Did You Buy a Baby Tub?

I was sure we would simply slip our infant into a sink full of bubbles and save a large hunk of plastic from entering the landfill. When we found the kitchen sink bath to be far trickier than anticipated, my husband insisted on buying a baby tub.

Of course, now I realize that gently used infant tubs are everywhere! I do actually wish we would have searched for one while I was pregnant because I was too crazily exhausted to seek out anything other than food and showers in the months after I gave birth.

If I ever did buy a tub, I do think the Spa Baby Upright Baby Eco Tub is rather clever. It is made out of 100% recycled plastic without polycarbonate, bisphenol-A, or paint. Although it claims to be usuable for newborns to 10 month olds, I’m not sure how easily baths would go on either end of that spectrum.

Sustainable Wooden Baby Gear at Affordable Prices

While we haven’t yet discovered a ceramic crib, we are happy to report that there are some unexpectedly eco-friendly, beautiful and affordable pieces of green baby gear. Rebecca and I both focused on minimizing with our babies to avoid being swallowed in a sea of plastic doodads. But the Growing Up Green product line would have also been a great alternative considering that it carries sustainable, simply designed products at reasonable prices.

My favorite is the Growing Up Green Wood Step Stool. It’s currently half off at just over twenty bucks and is both sturdy and beautiful. Made from pesticide-free, sustainably raised bamboo, you can also feel good about its sources. (In the interest of full disclosure, I do have to share that it’s made in China. Sigh..) My kids are now five and nearly three, and the step stool is probably their most frequently used piece of furniture. I would love to replace the blue plastic garage sale number with one of these!

Are You Handing Down Baby Gear or Receiving Secondhand Baby Goods-or Both?

This month we’ll be exploring how to outfit a green nursery with high quality baby gear on a budget. Of course, our favorite green strategies involve those old school R’s: reduce, recycle and reuse. But it can be tough to score all secondhand baby gear if you are the first one of your friends and family to have a child. You may end up being showered with so much loot that it’s hard to find your way out from under the pile of ribbons. If that’s the case, heading off to the consignment shop is a bit futile until your child grows out of all those gifts.

Things I Obsessed Over during Pregnancy that Seem Silly in Retrospect

During my pregnancy, I had some real concerns about giving birth and breastfeeding. But I also enjoyed obsessing over other issues that—six years later—no longer feel quite so urgent. Here were my particular bugaboos:

Nursing pads. What are nursing pads? Do I need nursing pads? How do I choose nursing pads? What if I choose the wrong nursing pads? Who knows why I cared so much about nursing pads. Read my nursing pads reviews. Or buy some LANAcare nursing pads and be done with it.

Cloth diapering. Prefolds? Diaper covers? Pocket diapers? All-in-ones? How will I ever decide? How will I wash them? If only I could have gone into the future and written the Eco-nomical Baby Guide, then brought it back to 2006 so I could read it and learn everything I needed to know about cloth diapering.

Baby Gear I Wish I’d Splurged On After All

If you’ve read The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, you know I got pretty hardcore about baby gear. That is, if it wasn’t going to last a long time or perform five functions at once, I didn’t want it. The pleasant side effects of this policy was that I didn’t have mountains of blinking plastic toys to wade through on my way to the kitchen. I saved money and the environment. Great!

But . . . in retrospect I have to wonder if I might have eased my restrictions just a bit to make my life with a new baby a little easier. In Baby Gear I Lived Without, I go over some of the common baby items I didn’t buy. Here are a few things I might have liked after all:

Make room for baby by reducing, recycling, and reusing

January is a great month for reorganizing your bathroom or decluttering the kitchen counters but I remember that both my pregnancies spurred my (limited) organizational tendencies into overdrive. At the time, our house was a thousand square feet and we wanted to evaluate how we used every inch in the days before our babies arrived.

But instead of rushing out to buy hundreds of dollars of bins, shelves, and baskets to hold our stuff, we started with what we had. (This is mostly due to our green ideals, but our tightwad tendencies were a factor as well.) So where do you start if you are overwhelmed, without an organizational system, and pregnant? With tiny, tiny steps.

Is it unethical to give away your drop-side crib?

As of last June, it became illegal to sell new or used drop-side cribs in the U.S.   So Joy asked, “What should you do with your drop-side crib?” and readers came up with solutions. Joy, for example, plans to pass her drop-side crib on to another family–along with information about the ban and the crib immobilizer kit that makes it impossible to lower crib rails.

These sides don’t drop!

Commenters have chimed in with offers to donate their sturdy drop-side cribs to other readers free of charge. Today I approved a comment from Megan, who says, “So glad everyone is just giving away drop down cribs despite the ban. Way to think of others and their children.”

Too big for stroller, so I might as well drive

No kindergartner rides to school in a stroller. That’s what we told our daughter last summer, in a desperate attempt to shame her into walking. Cue a Rocky-style training montage complete with red-faced grunts, tears, and anguished cries. And then!—“incentives” like popcorn and (ha!) new shoes. Step by painful step, she managed to work her way from zero to .7 miles. By the time fall rolled around, she was ready.

Audrey's very first stroller ride

10 weeks old: acceptable.

And guess what? We were right: no one rides to kindergarten in a stroller. They ride in cars. Now, we live in a geographically compact neighborhood of Portland. Every kid lives within a mile of the school. While I’m glad we finally Rocky-trained Audrey to walk to and from school every day, I can’t help but rail against the stigma “advanced stroller riders” face in this car-centric world.

Giving Your Kids’ Toys New Life

Last summer I spent half a day organizing my child’s toys. This involved boxing some of them up and banishing them forever. I also took out at least half of her toys—particularly the messy ones with a lot of individual pieces—and put them in an upstairs closet. The craziest part is that while Audrey, a normally observant five-year-old, was thrilled with the cleanliness of her bedroom, she did not notice that half of her toys were missing. Weeks went by before she even asked about anything.

Using that upstairs closet as a kind of toy library really cut down on the amount of tidying we had to do each evening. No longer was the living room littered with five-thousand Barbies and wooden food sets. Closeting the toys gave them a new appeal, too. When the old block set or baby books come downstairs for a while, Audrey plays with them enthusiastically.

Gift Ideas for New Mothers

New moms are acclimating to sleep loss, post-birth bodies, and a challenging role of parenting a newborn. They deserve some lovely holiday gifts. (And casseroles, and free babysitting, and any other support you can lend!)

Baby Slings. I thought carriers were unnecessary before my baby arrived, but when I learned that I could slip my colicky baby into a Maya Wrap Sling and he would fall asleep in minutes, I was hooked. Beyond the soothing effects of baby carriers, they are infinitely practical. It’s suddenly possible to vacuum, cook dinner, and go for a walk without waking the baby! Many women love Hotslings as well. If you’re looking for a budget gift, there are even free patterns online for sewing a homemade sling that you can craft yourself.