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It’s that time of the year again! With Christmas sneaking up on us once again, Tiny Green Mom has put together their ‘Top 5 Eco-Gifts for Babies & Toddlers!‘ While the tiniest member of your family may be more intrigued by the twinkling lights, wrapping paper, and boxes, Mom and Dad will appreciate the following gifts for little ones!

Lovey-Organic-Taxi-Lovey-or-Baby-Toy-Security-Blanket-1-low_grande

Organic Taxi Lovey by Estella NYC

This adorable and super-soft organic cotton lovey features an iconic NYC taxi, and is made perfectly-sized for tiny hands! With bold black and white stripes, tactile pom poms for the wheels, and a plush knit cotton feel that makes it easy to cuddle and hold, the Organic Taxi Lovey is a fantastic eco-stocking stuffer this holiday season! Hand knit in Peru. Machine wash on gentle. For additional ideas for baby’s 1st Christmas, check out their gift guide, too!

gunapod

Gunapod

A favorite last year, Gunapod continues to make our eco-friendly gift list! With gorgeous new prints and sizes that fit infants to toddlers, your little one will stay toasty and warm all night long in this safe, smart, and extremely soft wearable blanket! (Yes, we wish it came in adult size, too!) Like sleeping wrapped in a cloud, Gunapod features the WONDERZiP® system for easy changing in the night and temperature control to prevent overheating. The WONDERZiP® opens completely from underarm to underarm, with 4 separate pulls functioning in a multitude of ways as you choose. Generously sized for maximum comfort, Gunapod provides baby with plenty of space to fold legs or spread out, as well as move arms freely. In addition, you can unzip the Gunapod® along the bottom to accommodate a carseat or stroller safety strap, which allows your baby to kick freely. Gunapod® adheres to the strictest standards of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CPSIA. Now that our little guy is a toddler, we love that it prevents him climbing out of the crib, too!

Baby Mum Mum carrot blueberry combo

Organic Baby Mum-Mum

Tuck these favorite teething biscuits into your little one’s stocking! Baby Mum-Mum now offers two new organic varieties…Organic Sweet Potato & Carrot and Organic Blueberry & Goji. These all-natural teething biscuits are always a hit with my little teethers, and now that my youngest is a toddler, the line has Organic Strawberry Rice Biscuits for toddlers! Baby and Toddler Mum-Mums are made without GMOs, artificial flavors and preservatives. Gluten, lactose, egg and peanut-free. Plus, each serving is individually wrapped for convenience, making it a breeze to take a few along in a diaper bag or purse!

Baby Butz

Baby Butz Cream

They may not appreciate it… but mom and dad will! To treat baby’s diaper rash naturally and effectively,
Olen Cosmetics’ Baby Butz cream is a trusted brand, recommended by pediatricians and used in hospital neonatal units. Baby Butz cream is a barrier and a healing cream that prevents and relieves diaper rash in as little as 4 hours. It’s all-natural, free of perfume, alcohol or chemicals. Baby Butz Cream can be purchased on www.amazon.com.

Pure Spoon Butternut

Pure Spoon Fresh Organic Purées

Is your little one learning to self-feed? The gift of Pure Spoon will be a welcome one! Pure Spoon Fresh Organic Purées are 100% fresh certified organic fruits and veggies that are cold pressed, cold packed and delivered right to your door! Yes, your little ones will love them… and you will love that they are nourishing their growing bodies. Flavors available include Apples & Broccoli, Blueberries, Bananas & Apples, Butternut Squash, Apples & Oats, Carrots & Zucchini, Creamy Avocado & Apples, Simply Apples, Simply Carrots, Simply Pears, Spinach, Pear & Bananas, and Sweet Potato & Apples.

*Companies generously provided samples and images for this article. All thoughts expressed herein are my own.*

How to Make Baby’s First Christmas Merry

Baby’s first Christmas is a magical event. Among other things, your little sugarplum will be the star of every gathering. However, for many little ones, the most enjoyable holiday experiences are those that aren’t too exciting. There is such a thing as too many jingle bells!

We all look forward to holiday parties, but they do create dilemmas for new parents. Many babies are easily overwhelmed by noise, crowds, and new experiences. When making plans and accepting invitations, factor baby’s tolerance into the equation. Does he adapt well to new situations? Does he accept strangers easily, or is a loud room full of new faces likely to over-stimulate him?

The best way to ensure a happy holiday is to create realistic expectations, let baby set the pace, and be ready to adjust your plans if needed. For example…

Maintain Your Routine

Most babies thrive on a fixed routine, so stick to your everyday schedule—feedings, naps, and bedtime?as much as possible. (Keeping baby up late to meet Great Uncle Fred may be a lovely idea, but not if she cries throughout his visit.)

Surround Baby With Familiar Belongings

Traveling? Bring that beloved blankie along, as well as other favorite toys and soothing music. They’ll help baby feel secure in unfamiliar settings.

Try to Prepare Him for What’s Ahead

You can tell an older child what to expect during the holidays. With babies, it’s not so easy. However, if your baby is old enough, you might want to show him photos of the people he’ll be meeting, and repeat their names so they become familiar. Include photographs of holidays past, so he learns to recognize a Christmas tree and other decorations.

Build in Some One-on-One Time

Most babies won’t enjoy extended festivities. Factor in some quiet playtime and snuggle time just for you. You can all use the downtime to recharge your batteries.

Take Your Cue from Baby

Accept the fact that baby may not be able to handle every party with equal aplomb. Watch for the first signs of over-stimulation—yawning, eye-rubbing, turning away—and withdraw from the scene if it’s clear she’s had enough.

In other words, give baby only as much holiday spirit as he can comfortably handle. It just might be the best gift you can give him (and yourself)!

*Article courtesy of OneStepAhead.*

Dreaming of a GREEN Christmas

1. Update your lighting to include compact florescent light bulbs. Just changing the six incandescent bulbs you use most often will save you over $100 a year on your energy bills.

2. Want to save more money? Set the timer for your holiday lights for an hour less every day and watch the savings add up. What a great gift to our planet too!

3. Bring nature indoors and decorate for the holidays with house plants. Plants clean the air. They have tiny pores in their leaves that act as air filters. It is through these tiny holes that they remove toxins from the atmosphere.

4. In preparation for the holiday season, plug up any air leaks around windows, doorways and ductwork in your home. This is an easy way to reduce energy use by up to 20%. It is so simple that you can do it yourself in one weekend with a tube of caulk.

5. Save bows and wrapping paper when opening your gifts and reuse them for others! It is a sound money saving strategy and you may also be saving a tree.

6. Use your china or stoneware dishes when entertaining and stay away from plastic dishes and utensils. Plastic leaches chemicals into your food and when you throw it away it takes up to 500 years to decompose in nature. If you must entertain using disposable dishes, search for eco-friendly products made from corn or bamboo.

8. For those of us who are accustomed to luxury and still long to be green there is good news. Many artists have become environmentally conscious and are using their brilliance to create gorgeous designs that at the same time focus on caring for our planet. David Raful is one such artist featured by RareCulture and his products are produced by upcycling and reusing discarded materials. Old tire tubes and frames from long forgotten couches and chairs are transformed into unique one-of-a-kind bags and furniture. His designs are thoughtful of Mother Nature with his intentional reuse of pneumatic materials. Thanks to artists like David, your holiday gifts can be green and luxurious!

Wishing you and yours a healthy, happy, holiday and remember that spending time with the people you love is the greatest gift of all!

About the Author

Debra Duneier is an accredited LEED® Green Associate, Certified Eco-Designer, Feng Shui Master Practitioner, Creator of EcoChi® and Author of EcoChi: Designing the Human Experience. For more about Green Tips and Debra Duneier visit www.ecochi.com and follow her on twitter @EcoChiTips.

*Image: Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

It’s easy with the following 7 tips to green up the holiday meal with both food and preparation – paring down, getting back to basics, and what the season is truly about – friends and loved ones!

Green” Your Holiday Meals

1. Eat local. Celebrate gratitude for the local environment by exploring what local foods you can find. Incorporate seasonal vegetablessuch as beets, Brussels sprouts, squash and broccoli. Or find a quick refrigerator pickle recipe for locally grown cucumbers or bell peppers instead of buying prepackaged. See if you can select a turkey from a local farm (try your local natural foods market or visit localharvest.org to locate farmers).

2. Get out the china. Or at least forgo plastic and paperware to reduce waste. If you are short on place settings, borrow (neighbors,family and guests usually are happy to share), or look on Craigslist, eBay or at thrift stores for extras you can reuse. By using items that are colorful but not particularly holiday-themed, you will save – and be able to use them throughout the year. For more napkins, make your own or purchase a stash of bandanas in colors you like from a hobby store.

3. Decorate with plants. Collect some attractive houseplants into an appealing centerpiece by gathering them in a large basket, bowl or even a box decorated with fabric or paper. For Thanksgiving, gather a fall-themed bouquet from your yard, or ask guests to bring autumn leaves, berries or branches to build a centerpiece. For December holidays, use evergreen branches and ribbons to create attractive pieces.

4. Take advantage of turkey sales. Many stores offer great sales on turkeys before Thanksgiving. If you can, buy an extra, and then cookand carve it while you are in the turkey-roasting mood. Then freeze the meat in smaller packages. You can take out what you need for several meals during the busy holiday season, saving time and money.

5. Do not overdo it. Cooking enough to feed an army will only result in added stress and waste if your “crowd” is more like a handful. Be realistic about what you will eat at dinner and what you can consume in leftovers. Send some leftovers home with guests, and freeze some to enjoy later. If you know you will have too much leftover, investigate your community to see if you can donate extras to a soup kitchen. Or invite other family or friends to share in a post-Thanksgiving, post-Christmas, etc., meal.

6. Combine cooking. Plan your cooking to use the oven all at once, rather than heating and cooling the oven many times over the days aheadof the meal. Heat up contributed dishes in an already-hot oven after you remove one dish instead of firing up the microwave. Try cooking side dishes in a toaster oven instead of in the large oven.

7. Wash it up. Resist the temptation to run the dishwasher with just a few items in it and run it only when full. And because using a dishwasher is usually more efficient than hand washing, no need to feel guilty about a stack of dishes on the counter — let them wait for the next dishwasher load.

About the Author

This article was written by national consumer finance expert Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Phoenix operations for Freedom Debt Relief.

5 EcoChi Happier, Healthier Holiday Tips

1. Make holiday meals memorable – Round or oval tables are the best shapes for feng shui-friendly dining. The absence of sharp corners and hard edges helps energy flow freely and gently through the room. If you do have a rectangular dining table, make sure your guests are not seated too close to the corners, which can cause a feeling of unease during the meal.

2. Delight your guest’s senses – Pine and cinnamon are wonderful choices when entertaining. To create a calm environment during the holiday rush use lavender or lemon for clarity.

3. The entrance, foyer or entrance hallway is called your “Ming Tang” in Chinese. Do not block your Ming Tang with packages, cartons or bags. Keep the pathway to your front door uncluttered. This is where fresh energy and opportunities enter your space and your life.

4. Beautify your side doors. If you regularly enter your home through a side door, give it a beauty treatment by planting lush plants or flowers nearby. Make your guests feel as if they are entering your “castle” no matter which door they enter.

5. Unplug appliances and lights! Even when your appliances, equipment and lights are turned off, if they are plugged into outlets you still are consuming electricity. These are called phantom loads. Plug you holiday lights into a surge protector so when you are not using them you can prevent phantom loads by flipping one switch. This saves energy and saves you money too!

About the Author

Debra Duneier is an accredited LEED® Green Associate, Certified Eco-Designer, Feng Shui Master Practitioner, Creator of EcoChi® and Author of EcoChi: Designing the Human Experience. For more about Green Tips and Debra Duneier visit www.ecochi.com and follow her on twitter @EcoChiTips.

*Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*