About a month ago I shared my tips for the 10 Things You Can Leave OFF Your Baby Registry. While I did give some recommendations for items to replace those 10 items, I was asked to share some additional tips. My best tip is that babies don’t need a lot of stuff. What a baby needs is lots of love and a few essential items.
1. Non-toxic toys and gear. Regardless of what items you place on your list, keep in mind that many popular baby items are made from plastic, or contain potentially toxic chemicals like PVC, phthalates, or lead. While they may be very popular items that are sold in stores all around the world, it doesn’t mean that they are “green” or safe for your baby. Be sure to check the labels and look for the following terms or phrases: PVC-free, phthalate-free, lead-free, organic, BPA-free, and formaldehyde-free.
2. Eco-friendly laundry detergent. I’m not talking about Dreft either! There is a difference between gentle detergent and an eco-friendly detergent that is safe for the entire family; including baby. Our family is currently using Ology (available from Walgreens) but there are several eco-friendly brands available locally or online including; Eco Nuts, Ecos, Seventh Generation, and Rockin’ Green. The most natural detergent we’ve used is Eco Nuts Liquid Detergent (we still have some and use it regularly). Another option would be to make your own DIY laundry detergent. This is one area that I’ve never actually tried myself but my friend Amanda has a great recipe on her blog; DIY Laundry Detergent.
3. Swaddle Blankets. Yes, I’m a blanket hoarder! I still have the baby blanket from when I was a baby (well my kids have it) and they each have about 10+ blankets of their own. We have every different type and style of blanket that is available but my absolute favorite blanket is the muslin or bamboo swaddle blankets. I personally recommend the aden + anais (a+a) organic or bamboo swaddle blankets which are light-weight and eco-friendly. The a+a blankets are so large that you can use them for more than just swaddling your baby. They make great nursing covers, stroller shades, or rugs for tummy time. Another notable blanket is the Belly Armor brand which shields radiation from cell phones, computers, and other electronics that you may be using near your baby.
4. Teethers and Teething Jewelry. All babies deal with teething pain throughout the first 1-2 years. When selecting a teether for them be sure that they are BPA-free, phthalate-free, and non-toxic. I love the Jellystone Designs JChew teethers – they look like chocolate bars, smart phones, and owls. Another option is baltic amber teething necklaces and bracelets. Baltic Amber jewelry is worn by your child (not to be chewed upon) while under your supervision and will natural relieve pain and inflammation.
5. Reusable cloth pads. OK, so this isn’t a “baby” item but it’s one that you should have on hand for after your baby is born. The hospital or birthing center will likely send you home with some disposable pads but it’s much more comfortable (and eco-friendly) to wear the reusable cloth pads. They can be laundered at home and reused over and over again. Some of my favorites include Pink Daisy organic pads or Pink Lemonade post partum pads.
6. Non-toxic skin care. The majority of the shampoos, lotions, baby oils, diaper creams, and body washes on the market contain hidden toxins that may be harmful to your baby. Avoid the popular skin care brands (especially Johnson & Johnson’s and Aveno) that contain ingredients like parabens, 1,4-Dioxane, cateareth, DEA, MEA, TEA, and sodium lauryl sulfate. Even some “natural” skin care products contain these hidden toxins so be sure to look at the ingredients listed on the back of the bottle. I personally recommend EcoStore USA, Dolphin Organics, Earth Mama Angel Baby, Tot Logic, and Episencial branded skin care. Tip: Don’t over wash or apply too many products to your baby. Sometimes the best skin care products may be found in your kitchen. A few dabs olive oil or coconut oil is all your little one may need to soften up that baby skin.
7. Ergonomically correct baby carrier. Do your homework and review the differences between baby carrier styles and brands. The most common baby carriers that Babies-R-Us and other chain stores may recommend are not the best for you or your child. Skip the Bjorn and try a baby wrap, soft-structured carrier, ring sling, or other baby carrier approved by Babywearing International. My personal favorites include the Moby Wrap, Ergo, and Onya Baby.
8. Breastfeeding support items. You don’t need many items to make your breastfeeding relationship successful but there are a few accessories that may be helpful. A good nursing tank, nipple butter, reusable breast pads, Milkmaid tea, and a good lactation specialist. Surround yourself with supportive family members and doctors who won’t try to sabotage your breastfeeding relationship. Note: Not every mother and child will be successful or has the ability to breastfeed. Work closely with a lactation specialist to ensure that every effort is made to work through challenges and struggles. The first few weeks of breastfeeding are the hardest – after that period of time I found breastfeeding to be the easiest (and laziest) thing I ever did for my baby. It helped me reach my pre-pregnancy physique quickly and kept my menstrual cycles from returning for almost two years.
9. Cloth diapers. Modern, reusable, hip, adorable, cloth diapers are an absolute must for your baby. Cloth diapers have come a long way since the diapers that our parents and grandparents used. There is no longer a need for diaper pins and plastic pants. Modern cloth diapers are often one-size fits all with Velcro closures. They go on just as easily as disposable diapers and can be washed at home. What about the poop? Put poop where it belongs by dumping it into the toilet and flushing it away. With the use of diaper liners and diaper sprayers you won’t even have to dunk-n-swish the dirty diapers in the toilet like my mom use to do. Cloth diapers are eco-friendly, healthy for your baby, and will save you hundreds (even thousands) of dollars. If you want to learn more about cloth you may enjoy the book, Changing Diapers – a Hip Mom’s Guide to Modern Cloth Diapers by Kelly Wels – or you can check out my cloth diaper section right here.
10. Good friends, family, and a loving support system. This is one item that can’t be bought at a store. Surround yourself with a loving support system and everything else will be easy. If you are shopping for a mom-to-be consider bringing her meals when she returns from the hospital, offer to come and do a load of laundry for her, stop by and clean a room, or hire a cleaning service to come and help her while she recovers. The first few weeks are the most exhausting and the gifts that a new mom will remember most are the special ways that you helped support her. You may not be able to put a bow on it or put it in a box but your love is valuable and special!
What other “green” things would you put on a baby registry? An organic mattress? Eco-friendly furniture? Share your ideas in the comments below, I’d love to hear them.
For even more tips on having a healthy and eco-friendly nursery you may also enjoy the Healthy Child Healthy World, Healthy Nursery Toolkit.Disclosure: Affiliate links are present in this post. Sales using affiliate links help support this blog. Many of the products I’ve mentioned are current or previous sponsors of this blog. I only mention those products which I personally use or support and all of the opinions are my own.