camping trip

Living in the lush landscape of the Northeast has it advantages.  While summer activities abound, so do the insects.  Every summer, parents ask me if there are any bug repellents that I recommend.  For my family, I use bug repellents that are made of natural oils.  Oils of citronella, soybean, peppermint, lemongrass, eucalyptus, and geranium are effective for small periods of time.  Being particular about smells and fragrances, I find that Citronella and Peppermint ones smell less overpowering than others.  If you are going for a heavy-duty hike with the kids, then use insect repellant lotion or spray that contains 5-30% DEET (not for kids under age 2 months).  The higher DEET concentration does not mean that it is more effective, rather it just lasts longer.

Wearing loose and light-colored clothing, which provides good coverage is important.  I prefer application by hands, rather than spraying because I do worry about fume inhalation from sprays.  Avoid hiking during dawn and dusk, which increases one’s chances of being bitten.

Hope this helps.  Happy hiking!!

Featured photo courtesy of





“Clean your hands with gel before picking up the baby….Where’s the anti-bacterial spray?…Get those boogie wipes…Ohh don’t put your hand in there….”

I know you’ve heard this before.  We all know these moms.  The ones that carry around mini packs of anti-bacterial gel in their pockets and spray everything in sight.

Yeah…I used to be one of “those” moms.   Can I just say that I have evolved?

For a long time now, I have stopped using anti-bacterial/anti-fungal-labeled products.  I don’t think they are good for me or my family.  And, by the way, they don’t clean better than regular soap.

Nowadays, we see the anti-bacterial label all too often.  Even kitchen utensils, toys, and clothing lines make such claims.  The chemical that renders many of these products their anti-microbial properties is called Triclosan.   Not only is Triclosan known to disrupt hormonal balance in animals, but it can also increase the risk of allergies, antibiotic resistance, and learning disabilities (to name a few).  The FDA is scheduled to make its decision on whether to ban Triclosan this fall.

For more information on the environmental impact of Triclosan, listen to the Earth Wise podcast by Dr. William H. Schlesinger (from the Cary Institute on Ecosystem studies.) You can find it on  

Parents should be aware of germ-fighting chemicals (Triclosan is just one of them) and check product labels.   I do have to say that I have come full circle.  Germs and I can co-exist, after all.  In fact, the more sterile our environments are, the higher the likelihood of developing allergic diseases.  “Let the kids get dirty,” my grandma used to say.  And then… use warm water and soap.

Photo courtesy of: Digital


So I am wheeling the shopping cart around Target and I groan inwardly when I hear, “Mommy, can I have the Dora shampoo?”  I mumble an excuse like, “that’s for big kids.”  Whenever I see a product with a cartoon on it, it is hard for me to trust whether it is actually “good” for my kid.  I know you can’t judge a book by the cover, but simple ingredient comparison always leads me to the non-cartoon non-fuss products.

So which skin products should we choose for the kids?  The answer is simple.  Find the products that are the most natural which means fragrance free, alcohol free, dye and color free .  I find myself using organic and hypoallergenic products for everybody at home, especially the kids.

We all love the wonderful “baby” fragrance that so many lotions and bath products have.  Umm.. sorry to tell you this but the fragrances are pretty drying and sensitizing to the skin.  I see “camomile and lavender” in baby products all the time and I find that some (not all) kids can become sensitive to them with repeated use over time.

I know that babies and kids love baths, but they don’t need baths daily.  How many babies do we see rolling around in the dirt?  Preserve their natural skin oils by not soaking them daily in the tub.  Just wipe them down with a wet towel and skip one or two days.

I know bubble baths are fun, but they are super irritating to their little behinds.  Avoid them at all costs.

A lot of the creams/lotions that say “For dry skin or eczema” actually contain alcohol in the ingredients.  So read the labels.

The skin is the largest organ system in the body.  I think the more natural non-processed products you can find, the better…and smarter.  What do you use at home for your child’s skin?