen the inside of the oven with water and sprinkle liberally with baking soda.  Leave it for 20 minutes, then scrub.

If your oven needs a bit more work, make a scrubbing paste by mixing together 1/4 cup liquid castile soap, 3/4 cup baking soda and 1/8 cup vinegar.  Spread that on the inside of the oven, let it sit for several minutes, then scrub.

This has got to be my favourite DIY cleaner because I've always been uneasy about coating my oven with those chemical-laden oven cleaners!

6. Toilet cleaner

Sprinkle baking soda all around the inside of the toilet bowl.  Pour 1 cup vinegar into the bowl over the baking soda and scrub with a toilet brush.  Let it sit for 20 minutes before flushing to rinse. 

7. Floor cleaner

Fill your pail with enough water to mop (about 4 litres), and mix in ¼ cup vinegar and 1 tablespoon liquid castile soap.  This is safe for most types of floors, including parquet and laminate.  But if your floors are ceramic or a delicate stone like marble, leave out the vinegar!

Oh, and don't worry about your house smelling of vinegar - it dissipates real fast.

 

What I love about making my own cleaners? Besides the safety to children and pets, the eco-friendliness and the cost savings (which can be significant especially when you’re now buying “green”-branded cleaners!), it’s awesome that my under-sink cupboard is no longer stuffed with single-use cleaning products! 

And if you love what we have shared above, head on over to Part 2 of our DIY cleaning feature for more!


Think again before accepting secondhand breast pumps! April 28, 2015 15:35

After our last post about saving money on baby things you really don't need here, we received a ton of questions - and now, we're really inspired to come up with a list of baby things you shouldn't buy secondhand.

In the meantime though, I feel that I really need to deal with the topic of used breast pumps now!

 

telegraph.co.uk

Well-meaning friends and family pass their breast pumps on to new parents.  In parenting groups and forums, used breast pumps are a commonly traded commodity due to their relative cost.  What isn't said enough though is that you really need to be careful about accepting or buying secondhand breast pumps!  And yes, this advice applies even if you're planning to get a new set of tubings and parts for the breast pump.

Most commercial-grade breast pumps are meant for single-user usage only, and the reason for this is that they are constructed in a way where the pump motor is open to contact with the mother's milk particles.  That means the pump motor (which you cannot replace) can hoard milk particles and/or viruses from the previous mom.  Which also means, each time you pump, the previous owner's old milk particles etc get blown into your newly-expressed milk!  (It's like brushing with someone else's toothbrush - but worse.)

[To fully flesh out my point, I ask you to check out this old but incredibly enlightening blog post here - if you have the stomach for it.]

If you are looking at taking a used breast pump, check first that it is a model that is specified for multi-user usage (I use Hygeia's Enjoie).  And if it's not, I'd recommend turning it down for the health and safety of your baby.

As an aside, think twice before committing to an expensive breast pump.  If you intend to nurse a fair bit and don't need to pump large volumes of milk regularly, you may not actually need one!  In fact, hand expression can be more efficient for small volumes (I know, I absolutely did not believe the tip-off too until I tried it) and saves you the hassle of cleaning all the parts!  

So I'd say, wait till you know what your needs are before deciding if a breast pump's for you (and how much to pay for it).  You have time - it's not like you'll be pumping from day one, afterall.

And while you are amassing all manner of things in preparation for baby's arrival, find out why it is important to pick a safe and non-toxic diaper here!

 

Useful websites:

(1) La Leche League International: Are Used Breast Pumps a Good Option?

(2) Breastfeeding Online: Used Breast Pumps

(3) FDA: Breast Pumps: Don't be Misled - Get the Facts

(4) Medela: Can I buy or borrow a pre-owned breastpump?


14 things not to spend baby money on April 23, 2015 15:15

During promotional sales and fairs, it's easy to get carried away with all the discounts and package deals abound.  (I know, me too...)

But, in the interests of mindful consumption, think twice before buying things that you really don't need (and end up having to find storage space for)!

Take a quick look into parent/mommy Facebook groups and forums, and you'll see just how many people are trying to get rid of brand-new or almost-unused baby gear.  Save yourself that trouble down the road!

The way I see it, a large part of the problem lies with new parents not knowing what they really need - and buying everything anyway just so they are fully prepared for baby (been there).  Forming a smaller part of the issue are non-parents who haven't got a clue either what baby owners truly require - but having to buy gifts anyway.  

Ambitious as it might seem, I hope today to shed some light on this matter and help you channel your hard-earned money in the right direction (or at least, not in the wrong directions).

There are many things I wish I hadn't bought (those darned things-to-buy lists from departmental stores...) but for brevity's sake, here are the top 12 things I'd definitely recommend you rethink - 

1. Baby shoes

Babies don't need shoes until they walk and before that, it's actually much healthier for foot development if your little one goes barefoot!

 

 theguardian.com 

 

2. Cot bumpers

These are the things that pad round your baby's cot to "protect" your baby from bumping into the cot slats.  I know they make your baby's sleep place look oh so welcoming, but latest sleep safety recommendations from the American Pediatrics Association actually advise against using them.  Cot bumpers are known to be a suffocation, strangulation and entrapment risk because infants lack the motor skills or strength to turn their heads should they roll into something that obstructs their breathing - like the soft padded bumpers.  

So I'd say, go without.  Babies don't really roll around their cot at top speed anyway, so it really won't hurt much if they knock into the wood once in a while.

 

tinytotties.com

 

3. Bath thermometer

Honestly, your wrist (one of the more sensitive parts of the body) works just fine.  

At no extra charge.

Plus, if you rely solely on the thermometer to prepare your child's bath, just think what could happen if one day it turns faulty?

4. A special diaper bin (aka diaper disposal system)

Did you know that, for hygienic purposes, you are actually supposed to flush solid waste down the toilet before dumping your disposable diaper?  

There, big part of the problem solved.

The rest of the problem?  Your regular bin works just fine if you take the trash out daily (most people we know do!) - and at no extra charge.  If you don't already have one and the smell really bothers you, get a trash can with a lid that seals tight - it'll still give you more mileage than a diaper bin!  

And if you are thinking of going down the cloth route, you don't even need this!  

[Watch out for our upcoming blog features on cloth diapers - the latest cloth diaper technology makes going cloth easier than you think!]

 amazon.com

 

5. Bottle steriliser

Now, I have an issue with many sterilisers on the market because they are made of plastic that can leach toxins (even faster at the high temperatures sterilisers operate at!) and I don't want any of those toxins in my baby bottles or breast pump parts.

But even ignoring the plastic point, I'm just not so sure sterilisers are essential!  I know it sounds primitive, but it really isn't that hard to just sterilise your bottles with boiling water in a pot.  

If you don't want to stand over the stove, try creating your own steam steriliser by steaming your bottles in the wok or pot - if that can cook meat, it can definitely sterilise your bottles!  

These "alternative" methods not only give new life to something you already own, but also save you precious money and countertop space!

6. Bottle warmer

OK, I know some people swear by this appliance so I won't diss it - but all I'm saying is, think twice.  It's really not hard (nor does it take long) to heat the bottle up in a bowl of hot water.  (Don't use the microwave as it can heat liquids unevenly and create hot spots that can scald baby!)  In fact, if you're getting stainless steel bottles, they heat up so easily that some people just hold the bottle under the hot water tap!  

My suggestion is to try going without for the first couple of weeks, then decide whether you really need it before paying!  Afterall, if you're breastfeeding, you won't even be feeding bottles to baby so early in your breastfeeding relationship!

amazon.com

 

7. Baby food maker

Another item that some can't live without, but I'd say it's something you can consider saving your money on.  Why?  First, they all come in plastic and you know my beef with that (if you still don't, see here).  Next, depending on what you serve baby, you may not actually need one.  I've had no problems mashing baby's food with the fork as I feed (I mean, how fast does a baby eat right?) and that's the case for most foods I cook for him.  For harder foods that you might want pureed, there's nothing a normal family-size blender (like the one you have at home) can't do!  (Plus, they come in glass or stainless steel!)  

And really, babies grow out of the purees phase so fast.  For proper development, child experts recommend that babies progress along to lumpy and chunky foods in the first 1-3 months after starting solids and then onto finger foods before they turn 1!  

(Needless to say, if you're going the baby-led weaning route, don't buy a baby food maker.)

In any event, you can probably afford to hold off on making a decision for now if you're still at the expectant stage - the recommendation is that children start solids only after 6 months to give your child's digestive and immune systems time to mature.

mommynoire.com

 

8. Baby moisturisers and creams

Babies don't need fancy lotions.  In fact, some commercial brands contain harmful ingredients that I wouldn't recommend even for adults!  

To keep baby's skin soft and smooth, why not use organic extra virgin coconut oil instead?  It's all-natural, amazing for skin (newborn or adult), and is even known to be helpful in treating eczema!  

[More on this and other fantastic natural moisturisers, in our other blog posts here and here!]

9. Special laundry detergent for babies

Many things cost more when they're marketed "for baby". You don't really need something fancy - in fact, as is the case for baby lotion, some baby detergents contain chemicals I wouldn't even recommend for adult clothing!  Instead, just get a brand that is free of harsh cleaners, artificial fragrances or dyes that can irritate baby's delicate skin.  If you're already using a "clean" detergent for adults, it'll work just fine for baby!  

Or if you don't already have a suitable detergent, consider using pure liquid castile soap - it's good for a lot more than just bathing, and so healthy!  

10. Infant support seat

Think Bumbos and other such seats.  These are a real popular purchase for new moms but I just don't think it's worth your money.  

Babies do not need to be placed into a chair to help them sit up when their muscles are not yet ready to manage it on their own.  A quick Google will show you just how many paediatric specialists are vehemently against this contraption.  

Also, Bumbo may say that it's suitable for babies from 3 months and up but frankly, at that age, your baby will just look like an uncomfortable puppet in your photos (which, admit it, is the only reason why you're propping him up - yes, I confess).  I received a Bumbo hand-me-down so baby had a (brief) run in it, and I would say that the Bumbo is only truly usable for the month or so before baby is independently able to sit up.  

So $100 for a month or two?  No thanks.  

Sit him up in your lap instead - free, and I like to think she'll enjoy our belly more than the hard foam.

 

bumbo.com

 

11. Baby walker

In the same vein, babies really don't need to be walking until they are able to walk on their own.  Baby walkers don't actually help babies learn to walk any faster - instead, they have been shown to impede that developmental process.  

Also, baby walkers are strongly discouraged by many safety experts and health professionals because of the number of accidents and injuries they've caused (whether from falls out of the walker, falls down stairs or from baby getting access to previously out-of-reach hazards).  In fact, Canada has banned the sale of baby walkers since 2004 - that's how seriously they are taking it.  

Now, if a baby walker doesn't actually benefit your child and can in fact cause harm, why buy it?

 

jeep4x4world.com

 

12. Weather shields for strollers

Yeap, I got one the same day I got my stroller - that weather shield designed to perfectly fit my stroller model.  I was certain it was completely necessary, given Singapore's erratic weather.  I was also completely mistaken.  

I now know that when it's raining, I'm not going out with baby and if I am, the last thing we're doing is taking a romantic stroll in the rain (hiding out in a shopping mall is more like it).  More importantly, because my stroller has to fold up to fit the boot, I cannot keep the weather shield in the stroller's pocket as I had intended to (given how convenient it would then be to use it when the occasion arises).  And so, if it does so happen that a drizzle catches me by surprise, my expensive weather shield is never around.  (I mean, it doesn't fit in a diaper bag, does it?  Not mine, at least.)  Which means it never gets used.  

So there - perfect idea, incredibly imperfect usage.  

amazon.com

 

13. Tons of baby clothing

Your friends and family will give you lots, whether hand-me-downs or brand-new as gifts. And your baby really doesn't need that many, given how fast she outgrows each size.  He also will not go out as much as you think he will, so you're likely to just keep re-wearing the same few ultra-easy-to-wear and super-comfortable ones (even if they score zero on style) instead of, say, that adorable set of overalls.  Trust us.

14. Tons of baby toys 

In the same vein, you will receive lots of toys from friends and family.  Toys and clothes are the top two most-gifted baby things probably due to their perceived practicality - so don't spend on them until the gifts are in!  Afterall, baby doesn't really have much use for toys in their first weeks or months - your face and voice is ample stimulation in those early days!  And once they start playing, you really don't need many toys - to your little one, your home is one giant toy chest!  I've found, as have many of my mommy friends, that tools and knick-knacks around the house can actually be more engaging than the "real" toys you paid for.  See, your kid's naturally thirty!

And on the topic of newborns and toys, do be careful about stuffing their cot with soft toys - according to the American Association of Paediatrics, they also pose a suffocation risk, just like soft cot bumpers!

 

babylifestyles.com 

 

So there you have it - our top 14 things not to spend baby money on.  Now go out there and save your money.

It is normal to want to detox your cleaning routine with the arrival of a new bundle of joy - but did you know that simple DIY cleaning recipes using common household ingredients could work as well as those commercial eco-cleaners you might be thinking of purchasing?  Try out our tried-and-tested natural cleaning recipes here!


Pur'itsy: Now Open. April 18, 2015 23:38

After a really long string of sleepless nights and packed days, Pur'itsy is finally open!  

I'm super excited about this (and can't wait to sleep tonight)!

It is my hope that, with the opening of Pur'itsy, I can do a little bit more to make the world a cleaner, greener and healthier place for our children - especially for kids in Singapore and the region.  I envy parents in the U.S. and Europe who are blessed with such a wide selection of products that are safe, non-toxic and eco-friendly!  Hopefully, Pur'itsy makes it possible now for parents in this part of the world to select healthier (and far superior) alternatives to plastics.

Because, while going clean and green may be a choice, I disagree that it needs to be a tough one.


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