Curating for Baby: A Lovelier Lovey

I think most moms would agree, that on any given day, there is a whole lot of ‘stuff’ in our homes that does NOT necessarily elicit joy!

In fact, in glancing around my bedroom as I type this, I spy three things that are mildly annoying: a plastic popper toy, a Frozen castle, and a ball tower.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these items, but with their bright colors, loud noises, and general plastic-y-ness, they aren’t exactly contributing to a spa ambiance over here either.

But every once in while, aesthetic meets function in a spectacularly artful way…

My daughter’s lovey, an organic stuffed bunny from Apple Park, is just such a thing!

Every time I rest my eyes upon that adorable bunny, my heart sings (just a little bit). It’s one of those little bits of lovely that I just have to share.

This soft, sweet, and refreshingly subtle bunny was gifted to us by my dear friend and her daughter. It’s comprised of 100% organic cotton, and stuffed with corn fiber instead of polyester. It’s the healthiest plush we’ve got; so I set to work ensuring that she and my daughter build an early bond.

And bond they have! Though she’s grown to be a very busy and fiercely independent toddler, we can’t take a nap or even attempt bedtime without her cherished ‘buh-hee.’

A girl and her bunny, back when she was still so itty bitty…

Prioritizing a Safer Sleep Space

Before having my children, I never gave much thought to details of my sleeping environment.

But while pregnant with my son, I read several books and articles emphasizing the importance of creating a safe sleep space for baby. And once I stopped to recognize that infants might spend 16 or more hours each day in their cribs sleeping, I couldn’t ‘un-know’ it.

My baby’s sleep space just had to become a priority for sourcing non-toxic and organic materials.

So we set to work ensuring that my son had the solid wood crib, the organic mattress, and the organic cotton sheets (and when I say we, I can’t forget the many generous contributions of our friends and family).

I thought we had covered all the bases. But since the current AAP Safe Infant Sleep and SIDS guidelines, advise against placing anything additional in baby’s crib, it didn’t even occur to me to think about sourcing healthier plush.

It wasn’t until much later, when my then toddler son had already fallen in love with a darling Peter Rabbit, that I realized he was cuddling-up to polyester each night.

Awe, nothing like the smell of petrochemicals in the morning!

Why Natural Fibers?

At first, caring about the materials used to manufacture stuffed animals might seem silly. I mean, we aren’t eating them, right?

Okay, maybe I’m the only one who thinks this way, but that was my initial response to the idea of sourcing an organic lovey. It seemed like overkill.

But if creating a safer sleep space is important to you, it might be worth considering a safer lovey. Even if your little one is too young to sleep with plush in his or her crib, it’s likely there’s a favorite lovey that is being offered repeatedly while on walks, in the car seat, or during play.

The majority of plush available is stuffed with polyester, so unless you’re putting in some serious effort to suss out a healthier alternative, it’s likely your lovey will be polyester-filled too.

What exactly is polyester?

Polyester fiber is actually a form of plastic, typically derived from oil. It’s grown in popularity because it’s durable, easy to maintain, and cheap to produce. But despite these benefits, this synthetic fabric doesn’t breathe, and may have some truly nasty implications for human and environmental health. Each time it is heated or washed, it can emit microplastics and other potentially harmful VOCs.

Introduce Your Healthiest Lovey First

After realizing my son was clocking some major hours with his Peter Rabbit, I began the search for something healthier.

I did end-up finding a reasonably priced organic cotton plush for my son, but it wasn’t nearly exciting enough to lure him away from Peter — I mean, look at this guy, he is pretty darn adorable!

The lesson I learned? I had better get my next little one hooked on a healthier lovey from the start! And so I did.

Beware the Organic ‘Shell’

In seeking out healthier plush, or really anything ‘filled,’ beware the sneaky marketing ruse of the 100% organic ‘shell.’

I confess to falling for the organic cotton ‘shell’ more than once myself; it’s a product comprised predominantly of polyester and only lined with organic cotton (Insert eye-roll here). How obnoxious for companies to charge a premium for products that aren’t as advertised.

A perfect example of this ‘shell,’ are two items we purchased, an ‘organic’ blanket from Burt’s Bees, and an ‘organic’ blanket lovey from Green Sprouts.

The blanket is filled with 100% polyester, and the lovey from Green Sprouts, while stuffed with organic cotton, contains 20% polyester on the back.

Both of these items carried premium price tags for (supposedly) better quality ingredients. Neither delivered.

To be fair, they are soft, of high quality, and arguably better than items containing no organic materials or natural fibers, but neither is comprised of ‘100% organic cotton,’…and that is what I thought I was getting.

Parents looking for ‘organic cotton’ products aren’t interested in items stuffed with polyester! So if you’re in the market for organic versions of blankets, pillows, or plush, be sure to pay close attention to the fine print!

A Growing Market

While I sometimes feel like the lone crazy lady, I know the demand for healthier toys is growing. I know because I’ve watched the supply blossom before my very eyes.

When curating a healthier lovey for my son, pickings were, well, slim. Looking for options just a few years later, adorable possibilities abound.

It’s exciting to watch the change unfold, and to see many lovely options available at increasingly accessible price points.

Details of This Apple Park Delight

While there are many beautiful, healthy options available, this particular bunny has been a huge hit with our daughter!

And as her mom, here are the reasons I consider it to be one of those rare pieces of “stuff’ that never fails to inspire.

Apple Park Little Plush Bunny – Cocoa Brown

Click to view Cocoa Bunny on the Apple Park website.

The Lovely:

  • 100% GOTS certified organic cotton shell and dress
  • Hypoallergenic, Non-GMO corn fiber filling (no polyester)
  • GOTS certified low-impact dye
  • Very small size makes it perfect for little babies to hold and cuddle
  • Charming and simple design

In addition to these features, I appreciated the bunnies small size and its breathable fibers. Both gave me comfort as I nervously introduced that first item into the crib after she turned one. Having something beloved to cuddle seemed to help in promoting some self-soothing.

The Less Lovely:

  • This is not a super fluffy plush; it has a firmer feel. In my opinion, it’s completely worth foregoing some fluff for the benefits of a natural, breathable fiber
  • Not made in the USA — handmade in China

I was unable to find our sweet bunny on Amazon, but I did find a small selection of Apple Park products, including their Organic Farm Buddies collection. These are darling too, and made also from GOTS certified organic cotton and non-GMO corn fiber fill.

I’ve included a link to the Organic Farm Buddies on Amazon below.

The two links found below are ‘affiliate links,’ which will connect you to Amazon. Should you purchase through my link, I may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. You can read all the details of my affiliate policy here. Thank you for your support!

Ideas for Sourcing Safer Plush

For those with a broader budget, Bella Luna Toys offers beautiful, high-quality options. We ordered my daughter’s Christmas presents from their store this year, and I was very pleased with our purchases.

I don’t have any relationship with Apple Park or Bella Luna Toys, but I love the idea of promoting independent toy companies with like-minded values.

I should forewarn that these products, particularly those carried by Bella Luna, are not cheap. Their toys are constructed of quality materials, many of which are made by hand.

That said, be sure to read carefully the fine print for each item. If the filling isn’t mentioned specifically, it’s probably not a selling point. I would even recommend reaching out to a customer service representative to verify the materials before purchasing.

Balancing Your Plush

We have lots of polyester-filled plush in this house. But, as with plastic, I’m attempting to find a balance by prioritizing.

We have two huge bins of fun, colorful, and fabulously fluffy plush, many of which have been thoughtfully gifted to us by loved ones. And these plush toys are welcome to make an unlimited number of appearances at tea parties, train depots, lovey story times, and whatever other play scenarios my little ones can dream up!

My goal isn’t to spoil all the fluffy-plush fun. Rather, I’m striving to ensure healthier sleep spaces for my little ones by selecting a lovey that’s worthy of those extra cuddles.

In a world so often dominated by loud and obnoxious clutter, I hope you can find a gentle, healthier little lovey that will make your heart sing too!

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