My son is now 6 months old and I feel like I’ve gotten into a groove with taking care of him. Before my son was born, I was very adamant in being as zero waste as possible with raising him. Some things did take a bit of researching and creativity, but I really feel like we’ve established a really good routine.
To be honest, when he was first born, implementing some of these solutions was quite intimidating and was also learned through trial and error. I thought I would create a blog post (and video!) to share what I have learned so far and to show you that you can raise your family with eco friendly alternatives as well! Feel free to comment below on what types of eco friendly solutions you have implemented and if there are other things that you would recommend!
Preparing for the birth of our son included washing all of his clothes and organizing his closet. It was very overwhelming since baby clothes come in so many different sizes and it was hard to determine how many onsies we needed per size, of course considering the weather and climate as well. Though it may be really easy to overspend in this category by buying cute clothing as soon as you find out that you’re expecting, I really refrained from purchasing clothing until the very end since styles are constantly changing and I also wanted to ensure I was purchasing gender neutral clothing so that we can use them for future children, or give it away with ease when we were done.
My main tip for this category is to ask for hand me downs! Babies, especially in the first few months, don’t really need nice clothing since they will be spitting up or pooping all over them. If you are lucky like I was, we had lots of friends and family handing over lots of hand me downs in various sizes. It was really convenient because I only had to purchase a few new onsies (because of COVID, we were social distancing and wasn’t able to get a hold of all of the hand me downs before the birth), which meant we were also able to save a lot of money for more essential items.
If you do not know anyone who is able to pass along some hand me downs, there are lots of facebook groups for new moms who always post free items, including clothing, thus giving a new life to those pre-loved onsies. What I’ve learned so far is that these mommy groups have very generous members who are always willing to help locate anything you need. If you are unable to find free hand me downs, you can always check out facebook marketplace or thrift stores – there are always an abundance of pre-loved clothing available for your little one.
We were also fortunate to have a closet full of pre-loved baby clothing available at our midwife clinic – so don’t forget to check out your clinic where available!
We were so devastated when Ezra developed a diaper rash when he was only 1 month old! We were trying to be diligent by always ensuring his bottom was dry before diapering him up but it ended up being unavoidable. After doing some research, diaper rash can actually be preventable by applying coconut oil after every diaper change. It’s been 5 months now and he has not experienced a rash ever since! We like to keep a jar of organic coconut oil by his change table and diligently apply it all over his bottom after every change. It keeps his bottom moisturized while creating a barrier from his dirty diaper.
There has been some media attention around how wipes do not decompose and can be hazardous when flushed down the toilet since they don’t break down like toilet paper. Every time you change your baby, you will be using minimum 1 wipe per change. That is a lot of wipes going to landfills in your baby’s lifetime! If you are going to be cloth diapering your baby, using cloth baby wipes should go hand in hand. (also if you are not cloth diapering, consider using cloth baby wipes as well since it’s better for their bottom and the environment!)
Besides being better for the environment, there are added benefits to making the switch as well. One of the more obvious ones is that you will be saving lots of money in the long run. Another benefit that we actually noticed was the smell it leaves behind. We use baby wipes when we are away from the house and noticed that it leaves a smell on our baby’s bum, even if the solution is 99.9% water. When we use our wash cloths, it doesn’t leave any smell at all. It’s also convenient to use because we throw it into the same laundry as our cloth diapers and everything gets washed at the same time! You can use cotton wash cloths or even use old cotton shirts that you can cut into little squares. We don’t use a special solution when cleaning our baby’s bum and have found that water has been just as effective.
I knew that I wanted to breast feed and knew that I wanted to pump milk so that my husband can feed Ezra and bond with him as well. To be honest, I had put off pumping and bottle feeding for over 3 months because I couldn’t get myself to use the single use plastic storage bags. I made a goal for myself to find a more sustainable yet budget friendly way of storing extra breast milk. Then it occurred to me that I could use silicone ice cube trays and store the milk in reusable silicone bags. This method is perfect and super easy because each cube fits about 10ml of breast milk and can be easily placed into the bottles for thawing. All you need to do is take out how ever many cubes you need for the feeding. I do recommend this for when your baby is over 3 months since I was unable to sterilize the trays or the silicone bags, and since baby is already putting toys and stuff in his mouth, then this method has been proven to be effective and safe!
Note that I only pump to have a few ounces in the freezer at a time, but f you pump more, I recommend having multiple silicone bags and labeling them so you can keep track of the milk and rotate accordingly.
Breast pads are a must if you are breastfeeding. I didn’t know that once your milk comes in, your breasts go through a transitional period where it’s figuring out supply and demand from your baby, which causes a lot of leaky boobs not only when you are feeding, but even when you are just thinking of your babe. In addition to having a nursing bra, you will also need some nursing pads. You can always buy disposable ones, but for the same price of a box, you can buy multiple sets of reusable pads and divert more waste from the landfill. The pads I received were a gift and made from bamboo, however you can easily find reusable pads from a quick google search.
Raising a family doesn’t mean you have to take the conventional route and purchase disposable products that are readily available on the market. The amount of waste that a baby produces can be overwhelming and reason enough to make eco friendly switches. I am glad that I was able to reduce a lot of the waste our family created by using reusable products that can be used for future babies as well!
Let me know in the comments below what your zero waste tips are and if there was anything that I missed!
Now set forth and be savvy!