One Part Sunshine

Picking Fruit and Loving Nature

Written by Cindy Young on Aug 9, 2014 | See Comments

Picking mulberries is a great way to encourage kids to love nature

One of our favorite summer activities is picking fruit. The kids love filling up baskets full of fresh berries or ripe peaches. And I love seeing their purple-stained grins after they shove a handful of newly-picked blackberries in their mouths. There really is something almost magical about seeing where fruit comes from and enjoying it so freshly picked.

Picking mulberries is a great way to encourage a love of nature in your kids

Picking fruit is also a fantastic way to get kids excited about nature. My son loves identifying fruit trees and bushes when we are walking through local parks. He is actually excited to study the way fruit starts out as a flower and develops into something edible. He could spend hours sitting in a peach tree or making his way through raspberry bushes, and the whole time he is surrounded by the sights and sounds of the outside world.

Ways to Encourage Kids to Love Nature | Picking Peaches

Another great thing about picking fruit is that kids of all ages can be involved. Granted, my almost-two-year-old has a bit of trouble distinguishing between the green fruits and the purple ones but she gets so excited every time she plucks a berry off the bush (and she even enjoys eating the green ones!). Even if your child isn't walking yet, you can wear them in a carrier and pop treats into their mouth while you pick. Or lay baby on a blanket so she can see all of the beautiful fruit all above her.

Ways to Encourage Kids to Love Nature | Picking Apples

We are lucky that we have fruit trees and berry bushes in our yard. But even if you don't have that luxury, there are plenty of pick-your-own farms around the country. Just visit PickYourOwn.org to find a farm or orchard near you. There is also a great new website called Ripe Near Me that lets you find free fruit to pick! If you have produce on your property that you want to sell or just give away, you can list it on Ripe Near Me. Or if you know of fruit trees or bushes on public land, you can post about them to let others know where to find them. The founders of the site started it because they noticed citrus trees throughout the suburbs full of ripe fruit that nobody was eating. We found free fruit in some great places like wineberries at Kemper Park at Monticello, mulberries at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens and juneberries at a small park in Charlottesville.

Ways to Encourage Kids to Love Nature | Foraging for Wineberries

Stay tuned for our free ebook with more ways to encourage your child to love nature!

Ways to Encourage Kids to Love Nature | Picking Peaches for Toddlers

Do Your Kids Love Nature?

Written by Cindy Young on Jul 26, 2014 | See Comments

Do Your Kids Love Nature? Nature Play Inspiration

Do you want your kids to love nature? I'm working on a free ebook for our email newsletter subscribers that will help you encourage your kids to love nature. It will be full of fun activities and ideas for kids of all ages. While you are waiting, here is a little inspiration!

Nature Walks

Ways to Encourage Kids to Love Nature | Nature Walks

Foraging for Berries

Ways to Encourage Kids to Love Nature | Foraging for Berries

Lake Play

Ways to Encourage Kids to Love Nature | Lake Play

Looking at Wildlife

Ways to Encourage Kids to Love Nature | Looking at Wildlife

Ocean Play

Ways to Encourage Kids to Love Nature | Ocean Play

Mud Kitchens

Ways to Encourage Kids to Love Nature | Mud Kitchen

Stay tuned for more nature play in my new ebook! For more inspiration, check us out on Instagram.

The Best Natural DIY Baby Shampoo and Body Wash Recipes

Written by Cindy Young on Jul 11, 2014 | See Comments

The Best Natural DIY Baby Shampoo and Body Wash Recipes

This post may contain affiliate links.

I have been alternating between California Baby Bubble Bath and Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap for cleaning my baby's hair and skin. And I just ran out of both! So I decided to try to go the homemade route this time rather than buying more.

It's important to choose safe and natural products when cleaning your baby. Most conventional baby care products are full of toxic chemicals that can cause skin irritation, asthma and even cancer. Babies are most at risk because their bodies are still developing. For more on this, read our article on What to Avoid in Personal Care Products.

The easiest way to know what you are putting on your baby's skin is to make these products yourself using natural ingredients. Making personal care products from scratch is definitely trial and error. I have compiled a list of the best recipes that I have found that use only natural ingredients.

Baby Shampoo

Most of the DIY recipes out there for baby shampoo involve using Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap. And for good reason - it's a fantastic product and has a ton of different uses. Although you may be wondering why you couldn't just use Dr. Bronner's on its own without adding anything to it. The answer is that you absolutely can, and I usually do. But sometimes it's nice to add something extra to leave baby's hair a little softer and smelling a little nicer. One note, it is not a tear-free shampoo (a lot of chemicals go into making that happen) so it does sting if it gets into little eyes. Just be a little more careful when washing baby's hair.

Here are some DIY recipes for baby shampoo:

1. Naturally Mindful uses a mixture of castile soap, herbal infused oil and essential oil.

2. The Free People Blog uses a recipe that includes a softening mixture of castile soap, coconut milk, coconut oil and vitamin E oil.

3. Thank Your Body has a nice DIY using castile soap, avocado oil, glycerin and essential oils (I would avoid the tea tree and peppermint for little ones because they can sting if they get in your eyes).

4. What about when you have no time to wash your baby? Let's face it, this happens a lot (at least to me)! Try dry shampoo. This recipe from BabyCenter uses natural cornstarch, baking soda, cornmeal and oatmeal.

Baby Body Wash

Usually you can use the same product for baby's hair and skin. The biggest difference is that body wash usually has more oil in it for softening skin. You wouldn't want that much oil in your shampoo because it can weigh hair down and make it look greasy. So any of the above DIYs can be used as a body wash as well or you can add a tablespoon or two of jojoba, olive or sweet almond oil to make it more skin-friendly.

1. This foaming baby wash recipe from The Eco-Friendly Family is a simple combination of water, castile soap and coconut oil.

2. Inhabitots has a great baby shampoo/body wash combo that includes aloe vera gel, jojoba oil, witch hazel, castile soap and essential oil.

Baby Hair Detangler

Most babies don't need conditioner. But if your little one has curly hair like my daughter does, you might want to use a leave-in detangler. Try my recipe for a natural leave-in conditioner for kids.

Also, remember that some natural ingredients may need to be stored in the refrigerator, especially if you are using water.

For more DIY Baby Body Care inspiration, visit my Pinterest board.

7 Safe, Eco-Friendly Ways for Your Kids to Enjoy the Pool

Written by Cindy Young on Jun 23, 2014 | See Comments

7 Safe, Eco-Friendly Ways for Your Kids to Enjoy the Pool

This post may contain affiliate links.

My kids love going to the pool, but it used to fill me with anxiety. I would worry about the chlorine in the water, the PVC in the pool toys and the chemicals in the sunscreen. Fortunately, companies are making a lot of progress when it comes to offering safe alternatives to toxic pool gear. And I am discovering my own cheap and easy DIY alternatives to things like pool toys. If you want to be stress-free at the pool, read on!

1. Reusable Swim Diapers

A cloth swim diaper is a must-have for moms who want to be eco-friendly and save money. I personally prefer the ones that have Velcro or buttons versus the pull-up kind for easy diaper changes. I bring along an extra one to the pool in case the first gets dirty. And I do keep a couple of disposable swim diapers in my pool bag for emergencies but I have yet to use one. I own the following swim diapers and love them:

2. Eco-Friendly Bathing Suits

I am one of those moms that dresses her kids in long-sleeve rash guards. My kids don't mind and I feel better knowing they are more protected from the sun. Of course, I look for swimsuits that have high sun protection ratings. Unfortunately, most swimsuits are made out of materials such as nylon and polyester, which aren't the safest materials or the most eco-friendly. Although some companies make adult swimsuits out of materials such as organic cotton or bamboo, I have yet to find any for kids (please comment below if you know of any!). The closest thing I have found is a rash guard from City Threads. They claim to make their rash guards with safe dyes and no harsh chemicals.

3. Choose a Safe Place to Swim

Typical swimming pools use chemicals such as chlorine and bromine that can cause skin irritations and other complications. My kids' favorite place to swim is at one of our local lakes, where we don't have to worry about pool chemicals. When we do feel like going to the pool, we choose a YMCA pool that uses a salt water system. There is also a private swim club in our area that uses a spring-fed pool!

4. Non-Toxic Sunscreen

Choosing a safe sunscreen has become super easy thanks to EWG's Safe Sunscreen Guide. They rate sunscreens from 0 to 10 based on the safety of the ingredients as well as the degree of UV protection. There are now a bunch of sunscreens for kids that have earned a "1" from EWG. The sunscreens I have in my pool bag are:

5. Organic Cotton Beach Towel

You can't forget a towel when you head to the pool (of course, I seem to manage that half the time). Choose eco-friendly, safe materials to wrap around your little one. Organic cotton or bamboo are best if you can afford it, but plain old cotton will do if you can't. Or pick up a towel from a consignment shop. Here are a couple of suggestions:

6. Pool Toys

The toys that I prefer to bring to the pool and the beach are ones that I don't care if I lose, which happens almost every time we go to the pool. I bring those plastic scoopers from laundry detergent for digging in sand or for scooping water. I take large vinegar bottles, cut the tops off (leaving the handles) and use them as large scoopers or for collecting treasures. Plastic dish soap bottles become great water guns. This is what I have been using for years now and the kids almost never ask for anything else.

If you do want to buy dedicated pool toys, choose those made from recycled or biodegradable plastic. And don't forget to put your name on them, especially if you just spent a lot of money! These labels from MightyNest are waterproof, BPA-free and PVC-free.

7. Non-Toxic Pool Floats

Most pool floats and safety gear are made out of PVC, which I do not want on my kids. For the most part, I just avoid the floats and vests but I do like to have something for those times when I don't feel like carrying around a toddler. Fortunately, there is a product that seems to be free of most harmful chemicals. Schlori Swim Cushions are actually made out of 100% cotton! I have not tried them yet but they are on my wish list.

Planning the Mud Kitchen: Phase One

Written by Cindy Young on Jun 14, 2014 | See Comments

Planning the Mud Kitchen | OnePartSunshine.com

Ever since our visit to Boxerwood Gardens in Lexington, Virginia, my kids have been begging me for a mud kitchen. They spent hours there making mud pies with mud and gravel, salads with grass and flowers, and mud milkshakes. Plus, Pinterest is full of inspiring mud kitchen ideas. Follow Cindy Young | One Part Sunshine's board inspiration {outdoor play space} on Pinterest. So I have begun the planning phase of putting a mud kitchen in our yard.

My son chose a location in our vegetable garden, which I think is perfect because my toddler can play while I work in the garden. The garden already has a wooden house-like structure in it that may have been for storing garden tools. We are going to use this structure as the "restaurant" with the actual mud kitchen set up next to it.

Planning the Mud Kitchen. The site of the mud kitchen and dining area. I am locating this in my vegetable garden so the kids can play while I work.

Planning the Mud Kitchen. The site of the dining room.

The mud kitchen will consist of a sink, some shelving and a counter space. We stopped by the Habitat Store and picked up a great stainless steel kitchen sink for $5! I'm trying to figure out whether to build a simple wooden stand for the sink and to try to find an old wooden table and cut a whole out for it. More on that to come.

Planning the Mud Kitchen. Get a sink from a thrift shop.

Planning the Mud Kitchen. A thrifted sink will be put on a base with a counter area next to it.

We also discovered a great chandelier for $10 at the Habitat Store. I'm going to remove the electrical parts of it and use solar candles instead. I'm also planning to paint the chandelier and hang crystals from it for a little extra excitement.

Planning the Mud Kitchen. A chandelier from a thrift shop.

Of course, we are going to dress things up with some flowers, a table and chairs. I'm going to run a hose out to the kitchen and possibly hook it up to some sort of faucet using this tutorial. But in the meantime we will just fill up some buckets with water for the kids to use to make mud and to rinse off.

I have an old turtle sandbox that I am going to use to store our dirt for making mud. The sandbox has a cover on it so we can keep the dirt dry (just in case they need chocolate crumbles for their mud pies).

Stay tuned for more on the mud kitchen! Hopefully it will be done in the next couple of weeks.

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