Making healthy babies and keeping them healthy, happy … and safe.

Archive for the ‘outdoors’ Category

Safer lawns and gardens

Posted by NonToxic House on July 1, 2008









Don’t wait until your kids are rolling in the grass or digging in your tomato beds to rethink your lawn and garden strategy. In fact, research suggests that it’s something to consider before the little ones even come along.

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Edible schoolyards aim to reduce obesity

Posted by NonToxic House on May 29, 2008

TreeHugger reported on a concept garden at the Chelsea Flower Show that shows how a school can create a small kitchen garden for kids. It’s prime time for such an idea to take stronger hold, I say, with childhood obesity rates where they are.

The show garden is modeled after The Edible Schoolyard, a really neat not-for-profit piloted by influential chef Alice Waters at a public school in Berkeley (where else?). Designed to help kids make better food choices, the program runs a one-acre garden where children learn to plant, grow, harvest and prepare fresh vegetables and other foods; they shape the beds, amend the soil, turn compost and even make their own school lunches. Since it launched in 1995, the Edible Schoolyard concept has spread around the globe. There’s even some research to indicate that kids are indeed improving their nutritional outlooks through such programs.

I love this idea! It empowers kids and encourages them to be healthier by educating them about the entire cycle of food production, from “field” to “fork”.

Try the National Gardening Association for an informal database of school gardens, and check out the group’s ideas on gardening projects you can take on with your kids. 

Could The Edible Schoolyard work in your community?

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Spring allergies? Don’t fight them, flush them …

Posted by NonToxic House on May 14, 2008

Spring allergy season is beginning to hit, and it can make outdoor playtime a real bear. But did you know there is a good, natural alternative to allergy medicines? 

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Found! Proven plant-based mosquito repellant

Posted by NonToxic House on May 11, 2008

Our April showers are bringing lots more than May flowers. Mosquitoes are starting to crop up. And while there are lots of homegrown strategies for natural mosquito repellants – everything from citronella to Avon’s Baby So Soft Bath Oil – there’s only one plant-based alternative that is actually approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection … Read the rest of this entry »

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Are flip-flops keeping your preschooler indoors?

Posted by NonToxic House on May 5, 2008

Researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center have identified some surprising reasons why kids in child-care centers may not be spending enough time outdoors.


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Saws and sticks and other kindergarten tools

Posted by NonToxic House on April 14, 2008

Kindergarteners going outdoors

Today’s Wall Street Journal had a story about Germany’s Waldkindergartens (“forest kindergartens”) where children spend their days out in forests … year round. Among the nature-based activities? How to handle a real saw.

The Journal says:

“The schools are a throwback to Friedrich Fröbel, the German educator who opened the world’s first kindergarten, or ‘children’s garden,’ more than 150 years ago. Mr. Fröbel counseled that young children should play in nature, cordoned off from too many numbers and letters.”

Imagine what Frobel would think about “too many numbers and letters” in our Internet age.

Aside from a couple of scrapes and bruises (and a higher risk for tick bites), there are references to research studies that indicate these “forest mice” are less aggressive and appear to get sick less often in the fresh-air settings.

I must say, the concept is refreshing amidst the headlines about childhood obesity. It reminds me a great deal of the book Last Child in the Woods, whose premise is that kids are so connected to video games and the Internet that they’ve lost their connection to the natural world.

What do you think? Does traditional kindergarten provide an advantage? Would you enroll your tot in a forest kindergarten? 

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Please don’t eat the daffodils … or other poisonous plants.

Posted by NonToxic House on April 11, 2008

A tip for these early days of spring: daffodils (botanic name Narcissus) are powerfully emetic. Translation? They’re poisonous. And they’ll give your kid a bad case of the pukes, perhaps worse, if they’re eaten. It’s an attribute that gives the story of Narcissus of Greek mythology a little kick: He was a hero known for his beauty and, also, for spurning the love of the nymph Echo. When he saw the reflection of his own face in a stream, though, he fell in love and remained and died in that spot, where the flower Narcisuss was said to later have sprouted.

Not every poisonous plant has such an epic story, but there are many common plants – including houseplants – that are poisonous to kids if they’re ingested. Here’s a quick rundown of some to warn your wee ones about:

[left to right] Azalea, Foxglove, Philodendron, Amaryllis, Hydrangea, Peace Lily, Juniper, Calladium, Lily of the Valley, Iris, Gladiola, Cyclamen:



A whole list of indoor and outdoor plants to be cautious about can be found at Safe Kids USA.


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