Newborn Essentials including Sustainable & Zero Waste Alternatives

Hi Savvys,

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!

I have a previous post where I go through in detail about our experience with cloth diapering.  Check it out and don’t forget to check out the video where I go into detail!

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!

Cloth Diapering – What We’ve Learnt

Hi Savvys,

Before we knew that we were even pregnant with Ezra, we knew that I wanted to cloth diaper our babies since it is the most environmentally friendly option available.  My mom had cloth diapered us when we were growing up so I knew that it was a tradition I wanted to continue.  If cloth diapering seems to be daunting to you but you still want to find a more sustainable option, there are other options available such as biodegradable diapers, however since this would require us to purchase these on a regular basis, I also wanted an option that was going to give us the biggest bang for our buck. 

After some research and comparisons, I was happy to confirm for myself that cloth diapering not only is more environmentally friendly, but it will be the cheaper option for my family in the long run, especially if we plan to have more children.  See below for the full cost breakdown and for more information on our experience.

  1. How much money do you actually save?
    1. This all depends on what type of diaper you end up using in the end.  For my calculations, since we decided to go with pocket diapers, my calculations are based on this type of diaper.
    1. See the charts above!  Based on my conservative calculations, you end up saving almost $900 per child, however that doesn’t take into account the amount of diapers you are diverting from the landfills!  The savings can be even larger if you purchase second hand reusable diapers, or if you have them gifted from your gift registry, so do keep that in mind as well.
  2. Pockets, flats, prefolds: which cloth diaper should we use?
    1. I was so overwhelmed with all of the choices when I was researching which would be best for our family.  Personally, the pocket diapers ended up being the easiest to use because you just have to tuck the insert into the pocket and fasten the diaper onto your baby.  You don’t need to be a wizard at origami or worry about not folding them properly, which was an added benefit for us.
    1. When researching, I did come across recommendations to try different brands since they could fit differently on your baby.  Generally, they all do fit pretty much the same, but read the reviews because some brands are larger and some smaller, which can have added benefits for fit with a newborn (more on that below).
    1. The 3 brands that we have are Alva baby, Koala Mama and Kawaii.  We found that Kawaii fit the best on our baby, followed by Alva and then Koala Mama. 
  3. How many cloth diapers do I need?
    1. Newborns (0-3 months) will need on the high end 12 diapers a day, so you will need to calculate how many diapers you need for that.  If you plan on only cloth diapering when they’re a bit bigger (and can fit into the cloth diaper better), then you may need less, like 8-10 diapers a day.
    1. In the end, it really depends on how often you want to do laundry.  For us, we do laundry every day and found that 38 diapers work well for us and we can easily skip a day of laundry if necessary.  You may need more or less.  Keep in mind that you may also want to look into purchasing extra inserts for doubling up for overnights. 
    1. There are 2 types of inserts: bamboo and microfiber.  Microfiber is cheaper than bamboo, but from our experience not as absorbent as bamboo and we tend to experience leaking with microfibers.  When purchasing your pocket diapers, you can select either microfiber or bamboo, so keep that in mind, but we do recommend bamboo.  You can also find charcoal bamboo which are also anti fungal and anti bacterial, which is great because we tend to use these for overnights since we are changing the diaper less often.
  4. Can newborns fit into the cloth diapers?
    1. It depends on your baby and the brand you buy!  Of course, it’s impossible to know how much your baby will weigh before they are born, but keep in mind that for the diapers we have (Alva Baby and Kawaii to be exact), it could accommodate 8lb+.   There are hacks where you can fold the diaper a certain way to accommodate newborns, but depending on how chunky your baby’s legs are, there might be too much space to be able to full seal the diaper from any leaks.  Note that you can also purchase newborn sized diapers, but this will add to your overall cost for cloth diapering your baby. 
    1. For us, for the 1st week we did actually use disposables since we were monitoring the number of dirty diapers our was creating, to ensure he was eating enough and gaining enough weight.  Luckily for us, Ezra was born over 8lb so when we made the transition to cloth diapers when he was a week old, he was able to fit into them without issue.
  5. How do you really clean cloth diapers?
    1. It’s pretty easy to clean.  You will need to purchase a wet bag that you can put into a laundry basket for all of the dirty diapers.  Then you throw the whole thing into the laundry machine for 2 cycles:
    1. The 1st cycle is the quick rinse cycle
    1. The 2nd cycle is where it really deeps clean
    1. Once the diapers are washed, the liners actually naturally separate from the pocket diapers in the washing machine so it’s really easy to clean.  Then we hang dry the pocket diapers, but machine dry the liners to get them fluffy again.
  6. Will there be a smell?
    1. We found that there is no smell!  However, the diaper pail does sometimes get a bit dank, so we just throw in a dryer sheet with essential oils into the laundry bin for some freshness.  Also note that we haven’t entered the solid food stage yet, so once we do, we will be updating this guide for future reference.
  7. What do you do with poop?
    1. Because the primary food source is still milk, the poop is still in liquid form (and not solid) so there is no added step in cleaning the diapers – it all goes into the wet bag, which goes straight into the washing machine.
  8. Do they leak?
    1. When fastened correctly, they do not leak at all!  In our experience, the bamboo liners are much more absorbent than the microfiber ones so definitely choose bamboo instead.  We also double line the diapers with bamboo charcoal liners for overnights for even extra absorbency. 
    1. We did find that the Mama Koala diapers did tend to leak overnight since Ezra sometimes sleeps on his side, and found inconsistency with Alva baby.  We have not had any leaking issues with Kawaii overnight so I do recommend trying that first (though you may need to troubleshoot for yourself based on your baby’s body).
  9. How do I use cloth diapers outside of the house?
    1. Just like regular diapers, we bring a few in case we need to change them while we’re out.  We also purchased a travel sized wet bag that we throw the dirty diapers into and then wash when we get home.  The bag does not leak and contains the soiled diapers.

These are the products that we purchased:

Let me know if you have any questions regarding reusable cloth diapers.  I am also learning on this journey!