Four and half months into new parenthood, one thing is clear: Little people attract lots of stuff. My attempts at minimal motherhood — while pregnant I imagined a nursery with stark white bookshelves holding only the most treasured toy or book — while admirable, have been fruitless. Grandparents are trained to shower their offspring’s offspring with the latest in cutesy onesies, activity mats and picture-heavy board books. Aunts and uncles show their appreciation with mobiles, hooded towels and lullaby CDs. And friends inundate your wee one with ironic baby T-shirts, bottles of bubble bath and fluffy stuffed animals.
It’s useless to fight the influx of gifts. The best you can do is: 1) accept that human beings — at least those in capitalist societies — have an uncontrollable need to honor a new life with things and 2) try to point them in the direction of items that you actually want. For me, this means toys, clothes, lotions and potions that are safe when applied to my baby’s skin or shoved in his mouth (these days, anything he can grab is instantly covered in a sheen of drool). Luckily, contemporary organic and nontoxic clothes, bedding, toys and personal care products are cooler than ever and incredibly easy to find. No need to hunt for that quirky children’s store that sells one or two bulky wooden toys; you can find hip, modern and safe baby gear online and sit back and relax as it’s delivered to your door. Here’s what’s exciting baby and me these days:
He may be on a milk-only diet, but I believe that it’s never too early to show him how to eat right. Under the Nile’s stuffed fruit tote makes it easy by introducing baby to the shapes and colors of a banana, pear, watermelon and grapes. Each fruit is made of 100-percent organic Egyptian cotton and can be easily transported in the accompanying striped basket. underthenile.com
I can’t get enough of the clean, simple design of Plan Toys and my baby seems to dig it, too. The company uses eco-friendly wood, nonformaldehyde glue and water-based dyes — containing no heavy metals like lead or mercury — to create eye-catching rattles, rings, rollers, and push toys for infants — and be sure to check out their building toys for older kids. plantoys.com
When it comes to healthy clothes for baby, organic cotton is king, but it’s no longer necessary to sacrifice safety for style. I would happily dress my little guy in every one of Speesees’ bold, bright designs, but the jumpers are particularly irresistible. There is nothing like a baby in a ’70s-inspired one-piece, especially when it’s made from 100-percent organic cotton. Look for jumpsuits in purple, orange, brown, turquoise and white with hand-drawn graphics. speesees.com
Another master of contemporary organic-cotton baby clothing is Kate Quinn Organics. While it would have been more than OK to design an average organic-cotton onesie, Kate Quinn refused to go the expected route, instead creating innovative bodysuits — look for puff-sleeve, vintage-collar and kimono versions — for the superstylish modern baby. Quinn covers outerwear, too — my winter baby got through the frosty season in the designer’s organic sherpa baby bunting (a gift that was spot-on). katequinnorganics.com
And as adults continue to have access to a wide variety of luscious, all-natural bath and body products, babies are also benefiting from nontoxic diaper rash creams, lotions, soaps and shampoos. Weleda makes some of the best with its calendula line (calendula is extremely soothing to the skin) of diaper rash ointment, lotion, oil and soap.
Marisa Belger is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience covering health and wellness. She was a founding editor of Lime.com, a multiplatform media company specializing in health, wellness and sustainable living. Marisa also collaborated with Josh Dorfman on “The Lazy Environmentalist” (Stewart, Tabori, and Chang), a comprehensive guide to easy, stylish green living.
Please note: Neither Marisa Belger nor TODAYshow.com has been compensated by the manufacturers or their representatives for her comments or selection of products reviewed in this column.