Tag Archives: green


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One of the favorite games for babies is play dough.  In honor of National Play Doh Day on September 16, this post will look at the benefits of play dough for fine motor skill development.  Observe the baby in the above video from Jordan Lee’s you tube channel.  One of the easiest activities for a baby to do with the dough is to press his fingers into it.  This develops strength in the fingers and awareness of the changing depth of the dough.  Eventually you can teach baby to pull small pieces off of a larger piece of dough, developing finger dexterity.  Learning to press a cookie cutter or a stamp into the dough also teaches coordination and develops strength.  Babies also learn colors from playing with play dough.  Even the play dough containers can be instructional tools if you teach baby to put the dough in and take the dough out of the containers.  Play Doh commercial brand is sold in small canisters. For homemade play dough see if you can purchase some interestingly shaped and/or colored small containers for each color of dough.


Babies play with play dough usually after the age of one year old.  At this age they are rapidly developing their fine motor skills.  They also use their fine motor skills for picking up food when they are eating.  I recommend keeping the play dough off of the high chair tray.  That is a place for food and therefore the things placed here and picked up or squished with fingers usually go into the mouth.  Try playing with the play dough on a small table about the height of a coffee table.  Baby can stand and play with it or it can be placed on one of the small tables that comes with chairs for toddlers.  Show them with your fingers how to press into a small ball of dough and then let them explore the texture.  Keep your eyes on baby so he does not put a piece in his mouth!


There are an abundance of homemade play dough recipes available on the internet.  It is worthwhile to find one and make it for your baby.  The homemade version is made from simple edible ingredients such as flour and salt and should pose no problems if baby put the play dough in his mouth when you are not looking.  Simply google “best homemade play dough recipe” or search youtube if you prefer to watch someone make the recipe.  You can even find gluten free play dough recipes if you have a baby allergic to gluten.



Are you planning a forth of July picnic at the park with baby?  Pack the Central Park Blanket by Skip Hop with you for an afternoon lounging on the grass or by the pool. One of our Stellar Caterpillar mothers spent a lot of time researching mats for her baby’s play time at the park.  She wanted something made of a green material since baby would spend a lot of time on it.  She wanted something that would pack up easily and be light weight to transport.  And, of course, she wanted something that would be easy to clean.  Skip Hop’s machine washable blanket met the mark on each of her requirements.  It also has an insulated compartment which can keep food/drinks cool and it converts so you can carry it on your shoulder or as a backpack.


Parks are wonderful developmental outings for babies.  There is a lot to observe and a lot of space to move around in.  There are many people to watch and lots of dogs, too.  Babies can watch balls or frisbees fly through the air or watch the squirrels and birds move around looking for food.  Sometimes there are other babies to meet and play with as well.  This is a wonderful setting for carrying baby around and narrate what you see.  For example, “Look at that squirrel!  He climbed all the up the tree.  Isn’t that tree very tall?  See how high the branches go up toward the sky?  You can introduce names of animals, colors, and concepts such as big and small or tall.  In addition to watching activity, you can put baby down on her mat to explore the space around her.  Motivated by her curiosity to touch the blades of grass, she may practice her motor skills of rolling or crawling to explore the space beyond the mat.


Treatment Alternatives for Children book cover


Treatment Alternatives for Children presents side-by-side comparisons between conventional and alternative treatment options for over 100 common childhood illnesses, allergies, and health incidents such as bee stings.  The information is presented in a way that is easy for parents to understand and apply.  Written by Lawrence Rosen, M.D., and Jeff Cohen, this is a must-have book for parents.  Rosen is a “nationally recognized expert in pediatric integrative medicine and Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Integrative Medicine.”  He is the founder of the Whole Child Center, a primary care practice in new Jersery with a focus on integrative medicine.  Cohen has authored three books and is the holistic parent of two children. Together Rosen and Cohen combine years of clinical and parenting experience and expertise with a well-organized writing style to create an essential addition to one’s collection of parenting books.

The clarity of presentation makes it easy to navigate this book.  The table of contents groups ailments into categories such as tummy, temperature, skin, first aid, nervous system, and breathing.  This is followed by an alphabetical list of ailments.  Each ailment is presented with a  brief discussion followed by a chart containing categories such as how the treatment works, active ingredient, dosage, side effects, and less serious side effects.  The chart allows parents to find the information needed immediately without having to read a lot of extra words.  Specific brand names of products are recommended as well as the use of items from your kitchen cupboard such as honey or baking soda.  The chapter “Baby Matters” addresses the following common baby health issues:

  • Colic
  • Cradle Cap
  • Diaper Rash
  • Newborn Eye Discharge
  • Spitting Up
  • Teething
  • Thrush
  • Umbilical Cord Care


The reference section at the back of the book includes three alphabetized lists for quick reference:  ailments, conventional remedies, and alternative remedies.  It also features a section with a few top ten treatment lists such as:

  • Ten Spice Rack Resouces
  • Ten Curative Foods and Beverages
  • Ten Indispensible Oils
  • Ten Healing Herbs and Plants
  • Ten Helpful Homeopathics


The authors also touch on issues such as failure to thrive, bed wetting, ADHD/ADD, and sleep issues.  If your child has an ache, bee sting, allergy, or accident, it is probably covered in this book.  For easy reference in the future, buy the book and read it to familiarize yourself with the layout.



Baby drinks out of a Lollacup brand of sippy cup

Baby with Lollacup


Several month ago I was watching Shark Tank, one of my favorite TV shows that provides entrepreneurs with the opportunity to pitch their idea for a business or product to a group of venture capitalists.  If they are fortunate, they leave the tank with an investment.  One of the baby products pitched on the show that received an investment is Lollacup.  The husband and wife team who developed Lollacup excitedly observed their daughter drinking from a straw at the age of 9-months-old.  Their pediatrician recommended weaning her to a straw cup rather than a traditional sippy cup.  However, the liquid in these cups would always sink to the bottom of the cup while the straw would float up to the top.  The clever parents saw an opportunity to create a new and improved sippy cup and that is when they created Lollacup.  Lollacup is a sippy cup with a weighted straw so the straw sinks to the bottom of the cup with the liquid.  This cup makes it possible for baby to drink out of a cup with a straw, even when the cup is tilted.  The twist off handles make it possible to place the cup into a diaper bag side pocket for moms and babies on the go.  Lollacup is also made in the USA of BPA-free and phthalate-free materials and sports an adorable bird design that babies love.


Lollacup is the perfect cup to teach baby to drink through a straw.  The action of drinking with a straw is beneficial for both babies and adults.  Why?  Because the action of sucking uses the sphincter or ring muscles in the body.  When we use one ring muscle it activates all of the ring muscles.  This action of sucking is familiar to baby since this has been her technique for eating food from the bottle or breast.  The action of toning all of the ring muscles can be soothing because they feel it through their entire body, and this why babies feel comforted when they use pacifiers.  Sucking also uses more muscular action than a sippy cup, which is beneficial for speech development.  Make the sound of the letter “O.”  Exaggerate the sound, “OOOOOO.”  You make the same round shape with your mouth that you do with the action of sucking through a straw.


In order to drink from the Lollacup or an ordinary sippy cup baby sits with good posture.  This is one of the differences between drinking from a bottle and drinking from a sippy cup.  Baby can still recline when using a bottle.  It is more difficult to recline with a cup.  At around 9 months old, the next step in the development of a baby is drinking in the upright posture.  When  baby holds the handles on a Lollacup or sippy cup, he connects his arms into his spine.  He coordinates his arms, hands, mouth, and torso as he moves the cup up toward his mouth to take a drink.  Observe the baby’s posture in the above photo.  He needs to sit up with good posture to drink from the cup, and holding the handles enables him to do so.

Photo courtesy of Lollaland.


“FDA Makes It Official:  BPA Can’t Be Used in Baby Bottles and Cups,” Sabrina Tavernese, New York Times, 7/17/12.


Used since the 1960′s, Bisphenol A is an industrial compound used in making some plastics such as food containers, bottles, and cups.  Usually referred to as BPA, it is also used in resins found in the linings of metal products such as food cans, baby formula cans, and in some toys.  It also can be present in dental sealants and composites and may be found in the linings of water lines.  According to an article on the topic on MayoClinic.com, BPA can even be identified in some thermal paper products such as cash register receipts.  In recent years the effects of BPA on health has been a debated topic in the news and the subject of ongoing research.  This week, the Food and Drug Administration banned the use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups.


Some research studies show that BPA seeps its way into the food or beverage that is contained in a bottle or container which contains the compound.  Plastics containing BPA can be identified by looking at the recycling number on the bottom of the product.  Often, they are the clear containers.  The BPA plastic number is the number 7.  Avoid buying plastics with the number 7 on the bottom or choose a “BPA free” product.

Another concern is that BPA seeps into the body when one handles something containing the substance like a toy or cash register receipt.  There has been much controversy on this topic and research studies continue.  However, the National Toxicology Program at the Department of Health and Human Services expreses concern for this compound and its effect on human health.  Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned BPA from use in the manufacturing of baby bottles and sippy cups.  This makes it much easier for concerned parents to confidently choose a bottle or cup for their baby.


Many plastics manufacturers are making plastic containers and bottles that do not contain the BPA compound.  These are often labeled “BPA Free.”  Another option is to choose a material other than plastic such as glass or steel.  Over the last few years, there has been a tremendous increase in the manufacturing of bottles, cups, and food storage containers made of glass or steel.  There are far more “green” choices available on the market now.  You can find websites online for purchasing green baby bottles or green sippy cups.  “Green” means “BPA Free.”  One popular website is greentogrow.com  Just remember, the best baby bottles are the green baby bottles.



green or eco-friendly baby rattle

The eco-conscious mother today is looking for baby rattles made from natural/organic materials.  These materials include:

  • natural wood
  • organic wool or felt
  • organic cotton
  • natural rubber
  • sterling silver
  • pewter

Ideally, baby rattles should be free of lead, phthalates, PVCs, and bisphenol-A.  Non-toxic coatings such as water-based inks and vegetable dyes are eco-friendly options for decoration.  However, in your quest for the perfect eco-friendly, sustainble, organic, and Fair Trade baby rattle, please don’t forget that one of the most important reasons for buying a rattle is to develop motor skills such as grasping and reaching.  If the rattle is eco-perfect but not useful for motor skills because the size or dimensions are not easy for the baby to hold and manipulate, the most important goal will be lost.  I encourage parents to have some eco-rattles, but not to fret over mixing in a few plastic ones as well.  Keep in mind that the cloth ones cannot be wiped clean, they need to be laundered.  This can be a bit labor intensive.

Brands such as HABA and VIULLI have made names for themselves by manufacturing and selling only eco-friendly baby toys and rattles.  HABA manufactures an entire line of baby rattles and toys, while VIULLI is the maker of the classic baby teether ‘Sophi” the giraffe among others.  You can find them online and often at local children’s boutiques.  Although the cost is usually higher, a few carefully selected rattles last a long time.