Two of my best friends are having their first babies. One friend is as mainstream as can be, the other is my inspiration for reducing our waste and consumption. I’ve been having lots of conversations with both of them about babies and what they actually need, and I was inspired to share the fruits of these conversations with you all. I’ll post the Luxury Baby Registry that my mainstream, convenience friend and I put together later on this week.
This list is for the zero-wasters, the plastic-free, and the nature mamas. I tried to note vegan options as well.
There are only a few things babies really need to be able to do: eat, sleep, eliminate waste, and cuddle with mama. In our suburban-rural area, they also have to be able to ride in a car.
Eat: Breast Feed!
- Breast feeding is as zero-waste as it gets. For some people, nothing else is need. For other people feeding baby is a bit more complicated.
- Lactation Consultant: Not the one at the hospital, maybe one at a birth center. My doula included a session with a local lactation consultant, who came to the house and saw how we were actually developing our nursing relationship. Which was great, because Kai was a noisy swallower, and I thought the noise was her choking, so every time she tried to get food, I took it away. She also had a tongue tie that the neither the hospital lactation consultant nor the pediatrician even noticed
- Lactation Group: Join La Leche League or your local nursing group. Other moms are very helpful. They’ve been there and can help you get through the first three months.
- Breast Pump: If you know you’ll need to give your baby a bottle, if you are going back to work, or if you previously had low supply, a breast pump may be helpful. I used and love the Limerick PJ’s Bliss, which has been replace by the (almost exactly the same) Limerick PJ’s Comfort. Silicone flanges are not only safer, but much more comfortable than hard plastic. Also, because it is a closed-system pump, it can be handed down to another mom when you’re finished unlike most major pump brands. The tubing and the storage bottles that come with the pump are plastic, but so far I’ve not found a pump with non-plastic parts.
- Storing Breast Milk: I stored milk in mason jars if I was freezing them, and in Lifefactory Bottles if they were going in the fridge to be eaten later in the day.
- Glass: Lifefactory Bottles (these have plastic rings to connect the nipple to the bottle)
- Stainless Steel: Pura Kiki Bottles (this is what Ada chose to register for)
- Silicone: Comotomo Bottle
- Whichever you choose, use the slowest nipple the entire time you are breast feeding. It really helps the baby prefer the breast.
- If you can find second hand bottles that are glass, stainless or silicone, this would be ideal. Just sterilize them before use. (5-10 minutes in boiling water usually works, but use the method you are most comfortable with).
- We bed shared on a firm mattress with a single pillow and one sheet, following the best practices recommendations. This not for everyone. APA recommends babies sleep on their own surface, on their backs, in their parent’s room.
- We found Ada a hand me down Ikea Sniglar Crib from another friend. They are currently not available new, because of a supply issue, but they are solid wood, and unfinished, and basically your best bet for a zero-waste crib.
- You could also try a Finnish style Baby Box if you are low on room. I’m still waiting to hear back on if the box is compostable.
Eliminate Waste: Elimination Communication or Cloth Diapers
- Elimination CommunicationTiny underwear
- The tiniest sized underwear I could find is Tiny Undies which carries size 6 month. They offer an undyed cotton, but are not organic and are made in China, though they are looking to move production to the US at the moment.
- Hanna Anderson’s underwear is organic cotton, and they say XS can fit size 18 months.
- Tiny training pants
- BecoPotty is a compostable potty chair.
- Cloth Diapers
- The most zero-waste option is natural fiber flats or prefolds with wool covers since that is all compostable, or you can usually purchase all your diapers used from your local cloth diaper b/s/t on facebook if you are vegan and prefer to use PUL. Wool covers are easier to find used through brand specific facebook b/s/t groups and will probably require shipping.
- Wool Covers
- PUL AIO diapers that worked well for us
- PUL covers plus prefolds or flats from above
Warmth: Clothing and Blankets
- Second hand is the way to go here. Three garage sales was enough to net baby clothes for a year and we spent less then $40. The only thing that you can’t really find second hand are socks, and if you are doing elimination communication, Kimono Shirts.
- If you can find them used, organic swaddle blankets are my favorite for everything from use as a blanket to a burp cloth to a carseat cover to a toy for entertaining baby. Get the 47″ x 47″ ones, the smaller ones can be frustrating if you plan to actually swaddle a baby.
Cuddle and Carry: Mama
- Babywearing is my preferred method of baby transportation. There are a million different carriers.
- Check carriers out from your local Babywearing Library. We live in a medium sized town, and the library here has 200+ carriers and five certified babywearing teachers. You can check out a carrier for a month and yearly membership is $30. If your local system is similar, you might not need to buy a carrier at all.
- Check the Babywearing B/S/T groups on facebook. There are hundreds of used carriers for sale, and broken in carriers are often softer and easier to use. Most moms will be happy to ship with as little plastic as possible if you ask politely.
- I like to have a ring sling for little babies like a Ring Sling Basic Collection (Flax), a woven wrap for bigger babies like a Didymos Organic Wrap, and a Meh Dai for toddlers like a Wompat Wrap Tai. I bought them all used and then passed them on to others when I was done.
- Besides socks and underwear, this is the one thing you have to buy new. Our local hospital doesn’t care how you are getting home, the baby can’t leave unless they are in a car seat. Several carseat manufacturers are using fabric that is especially woven not to need fire retardants, which decreases the potentially toxic chemicals your infant is exposed to. Also consider that most states now require children to rear-face until 2 years old, and that most safety and medical groups suggest rearfacing until the child reaches the seat’s weight or height limit.
- If you want to limit plastic, you can simply use a convertible carseat from birth instead of buying an infant carseat and then moving to the convertible seat at a later date.
- My choice is the Clek Foonf with a Clek Infant-Thingy. Clek has transparent safety information available, they are free of toxic flame retardants, and they run a recycling program for their seats. With the Infant Thingy, you can use the seat from birth.
- Play peek-a-boo with a blanket and check out baby books from the library. Babies really have very little needs in the way of toys.
- Parents sometimes need baby toys to entertain themselves, though, and Grandparents want to buy something, so these are the ones I liked:
- Best money I spent in the whole process of having a baby. The only reason I had a drug free, intervention free labor. The OB literally said she had been betting on C-section right after she handed me Kai. The doula not only helped me, but she also helped my husband help me, and gave him the chance to shove food down his mouth for a minute or two so he didn’t faint on me during labor. Really, find a doula you love, love your doula, let your doula help you have the best labor you can have. Totally worth it.
- Even if you are giving birth at a birthcenter or at home, I still recommend a doula. Midwives are great, but their job is safely delivering the baby. The doula is focused on you.
- You can even register for doula gift cards on your registry if this is a stretch financially.
Have any other tips on a zero waste baby? Share them in the comments!
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