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Mama Likey: Five Favorite Friday

Apologies for not being very diligent with this blog lately. I’ve been so consumed doing the Mom thing in addition to trying to focus on getting NKT out there. So, I thought I’d participate in a meme to cap off yet another week before I very reluctantly pack the car for another long weekend.  This Five Favorite Friday are all products* that I love and ones that we’re using in our home.

1.   I have to admit, we love these products not only because they’re natural and work very well, but also because we love saying the name–Shakalaka Kava Lava.  Awesome, right?  My favorite flavor right now is Macadamia Mint,  De.li.cious!  If you think that name is catchy, check out Shakalaka Lip Blaka.

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2.   Last year when I got my hair chopped for my birthday, I left the spa with this wonderful exlir—Keratese’s Serum Oleo-Relax.  It’s like magic for my naturally frizzy hair.  Caveat to this great product is that it’s $34 for a small bottle.  Upside is, this bottle has lasted me all year.  When I had long, wavy hair, I spent at least $60 on hair products a month.  I’m a big believer that you get what you pay for with beauty products. (Well, I was…) If you’re on the market for a good shine/relaxer/frizz control serum, check out Keratese’s Serum Oleo-Relax.

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3.  This soap is something that Jeff brought home that I can’t get enough of!  I’m a huge Kiss My Face fan and this handsoap is no exception.  From their Sudz line, the foaming soap in pink grapefruit & lemongrass is such a fun scent for the bathroom and/or kitchen.  It’s fruity, yet fresh-smelling, contains some organic ingredients and definitely a soap we’ll buy in the future.

sudzfoampink

4.  I was sent a sample of What Odor! a few weeks ago and I love it.  I was doubtful about its effectiveness and was all like, eh, it won’t work.  Hello!  It works much better than that air neutralizer we’ve been using.  We use it in our bathroom where we have Jack’s diaper pail and it doesn’t just cover up the stench, but it gets rid of it all together.  Best thing is, it uses essential oils.  Its effective and natural, which is key for our small space with a kid.  Oh, and how about this, it was recently seen on the TLC show PitchMen.

what_odor_bottle

5.  This one is probably one of my current must-haves.  I have them in every pocket because of all the lingering illness.  The Sanitizing Hand Wipes from EO in Lemon is an organic, plant-based alternative wipes to the chemical-laden wipes out there.  I slip one or two in my pocket when we head out to the park and after Jack’s done playing in the dirt, voila.  I love the convenience and the fact that it’s biodegradable, which does does the trick when we’re on the go.

lemonwipes_24pk_md

***

Happy Memorial Day weekend. Say a prayer/thought and take time to remember our fallen soldiers.
Be safe and enjoy. One day, we’ll do something fun for us over a long weekend. Until then, it’s all about Jack.

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Rub a dub dub: ‘No More Toxic Tub’ study sheds light on bath products

There’s a new report out that reveals some daunting information that will make you want to think twice about your babe’s bath products. Oh no, what now, right?

whats-going-onThe Campaign for Safe Cosmetics published a report that says several children’s bath products are contaminated with the cancer-causing chemicals formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane.  This isn’t the first time you’ve probably heard similar information; a study came out in 2008 that focused on organic personal products. However, this new study called, “No More Toxic Tub,” is the first to document the widespread presence of both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane in bath products for children, including baby shampoos, bubble baths and baby lotions. The group says Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane are known carcinogens; formaldehyde can also trigger skin rashes in some children. The report said that unlike many other countries, the U.S. government does not limit formaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, or most other hazardous substances in personal care products.

Just a few of the products tested are:

  • CVS Baby Shampoo (CVS/Pharmacy)
  • Suave Kids 2-in-1 Shampoo – Wild Watermelon (Unilever)
  • American Girl Real Beauty Inside and Out Shower Gel – Apple Blossom (Bath & Body Works)
  • Equate Tearless Baby Wash (Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.)
  • Grins & Giggles Milk & Honey Baby Wash (Gerber Products Company)
  • Huggies Naturally Refreshing Cucumber & Green Tea Baby Wash (Kimberly-Clark)
  • Sesame Street Bubble Bath – Orange Mango Tango (The Village Company)

To see all of the products tested and results go here. Per usual, there’s no need to be alarmed, so don’t go and toss out all of your bath products.  The big picture here is, it’s all about being smarter consumers and to be aware of what you’re buying and using. I mean, who doesn’t want the best for their kid?

Once again, I’ll take the opportunity to tout the awesomeness of natural products. With this latest report, I thought I’d share some alternatives to the more questionable products that were included in this latest study.

These are my top picks:

star-pink-32x32Dr. Bronner’s Baby Liquid Soap
olba16USA Today said that products bearing the U.S. Department of Agriculture Organic seal, such as items by Dr. Bronner’s, were free of 1,4-dioxane. Dr. Bronner’s is one of these products that is truly organic. Their extensive line includes liquid soap and baby wash that both Jeff and I love. We use the Peppermint and sometimes Lavender Castile soap throughout the house, as well as Sal’s Suds for household cleaning. Like Jeff often says, after using Dr. Bronner’s soaps, you smell good and you actually feel clean. With many of those perfumy soaps, there’s so many irritants and moisturizers now, the whole objective of getting clean gets lost in the mix. In addition to the organic composition, the fact that its fair trade and has so many uses, Dr. Bronner’s product line is a longtime staple in our home. In my opinion, it’s one of, if not the greenest, line of soaps out there. For 60 years, Dr. Bronner’s has been at the forefront of the green movement.  So, it’s no surprise that Dr. Bronner’s Baby Liquid Soap is one of my top picks.  The baby soap is mild, contains no fragrance and great for sensitive skin.

star-pink-32x32California Baby
yhst-83878190403399_2045_48046543I’m a big fan of all of California Baby’s products, especially the bubble baths. They’re light, natural and smell incredible.  Calming and Overtired and Cranky are my favorite bubble baths.  Before bedtime, my sometimes overtired and cranky kid loves this bubble bath as part of his nighttime routine, just as much as I do!
I love how they divulge a host of information about their products and ingredients.  Many of the products in question do not have this information readily available. So, in that sense, I appreciate companies like CB for being generous with this information. In addition, their products are free from common allergens, contain organic & sustainably grown ingredients. The company says that many of the plants and flowers that are grown for essential oil distillation are very hardy, do not need pesticides or fertilizers and are by default organic and/or sustainably grown.

star-pink-32x32Seventh Generation Wipes
318g2rssrlThese, in my opinion, are the best wipes out there. These wipes feature Aloe Vera, Vitamin E and are alcohol-free, making them gentle, yet so effective and eco-friendly. Unfortunately, we haven’t used these wipes as frequently as we would have liked since they haven’t been stocked at our local organic store until recently. Good news, though: Seventh Gen has coupons online.
Check them out here.

star-pink-32x32Nature’s Baby Organics Tangy Tangerine Bubble Bath
NB

This is a brand that I recently tried and loved! Jeff brought this home and I plan to do a full blown review, but in the meantime, I love the sweet tangerine smell and the fact that it’s such a gentle bubble bath. We’ve been using this bubble bath for the past few weeks and Jack can’t get enough of the fun bubbles. This brand is out in several stores, but I’ve also noticed that you can get it at Diapers.com. More to come on this great line and product.

star-pink-32x32Trukid Silly Shampoo
sillyshampoo

This is another brand that we recently had the chance to try as well. So far, I’m in love the soap and lotion, but this shampoo is awesome, too. It has a great smell, contains various organic ingredients and is all around a great product line. This is another brand that I plan to do more of a thorough review, so stay tuned for that!

Obviously, there are many more really great products that are worth mentioning, but I can recommend these without hesitation because either we use or have used these in our home! Like most people, we use 2-3 different products, sometimes even more, at bathtime. Not everything we use is natural since we’ve been using good ol’ J&J shampoo among a few others since we received them as gifts, but once those are up, I hope to stick to products that fall under the natural category.

This is how I see it: with healthier, more natural alternatives out there, why go the cheaper, questionable route? If you’re worried about cost, so you buy one less toy, one less electronic gadget—that, right there, would cover the few dollars of the difference in expense. Years ago, many of these brands and options weren’t even available, and if they were, I’m sure these products were only at specialty and organic stores. Good news now is, in addition to a plethora of online outlets like diapers.com, big box and baby stores carry many of these products, such as Babies R Us, Harmon, Target, Buy Buy Baby, Whole Foods.

Before you go putting your baby or kid in a bubble, here are more recommendations from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics:

  • Simplify: Select products with fewer ingredients and no synthetic fragrance or dyes, and use fewer products overall.
  • Choose safety: Search EWG’s cosmetic safety database, Skin Deep, to learn more about the products you use and find safer alternatives.
  • Read labels: Select products for baby and yourself that don’t contain the ingredients listed above, which are commonly contaminated with formaldehyde or 1,4-dioxane.

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He eats EVERYTHING Including Burt’s Bees Diaper Ointment

Thank God it’s Friday, for real.  Jack and I have been up since 4:30 a.m. today–quite unwillingly on my part.  It’s my turn to be sick, so of course, I’m feeling totally out of it and extra grumpy.  TGIF, people.  TGIF.
Our morning escapades thus far have included the usual furniture climbing, breakfast smeared onto the ottoman and my coffee poured all over the chair.  But the best yet, Jack ate some Burt’s Bees diaper cream and proceeded to rub it into the ottoman, next to the area where I just cleaned up his breakfast disaster.  It appeared that, because this diaper cream is all natural and contains sweet almond oil, Jack thought it was his morning snack.  Awesome.

735_xl_v2While panic set it in, it occurred to me that this is one of the reasons why I only use natural products.  I don’t use them so that he can eat them at his leisure ;)   but instead, I use them because they’re safe, in case he does get his chubby paws on them.  After I wiped the thick white cream OFF of his face and tongue, I checked the label and immediately went onto the Burt’s Bees website but didn’t find too much information in the event that the cream is ingested.  Yeesh!  Info that I found on one of the poison control sites:  Diaper rash creams/ointments such as Desitin/A&D ointment have a very low level of toxicity contrary to warning labels on the product.  Here again, this product usually only causes oral/stomach upset.
I’m keeping a close on eye him today because it’s just another one of those sheer terror/chaotic/nightmarish mornings.  Maybe it’s cabin fever.  Maybe it’s me having much slower reaction time.  Maybe it’s an indication of what’s to come… haha.  Mental note to myself and to others, keep toiletries like this and other items in question out of your child’s reach.  I’ve learned my lesson!

Anyway, aside from Burt’s Bees Diaper Cream being all natural awesomeness, this product is a must-have in your diaper bag/baby toiletry arsenal.  The ingredients are wonderful, the smell is heavenly and for us, it works practically overnight!  We’ve tried all the diaper creams and ointments out on the market and for our kid who has extremely sensitive skin, this is THE diaper cream I swear by.  It’s like an all natural magic potion, but yeah, just don’t eat it.

Ingredients:  Prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, zinc oxide, beeswax, lavandula hybrida (lavandin) oil, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, tocopherol, lavendula angustifolia (lavender) oil, anthemis nobilis (chamomile) flower extract, calendula officinalis flower extract, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, canola oil, glycine soja (soybean) oil

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Boogie Wipes Giveaway Winner

I’m happy to announce that #31, Lisa V. is the lucky winner for the Boogie Wipes gift basket giveaway!  Lisa, you should be getting an email from me momentarily.  A special thanks to Boogie Wipes for the fantastic basket and to everyone that entered.  For those that didn’t win, don’t forget to use the coupon code Boogie Time for online orders.

BTW, I had the chance to “test-drive” the new magic menthol Boogie Wipes while nursing my cold this week, and I’m seriously never looking back. From now on, any time I have a cold or stuffy nose, menthol Boogie Wipes is the ONLY way to go.
Boogie-Horizontal-logo-Stuffy

Stay tuned for even more giveaways and a big announcement about my soon-to-be launched website.  The giveaways for the new site are pretty big with names that we all know and love, including Giggle, BornFree and many more!

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Mama Likey + Giveaway: Boogie Wipes

Talk about perfect timing: just in time for yet another snowy day, as well as my first sickness of the season and Jack’s 10th, I have a perfect product review to share.

Over the summer, before chasing a little runny nose all day was a time-consuming activity, Jeff brought home this eye-catching lime green and orange package.
“It’s called Boogie Wipes!” he told me.
As I tucked them into Jack’s toiletry cart, I was convinced they weren’t anything of interest for us. “They look like repackaged regular wipes to me.”

Boogie-Horizontal-logo-Stuffy

Fast forward to this winter. Once the cold settled in, so did Jack’s constant runny nose. At first, I went the green route and used copious amounts of cloth diapers to wipe up his nose. Once I rubbed his nose practically raw, every time he saw a cloth diaper coming his way, he’d scream and run. Then, I went the tissue route. I had even more tears, running, screaming and clean tissues made into confetti (thanks to a defiant runny-nosed toddler.)

Jack loves Boogie WipesAnd that’s when I remembered the Boogie Wipes I tucked away. The packaging, vibrant and colorful, intrigued Jack immediately. Because he was distracted, I was able to open and wipe his nose without a fight. The best thing was, well, besides a painless experience (for both of us), that I only had to wipe once. With the cloth diaper and tissue, I often had to wipe multiple times, increasing the chance of the little raw, red nose. The subsequent nose wipes went just as smoothly as the first time. Perhaps it was the cool packaging, fun smell or the ease of use, whatever it was, the biggest critic was sold—of course, so was I!
So, what sets Boogie Wipes apart from “regular” wipes? Quite a bit, actually.
According to the company, Boogie Wipes is:

Made with natural saline to dissolve Mucus
Hypoallergenic
Alcohol Free
Moisturize with Vitamin E, Aloe and Chamomile
Lightly Scented
Gentle Enough for All Ages
Phthalate & Paraben Free


Like many parents know, the pediatricians and drs at the hospital often suggest using saline to help clean up kids and babies’ noses. So, the saline IN these wipes is so obvious and ingenius. After a night’s sleep, tending to a baby with the morning remnants of a stuffy, runny nose has never been so painless. Seasoned moms and dads know that all of the above are helpful attributes when chasing those runny noses. After many, many wipes of regular tissues, those tiny noses get so red and raw. I found that by alternating Boogie Wipes with regular tissues, the redness was definitely diminished, if not avoided altogether. At any given time, I have a pack in our diaper bag because of the convenience and ease of use. Those green and purple packages are so easy to find in the black hole that’s become our diaper bag.

It’s easy to say, after the first package, I was completely sold. I’m not easily sold by all the products of convenience on the market for kids, but this one most certainly filled a void in the nose wiping department. The grape scent is byfar our favorite, and Santa even had the foresight to tuck a few packs in Jack’s Christmas stocking! Truth be told, with this cold, I’ve been using them too. How can I resist that fun scent?
Santa was generous this year

As I’ve started this freelance journey, understandably, I’ve become extremely interested and invested in mompreneurs. As promised, in line with launching my new website soon, I will be doing more reviews, interviews and profiles, especially with mompreneurs. Since I’ve been “studying” successful moms’ business trajectories, the Boogie Moms’ success in one worth mentioning:
They launched their product in Dec. 2007 and within a year, they shipped to 30,000 locations. Their projected revenue for their first full year in business is $2.9 Million. (!!) Even better, their story was featured on big media outlets like, The Big Idea and The Today Show. Impressive, don’t ya think?

And this is the best part of it all, I contacted the Boogie Moms to tell them how much we adored their product and to let them know that I was going to do a product review. The Boogie Moms were so generous to offer a coupon discount for all of my readers…oh yeah, and a pretty awesome giveaway.
Gift Basket

To enter the giveaway, all of you have to do is visit the Boogie Wipes site and comment what product(s) you think would be YOUR favorite.
For additional entries, sign up to receive my email updates (on the left <—) and/or follow me on Twitter. This contest will end in a week, February 4th at noon. I will pick a random winner for this awesome basket via Random.org.

Good luck!

Boogie Wipes can be found online and at these retail locations. If you order online, use the coupon Boogie Time for 20% off.

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Bear cakes, Bakugan and blowing noses


Happy Birthday Jesus

Originally uploaded by jen_rab

Happy Monday, all. Hope everyone enjoyed a relaxing weekend. The three of us had a nice weekend. We had a chance to see many of our friends at the annual regifting party. We unloaded some tacky gifts and came home with a Bakugan Battle Arena and a really awesome Weird NY book. The obscure gift balanced out the pretty cool book! Though cold, it was fun to have some adult interaction conversation and booze. It definitely helped that we only had to trek a block away.
When we weren’t busy regifting, the three of us were taking turns blowing our noses and chugging cold medicine. Well, Jeff was doing the chugging. I was more like, wincing and threatening to barf. (I used to take shots like it was my job, but I hate liquid medicine!) YUCK. On a good note, the Theraflu Daytime Warming Relief works like a charm.  Mama definitely likey.

I’ve got a long to do list this week. So, I’m hoping this cold has a short stay. It’ll be tough chasing after 2 runny noses and still tackle this list! (More on runny noses later, including a giveaway.)

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Mama Likey: Nature’s Gate Velvet Moisture Body Wash and Liquid Soap

Just in time for the cold weather, we recently started using Nature’s Gate new Velvet Moisture Liquid Soap, as well as the Body Wash.  The company touts this new line with being enriched with seven natural moisture boosters, which include Shea Butter, Sweet Almond Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, Soybean Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Vegetable Glycerin, and Vitamin E.
I currently have the Tea Tree soap in both the kitchen and bathroom, which is a nice change from our trusty Dr. Bronners.  After hand washing dishes, on top of wiping you know who’s booty all day, my hands take a beating.  This soap is, like its name suggests, moisturizing.  We previously tried the Pomegranate scent, which was a bit much for me; however, I’m a big fan of the Tea Tree scent.  This liquid soap definitely does the trick and best of all, it’s natural.
Right now, we have the Aloe Vera Body Wash in the shower.  Again, we normally use Dr. Bronner’s as our body wash, so if you’re familiar with castille soap, it’s not as thick as other soaps.  Nature’s Gate Velvet Body Wash is quite similar in texture to the liquid soap, and is equally, if not more, moisturizing.  I’m one of those people that must lather on lotion immediately after the shower, but after using the Aloe Vera Body Wash, I felt like I could’ve gone without.  I’m a big fan of the Nature’s Gate Velvet Body Wash.

We use many of Nature’s Gates products already, so the new liquid soap and body wash will be welcome additions in our home.  We’re big fans of all of their products, so the fact that the company is socially responsible and extremely eco-friendly are huge selling points for our family too.  The Velvet Moisture soaps come in four different flavors and can be found at stores that sell Nature’s Gate products.

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Diaper duty: the good, bad, and the smelly

It is estimated that a baby uses six to ten diapers each day, which translates to about 2,000 to 3,000 diapers each year. That’s a lot of diaper changes.

When Jack was a newborn, I previously reported that we ran the gamut of various conventional diapers. Thanks to gifts from friends and family, we had the opportunity to try out all the big brands like Huggies, Pampers and Luvs. But unfortunately like many newborns, Jack exhibited the traditional signs of super sensitive skin. After those endless diaper changes throughout the day, I’d notice that his butt was bright red by evening. I knew it wasn’t just a diaper rash; I was convinced it was more. Could it be the long list of chemicals in those conventional brands?

According to the Journal of Pediatrics,

54% of one-month old babies using disposable diapers had rashes, 16% had severe rashes.

I’m neither a scientist or an experienced mom, but in my effort to be both, a hypervigilant parent and educated consumer, I wanted to seek out the alternatives.

According to ecobaby,

the super absorbent chemical in disposable diapers, sodium polyacrylate, absorbs and holds fluids in the diaper.

Wired reported that

Sodium polyacrylate was removed from tampons in 1985 because of its link to toxic shock syndrome, a bacteria-caused illness. But no such connection has been proven for outerwear, including diapers, incontinence products and feminine napkins, which all contain the super-absorbent gel, said Celeste Kuta, an environmental scientist with Procter & Gamble, the leading seller of disposable diapers in the United States.

Grasping the environmental impacts of diapers, even before Jack was born, I was adamant about using eco-friendly diapers– including going the cloth route. Diapers made up 3.4 million tons of waste, or 2.1 percent of U.S. garbage, in landfills according to older stats from the Environmental Protection Agency. Like other new conscientious moms, I wanted to at least attempt to balance environmental impacts with convenience and baby’s comfort.

But given our apartment dwelling scenario, cloth diapering and its requisite frequent laundering would be quite trivial. So, following Jack’s cousin’s lead again, we set out to try out the many alternative diaper brands.

So I decided to post our experience (in installments) with the various brands we’ve tried, including cloth diapering. Since we were welcomed home with a big box from Tendercare last night, I’ll start with those.

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Tendercare Diapers
A few weeks ago, our favorite baby store was out of our usual diapers in Jack’s size, so we decided to pick up a pack of Tendercare diapers. When we visited Jack’s cousin earlier this year, Katarina was wearing Tendercare diapers. I think Karen and Nick told us they were just trying them out.

On initial appearance, the diaper was thinner than the other brands we’ve tried. I liked how it was much softer in texture as well. The Tendercare diapers have the refastenable tabs, which is key for Wiggle Mcwiggleson. I think I have to refasten diapers at least 5 times before I can get it right, since this child flips and wiggles like a fish out of water. More on the refastenable tabs later…

I like how the Tendercare brand uses non-chlorine bleached woodpulp from sustainable, renewable forests. The fit on Jack, however, wasn’t as snug as other diapers. It turned out, he leaked right through the diapers a few times, too. On the otherhand, Jack IS a heavy wetter. Quite honestly, I’d much rather do extra laundry and deal with a few leaks than make him wear diapers filled with chemicals that irritate his skin.

The fact that these diapers are Chlorine Free is quite significant. The presence of dioxins in conventional diapers has been linked to a laundry list of side effects. Eco baby says:

Dioxin, the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is a byproduct of bleaching paper. Even in the smallest detectable quantities, dioxin has been known to cause liver disease, immune system suppression, and genetic damage in lab animals.

Back to the refastenable tabs, the second time we bought a pack of Tendercare diapers, we had the misfortune of picking up a bad batch. Basically, every single diaper in this pack had some sort of problem with the tabs– either the tab was hanging off or it was detached all together. The day after bringing home that pack of diapers, I forgot to replace the bad batch. So when I went to change Jack after dinner, he was sealed shut with packaging tape. Apparently, my mom refused to let the bad diapers go to waste and found the packaging tape (and went to town.)

Yes, Jack was wrapped like a 27-lb. package ready to be delivered– in a bad diaper with faulty tabs, no less.

Since an opened package of diapers can’t be returned, Jeff called the company to tell them about it. After a nice conversation with a lady in customer service, she asked Jeff to send the batch number and they would gladly replace them.

We got the box yesterday, a week after calling. They not only replaced the diapers but they gave us another pack and wipes too. Needless to say, we’re pleased that they promptly rectified the issue and with their stellar customer service.

The company touts other Tendercare features such as,
? Moisture Barrier Cuff
? Refastenable Tabs
? Breathable Sides
? Latex-Free
? Perfume-Free
? TBT-Free
? GMO-Free
? Hypoallergenic Top Sheet
? No Recycled Materials

The large size was $7.99 for 22 diapers, which calculates to about .36/diaper.

Despite the tab issue and the occasional leak, we’ll definitely use these diapers as often as we can. Tendercare diapers can be purchased at Amazon, Diapers.com, Buy Buy Baby, as well as other locations.

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Mama Likey: Baby Mum-Mum

I just wanted to emerge through this ridiculous pile of papers that, sadly, is to blame for my continued absence this week.
Happy Friday, all! It’s supposed to be a scorcher in our area this weekend. It’s not even officially summer yet and we’ll have our ACs on high, for sure. Let’s just hope my flammable husband or the equally combustible heatbox baby both stay cool. I hope everyone else stays cool, where ever you may be!

Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve done a product review, so I thought I’d take the chance to free my mind from my “real” writing and discuss something yummy.
While we were home the other weekend, one of my girlfriends came over to visit with her baby. Jack and Gavin are typically in similar developmental categories. And so, Tanya and I love to share with each other new finds. When Jack wasn’t trying to shake Gavin out of his carrier or pummel him with kissies , he was snatching poor Gav’s snack out of his hand. (Crikey. Sorry, buddy! We’re working on our social skills.)

I noticed the snack was something I’d never really seen before. Its white packaging resembled something I probably would have found at our local Japanese grocery store. It was small, flat and portable, somewhat similar to a shorter version of a fruit roll up package. When Tanya opened the package up for Gavin, it was an interesting snack that looked like a flat, airy half of a Milano Cookie (minus the chocolate) or cracker-like surfboard. “It’s a rice rusk and he loves it.” she told me. She went on to tell me that she found the package at a store we no longer frequent.
damn!

But lo and behold, last weekend, when we went to our neighborhood organic grocery store, I found a green box–vegetable flavor–that looked strikingly similar to Gavin’s snack! sweet!

babymummum

After we picked up diapers, some fruit and cereal, Jack and I started the walk home. Since it was just about time for a mid morning snack, I pulled out the Mum-Mum rice rusks to entertain him for the 20 minute walk. I normally don’t let him eat in his stroller because, well, he likes to make art out of it. But thankfully, it was virtually impossible for him to paint any new masterpieces with his snack because 1) the rick rusk was practically crumb-less and not mushy like other teething biscuits 2) he devoured the rusk in the blink of an eye.

I knew it had to be a good if the snack since it had a mom-friend’s approval. But even better, it has the kids stamp of approval, too!

As I’m trying to foster positive eating habits, in hopes our kid won’t inherit my horrible sweet tooth and snack addiction, I try to stay away from all those big brand, markety snack-pack for babies and kids. {We’ll package this product all pretty and convenient for you and charge double or triple than what you can get on another aisle.} For the most part, I consider it consumer brainwash. I have a hard time paying extra for convenience when in most cases, that convenience is the antithesis of being green. So, I tend to pack a banana (best snack ever since it has it’s OWN natural packaging!) or whatever frozen fruit we have onhand.

Back to the Mum Mum rice rusk. The company originates from Taiwan and has permeated to other asian countries. Their presence in the U.S. and Canada seems fairly new, but I think they’ll do well against the big name baby brands–especially at the inexpensive price tag. A box of Baby Mum-Mum rice rusk runs about $2, and that’s here in northern NJ. Like I mentioned before, we bought ours from our local organic store, but I also saw them at a gourmet grocery store and at Whole Foods for about the same price.

The ingredient list is as follows: Japonica Rice, Sugar, Skim Milk Powder, Salt

the company touts the mum-mums as

  • dissolving easily
  • no artificial colors or vlavors
  • no preservatives
  • wheat, egg and peanut free
  • cholesterol free
  • baked, low in fat & no trans fat
  • no added fats or oils

The downside, to me, is the excess packaging. Two rice rusks are paired and packaged as individual snacks. As convenient as it is, I could do without the individual packaging. Other than that, the mum-mums don’t offer much sustenance. But from experience, I can tell you, they’re great as a time-killing distraction for a bored baby or a great way to keep them occupied until meal time. Considering these are the only snack that Jack can feed himself without destroying his clothes in the process, I consider them a mainstay in our diaper bag.
They also offer Toddler Mum-Mum, SuperSlim Brown Rice Crisps, SuperSlim Rice Crisps and Rice Crisps.

Like I playfully chant to Jack, “yum yum for the bum bum.”

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Mama Likey: HappyBellies = Happy Belly

Minus some excessive clingyness last night, we had a productive and enjoyable spring weekend. Jack was happy to be out and about while we ran our usual errands and picked up various babyproofing and baby food accoutrements.

With the little happy face in mind, I wanted to mention HappyBellies, the latest Mama Likey, or should I say, Jacky Likey product in our house.

HappyBelliesRight at the 5 month mark, I mentioned that we started to introduce rice cereal. Because of the severe food and environmental allergies that run in my family, I did even more obsessive research to thwart the same destiny upon our kid. Since his eating habits began with me, we made the choice to go as organic as possible leading up to his introduction of solids.

Even before we began to Green our family, Jeff and I knew we wanted to make our own baby food. But at the same time, I’m not opposed to the commercially packaged stuff, either. Before I did my research on the homemade stuff and was introduced to Super Baby Food by a friend (thanks, Brett!), I went to pick up baby rice cereal. There were various choices, but none that really stood out to me. I think I was at Target and noticed that my store only had 2 brand choices for rice cereal– one was conventional, the other organic. I picked up the mainstream organic brand and considered myself good to go. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, I thought. It’s just freaking cereal.

When I went home to do research and follow up on the brand, I was a bit mystified to see this report and this one too . Obviously, the recalls occurred in the past. But still, they occurred. A lot of times these recalls are voluntary, but to me, still a bit bothersome.

While I was somewhat ok with starting out with the one brand I’d chosen, I felt like there had to be something else I could try.

With the many resources around us, I was convinced that there had to be an alternative. Enter HappyBellies by Happy Baby.
I first saw the HappyBellies cereal as one of my recommended purchases on Amazon. Pretty green canister, happy babies on the label… it looks good. So, when I saw it in person at the Whole Foods in the City last month, I was elated. You’d think I was the one who would be eating it! I picked up the brown rice cereal and heeded our pediatrician’s advice and prepared a small serving mixed with breastmilk.

To start, I made it a little more watery since we were introducing an entirely new texture.

Even before I could finish stirring cereal, Jack had his mouth wide open. The entire process went well, aside from my inability to keep up with his voracious appetite. Brown rice cereal was a hit and a great precursor to our adventures in solid foods.

Happy Bellies made this baby’s belly very happy.

ghblogo.gifSo what makes Happy Bellies different? Well to start, it’s organic and includes probiotics. They are, as they state, the only organic immunity boosting probiotic dry cereals on the market.

Pro-who?

Probiotics. The “good bacteria.”
Probiotics are small molecules that help maintain the natural balance of organisms, also referred to as microflora, in the intestines.
According to Happy Baby,

Probiotics are “friendly bacteria” that live in our intestines and help the immune system by discouraging the growth of harmful disease-causing bacteria.

What’s the benefit?
The immune system boost provided by probiotics can actually prevent health problems and treat a variety of ailments. Strains of these healthy bacteria have been shown to:

1. Reduce colic in infants
2. Prevent eczema and allergies–> this is a big one for us, considering our family history
3. Reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome–> and uh, this one too.
4. Help manage lactose intolerance
5. Promote bowel regularity, and
6. Prevent infections in the intestines and elsewhere in the body including bronchitis and pneumonia.

In addition, it’s reassuring to know that a revered pediatrician worked with the Happy Baby team to develop healthy meals.

Dr. Sears says,

Happy Bellies cereals easily and conveniently provide the necessary probiotics to achieve solid early development.

Happy Baby also offers frozen organic food, too. And more recently, they introduced HappyBites and Secret Sauce

We haven’t tried it yet, but in theory, their frozen organic food is reminiscent to the homemade baby food cubes popularized by the Super Baby Food phenomenon. It’s a great model (and one that I plan to follow.)

cerealBut for those moms who don’t have the desire or time to make their own organic food, Happy Baby provides a great alternative.

Having enjoyed the brown rice cereal and the oatmeal, Jack gives his (open mouth) stamp of approval.

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