My husband and I have spent the last five years working on reducing our household waste, put in a garden, a compost, and generally worked towards a more sustainable lifestyle (household trash is less than one bag a week!).
We will welcome our first child into the world this fall and I will be laid off from my job in June (teacher). We've tried to keep any baby related stuff to a minimum, and most of the items are hand-me-downs or consignment purchases. We plan to use cloth diapers and breastfeed, as well as make our own food once the baby is at that point.
I would love any more ideas or suggestions for keeping child rearing green and simple. We love the outdoors and want to continue to live our life, and raise our child with a deep reverence for the earth, joy for life experiences, and little focus on material stuffs.
Many thanks for your thoughts and suggestions,
I love that you are cloth diapering and nursing -- I did with both my children, and it was NOT as difficult as people believe. Nursing (once you get started) is much easier in the long run, than bottle feeding.
I recommend getting a sling instead of a stroller. It gives you a lot more flexibility of movement -- you don't have to worry about stairs or terrain. I also found a sling to be much more comfortable than a "Baby Bjorn" carrier. Plus, it gives you some privacy while you are nursing.
As for toys, you and your husband will be the best "toys" for baby for a long time. As your baby gets older, you will know what appeals to him or her -- is she a "trains" baby? is he a "cuddlies" baby? You'll know.
Good luck, and enjoy your summer with baby!
Congratulations! We had a baby 15 months ago. What a process of joy and exhaustion.
We switched to cloth diapers after I got really disgusted with the amount of diapers we threw out. I highly recommend bum genius diapers. They grow with your child and are easy to use. I got them from Diapers.com that offers a 20% discount on your first order. They were not available used that I found. We prefer the velcro closures.
While they are still newborns and not eating solids their poop is very unpleasant, not solid and a pain to clean up. If you can afford a diaper service until they are on solids I recommend going that route. Once their poop changes it isn't such a mess to deal with.
We found a sling invaluable too and found the best one to be the Ergo. I found one on Craigslist. Most of the stuff can be purchased from a mother's club (recommend joining one if it is available in your area) or from Craigslist. We did find a stroller invaluable for when they are newborn. The kind that the car seat snaps into. Otherwise you may wake a sleeping baby in the transfer from car seat to sling, and then back again.
Later on we bought a Bob stroller (Craigslist) which I highly recommend for walks on trails.
I really like the fact that when I purchase from others instead of the store, I get to meet someone new, save on packing and save money, and see a new area.
Best of luck with your pregnancy, birth, and journey into parenthood!
www.diaperswappers.com is a great place to buy/sell cloth diapers and many other things baby.
Having tried almost every cloth diaper out there (and those of you in the know, know there are a LOT of options), I would recommend BumGenius Elementals (organic cotton interior, waterproof PUL outer, and snaps for adjusting the rise [one size] so you only need these diapers from birth to potty training- not purchasing many sizes) if you are looking for a no hassle to put on cloth diapering option. They come in velcro or snaps for putting on.
If you are looking for the healthiest, greenest, and easiest to launder cloth diapering option, I would recommend quality birdseye cotton flats (like Little Lions or Cloth-eez) pinned or snappi'd on (go with the pins- the snappi's don't get as good a fit on IMO) with a quality wool cover over the diaper. The flats are also one-sized as you can fold them to fit tiny to toddlers (see this site for great flat folding tutorials: http://www.thenappylady.co.uk/public/articlecategorylist.aspx?id=18) and you can find wool one sized covers too! I have been making and selling wool OS (one size) covers but encourage others to try making them themselves! You will need to be patient when you start using flats- it will take a week or two to get down how to put it on, but then it's old hands. :)
Take a good look on diaperswappers.com for all sorts of diapering options- and you can get some reviews on diaperpin.com which can be helpful before purchasing. And definetly purchase whatever diaper you choose used on diaperswappers.com first so you can be sure you like it before deciding to purchase more used or invest in new.
Making your own baby food is EEEAAASSSYYY! I have never purchased baby food and also have hardly shopped for 'special' baby food items other than having extra yams/sweet potatoes and bananas on hand in the beginning. A great book to read is Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron. It is very helpful!
I actually feel cloth diapering is easier before baby goes on solid food. With the breastfed babies, you don't even have to rinse the diaper before throwing it in the dirty diaper bin- then on diaper wash day, just dump all the dirty diapers in the washer, wash once in cold water, again in hot water (using less detergent than for clothing), and if you are using an all-in-one like the bumgenius, than rinse again before drying. If using flats, they will be thoroughly clean after the two washes.
BUT once baby starts eating solid foods, then it's time to get a diaper sprayer which attaches easily to your toilet and allows you to spray the poop off of the diaper prior to tossing in the dirty diaper bin. I love cloth diapering a new born up to 6 months- no icky yucky poo to deal with, it just washes out easily.
Don't worry about diaper stains either! On a bright sunshiny day- just lay out the diapers DAMP in the sun and the stains will dissapear! No joke- I was skeptical at first, but it is like magic watching the stains just fade away. Now I use the sun to re-whiten most of my whites!
And I wholeheartedly agree with getting a good baby wrap instead of a stroller. I should post how to make the one I did- it is like the moby wrap, but instead of a long strip of fabric, I sewed mine into a loop of fabric fitted to my size- easier to put on and not have the ends dangling on the ground. These kind of carriers really are easy on your body, wrapping snugly around you and baby and MUCH more comforatable than the baby bjorn's or the slings- which put strain on my shoulder. My babies couldn't be calmer or happier than when snuggled firmly close to me and I am hands free! They can be used in the newborn stage too.
Don't get any of the baby toys- plastic and usually annoying to the parents if it has any kind of sounds. The world around us is so beautiful and amazing- especially from the perspective of a baby seeing everything for the first time. You will find a couple strips of colorful cloth will engage baby for long periods of time. And if in a baby wrap carrier, all the things you are busy doing will engage them completely. I personally LOVE having older siblings around for baby- keeps them totally entertained! :)
What Jenny said! :)
My DD is ten now, and the diapering options are a little different nowadays...as are wraps and such, but all the rest is what I found to work really well.
We've cloth diapered our two kids (same diapers = big savings!). We bought cotton prefolds and flannel wipes new from Green Mtn. Diaper Co. online and gathered second hand diaper covers from friends and consignment. We found ProWrap work best for our babies. We also preferred Snappis over pins (the pinned diapers seemed to shimmy down their hips over time). At night, we put them in Fuzzi Buns - they stay drier against the skin and we don't have to change the diaper at night (after they started sleeping through). We have bought Charlie's Soap detergent in bulk (one 5 gallon cotainer has lasted us 2 years so far) and wash the diapers at home. We bought a couple of "wet bags" from Etsy and keep one in the diaper bag at all times. At home, diapers go straight into a garbage pail with a lift out insert and a foot pedal lid. No scraping poop until the baby starts solids, then we keep an old spatula in with the toilet brush. Too much information? Ack! Incidentally, we downsized our garbage can to the mini-can just before our daughter was born almost 5 years ago. We're still working on cutting down waste, but this is one area where I feel like we've done a good job.
Congratulations! By now, your care and raising of your baby are already happening! I just wanted to add my opinion to all of the wonderful advice everyone has given you.
One thing I wanted to say is that I am pregnant with my 5th child, and I have never bought a stroller. I bought a flexible cloth "backpack" type carrier that was also practically flexible because I use it starting when my baby's a newborn and can still carry a 2 or 3 year old in it later, in case I have to for some reason.
I, like everyone else, am really busy, and I worried with my first child about bonding with her (and everything else to do with my care of her, and how it would affect her life, and her future and her intelligence and her happiness :) and I decided that I was going to try to touch her as much as a I could. But, I had so much physical work to do with my job (working from home, so she was with me), that I couldn't sit and hold her very often.
My husband and his family are from the country of Peru, and when I went there to visit and meet them, I saw women working everywhere, in stores, farms, walking around the streets, with their babies of all ages tied to their backs! Sometimes mothers were carrying them and sometimes siblings were carrying them (I saw a 7 year old with a sleeping newborn tied to her back, lying down in a sling once!).
I decided that I would carry my baby too. So, I used this carrier. At first I carried her in the front facing me. She never cried when she was there. I did everything -- cleaned, did dishes, studied, walked for exercise. Sometimes when I was really busy, I positioned her in the carrier so she could nurse while I was working.
As she got older, I carried her on my back, facing either out or toward me. When I had to take her with me to the store, or we were going for walks or to the zoo, or wherever, I found it much more convenient to put on the carrier, and I could still strap her in the car seat with it on, and then I would just put her right up onto my back and we could go anywhere. I didn't have to put the stroller up and down, or maneuver it around tight spots. Actually, when she was 13 months old, we went again to Peru, and I carried her as we walked and hiked all over Machu Picchu ( an ancient city on a mountain). No strollers could have gone there, not to mention carrying one on the plane or the crazy train ride to the top of the mountain.
The thing about the carrier as she got older, versus the stroller, is that my baby was up with me, and we could both see everything that was going on, and my hands were free. I could be "holding" the baby, and still hold hands with two other children. I could talk to her, and touch her hands or feet. We kind of combined cuddling with having some kinds of fun adventures at the same time.
And, I have used this same carrier now for 4 children. It doesn't look new. It's faded. It's a little worn around the legs. But, when I have it in the car, rolled in a little cylinder, I know that no matter what, I can take care of my children because I can carry the baby safely and still have two hands free. And many, many times I have been grateful that I don't have to use my hands to carry one of my babies in my arms or on my hip.
One more thing... most people carry their babies in and out of places in the car seat because they don't want to disturb them when they're sleeping. Babies are really comfortable when you're "wearing" them. They go right back to sleep if you strap them onto you, and they're tired. They like it better than anything. And, again, it's so much more convenient than all the bulky metal and plastic containers we sometimes use to carry them. And creates less waste.
You have to be or become healthy and strong enough to be able to carry your child. Most mom's carry their children a lot anyway. I started out much weaker than I am now, but my body adapted like everyone else's does, to carrying and caring for my children.
Here's a website with a lot of different kinds of slings and pack-type carriers: http://www.babyslingsandcarriers.com Good luck with everything!
I wanted to add a comment about cloth diapers and wipes. My oldest child is 17, and when she was born I bought Indian cotton pre-fold diapers from Green Mountain Diaper company, just like another person who has written here.
Although these diapers don't last forever (they are made of cotton, and can wear out eventually), I still have most of the original diapers, and am getting ready to use them on my 5th baby. I like these diapers best because I can use them with pins or Snappi's and adjust them to fit exactly around my baby's legs, or use two at night to prevent leaks. Some people feel comfortable using cloth diapers that most closely resemble disposable diapers. Sometimes, however, having an all in one diaper reduces the life of the cloth and outer material because the it's better to wash the cloth and the waterproof barrier part of the diapering system separately, in different temperatures etc. Sometimes, more expensive cloth diapers which closely resemble disposable diapers don't fit correctly.
We learn a lot of new things -- riding a bike, doing calculus... Sometimes the more simple and less expensive is actually the highest quality, most versatile and produces the least waste. In my opinion, that's true about cloth diapers. It took me a week or so to learn several different ways of using the cloth prefolds to meet the needs of my baby in different situations (newborn, crawling, sleeping etc.) and prevent leaks, and to get a habit that put the diapers in a pail and then the washer rather than in garbage bags and then carry them out to the curb.
I have used $300 worth of cotton prefold diapers (price includes pins [pins can be sharpened and reused indefinetly] and covers, which I still have, plus Snappi's fasteners purchased 4 years ago when I had twins, because they seemed easy and cool) in 2 sizes (newborn and large) for 4 children, and will use them for one more now. If I had not bought new diapers, I could have saved more money (there was really no internet at the time). I read about a young woman who took really good care of her diapers, bought them used and then resold them as her baby outgrew them, and spent only $13 total dollars out of her own pocket to diaper her baby by the time the baby was potty trained! And, she really produced no leftover waste -- she resold every diaper!
I also used Charlie's Soap, and still am using the last of a 5 gallon bucket that I bought 4 years ago. Charlie's Soap has a very low impact on the environment (we have a speptic system, so that's good for us), and doesn't irritate anyone's skin...
So, I'm just thinking, for $300 initial investment, I have saved myself from throwing away appoximately 32,000 diapers (and wipes), which may have cost me (I'm frugal, so I would have probably bought something generic) $12,000. I have used water (we have a well) and sometimes the dryer, sometimes the line outside. But I still have saved well over $10,000, I'm thinking...
And, I did love knowing that as long as the water was working (I having already invested in a washing machine), I would never run out of diapers. I always had diapers whether I had money or not. I never had to "drive to the store" to buy diapers. I just washed them when I started to get low, or even every day .. Still more convenient than filling my cart with them, spending our money on them and throwing away bagful after bagful every week.
Whether you use cloth or disposable diapers, you still have to "touch poop" and deal with occasional leaks. But with disposable diapers, you just save the poop, and hide it from your sight, and then store it with other garbage somewhere in your city. When you use cloth, you deal with the feces, flush them into your septic or sewer system to be biodegraded and clean the residue from your cloths.
If you use cloth diapers, it's easier (and less waste) to use cloth wipes too. You can wash them all together, and you don't have to accidentally get disposable wipes or paper in the washing machine.
I feed my babies breast milk. I have never bought formula. Because I work in my own home, I don't have to buy formula (or really even bottles, although I do have one, and I do have a hand breast pump, in case of something unforseen, but have rarely had to pump milk either, actually -- very fortunate in my unique situation). I have been able to feed my babies only my own milk. And it was free. And it created no waste (except it did help me lose weight each time).
Hi Paula- I was wondering how many cloth diapers you needed per child? Diapers like Bum Genius seem extremely expensive $24.95/diaper, but I think I would prefer using something with snaps rather than pins. How many would I actually need for a day? Would you mind explaining your diaper routine - sorry, I know that sounds funny. Did you wash them everyday?
Also, did you keep a record of your water consumption during and after using cloth diapers? I think ultimately it is better to not use disposable diapers, but not having enough potable water will be a world crisis soon. So, I wonder if biodegradable diapers are better?
I'm not sure if you've had your questioned answered about biodegradable diapers. While I do not know the specifics or your area/climate/situation, I did look into this in my community (Madison, WI).
First of all, diapers -- even if they are biodegradable -- will not decompose in a landfill. The conditions are not right for that kind of decomposition.
Secondly, in my area, we do not have a curbside composting program. Although the city is trying to get one started, they have already stated that they will not take diapers, even if they are marketed as biodegradable.
Thirdly, after some thought, advice, and calculations, I realized that backyard composition was not possible either (when my first child was born, this was not an option as we live in an apartment). I am having a second child soon and started calculating how much space it would take to decompose diapers and soon realized that with the cold winters my area experiences, decomposing would take over two years! I was also advised by a soil scientist that the soil should not be used for food production for a certain period of time (can't remember -- perhaps 5 years?), even if the baby is healthy. Basically, this meant that more than half of my yard would be dedicated to diaper decomposition for at least two years. Finally, I live very near a lake and was wary about burying feces in a delicate watershed.
To answer your question about increased water consumption, we used cloth diapers for my first child (when we lived in an apartment) and did three extra loads of laundry each week for the diapers (the diapers we used came with instructions to wash every other day and we did a no-detergent cold-water rinse and then a regular hot-water wash with detergent). When my daughter was 18 months old (when she was a confident walker) we switched from diapers to underwear and now do one extra load of underwear/wipes/diapers each week.
With our next child we will use cloth diapers again and we might start the "early potty training" (I don't like that term but it is descriptive) even earlier, if the child seems ready.
In summary, biodegradable diapers were not right for my situation because of municipal restrictions, climate, available space for decomposition, and very obviously living in a watershed. If you are concerned about water usage, I recommend flat cloth diapers and very early "potty training" (sometimes called elimination communication).
In reply to this post by Jenny
This post is over two years old, so I doubt you'll ever read this- but I'd love to know how you made your moby-like wrap and how you wear it. I am expecting my third child this coming March, and I live in China so I don't have my own car and can pretty much wear my babies all day. I bought a long strip of material for a my second baby and used it like a Moby and LOVED the way it fit, but didn't like the bulk.
This is over 2 years old! In fact, you probably have a 3 year old by now (I do too!) Anyway, if you're in the SF bay area, there is a company called Earth Baby that will compost your biodegradable diapers for you. It's true that they won't decompose in a landfill.
Here is what we fed our baby from birth to 12 months: hope it helps anyone interested in making their own baby food:
0-6 months breastmilk only
6 months: introduced one new food every 3 days: all puréed fine
Chicken breasts cooked in the crock pot until falling apart, then pulverized in the blender
Raspberries (seeds strained and mixed with yogurt or applesauce
Black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, etc.
Puréed beef and barley soup
Puréed chicken enchilada soup
Puréed chicken and dumplings
Pasta with sauce
12 months: anything we were eating as long as it was soft and could be mashed ( he only had 4 teeth!)
Breakfast: banana, toast with peanut butter, scrambled egg, milk
Lunch: cheese, steamed veggies, organic chicken sausage or black bean burger
Snack: apple or pear or seasonal fruit ( at first sliced very thin, then once he had enough teeth, whole
Dinner: veggie heavy soup or crockpot meal, milk
Dessert: fresh raspberries or frozen blueberries, halved.
This was so much less wasteful, less expensive, and healthier than baby food or prepackaged toddler meals. I feel like making babyfood was sooo easy too. In the beginning, I just spent one afternoon steaming, pureeing, and freezing, then after that it was just thawing a few cubes at a time and supplementing with a little bit of mashed bananas or avocados and a few bites of whatever we were eating if it was soft enough!
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