A Greener Mama Part 4: Bathing, Tooth Brushing and Butt Wiping!

This is part four in my series this week on becoming a ‘greener’ mama.   Today’s topic is a little lighter than yesterdays–bathing, teeth brushing and butt wiping!  Woot woot!

Bathing

So what’s the big deal with bathing?  Well…lots.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not very “green” when it comes to this subject!  When I decided a year ago to start being more eco-conscious I decided that I would make a change if it:  a) wasn’t too painful for the family as a whole, and b) it didn’t cost us more money.  Most changes that I have made have actually saved us money (decreasing paper towels to next to none, decreasing cleaning supplies by using vinegar, baking soda and salt when possible, etc).  This is one topic where I have not been able to find a way to actually save money by going organic.

The big talk now in green circles is about parabens and their presence in a LOT of cosmetics and skin care products.  While scientists state that the amounts are miniscule and not a harm to humans parabens have been found in breast tumors and the common thought is that parabens in deodorant have leaked through women’s skin and into their breast tissue.

While I am not convinced that soap and deodorant cause cancer I am more aware of products now and what is in them.  If I find organic products at a good price I will purchase them.  I love Burt’s Bees products and while I would love to use them exclusively I just can’t afford to!  With both my kids I used Johnson and Johnson or whatever generic product was available or on sale at the time.  Even now we tend to use whatever I can find cheap or free with coupons.  I’d love to learn to make my own soaps and lotions and maybe I will pursue this in the future.

For now though, as anti-green as it may be, we’re sticking with cheap soap and shampoo for the whole family.

And as far as how we bath our kids–it’s always been just a standard old plastic bathtub for them.  But have you seen these Washpods?  I just don’t get it!

Teeth Brushing

So here is the thing about toothpaste.

First of all, it contains sodium lauryl sulfate.  This is an ingredient that makes it foam and is also found in shampoo and other skin care and body cleansers as well as car washing agents (because it dissolves grease) and bubble bath (because it makes the bubbles!).  Though it has not been proven to be a carcinogen it has been linked to skin hypersensitivity, breakouts and canker sores in the mouth.  (My former dentist advised me to use a non-foaming toothpaste due to my chronic canker sores and a commenter on my blog told me a year ago that it was probably the cause of my breakouts around my mouth.  I switched to Tom’s toothpaste and it helped both problems).

Toothpaste also contains fluoride.  Now I know what you are thinking.  Fluoride can’t be that bad because it’s in our water and the dentist recommends it.  My thoughts too until I did a little research.  I found out that fluoride not only was used in concentration camps to sterilize women but it is also a component of rat poison. Our bodies can not digest fluoride without a lot of extra work from our kidneys.  That is why the back of a tube of toothpaste will tell you that it is harmful if swallowed and that kids under the age of 6 should not use it because of the risk of them swallowing it.

This is an interesting article as well as this one.   Every single article I read mentioned bone weakening and arthritis as side effects of over exposure to fluoride.

So here is my confession of the day.  My daughters went to the dentist on Tuesday.  And I let them put fluoride varnish on their teeth.  I had second thoughts about it immediately that were only confirmed by Madalyn screaming and crying for the next hour about the crap on her teeth.  The hygienist told me that we should leave it on the rest of the day until the next morning.  After I left, I read the teaching sheets they had given me and one of them mentioned the dangers of letting children under 6 use toothpaste with fluoride in it.  Okay . . . so why did you just paint my child’s teeth with it and then tell me to keep it on them so she can swallow that junk all night long?  I brushed Madalyn’s teeth the first chance I got.  Next visit there I am refusing the fluoride.  They can call me a bad mom if they want to but something just doesn’t add up to me.  That and the fact that I’m not putting up with Madalyn screaming for an hour after her appointment again!

I try to use natural toothpaste when I can–I actually like Tom’s because it doesn’t foam up and tastes okay.  The kids use a kids toothpaste that does not contain fluoride and I am going to switch them to Tom’s soon too.  I’ll confess though that I get a lot of regular toothpaste free or next to free with coupons and a lot of times we use that for ourselves (but I never let the kids use it!).  You supposedly can also use Dr. Bronner’s castile soap for toothpaste but I have some that I clean with and I can’t imagine brushing my teeth with it.  Although it is very pepperminty!  Maybe I’ll try it in the morning and let you know how it goes!

Oh–and here is a little tidbit I learned from our awesome dentist.  I asked if heredity has anything to do with teeth and he said absolutely.  He said the number one indicator of if children will develop cavities or not is if mom has them!  I have always had a problem with cavities since I was very little.  I still have a problem with cavities and I’m sure I floss more than the average person.  My hubby on the other hand NEVER flosses and has never had a single cavity in his life.  Poor Annagrace had three this time!

Butt wiping

I love that photo.  Cute little baby butt!

Baby wipes in general are not too harmful to your babies nether regions.  There are some wipes however that have a warning on them about keeping them out of the reach of babies.  Seriously–they are for use on babies but you are suppose to keep babies away from them.  I found this out when my youngest daughter started preschool because the teachers were not allowed to accept wipes that had that warning on them!  Crazy.

If you want to read a whole review about what is safe and what is not you can find it here.

So with Annagrace we used all store bought wipes.  Whatever was cheap was what we used.  With Madalyn I started making my own baby wipes.  This was a heck of a lot cheaper and they always turned out softer than the store bought wipes.  It is really easy to make your own.  Even my hubby would make them and I think he secretly enjoyed it!  I would tell you the process but you can google it and find all kinds of recipes and advice including pictures of the process.  (My biggest tip is to use Bounty select-a-size all white papertowels.  They are the softest and seemed to hold up and work the best for us.)  I used a recipe that involved 2 tablespoons of baby oil, 2 tablespoons of baby shampoo and 2 tablespoons of baby lotion.  I have found a few other recipes that use olive oil, tea tree oil and other essential oils and I am going to try some of these different recipes this time around!

With our new little bundle of joy I am going to do a combination of things.  While we will continue to make homemade wipes to save money I plan to use reuseable wipes as well.  I figure if I’m washing dirty cloth diapers then what does it matter if I throw in some wipes as well?  I found some cheap receiving blankets at the thrift store and I am going to repurpose them into wipes and washcloths.  I will use them primarily when we are at home and when we are out and about I’ll bring some homemade wipes along.  I love the fact that I (or Aaron) won’t have to get phone calls at 4:45 pm saying, “we need baby wipes!”  I used to HATE getting those calls on my way home!  If it wasn’t wipes it was diapers so now we won’t have to worry about either one!  We’ll always have a supply and if we run out then they are only a wash cycle away.

Long post today…sorry!  If you have bared with me through all of this then tell me what you think!

Do you use organic products?  Do you let the dentist use fluoride on your kids’ teeth?  How about baby wipes–have you ever considered using reusable wipes?

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8 Responses to “A Greener Mama Part 4: Bathing, Tooth Brushing and Butt Wiping!”


  1. 1 Lindsey July 30, 2009 at 8:49 am

    I used to get the kids toothpaste (without flouride) for Silas. One day, though, I saw the Tom’s for kids on sale and thought we’d give it a try. It’s strawberry flavored and all natural. Silas loves it! One other benefit…it has lasted MUCH, MUCH longer than the kind we used to get for him.

    I know a lady who uses Tom’s for her kids because of it’s claim to be natural. She discovered through lots of research and trial and error that when her son has things with certain dyes and “fake” stuff in it that he is much more hyperactive and his behavior is
    insane. Evidently, she went cold turkey from everything that had these artificial dyes…..from snacks and foods to toothpaste and soaps and shampoos.

    I made some of the homemade baby wipes when Silas was little. It was fun to do and cheap but they weren’t my favorite. I have seen a lot of stuff in some of my browsing lately where you just make up the solution (similar to what you made) and instead of pouring it over paper towels, you keep it in a spray bottle by the changing stuff. You just spray it on their bottom and use a washcloth or some other washable fabric. I might give this a try. I’m with you…we’ll be doing laundry already. What’s a few extra washcloths? I like the idea of receiving blankets.

    As far as bathing goes, with Silas we used Johnson and Johnson stuff because we had so much of it given to us at showers! We really didn’t have to buy any soap, shampoo or lotion for him for the first 2 years! REALLY! Savannah will probably be no different. I’ve got several bottles of baby toiletry stuff that I’ve found for super cheap since I’ve been pregnant. And…I LOVE THE SMELL OF THE STUFF! Baby Magic is my favorite! They smell so sweet and clean! I’m with you on those washpod things. I saw them the other day and was confused. What’s wrong with the bathtub? Or the sink for that matter? Silas loved baths in the sink!

    Have really enjoyed the posts this week! You’ve done your research.

    • 2 lsaufley July 30, 2009 at 10:08 am

      Lindsey–we still have baby shampoo and lotion from when I had Madalyn 3 1/2 years ago! I even gave some of it away to a friend who had a baby because it was ridiculous how much of it I had! I have seen the whole spray bottle thing too. This seems like it would be much easier at home because you don’t have to worry about them drying out. And since you know how to sew you could whip out some baby washcloths/homemade wipes in no time! 🙂 @ Alison–you can use olive oil in place of baby oil or I have seen recipes that don’t use any oil at all. I loved my homemade baby wipes. I liked using that Johnson and Johnson’s lavender scented stuff with them. They smelled so good!

  2. 3 Alison July 30, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Yeah, washpods are weird.
    I would love to make my own wipes–we go THROUGH those things! Though, I steer clear of baby oil, b/c it’s mineral oil and that (for me) is a no-no. For bathing I use Huggies baby wash but for Ivy I sometimes use a castile baby soap b/c of her eczema. I’d like to switch all-together, but you’re right: the good soaps/washes are expensive!
    Will definitely look into the Tom’s toothpaste (I’ve tried Tom’s deo.)

  3. 4 Amanda H. Avery July 30, 2009 at 10:20 am

    AGAIN, I do not use green or organic products. I’m starting to wonder if I should even comment or just hide with my purpleness!

    I used J&J products for both of my girls–especially Lavender because it smelled so good and was very calming for my fussy babies.

    Neither of my girls could tolerate the store brands because they would get AWFUL rashes.

    We used Baby Bee’s on Molly’s skin because it would often get so dry.

    We are a “whatever’s on sale or next to free to coupons” family when it comes to toothpaste.

  4. 5 Heather July 30, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    I LOVE reading these posts!!! You are giving me all kinds of new ideas. I am probably the most “un-green” person on the planet…now I’m starting to wonder if I can change that. Thanks Laura 🙂

    • 6 lsaufley July 30, 2009 at 3:08 pm

      Hey Heather! Thanks for commenting!

      Tomorrow I’m going to start a weekly series on being Green and Frugal. Like I mentioned before, I will make a “green” change as long as it doesn’t affect the family too much and doesn’t cost more money! I’m going to post something each Friday that we either have already changed or that I will be challenging myself to change!

  5. 7 Misty July 31, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Just quick note.. be careful using lavender scented anything around babies that have asthma or any type of breathing trouble.. some products say that on the labeling, although some do not. It can cause asthma attacks.. Learned that the hard way..
    Toothpastes- the area around my mouth is very sensitive and some pastes make me very, very irritated.
    I found that Melaleuca toothpaste and baby products are great, but also very costly..most of the products they are a good, but again, costly.
    If you have children with skin issues and adults with mouth issues(like myself) it’s worth a try if you have some extra dollars..

    • 8 lsaufley July 31, 2009 at 10:48 am

      The dentist told me that typically it is the “detergents” in the toothpaste that cause irritation. I have horrible canker sores and Annagrace is getting them now too so I think I’ll switch her to something else too. I’ve never heard of Melaleuca! I guess we could all go to using straight up baking soda like they did in the olden days!


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