by KELLIE ABRAHAMSON
For many parents, raising their children in 2013 means going back to basics. In place of strollers, they’re using ergonomic carriers, woven wraps and slings. Teething babies are now rocking amber necklaces instead of overdosing on baby aspirin. Move over Pampers: cloth diapers are making a comeback. Plastic toys? Nah, wooden ones are where it’s at. As more and more moms and dads embrace the “go green” lifestyle, modern day child-rearing is changing, and many of the everyday essentials are being exchanged for more eco-friendly options.
For a long time, Jacksonville’s more naturally-minded parents had to rely heavily on online retailers for green baby gear. Being able to walk into a store and pick up a few cute diaper covers and inserts seemed like a luxury only those in super “crunchy” cities could take advantage of. Thankfully, those days are behind us, and there are now several local retail shops specializing in eco-friendly kids’ stuff.
Sailors and Sparrows
1823 N. Pearl St. (Springfield)
On April 27th Sailors and Sparrows opened its doors in historic Springfield. The “eco-family boutique” carries a little bit of everything: wooden toys, handmade clothing, cloth diapers, new and gently used baby carriers, amber teething necklaces, children’s books, organic shampoos and skin care products, natural laundry detergents and even some bling for mom.
What makes this store extra special is much of what you’ll find on the shelves is made by Jacksonville-based vendors. The huge variety of locally made products includes dresses and dolls by Stripes and Ruffles, nursing necklaces by 2 Hip Mamas, handmade embroideries by Forever Becky, quilts from Created Blissfully, natural sunscreen by Second Nature Skin, jewelry by Charmed Life Fashions and many others. Each week they select an area vendor to feature and offer a special discount on their products, further driving home their commitment to supporting local artisans.
In addition to a retail space, Sailors and Sparrows is also a place to learn something new. Each week the store offers yoga classes for kids (and their mommies), storytimes and other fun activities. Upcoming events include an infant sign language class and a course on comfort measures and relaxation techniques for labor.
Wee Sprout Naturally
3491 Pall Mall Dr. Suite 103 (Mandarin)
Wee Sprout Naturally opened last July and has quickly become a favorite for the natural parenting set. The store is somewhat small but is packed with eco-friendly essentials like cloth diapers, natural wellness products, wooden toys and everything in between. Wee Sprout is the only local retailer of Tula Baby Carriers, BabyHawk mei tais and Girasol woven wraps, three huge names in babywearing.
In addition to the big brands, the store also has several locally made products on their shelves including wooden toys by the Littlest Learners, cloth diapering notions from Ginger Baby Designs, natural soaps by Byrds Nest Soap and delectable sweets by Peace, Love and Confection.
Wee Sprout Naturally also boasts a large meeting space they’ve dubbed the “Learning Studio.” There, a wide variety of events and meetings are held each month including childbirth classes, natural parenting meetups, yoga and pilates, babywearing meetings, dance classes, crafting events and more.
Littlebits Children’s Resale
12226 Beach Blvd. Suite 11 (Intracoastal West) 645-8874, www.littlebitschildrensresale.com
What’s more green than consignment? Littlebits is a great place to score pre-loved toys, baby gear and clothing all in excellent condition. But one thing that makes this resale store special is its outstanding selection of brand new cloth diapers. The shop features locally made brands like Ginger Baby Designs as well as bigger names like KaWaii, Rumparooz and BumGenius. They also carry all of your cloth diapering essentials including wet bags, cloth wipes, detergents and more.
In addition to diapers, Littlebits also regularly stocks amber necklaces, organic skin care products by Episencial, CJ’s All Natural products and adorable, locally made hairbows.
Other places to SHOP:
The Green Alligator 3581 St. Johns Ave. (Avondale) 389-3099, www.thegreenalligator.com
This popular shop is a favorite for kids and parents alike. Features a wide variety of thoughtfully selected toys and games with a focus on learning and fun, including many items made with natural and recycled materials.
The Spotted Stork 330 A1A N. Suite 201 (Ponte Vedra) 241-2227, www.spottedstork.com
A unique baby boutique offering many green items including wooden teethers, adorable, organic clothing for both little ones and expectant moms, eco-friendly blankets by Petites Frites and much more.
One Stop Wellness Shop 1539 Parental Home Rd. (Southside) 338-0434 ext. 190
Located just down the hall from Progressive Pediatrics, Jacksonville’s premier holistic pediatric practice, this shop features baby carriers and locally made jewelry in addition to vitamins, homeopathics and breastfeeding supplies.
Little Green Beings 106 St. George St. #F (St. Augustine) 253-0744, www.facebook.com/LittleGreenBeings
Located in St. George’s Row, the store carries organic baby clothing, eco-friendly toys, natural bath products and green dinner time essentials.