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Rude Wonders

Ask Away: independent health store advice on natural babycare

Looking for advice on natural health and wellbeing? Your local independent health stores can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This issue we speak to Sian Eustace, a homeopath who owns Healing Harvest in Kinvara, Co Galway.


The discerning customer does not have to look far to realise that the choice in organic and natural child and babycare products is ever growing. Covering fields as diverse as clothing to first weaning foods, supplements and skincare, there are more and more ranges available month on month in health stores around the country.

We like to think of it as forward thinking – protecting the health of our children today which may reduce the burden on medical care in the future. Natural and organic products for babies and children are here to stay and there is a huge variety from which to choose.

Nappies are one of the mainstay products within the babycare market. Disposable nappies are a huge issue in terms of landfill waste and there are many alternatives within the health store environment. The most sustainable type is the cloth nappy and, even within this bracket, there are many alternatives. These are a far cry from the terry squares and nappy pins of our grandmothers’ days and are made for ease of use. There are also cloth nappy libraries around the country to facilitate mums who would like to find out more before choosing a particular style of nappy.

An alternative to the cloth nappy is the eco-disposable. Typically these use biodegradable materials and do not contain the gels which are a key component of the high street brands. Eco disposables are unbleached and do not contain any plastic layers. For many mums these provide a happy medium, balancing ease of use with good eco credentials.

Organic baby foods account for a large section of many health foods stores these days. From sachets and jars of purées to cereals and finger foods, the needs of even the most fussy toddler can be met. Again, ease of use seems to be a large consideration, in balance with a striving for the most pure of ingredients.

The last few years have seen the rise of squeezy sachet organic baby foods. These can be squeezed out and warmed for the smallest of customers or handed to a hungry toddler to be sucked directly from the pack – a lifesaver for the stressed parent around town! Having said this, health stores sell all the ingredients needed for the most natural of wholefood baby diets, including pulses, wholegrains, dried fruits and low salt stock options.

Natural and organic skincare is also a burgeoning area for the health store retailer. Many adult brands have brought out specific baby and childcare ranges on top of the brands who only deal with this market. Creams for faces, bottoms and all in between can be found with the purest of ingredients, and you do not have to look far to find shampoos, body oils, bubble baths and more. Parents are becoming more and more au fait with the ingredients to avoid and are reading labels with a hawk-like gaze, particularly when it comes to the skin of their young ones. This is also becoming more prevalent due to the rise in allergic skin conditions which preclude the use of other products. Such allergies are also leading many parents to use eco laundry products, many of which can be refilled in-store.

Whilst clothing is not on the shelves of many health stores, there are some organic shops which do carry a few lines and there are several companies, particularly it seems in Scandinavia, who are making beautiful clothes in organic, and often fair trade, cotton. Again, parents who might not shell out for organic textiles for themselves, appear to be prepared to do so when it comes to their children. Not only do these fabrics protect the skin of their little ones, they are protecting the environment into which the children are growing.

So if you are looking for something to sustain your little eco companion, there is a natural or organic product for you. Pop into your local health store and see what is available. The staff will be happy to advise you and point you in the right direction. Here’s to the healthiest generation yet.

Who's who and what's what at Healing Harvest

Sian Eustace had been working in the Hopsack in Rathmines and was just qualified as a homeopath when she moved to Kinvara, Co Galway nearly eight years ago. “There wasn’t much call for my line of work here so I decided to set up a health store and Healing Harvest was born,” she explains.

“Now I have two great members of staff – Claire O’Donnell is a reflexologist and does baby massage; she is very good on paleo diets. Aoife Hughes is studying to be a homeopath; she is a coeliac and very knowledgable about it.

“Many of our customers are people who bake and cook from scratch and come in looking for cost-effective raw ingredients – mainly women aged 30-60. They buy flour, sugar, dried fruit, local organic eggs and other baking foods.

“We also sell supplements, skincare products, organic babycare and do refills for eco-cleaning products and also shampoos and conditioners.

“Our customers tend to live close to the land, we are on the edge of the Burren, and are conscious of what is going into the land and water system. They are very green minded.

“We have a small fridge and freezer and dairy-free ice-cream has been massive for us. Paleo diet foods do very well too.”

Visit: Healing Harvest, Main St, Kinvara, Co Galway
Try: Healing Harvest are offering 10% off eco disposable nappies for anyone who mentions this article. www.healingharvest.ie
SPEAK TO: Claire about paleo diets, Aoife about coeliac foods and Sian about homeopathy.

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