Getting Started with Organic Baby
Having a baby is an exciting time, especially if it’s your first child. You want everything to be just right, and you want a healthy baby. Many people start going “organic” when they have their first child. But do you know kind of organic products are available for babies and children? Take a trip to your local big-box discount store now, before your baby arrives, to see what’s available. Natural baby products to look for include organic baby formula and food, eco-friendly diapers, natural baby wipes and baby skin care products, as well as non-toxic cleaning products and laundry supplies.
You’ll want to know where to find everything when you’re buying it regularly. Once the baby arrives, you’ll be busy and have other things on your mind.
First Step: Learn to Read Labels on Baby Products
There’s a myriad of baby products available at nearly every grocery, department and discount store in the US. Many claim to be “natural,” “green,” or “healthy,” or just give the impression that it’s good for your baby. If you’re not reading labels, you should be. It takes more than a green leaf on a label to be eco-friendly and healthy.
There could be something lurking in a box of baby wipes that may irritate your baby’s skin, or an ingredient in formula or food that could make him or her sick. It’s important to understand exactly what the food and baby care products are made of -- not only to check if they are natural, but also to know what might cause an adverse reaction.
The vast selection of baby products available may be overwhelming the first time you shop for them. Like the things you buy for yourself, read labels carefully and observe. If you don’t know what something is, do an online search on your phone, or take a picture of it and research it when you can.
Watch Out for Ingredients That Aren't Healthy for Babies
You may see brightly colored water bottles “with vitamins” that look like something healthy to give your child regularly. After all, they contain Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12. But that “fruit punch” flavoring is tinted with Red #40 and Blue #1, and includes high fructose corn syrup and sucralose for sweetness. Add potassium sorbate, potassium benzoate (common in soft drinks) and calcium disodium EDTA for preservatives, and it’s a “baby soft drink” with a cute name. Learn what these ingredients are and know which ones to avoid.
With respect to reading baby formula labels, there are many familiar name-brand formulas that have been around a long time; and your own mother may have even used them. But many aren’t as healthy as they’re made out to be, even if they’re organic. They may contain high levels of processed sugar, other fillers, or some form of soy. This is why reading a label is so important when it comes to feeding your baby.
When you buy a formula based on cow’s or goat’s milk, you may not expect it to have soy in it, but many of them do. Soy is a common allergen, and is a known hormone disruptor. Soy-based formulas are also available and are clearly marked. Soy-based formulas are intended to supplement breast milk, or in limited cases, replace it if a baby can’t tolerate dairy. You should NEVER give a baby regular soy milk or other plant-based milks as a substitute for formula or breast milk. Soy, almond, coconut and other non-dairy milks do not contain the proper amount of nutrients for a baby to grow and thrive, and can lead to severe malnourishment. Goat milk is a safe alternative to cow’s milk and soy-based formulas.
Best Organic Baby Formulas
There are a multitude of different baby formulas available for baby's first year. While breastfeeding is always the best option, sometimes you may need a little help (or breastfeeding may be impossible.) What do you do when faced with multiple options of baby formula? Here are a few to consider.
- Earth’s Best Organics is a company that has produced food and milk for babies and toddlers since 1985 while utilizing sustainable farming practices. They have an entire line of certified organic baby formulas including a soy-based formula for babies who can’t tolerate dairy, as well as a line of healthy baby and toddler foods (including frozen.)
- HappyTot’s Organic powdered formulas are “modeled after breast milk,” from organic farm cows. Their formulas are gluten free, with no GMO ingredients or corn syrup. They come in two stages: one, for newborn babies through 12 months, and two, from 6 to 12 months. The HappyFamily company also makes a complete line of foods for babies toddlers, and lactation support snacks for nursing mothers. Started in 2003 by Shari Visram to help mothers looking for healthier choices for their children, HappyFamily makes solid, age-appropriate organic nutrition available to mothers all over the US.
- The Honest Company Organic Infant Formula is created to be like breast milk, from organic cows without corn syrup solids, GMO ingredients or growth hormones. It’s gentle on a baby’s stomach, can supplement or replace breast milk as needed, and is USDA Certified Organic. It comes in premium and sensitive formulas (for occasional gassiness.) Honest formulas offer complete nutrition without added DHA/ARA, gluten, GMOs*, carrageenan, milk from cows treated with rbST or sucrose (but does contain organic soy oil.)
- Holle’s Goat Milk Baby Formulas are created from organic and/or biodynamic farms that meet or exceed EU organic standards. If your baby is intolerant to cow’s milk, goat’s milk is the next best thing to supplement breast formula. Available online in the US from Beyond Organic Baby, Holle’s baby formulas are 99% organic, and contain no fluoride, sugar, color, gluten, wheat, preservatives or brown rice syrup. No pesticides or chemicals are used to grow the raw ingredients, and farms use sustainable, humane practices.
Best Natural and Organic Baby Care Products
There is a wider range of natural baby products than ever before. Diapers, wipes, lotions, shampoo, powder, toothpaste - which ones do you chose? Which ones are healthier and safer for your baby and the environment?
Lets’ face it—dealing with a baby diaper is no fun, and you just want to be done with it. But cloth diapers can be a lot of trouble for busy families, and disposables aren’t usually biodegradable. Today, there are multiple eco-friendly options that are safer for your baby than ever before, and many are widely available. Why? Because many of these companies were started by parents looking for healthier, more eco-friendly choices (like actress Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company.)
- California Baby— Made in Los Angeles in a solar-powered certified organic factory, these products help you take care of your baby all day long. From washes and creams to diapers and more, their organic plant-based formulas for babies, kids and adults are safe and free from toxic chemicals. Many contain calendula, which the company grows for its own use on their organic farm.
- Babyganics— A company that offers baby products that work, and you can feel good about using. They text every product extensively so that you can use them with confidence, knowing that your baby is safe at home from the usual chemical exposures. From cleaning products and laundry supplies to baby care essentials and plant-based, chlorine-free diapers that fit, Babyganics has the eco-friendly supplies you need for your baby.
- Baby Bum— Don’t forget sunscreen! Baby Bum offers a line of plant-based baby care products, including shampoo/wash and lotions. They also have SPF 50 sunscreen products to keep baby safe from extra time in the sun.
- Seventh Generation— Along with eco-friendly cleaning and recycled paper products, Seventh Generation carries a full line of Free & Clear diapers and baby wipes. The hypoallergenic wipes are free from synthetic fragrances and won’t irritate skin. The diapers have an unbleached cotton core that’s more absorbent, leak-resistant and free from chlorine, fragrances and lotions. The diapers are made from materials responsibly and sustainably sourced to protect animal habitats.
- Honest Company— In addition to organic formula, Honest offers diapers and training pants to keep your baby dry. The line includes wipes and diaper care formulas to keep your baby clean and rash-free, made from hypoallergenic, plant-based materials.
- Oilogic Essential Oils— These blended oil formulas that are as easy to use as a cotton swab, safe for human use and free of the usual toxic chemicals. This Texas-based company offers several aromatherapy formulas in a roll-on bottle, as well as baby washes, Epsom salts for baths and creams, all with a combination of infused essential oils for sleeping, soothing, tummy troubles and cold/coughs.
- Burt’s Bees Baby— A complete line of baby wash, diaper rash creams, chlorine-free wipes with aloe, shampoos and lotions that comprise the Mama & Baby These products are made without SLS, parabens, petroleum or other harsh chemicals. Check out Burt’s Bees Baby entire website that includes organic cotton clothes, pajamas and bedding that is made from GOTS certified organic fibers.
Baby products have come a long way since they were first introduced to the U.S. in 1948. With more and more parents opting for safer, healthier and eco-friendly things for their baby, they are now more readily available.
Get familiar with the “green” baby brands and the types of natural baby products you want to use. Find them, source them, and start buying and using them. You'll feel good knowing that you're using safe, healthy, and eco-friendly products for your baby.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, Republic of Green will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Amy O’Donnell is a blogger and copwywriter. She lives in rural Louisiana with her partner, two dogs and a cat, but considers herself a Texan after 18 years in Houston. Amy writes for a number of different genres, including health, technology and legal. You can find her on Upwork for writing assignments or visit her personal foodie blog over at HeatCageKitchen, where she writes about new trends in food, health, kitchen and occasionally annoying her partner.