~ Primo Infant Bath Seat: Okay, yeah, it's plastic, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a bath product that isn't. At least this one is small, simple, functional, and a great hand-me-down! It fits perfectly in our sink. It fits perfectly UNDER our sink. Works just as well in the tub. I love it, Jem loves it. I do lay a towel down over it to make it more comfy. Not a huge fan of the piece that sticks up into the crotch area, but Jem doesn't seem to mind it at all! If you have a good sized kitchen sink (that can be cleared of dishes fairly easily), don't waste any money on expensive baby bath tubs that you can't store anywhere. This is all you need! Search for it on Amazon, the reviews are all glowing (except for those from a few unfortunate people with tiny sinks).
~ Merry Muscles Jumper: Yeah, it's expensive and so's the shipping (it ships from Canada), but it's awesome. First of all, you can use it starting at about 2 months, provided baby can lift his/her head. This is 2 months sooner than any plastic jumper. Of course I debated about buying one till Jem was 4 months so we lost out on that feature, but he was so strong he totally could have. It's the only jumper on the market designed to be ergonomic (they sell a larger version for special needs children to help with Physical Therapy). It contains very little plastic (mostly heavy duty fabric with steel parts and a bungee cord). It's lightweight and compact (comes in a cardboard box about the width/height of an LP cover and not much thicker...minimal packaging is always a plus). If you get an extra hook (or "Kling Klamp," if you need to attach it to a door frame), you can just install that at Grandma's and easily transport the jumper back and forth with you, rather than get two big, plastic jumpers that you're constantly tripping over. Stick it on a shelf in the closet when you're not using it. Cons: like I said, it's expensive! Also, not nearly as easy to get baby in and out of as your traditional plastic jumper. There are no toys, bells or whistles (though it's easy enough attaching link toys and watching baby try to "catch" them!) But overall, the pros far outweigh the cons! We love it, and so did Jem (now he prefers cruising on the furniture... but he can use it till around age 2, so maybe he'll want it again at some point!) Search for videos on YouTube of babies in the Merry Muscles jumper. So sweet!
~ Fisher Price Rock 'n Play Sleeper: Also contains some plastic (they say you can't stick the plastic part in the washing machine, but I did anyway in our top-loader and it worked fine... just don't try putting it in the dryer), but it was the only baby bed on the market that tilted upward to reduce reflux and the risk of SIDS. Firm but padded and comfy. Be sure to start using the buckle as soon as baby starts rolling over! I loved that sometimes Jem would start to wake up, and the gentle rocking he created just by moving his arms or his head would lull him back to sleep. Not always, but, you know, sometimes. When he wasn't really hungry. :-) We've retired this, as he is now in a crib, but this was so great to use instead of a bassinet to have him at arm's reach. It also folds and is very lightweight and easy to pack in the trunk for trips to Grandma's (or anywhere else). But sturdy! Note that this is in no way an eco-friendly product. So keep that in mind. Maybe get one used?
~ The Miracle Blanket: at first Jem was a bit too small for it (crept up over his face a bit), but after about a month or so it became a godsend during the worst of his colicky phase. Also, after my anti-PVC packaging email spree to baby product manufacturers, The Miracle Blanket people sent me a very nice note to assure me their packaging is regularly tested and is PVC-free, phthalate-free and lead-free. Apparently they initially wanted to use cardboard packaging but it kept getting crushed during shipment from the factories. They weren't able to answer my question about what they do use to soften the plastic, but I give them points for taking my concerns seriously. And you can at least feel a little better knowing that the worst of the potential additives aren't present in this product.
~ Pura Kiki Stainless Steel bottles: We switched from Born Free Glass (since we discovered chipping on one of them that rendered it useless). Can be used with Avent, Born Free and Think Baby wide nipples, and probably any other wide nipple. The flow of the nipple it comes with is a bit fast for a newborn, and I'm not sure if they sell a slower one. Even now we use the Born Free nipples with these for a slower flow. The only other "flaw" is a curled lip at the bottom of the nipple ring that collects a tiny bit of water while you warm it up (probably not a problem if you're using a bottle warmer instead of warm water). My husband thought the bottle was leaking on his hand but it was just this little bit of water. Otherwise we haven't had any problems, they don't leak and are durable and come in bright, pretty colors. Easy to clean too (just make sure you dry that little lip well). They're expensive (about $40 for a 3-pack of 5 oz. bottles) but worth it!
~ Silicone pocket bib: I swear this was actually my idea back when I was nannying, and someone beat me to the patent office (more power to them, if it had been left up to me it would have stayed an idea forever, I'm not terribly motivated about such things). We have the Summer Infant Bibbity, which is actually made of TPE (mix of plastic and rubber). I put it on the registry thinking it was silicone, and if I had it to do over I probably would have gone with one of the Ulubulu Silly Bibs (100% natural silicone). But the Bibbity does work great and is cheaper. Just not as green!
~ Sophie the Giraffe: For a teething toy, she's ridiculously expensive, but now we know why. She's awesome. I call her "Jem's girlfriend" because he's constantly sucking her face and nibbling her ears. She's 100% natural rubber, and although the squeaking was annoying at first, now that Jem's at an age where he gets excited about toys that make noise it's worth it. Important note: She's basically a dog chew toy with baby-friendly appendages, so if you have a dog be forewarned!
~ Uncle Goose Wooden building blocks: The best blocks around, made in the USA with very safe, non-toxic paints and very durable: so far no teething marks, and Jem sure has tried! He loves knocking these down!
~ Wonderworld Stacking Rings: "Made from environmentally friendly rubberwood, non-toxic water based paints as well as biodegradable fabrics" (from Amazon.com). Oh, and I believe they're a fair trade product, or close to it. Bright, colorful, tactile... one of Jem's favorites!
~ Evenflo "Cozy" glass bottles with silicone sleeve: We mostly just use these for storage. It's the sleeve I really love. Easy to take on and off, and makes freezer storage much safer (imagine dropping one of those babies without one?) Cons: Not the best bottle for feeding (babies seem to generally prefer something wider, especially if they're usually breast fed. Pouring the milk out of these is sometimes a pain if you're only trying to pour out an ounce or two... spillage can occur. Update: they seem to have started making the sleeves out of some kind of plastic. Bummer. Well, as an alternative, Born Free does make a silicone sleeve for their glass bottles, as well as a pump-to-bottle attachment! Much more expensive though.
~ Breathable Bumper: I've used it before and I admit I love it. Reduces suffocation risk while still keeping little limbs out of the space between crib slats (poor Jem had a couple of rough naps before we put this on). Easily washable and doesn't rip easily, so if you can find one used you can avoid the dreaded vinyl packaging and just throw it in the laundry!
~ Bumbo Baby Seat: We got ours on Freecycle, and have every intention of paying it forward, so I have no guilt on this one. Never caused any spinal issues for Jem. My nieces also had 'em and their spines are also fine, thank you very much! Of course, the Bumbo MUST be used only on the floor, preferably a carpeted or padded one, since eventually babies will learn to wiggle out of it. This is just a great place to sit baby while you're in the room doing other things. Not a place to leave baby and walk away.
~ Fisher Price Papasan Cradle Swing: Um, yes, lots and lots of plastic. I would not recommend this as an eco-friendly product in any way, shape or form, as we put this on our registry before we got really serious about going green. But for almost two months it was Jem's favorite place to be in the world, and helped him get to sleep during some really rough spots. Then he decided he didn't want it anymore. But that's our finicky baby! Now they've apparently made it even better (swivels in all three directions, not just two). Of course any baby swing might've worked just as well. Who knows? This one was a gift from Grandpa, and we liked it. Folds to be somewhat compact, if storage space is an issue. Again, getting one used would be my recommendation! Once we're done having kids, ours will be up for grabs! :-)
~ The Da Vinci Emily White Convertible crib: It's gotten mixed reviews because it's made of pine, a soft wood which nicks easily. But that's what I ordered rail guards for! It's very sturdy and pretty, I love that it converts to a toddler bed, and it's gotten excellent safety ratings.
~ Fleece crib rail guards: I ordered ours from BabiesRUs, unaware (though I should've been) that they were packaged in PVC (and this packaging was particularly potent). The waterproofing on them is polyurethane, which is safe for babies but, well, it is still plastic. I love how they look and I know they will save the wood on the crib once Jem stands up and starts biting the rails. I would, however, recommend either making them yourself or buying them handmade on Etsy. I don't really think the waterproofing is entirely necessary...
Things I could've loved, but...
~ South Shore White Cotton Candy changing table/dresser: I love the style. I mean, I LOVE the style. So convenient in every way, and I love that the top part can be removed as baby grows up and outgrows the changing table. But I didn't know the awful truth about particle-board and formaldehyde until just after we bought it. We debated sending it back, but ended up buying an eco-friendly sealant instead, which (hopefully) is keeping it from off-gassing. If this was made of real wood, I would be in love. But I sadly now have mixed feelings about it. It's also apparently very difficult to put together, and some parts were broken/missing when we got it (though they were replaced for free without having to send anything back). Luckily, my husband loves a project.