Archives for the month of: March, 2012

To my friends in New york who ask me for pictures of the new baby, I tell them, “Sorry, third child.” I just can’t seem to get it together this time around. But while Cleo may still be a cliche right now, I am determined to give her progress the attention it deserves (props for IPhone-ing her first laugh?) This PA Design translucent chart looks like a fun way to track her growth and then I can pop it in her yet-to-be-bought “special box” that the other girls received well before they were born. And with this cute memory strip, maybe I won’t need to video every move after all.

My dear friends run Baby2Baby, and their events overflow with stylish LA moms. Which means lots of stylish babies. So when I asked my friend Lawren, a Vogue contributor, if her newborn is already in “neutral cashmere” (my analogy for how super fashion moms dress their offspring,) I was shocked to hear that her daughter was still in preemie attire from St. John’s. Which begs the question: do they make neutral cashmere in preemie sizes? Below, my own version of neutral cashmere, a Le Toit de la Lune Albert romper that I snagged for Cleo when she hits 12 months. But I plan to add a neon moccasin.

Starting Early, and Young

Casey Kelbaugh for The New York Times

Dr. Ami Shah Nagarajan estimates that she spends $150 a month on products with minimal chemicals for Prem, 3, top, and his twin sister.

By SHIVANI VORA
DR. AMI SHAH NAGARAJAN, 38, a specialist in integrative medicine who lives in Manhattan, estimates that she spends $150 a month on Mustela and California Baby products for her 3-year-oldtwins. “I spend more on my kids than I do for myself,” she said. “It’s worth it to me to get something pure for them.”

The Honest Company, Aveeno, Johnson & Johnson and Lavanila are among the companies that have skin care and beauty products geared toward babies.

Stephanie Diani for The New York Times

Zoe Schaeffer with her daughters, from left, Gemma, Cleo and Rafi.

While Dr. Nagarajan said she was mindful of using beauty products with minimal chemicals even before she had children, other mothers have become more conscientious after giving birth. Zoe Schaeffer, 35, who lives in Los Angeles and has a mothering blog, Macaroon Original, said she spends $150 to $200 a month on a variety of natural lines for her three children, 3 months to 4 years old.

Ms. Schaeffer, who describes herself as a “product junkie,” said that her curiosity to try new beauty lines extended to her children when she became a mother. “I am not necessarily into natural lines myself,” she said. “But it was important for me to find pure and nontoxic products for my kids because I feel like their skin is so new.”

In the last five years, the premium baby skin care category, which is comprised mostly of natural and organic brands, has grown significantly. According to Euromonitor International, a London-based market research company, sales of premium baby care in the United States increased 68 percent from 2005 to 2010. In contrast, sales of total baby care rose just 16 percent during the same period.

And at Diapers.com, one of the largest online baby stores in the country, the baby skin care category has grown more than 180 percent in the last three years, with most of the sales coming from the increasing number of high-end natural brands, according to Kwany Lui, a company spokeswoman. The site’s top seller is a four-ounce jar of calendula cream from the Los Angeles-based California Baby that costs $21. Even the cosmetics giant Sephora ventured into baby care when it started selling Lavanila, a line of high-end natural products, in May 2010 in 150 of its stores. (The company also sells a popular French brand, Mustela, through its Web site.)

Other high-end brands include Love Me Baby Me, MD Moms, Dr. Robin, Lalabee Bathworks, Episencial and the Honest Company, which the actress Jessica Alba, a mother of two, helped found.

According to Euromonitor, the most popular skin care brand for babies in the country is still Johnson & Johnson, which itself introduced an inexpensive five-product natural line in 2010. But the choices in natural and low-chemical skin care on the market for young children today are head-spinning, and in many cases, the prices even more so.

These lines tend to use ingredients — sometimes organic — like almond and safflower oil, flower extracts and aloe, and are free from chemicals like parabens, sulfates and phthalates, which some studies have linked to a spectrum of ailments, like simple skin irritation.

In the world of baby body care, health has become synonymous with luxury. These soaps, lotions and diaper creams are usually attractively packaged and cost mostly in the double digits. The average price of an item from Mustela, the more-than-60-year-old Paris-based skin care line that reformulated its products in 2010 to eliminate chemicals that have raised concern among parents, like parabens, is $12. (The company has a Musti eau de soin, a perfume for babies, that costs $29 a bottle.) Love Me Baby Me, a Los Angeles-based line that uses ingredients like organic aloe and chamomile in its five products, has a lotion for $25.95, and MD Moms, also based in Los Angeles, offers a $12 72-pack of baby wipes with ginger root extract. Noni juice is the key ingredient in Lavanila products, which start at $15; and in the Noodle and Boo line based in Campbell, Calif., two bars of French-milled baby soap made with oatmeal and almond oil sell for $12. (Honest, a monthly subscription service, is more affordable. Customers can select 5 out of 14 products, which include detergent and hand soap, for $35.95.) Meanwhile, Aveeno, which is owned by Johnson & Johnson, has a new Organic Harvest line whose three products are made with at least 70 percent organic ingredients and cost $12 each.

California Baby was a leader in the trend in premium baby skin care. Jessica Iclisoy started the line nearly two decades ago, when she was pregnant with her first son and couldn’t find any soap or shampoo for him that didn’t have strong chemicals. She started off selling her products to small health food stores, and today, the line can be found at more than 10,000 locations, including Babies “R” Us and Target. According to Ms. Iclisoy, the company continues to grow 40 percent a year, despite prices starting at around $20 for a bottle of shampoo.

Ms. Iclisoy says the cost is justified. “Using natural ingredients such as calendula are much more expensive than harsh chemicals like sulfates and sulfites,” she said.

Still, babies tend to work their way through certain products like wipes and lotion at a rapid pace. And what parent hasn’t cringed when their child delights upon dumping half a bottle of premium bubble bath down the drain?

Some parents, though, say these products are not an indulgence, but a necessity.

Amy Shea, 33, who works in medical sales and lives in Boston, says that the scalp rub from MD Moms, which runs $22 a tube, cleared up her daughter’s cradle cap. “The product was life-changing,” she said. “The products aren’t a splurge. They’re something practical I have to use on my kids.”

But not all dermatologists are convinced. Dr. Sheryl D. Clark, an assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, says that skin care products, natural or not, can be harmful on babies younger than 6 months old. If a baby displays allergy symptoms, she said, the parent should see a doctor to pinpoint the issue before experimenting with a potpourri of expensive products.

“You think that you are spending more money so it must be a good thing,” she said, “but that’s not necessarily true.”

Here I am on GLO!

Having just completed a style story for “Chic New Moms,” I decided that the Right Now slipper just might be the coolest day time shoe for us ladies who have to jog around town, whether to school pick-ups or to meetings. I speak for myself when I say I barely have time to lace up a gladiator which is why these Charlotte Olympia cat slippers just got posted to my Pinterest. You know, my public wish list.  And when I upgrade from leggings to jeans status, I might officially anoint myself a chic mom again.

It’s hard to believe that my very hands-on, very competent husband-the same person who is taking our four year old on a daddy/daughter ski trip to Deer Valley-is also the same person who asked me if it was okay that Rafi was drinking salad dressing straight out of the container (What?! No it’s not.) And the same person, as I’ve written before, who gave our children Pinkberry toppings for breakfast one morning. The latest is his giving Rafi our travel blankets to use in her crib. That’s right, the ones we use on the plane. “But she loves it.” But she would also love anything from an Hermes cashmere throw to a Glad trash bag if we laid it on her, so…? Luckily while cruising Opening Ceremony with Gemma this past week, I spotted these seriously covetable Bonton chunky knit baby blankets in gorgeous colors like teal gray, mustard yellow and watermelon. And a plus would be that they haven’t been draped across germ infested airline seats.

opening ceremony blanket

Since there is no such thing as my beloved apple picking here in California (of which I have the fondest memories from Upstate New York,) we’ve adopted blueberry picking as our annual fruit festivity. We drive out to Underwood Farms in the wicked heat and let the kids run through the patches which seem to last forever. There are animals and a great farmer’s market and we collect baskets of berries for the grandmas as well. It’s a great time. I just recently discovered these Peppercorn Kids handkerchief scarves and they seemed to say, “Wear me in the blasted heat while plucking blueberries.” Whether the girls will actually wear them is another story, but at least I’ve (finally) figured out their blueberry picking “look.” It’s been nagging me, natch.

Ah yes. A collection of pretty blown glass vases beneath huge, super white windows….So not my color scheme and so inappropriate for a home where someone might say, “Please don’t ride your scooter inside.” But since I’ve been designing my next house for the past five years, I can wait on these beautes, along with my Olatz monogrammed bedding and splatter paint wallpaper. And when I posted them on Pinterest, I got a ton of re-pins and thumbs ups or whatever so clearly many other people share the blown glass dream. I first discovered these vases in British Elle Decor and they ironically turned out to be from Joe Cariati, an LA based ‘blower. If I were to get married again I would register the hell out of them but since that ship has sailed (and my Hermes china still awaits to be used,) I will do as I tell my girls, and “put them on the list.”

My new thing is: When in doubt, Etsy. I mean, if you’re someone who gets off on the flea market, hunting-and-gathering mentality, then a massive on-line marketplace for all-things-handmade is the jam. When I first discovered it, Jon was out hearing a DJ, and I spent hours sorting and sifting through reclaimed cashmere for kids, knit leg warmers and leather masks for a friend’s wedding. It was the lamest night ever but I made a friend for life: let’s call her BEtsy. So when I couldn’t find any cute thank you cards in anticipation of my daughter’s birthday, I logged on, and found these, awesome, mason jar-esque cards. They’re cheaper than any retailer’s and she’ll customize. It was like a flea market score, without the creepy antique situation.

I have severe anxiety and it was heightened when I had kids, of course. And when you live in a year-round sunny place like LA, swimming becomes a year-round mental issue. And then a friend told me about a swim instructor named Conrad who basically seizes your child and puts them in the pool against his will. Cue the screaming, crying and all around freak-outs. But the beauty of the program is that every child becomes obsessed with Conrad after they are put under his spell (his catch phrase is “swim to meeee,” in a super brovato.) It’s not for the faint hearted. Meaning, wimps like me cried for the entire first session. Well I’m back for more. Rafi is two and a half and talks about Conrad as if she knows him, and about all the bathing suits she wants to wear. Enter Mini Rodini’s retro pineapple style. It’s cute, it’s retro, it’s kitshy, and just begs to be seized.

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