The Nighttime Disposable Diaper Dilemma

This entry is from GBG’s first month of blogging, back in December of 2007.  Now that I’m in the middle of raising our second baby, it’s amazing how true those memories of sleep deprivation have become once again.  We’re still managing with just cloth this time but I’ll keep you posted on whether we face the disposable diaper dilemma with our second as well!

Sleep. Ahh sleep! I remember those nights when I snuggled into bed and enjoyed an unfettered slumber of more than eight hours without a second thought. If I had six hours of sleep or less, my day was spent barely coping with my shocking state of sleep deprivation. My how things have changed!
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Safer, Greener Sunscreens for Babies and Kids (and Adults!)

Who knew sunscreen could be so complicated? After slathering Audrey in sunscreen all summer long during her first year, I read that it’s dangerous to do so until she reaches her first birthday. Then I found out that only certain sunscreens were safe. Yes, that cancer-preventing lotion was–get this–carcinogenic! The good news is, you don’t need to keep your baby covered from head to foot in loose-fitting robes or hide under a gigantic umbrella all summer long.

Check out the Environmental Working Group’s list of safe sunscreens.  After  studying thousands of sunscreens, they found that “4 out of 5 contain chemicals that may pose health hazards or don’t adequately protect skin from the sun’s damaging rays.” Here are the top four safest ray-blockers on the market:
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Keeping Baby Cool in the Hot Sun

While environmental concerns are important, you also don’t want to be forcing your baby to suffer in the name of green living.  Can you keep your little one cool without resorting to canned air? None of my baby cool-down ideas will win any prizes for originality, but sometimes it’s good to remember the low-energy, low-cost alternatives to sitting around in an air-conditioned room:

Popsicles and other frozen treats. Even babies as young as six months old enjoy frozen confections every now and then. Make your own and they’re practically free. Here is my recipe for a strawberry spinach concoction.

Shade.  Spread out a blanket, sip an iced tea, and read baby books to your little one.
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The Saturday Question: Did You Sterilize Your Baby Bottles?

I’ve heard rumors of parents hunched over boiling cauldrons of water, sterilizing everything from bottles to rattles. I’ve also listened to working moms who pump at work complain about the fifteen minutes they spend each day sterilizing their equipment. Now I have to ask: Is this necessary? If you have a dishwasher, you can use that to sterilize your gear. But is hand washing really so bad? I worked part time during my daughter’s first year and used a manual pump that I just rinsed out afterwards. We had a bottle, which we hand-washed along with everything else. Is sterilizing essential to your baby’s health–or is it just a waste of time and energy?

The Saturday Question: How Did You Green Baby’s Nursery?

Some parents go all out by installing bamboo flooring, using eco-friendly paint, and buying only organic cotton bedding.  Others tend to think that the lightest carbon footprint involves keeping the room as simple as possible by buying less or investing in used gear.  What route did you take?  How did you maintain your green values and your budget?  

A Potty Training Solution for Public Restrooms

Ahh the glory of potty training–no diaper pail, no wet wipes, and the freedom to leave the house without the dreaded diaper bag.  Besides its convenience, early potty training is also tremendously earth friendly since you no longer have to deal with diaper laundry.  All is sunny and happy until your child declares a desperate urge to pee while you’re parked at a dingy gas station. 

Do you pack your toilet seat with you wherever you go?  Do you line the toilet seat with several layers of toilet paper and try to balance your toddler on the edge? 

Here is our family’s shocking solution that may just horrify some of our readers: We bring a small plastic yogurt container with us wherever we go.  When our son needs to urinate, we just pull down his pants and let him go in the cup.  Then we dump out its contents in the toilet and rinse it in the sink before we leave the restroom. Urine is sterile so it’s not a horrible health hazard and it’s quick and easy to rinse. I used to worry that people might look at us weird for cleaning out our container at the sink but really no one seems to notice.  If we’re far from a sink, we just place the lid on the cup and clean it out when we get home.  (Sorry if this sounds totally gross.  We are meticulous about making sure we clean it out ASAP so it hasn’t ever been a problem.)

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Budget-Friendly Solutions for Family Leave With Baby

Skip this post if you live in Canada, Denmark, Australia, France, or any one of 163 countries worldwide with paid maternity leave.  We’ll try not to think about the fact that in those nations mothers and fathers get months and sometimes even years of paid time to raise their children.  Here in the U.S., it’s tricky to be able to maneuver our maternity leave, but there are always ways to creatively find more time to spend with your baby.

Why try to take as much time as possible?  It’s not only critical to your sanity, but it often ends up being far more eco-friendly as well. My husband and I found that when we were both working we ended up using more jarred baby food, eating take-out more often, and generally spending more money on convenience items just to survive. Staying home means you’ll have the time to experiment with washing and drying cloth diapers.  Plus you’ll end up buying less and just enjoying this phase of baby’s life.

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Car Free Travel with a Toddler

After a long weekend trip to San Francisco, I truly understand just how liberating the car-free concept is with kids.  We flew—which honestly isn’t the greenest option,(see Rebecca’s post about it here) but then traveled by subway, bus, streetcar and trolley all through the city. 

For my two-and-a-half-year-old, riding public transport was as much of a thrill as any of our destinations.  He could fall asleep on our shoulders, look out the window and even wander the aisles without having to worry about being strapped into a carseat.  It cost just $18 for each of us to have a three day Muni Passport, which covered almost every form of transportation available to us in the city.  That’s far less than a rental car, gas and parking!  The picture below of our son on a vespa in his Aunt Pauli’s garage was the closest he ever got to car travel.
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Advocating for Family Leave Time

It was heart-wrenching to go back to my career after my baby arrived, but luckily I had worked out a solution that gave me as much time off as possible over the course of his first year.  It required some creative thinking, some begging, and some negotiation, but it was worth it!

As you may have read in my last post, I found that the time I spent at home increased the quality of our lives and the quality of the environment. We were able to prepare homemade meals, hang cloth diapers out to dry, and generally spend less money. 

So how do you ask your supervisor for the best solution for your family?  Here are a few tips that worked for me.

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Breastfeeding Despite the Challenges: Our Green Mom Spotlight Continues

What could be more natural or beautiful than breastfeeding your new baby?  Well, it may be natural, but it’s not always easy.  Erika Jones of Organic Baby Resource shares her experience with breastfeeding for our second green mom spotlight.

Green Baby Guide:  What were the challenges you faced as a breastfeeding mother?

Erika: I’d put the challenges into two categories: mental and physical.

The women I had relied on for support all my life (mom, sister, friends) could provide me with no support or even encouragement in this area. Listening to their stories had me prepared for rather nightmarish outcomes when it came to breastfeeding. I’d tell them I dreamt of breastfeeding and it was a glorious experience and they found it laughable. They meant well; they just hadn’t experienced it that way.
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