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Natural Lice Prevention

I discovered recently that my kids’ school has been experiencing regular outbreaks of lice over the past few months. My family hasn’t experienced lice, even though it seems to be regular occurrence in all schools, so after I checked all four kid’s hair and sighed with relief that we didn’t have it, I started thinking about prevention. From talking to many parents, it seems like chemical treatments and natural lice treatments both take a long time to remove lice 100%, so if that’s the case …why use the extra chemicals on children? And let’s think of some tips for prevention. As most readers know, since I have a daughter that has dry skin outbreaks from eczema flare ups, I only shampoo all of my kid’s hair once a month. Funny, because barbers, parents, and family look surprised when I mention that. And my children (I think) have gorgeous hair – everyone always wants to touch my older son’s hair because it’s thick and beautiful (see below). So only occasional washing is working well for our family. And when I do wash their hair, I use a teaspoon of baking soda mixed into a cup or warm water instead of store bought shampoo. On my sons especially, their hair feels amazing after it’s washed this way. But technically their hair is on the dirty side most days rather than the squeaky clean and funny enough, Jennifer from The Smart Mama confirmed for me that lice prefer clean hair! So one more bonus of not over washing children’s hair is it’s a deterrent for lice. Hooray for the hippies!

The most popular methods of DIY lice prevention include tea tree oil. This oil is natural antiseptic and can be a preventative tool against lice. Add 12 drops to ¼ pint water and put in a spray bottle. Mist hair each morning with this solution. A Mommy Footprint Facebook fan reported success with daily use of tree tea oil to prevent lice by using this method: “I put a couple of drops of tea tree oil on my hand and they get a hair rub-down (especially at nape of neck and behind ears) before we go to school (I leave the tea tree oil in a cupboard at our front door). Other Mom’s at the school put the tea tree oil with some H2O in a spray bottle and spritz their kids’ heads (and I can report that their kids have not had lice either)”. Hang onto that tea tree oil because if you do experience lice, you can add multiple drops into your wash along with detergent for bedding, blankets and clothes. Also use tea tree oil to rub around the interior of hats & helmets – kill the lice on the hat and it will rub off onto your child’s head!

Tiffany from Nature Moms Blog recently went through lice treatment with a child and had some great tips. Her full article is here, and her all natural lice shampoo treatment recipe is:

1 Quart size ball jar
1 Tablespoon (1 squirt) Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap
8-10 Drops tea tree oil (we use Trader Joe’s brand)
Fill jar to top with water, shake before each use.
Rinse with vinegar and let sit in hair for 5 minutes. Plastic wrap is optional
Comb hair with flea comb or lice comb

This recipe sounds much easier than the mayo or coconut oil treatments recommended to work. With these treatments you basically coat hair with a natural oil (coconut, olive, or mayonnaise) and try to smother the lice. Most treatments call for wrapping in plastic wrap and sleeping, then repeating 12-14 times. Wow – the more research I did on all natural lice treatments, the more determined I am to prevent it from happening. We’ve got the occasional hair washing already happening, next I will start daily tea tree oil squirts. With base ball season and ball caps, outbreaks at school, and Spring time being the season for lice, it was a timely discussion and I thank Tiffany and Jennifer for their advice!

And here’s the picture I snapped of my oldest son’s hair – I think it’s just gorgeous. He’s only 10 years old, but I hope he keeps the easy, no-poo hair care remedies and doesn’t start using gel or spray. When any of my kid’s ends feel dry we just use a bit of coconut oil to moisturize & for styling.

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Fa La La La … Lead?

I wasn’t planning on writing an article warning parents of lead this holiday season but as you’ll read below, researching something on my own Christmas shopping list encouraged this article to be published. Many parents think of toys being recalled with lead in the paint from years ago..that doesn’t seem to happen very often anymore. Could it be we are supporting a new age of purchasing locally made wooden toys so this concern isn’t as high?  I hope so!  Besides for avoiding imported painted toys from overseas there are a few other ways to avoid lead exposure this Christmas for children.

Children’s jewelry is still an area of concern for lead. I would honestly love to hire The Smart Mama and have her walk through a big box store, dollar store – any store that sells cheap jewelry with her XRF machine and wait for the results. But since that isn’t going to happen, what is the easiest way to not have to worry about lead or cadmium in children’s jewelry?  Do not purchase cheap jewelry for children. I was recently reminded of this when I started searching for personalized necklace jewelry stores for Christmas gifts. We all know how much I love hand stamped jewelry and this year is no exception. When I went to order the necklaces, there was a Swarovski Crystal attached with each necklace. These crystals are always available for mom or child necklaces so you can showcase different colors for birth months, etc. Did you know that Swarovski Crystals are man made and contain lead? Because of California Proposition 65, stores that carry jewelry containing swarovski crystals, certain base metal findings, and other leaded glass items – warnings must be posted if sold online because potentially a Californian could purchase the jewelry. When is the last time you remember seeing a warning on any jewelry sold at the dollar store, Claires, etc.?  You see the State of California regulates synthetic chemicals sold in products that cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm. When a product may contain one of these chemicals, there is a strong warning placed on the item being sold. Cool hey? If you are not familiar with California Proposition 65, read more here. I found California’s Metal-Containing Jewelry Law an interesting read too. Made me think of a few more items that I should look into: the gemstones (polished stones) my girls love to play with and to go through their dress-up jewelry again. Boys are not totally exempt from this since they have metal badges and medallions. It also helps me to remove my guilt when I quietly throw out any of the cheap jewelry they might receive at parties or as gifts because unless you have a way to test cheap jewelry for children – how would you know? And I have one daughter than loves to put things in her mouth while she’s daydreaming.

So after doing more research on the swarovski crystals, I worked with the artist making the necklaces for me and she was able to recommend all materials that were lead free. I opted for stainless steel charms to be personalized and a charm with glass accent- not crystal. When you work with someone making you a jewelry piece, you really can take the detective work out of it because they are very knowledgeable about the materials in all the different stone settings, etc. I would not be able to ask these questions buying inexpensive kids jewelry at the mall, shelf, or site that doesn’t have detailed information on it’s products.

Of course other ways to avoid lead and cadmium all together is purchase felted or knit jewelry. Sound a little too crunchy for you? It’s not at all and with selling felted rings at Green Planet Parties – I can tell you my girls love them. You just need to remove them to wash hands, but they expand to fit all finger sizes and no homework here – no metal used… ditto for the ponytail holders as seen below. Sometimes it’s just nice to not have to research and investigate everything! Although I found it very rewarding to work with the artist making my girls necklaces because after chatting back and forth, she’s now sourcing all glass bead alternatives for future child’s necklace designs.




Lead in your Christmas tree?  That’s up next tomorrow.


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