A new baby in the house often translates to a slew of new purchases, but how can prospective parents attempt to be as environmentally and health-conscious as possible when selecting items to bring home to their new nurseries? The following are some ideas to help make as little negative impact as possible, while still not doing without the basics that new mothers and babies require:
Cloth diapers – Although, as a future first-time mom, I don’t have any prior experience with cloth diapering, I am determined to give them a dedicated try! There are a plethora of brand and style choices currently on the market, and many ‘mommy experts’ suggest trying out a few different ones to see which fit your baby and lifestyle best. As we live overseas and do not have this option, I chose one brand and purchased the diapers in several different sizes along with washable cloth inserts and some disposable inserts for travelling. I am happy to know that once this purchase was made, we might not need to spend any more on diapers. We are keeping disposables out of local landfills (which I have read can take 500 years to degrade), saving on packaging, and our baby’s bottom will be nestled against cotton and hemp as opposed to the chemicals and synthetics found in most conventional diapers.
Cloth wipes – Another choice we have made in an attempt to be both gentle on the environment, our wallet, and our baby’s bottom are the decision to try cloth wipes. Organic wipes are not very expensive if you shop around, and easily laundered if you are already washing cloth diapers and their inserts.
Safe baby skin products – As a newborn’s skin is delicate, and with a history of allergies and skin problems in the immediate family, we are conscious of the toiletry products which will be coming into contact with our little one’s body. Therefore, I am choosing products which are non-toxic and gentle to a baby’s skin, and plan to use them sparingly. This also applies to our laundry detergent and other cleaning products in the home, especially when used in areas where the baby will come into contact their residues (e.g., floors and surfaces, dishes).
Breast feeding – Although I do not have any previous experience with breastfeeding, I am keeping a positive attitude that I will be able to successfully feed our baby and provide all of his dietary requirements straight from my body. This will eliminate the need for purchased formula and the waste which comes with it. I’ve also stocked up on washable breast pads to eliminate the need for disposables, and natural skincare products should I suffer from any irritations.
Organic cotton materials – From mattress covers to sheets, baby clothing to swaddling blankets, towels to slings – babies constantly come into contact with cloth. As much as is possible, I have stocked up on organic options. Not only does this reduce the amount of harmful chemicals which come into contact with the baby’s skin, but support of the organic cotton industry translates into less pesticides being released into the environment and better work and health conditions for the workers who tend to, harvest and process the cotton itself. Although organic options are often more expensive than conventional, I would rather have a few organic outfits for our baby than drawers and drawers of non-organics that the baby would soon grow out of before he has a chance to wear them very often.
Recycling – Although, due to the fact that we are living far away from family and friends, we have not had the opportunity to incorporate many previously used items into our baby arsenal, parents who have gently used items at their disposal are able to take advantage of not having to purchase newly made products. Reusing not only saves money, but is a great way to recycle items which are still in good working order, preventing them from ending up in the trash and reducing (even if ever so slightly!) the demand for new items to be produced.
Check back over the next few weeks for more on how Jennifer prepared for her pregnancy and on creating a green nursery. You can also learn more about her life in India and Thailand from Jennifer's blog The Robertsons of Mumbai at http://www.therobertsonsofmumbai.com