Having a baby is pure magic, whether it marks your first step into parenthood or the final piece in your family’s jigsaw. It can also be an overwhelming time – especially for first-time parents.
We suddenly need to start visiting shops we’ve never set foot in before to buy products we’ve never used. We have no idea how they work or how much they should cost – and we’re trying to navigate it all on a couple of hours’ sleep.
The good news is that babies don’t need half the things we’re led to believe. This is great news for the many people who find their interest in sustainability and the environment deepens when they become a parent.
With a few essential items you can save yourself time, effort and money – and know that you’re helping to create a better world for your baby to grow up in.
Image credit: Weleda
Lotions and potions
Unless there is a specific medical reason, your baby doesn’t actually need body lotions, oils, talcs or anything else. Their skin is delicate and perfectly balanced – it has everything it needs. In fact, your baby’s skin is so delicate that altering its pH could actually be detrimental.
The only cream worth buying is an absolute essential: Weleda Calendula Nappy Change Cream. It contains 100% certified natural ingredients that work in harmony with your baby’s skin to soothe sore, red or inflamed skin. As with all Weleda products, the ingredients kick-start your baby’s own (very strong) ability to heal itself. It’s a must-have cream that works so well it’s known in our house as the ‘magic cream’; I still carry it in my bag for stings, burns or scratches.
If you’re having trouble getting your baby to sleep, another product in Weleda’s all-natural Baby range – the Calendula Baby Oil – is excellent for foot massages, which often send little (and big!) ones off in no time.
Other than that, an average baby’s skin doesn’t require additional moisturising agents. Anything that does go near a baby’s skin should be certified natural or organic by NATRUE or the Soil Association (COSMOS), so look out for those on-pack logos.
Image credit: TotsBots
Nappies and wipes
This is the big one from an environmental point of view. In the UK, eight million disposable nappies are sent to landfill every day, and we get through 11 billion wet wipes each year.
Plastic-free wipes and nappies will biodegrade, making them a safer option for the environment, but the best (and cheapest!) solution is to go for reusable alternatives.
Reusable nappies have come a long way and I was really impressed when I started using them. Many are designed just like a single-use nappy, so you just pop your baby in, fold the sides over and stick the tabs down like normal (but with Velcro rather than glue).
TotsBots is a great company that has bright and gorgeous designs; it’s the only nappy company that has an Oeko-Tex certificate for all its products, guaranteeing they’re free from harmful chemicals. On top of that all the waterproof fabric is made from recycled plastic.
Washable baby wipes are also available from companies like Vesta Living. It might not be realistic to switch all your nappies and wipes to reusable alternatives – especially if you’re going away and need the convenience of disposable options. It can also be expensive to buy a full reusable set in one go; for nappies it would cost around £300 (though that’s nothing in comparison with the £1,875 parents spend on disposable nappies over 2.5 years).
Try adding one or two into the mix and see how you get on. You can always add more over time if you want to work up to a full set.
You’ll need a car seat and a way to carry your baby around with you, whether that’s a buggy or a sling. If you invest in a good-quality model it will serve you well and hold its value, giving you the option to re-sell or pass it down to your own child one day.
At My Green Pod we were thrilled to hear how Silver Cross is doing its part for our planet with the Premium Valet & Service scheme (UK mainland only). It allows you to prolong the life of your Silver Cross pushchair with a service and valet, or you can donate it to a family in need for free. And when car seats are no longer being used, they can be recycled too – with absolutely nothing going to landfill (UK mainland only).
Toys and play
I spent close to £40 on a Montessori-style sensory ball for our little boy’s first Christmas, only to find he was more interested in a walnut.
Babies don’t need expensive toys; they will derive pure joy from an upside-down saucepan and a wooden spoon, or a box with pinecones rattling round inside. A walk outside will offer more stimulation and learning opportunities to a baby than you might think.
Don’t get sucked in by flimsy plastic and flashing lights; in research by the British Heart Foundation, one in five parents admitted their child lost interest in a toy in the first 11 hours of play. Unwanted toys are just more fodder for landfill.
Your baby will never be happier than when you’re giving him or her your undivided attention – rolling around on the floor together, making silly noises and pulling faces. A lot of companies will tell you otherwise, but most babies don’t need much at all to grow up healthy and happy – all they want is time with you so you can both enjoy the magic together.