Expecting a baby? Easy sustainable swaps that will save

Monday, 17 January 2022  |  Admin

We've all been there, from the moment you see that extra line confirming that you're pregnant. It's amazing and exciting but also overwhelming.  I still have flashbacks to visiting John Lewis in Oxford St at 6 months pregnant and wanting to weep with everything that I didn't know!

Looking for sustainable nursery ideas? Buy second hand

My mind was blown by the sheer amount of stuff that I was told that I would need. From baby socks and little knitted hats, sleepsuits, sleeping bags, changing bags, changing mats, changing tables, moses basket, cot, travel system, baby carrier, top and tail bowl, baby bath.

Did we really need all this STUFF?

Fast forward through several more children and it's easy with hindsight to say that first time round, we ended up buying many baby products which we either didn't use or just used for a short time. Which is a huge waste of natural resources and money too!

It's easy for friends and excited grandparents to go a little overboard. Adding your baby shower gifts into the equation means you often end up with lots of tiny sleepsuits or impractical items which aren't used. It's so wasteful!

Plus a 2017 Canadian study showed that each child born into the global north left a 58.6 tonne carbon footprint annually.

So is it possible to have a baby and be more sustainable and mindful of greenhouse gas emissions and the fossil fuels used to create so many baby products?

Here's our top tips for buying your baby essentials or creating a sustainable baby gift list.  A baby has actually very few needs:

Moses Basket, Cot, Crib, Bed

Many 'baby essentials' lists say that you need a moses basket and a cot. But are they really necessary?

Possibly not. Especially if you're considering co-sleeping at all, in which case you could potentially go straight to a single bed with bed guard.

Look for cots which convert to a toddler bed. These can often be found second hand as they're used for a fairly short space of time, simply replace the mattress if necessary.

Travel system, car seat, buggy or carrier?

Buying second hand prams are one way of having a baby - but doing it sustainably

Prams are a brilliant second hand purchase which you can save a lot of money on too, plus of course be much more eco friendly.

Car seats are one item we wouldn't recommend buying second hand as they *could* have been damaged in an accident and therefore aren't fit for purpose. If you're lucky enough to know someone who can pass one on to you however, that's a different story!  Rear facing car seats which can be clipped onto a buggy to use as a stroller are also useful in that they can be dual purpose. 

Alternatively, do you really need a pram? Many parents prefer to keep their newborn baby close in a carrier when they're tiny, avoiding the need for a bulky pram or travel system.

This means they can go straight into a buggy when they're slightly older. You'll get much more use out of a buggy and it's much easier to use on public transportation.

Toys

Buying secondhand or renting toys are sustainable alternatives for your baby

When your baby is newborn, they'll be happy to just look around and play with their fingers, your hair, anything that can get a hold of! 

Age appropriate toys are very important for the healthy development of your baby.

This is also an area where buying pre-loved is well worth a look.   Facebook marketplaces or Gumtree are often awash with toys which are no longer needed and of course you'll be doing the planet a favour too.

Alternatively, take a look at toy swap subscription services such as Whirli which is the more affordable & sustainable alternative to buying toys.

Maternity & Baby Clothing

An easy way to reduce the carbon footprint of having a baby is to buy second hand clothing.

Maternity clothing is a BRILLIANT place to start. You'll often find designer maternity brands on ebay etc for a fraction of the price of new. And of course you can sell then once again when you've finished using them.

Babygro uses 260 litres of water to be produced - hiring baby clothing is a sustainable alternative

This applies even more to baby clothing. Did you know that it takes 260 litres of water to make just one babygro?

Especially newborn clothing, when your baby will probably just live in sleepsuits which they grow out of in record time. Nicer sets of clothing kept 'for good' may only get worn once or twice and then discarded, so it's easy to pick up some lovely items which have barely been worn.

Buying bundles of baby clothing is also a brilliant way to kit your baby out quickly, cheaply and sustainably too.

Another option which is brilliant for sustainable living is clothing rental which can really help minimise your environmental impact. Websites such as Bundlee offer parents the option of kitting their baby out for a monthly fee starting from £24 a month with a capsule wardrobe.

Feeding

Breastfeed - if you can. We've got breasts for a reason and there's no more environmentally friendly way of feeding your baby. Breast milk is the most nutritionally complete food for babies.

We're not judging anyone who can't.  It's hard enough being a new parent without being judged on your parenting choices and we totally understand that it can be a very overwhelming experience to start with.

We've been there!

But please do give it a go. If you're having difficulty, there's lots of breastfeeding support groups out there to help.

A decent breast pump is a worthwhile investment as it allows your partner to feed your baby too. Breast pumps can also be hired which again is a fantastic way of living sustainably and saving money too.

Sustainable Nappy changing

No matter how eco your baby is, they will definitely still pee and poo. A lot. Many first time parents are also astonished by the range that these waste products can be propelled to on exiting!

Thankfully we now have much more sustainable options out there for nappy changing that the 'traditional' disposable wipes and nappies which are full of plastic.  Biodegradable, plastic free wipes and bamboo nappies are a huge step forward in protecting our planet for our children.

However if you want the most sustainable option, why not take a look at reusable wipes or reusable nappies.

If real nappies seem like too much to get your head around, reusable baby wipes are an EASY alternative to disposable wipes.

Reusable wet wipes are the most sustainable alternative to disposable wipes

Reusable wipes can be used for nappy changing or just as face wipes. Not only could they save at least 300 packs of disposable baby wipes from landfill per child, they could also save you at least £500! In these days of high energy prices, that's a substantial saving.

Cheeky wipes offer a reusable wipes kit which contains everything you need to make switching to reusable wipes easy. Simply soak, use, wash, reuse. If you're worried you won't get on with them, they come with a 45 day trial period so if you don't love them you get your money back!

If that encourages you to trial reusable nappies, many local councils in the UK offer incentives to encourage parents to give them a go. This can be £50 worth of free real nappies so this is definitely worth investigating.

In addition, many areas have nappy library services which will lend reusable nappy kits, allowing parents to try a selection and work out what will work for them for a small fee.

What's your top tip for having a baby in a more sustainable way? We'd love to hear!

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