Friday, 10 August 2012

New eco parent's essentials list

When I was pregnant I did many many searches on the internet for lists of things I needed to buy for my impending birth, often I would come back with lists telling my I needed nappy bins and baby wipes and dentinox etc., all things I wasn't keen on using.  I wanted a list of the basics, the minimum required for a parent who was not only environmentally aware but also keen to keep as many chemicals away from their baby as possible.  It can be all so easy to get carried away when shopping for a new little one, so I thought it would be useful to put together a list of items that I have found essential, while also noting what one could do without is necessary.  I hope you find this list helpful, please let me know if there is anything you think I have forgotten.

1. Pushchair:

We used a travel system which included a car seat, pram and pushchair attachment, all for the one frame.  You can read more about buying a pushchair on a budget here.  However, having said that, if you don't have a car, you won't be needing a car seat so you could save even more space and money by just getting a pram that turns into a pushchair seat. If you can buy one second hand then all the better.

2. Wrap or baby carrier:

I found this totally indispensable in the first few weeks of my son's life, I carried him for a lot of the time.  You could actually do without a pushchair if you can manage to carry your baby with the wrap at all times.  It did my back in so I needed a pushchair as well.  I can highly recommend the Moby wrap because it spreads the weight evenly across your shoulders and hips. Again, buy one from ebay, cheaper and just as good.

3. Cot or bedside crib:

We were give a Moses basket when Orren was born, but he very quickly grew out of it.  In order for us to keep him in our bedroom for that little bit longer we bought a sort of bedside cot that looked like a normal cot with wooden bars, but much smaller.  If we could have we would have got this from the start.  You can buy there second hand off ebay or gumtree, but make sure you purchase a new mattress.

4. Changing mat:

You could just use a muslin or a towel but a wipe clean changing mat will save on washing.

5. Washable wet wipes:

For the first 5 months we used cotton wool and water but I wish I had made washable wet wipes sooner because they are more effective for wiping up poop (sometimes a little piece of cotton wool feels like you are trying to mop up the ocean with a flannel!)  They are dead  easy to clean even at 30 degrees, soft on their skin and unlike commercial wet wipes they contain no nasty chemicals.  They are better for the environment because they only have to manufactured the once thereby using less energy and of course they won't be going to land fill.  You can read my tutorial of how to make your own here.

6. Nappies:

If you can buy into a washable nappy brand then that's great, it will save you stacks of money compared to disposables and are far far better for the environment (even when factoring in energy used in washing them).  You can get them for a reasonable price second hand as buying them new is quite a big investment.  Get recommendations.  We bought into a brand called Bambino Mio, but I couldn't get along with them, they were too much of a faff having to put on with three separate components, and they leaked.  We couldn't afford to buy into another brand so ended up using bio-degradable disposables.  Slightly better in that they will eventually bio-degrade, but being buried under all that plastic on a landfill site will mean they won't have access to air and water (essential for degradation), BUT they will degrade eventually unlike the plastic kind.

7. Baby Clothes:

To begin with all your baby really needs are Baby-grows, also known as onesies, playsuits etc, you probably need about 10.  We got almost all of ours second hand apart from one new pack to take to hospital. We also bought a pack of little hats to keep his little bonce warm.  When baby gets a bit older you will want to put little trousers/skirts and dresses on them etc.  Again, almost all the clothes we have were given to us from friends.  I have seem lots of job lots of baby clothes on ebay selling for very reasonable prices.  Also look at NCT sales, car boot sales and charity shops.

8. Washable breast pads:

Washable breast pads are far nicer to use than disposables because they contain no plastic and don't have a thin papery skin that can get stuck to your nipples and cause all sorts of problems.  I bought washable bamboo breast pads, they are soooo absorbent and soft.  I have 10 pairs and bought them here.  Ultimately better for the environment and your pocket.

9.  Blankets:

Three or four blankets are really useful because they often get sick on them etc. We were give a LOT of blankets when Orren was born, but if he hadn't I would have made some just from some fleece  in the fabric shop, nothing fancy.  If you were feeling creative you could make a quilt like this one I made a few years ago!

10: Muslins:

Lots and lots of muslins, they are so useful for protecting their clothes, protecting your clothes, they act as sun shields, I have used them as changing mats, bibs, play mats, cloths...the list goes on. Again there is no reason why you need to buy these, you could always just buy a couple of meters of cheese cloth from a good fabric shop and cut it and hem it yourself.  We were given most of our as gifts.

11. Baby monitor:

We bought a baby monitor with a sensor pad, we hardly used it at all for the first few months but when we established a bed time routine at about 4 1/2 months we thought it would be good to put it on because he was sleeping upstairs while we spent the evening downstairs.  We could hear him cry straight away the and could respond immediately.  The sensor pad has been good for those times when only sleeping on his front would do.  I suppose a baby monitor isn't essential but it does give peace of mind.

12.  Moisturising oil or cream:

We use wheatgerm oil as a massage oil and also for dry skin, but you could just as well use organic olive oil or sunflower oil.  We used pure shea butter for nappy rash and haven't had any problems with it. Whatever you choose it is best if it is totally natural, babies don't need all those chemicals on their skin.

Have I forgotten anything?  Please let me know if I have.

Things that I don't think you will need (or at least I have bought but not needed) include:

1. A breast pump.  If breast feeding goes to plan and you are with your little one all the time, I don't see any reason why you need a breast pump.  Some people get them so they can go out for the evening or go away for a weekend, but I decided that I have get my baby as a baby for a very short time so I might as well forego the weekends away and enjoy feeding him all the time.

2. Sterilising equipment.  Again, for the reason above, and only if the breastfeeding goes to plan.

3. Baby towels.  We just use normal towels and hand towels.

4.  A baby bath.  We just use the big bath and only fill it a few inches full. Sometimes I bath in the water after him.

5. Scratch mits.  Most baby grows have little mit covers a the end of the sleeves.  Mits were a waste of time and money it was like putting paper bags on his hands and hoping they would stay on!

6. Bubble baths, shampoo, body washes and moisturisers.  Babies don't need soap or washes of any kind, plain water is enough.  As for moisturisation, see above and use olive or sunflower oil.

Any other thoughts on what you don't need?

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