The journey from pregnancy to parenting is so intense that I love giving items to friends and family that will support them through that transition. What are my go-to gifts for green-minded new parents?
Cloth Diapers. By helping out a bit with the up-front cost of cloth diapering, I know that I’m giving something that will last from infancy to potty training-and beyond! Families that plan on having multiple children can save about a thousand dollars per child on diapering. Plus with all the fun colors and patterns available in lines like Charlie Banana or Fuzzibunz, it can be a lovely gift instead of being purely practical.
The Eco-nomical Baby Guide. The book helps break down how to reduce the amount of baby gear you buy, how to find the best used gear, and how to repurpose what you already have to help you save thousands of dollars. Plus, you’ll find a green directory of the best values on eco-friendly gear at every price point. Did I mention that I co-wrote this book? Still, I have to say that it’s the book I wish I would have had in the early months of my pregnancy as I scrambled to prepare for baby.
A Maya Wrap or The Ergo Baby Carrier. Luckily a friend of ours made me try a sling when we visited with our colicky infant. Once we slipped him into the A Maya Wrap, he immediately went to sleep. Plus baby carriers are hands-free devices that allow you to actually do stuff besides hold your baby! We also used an The Ergo Baby Carrier and I found it was far easier on my back once my children were older.
Home cooked meals. I cannot express the gratitude I felt for each and every meal that friends and family delivered in those first few months. Because of the rigorous schedule of breastfeeding and staying up with an infant all night, I was eating constantly but couldn’t find even five minutes to heat up a burrito in the microwave. Having hot meals on my doorstep nourished me, body and soul.
Free babysitting. Again, I think this was of more value to me than any material gift. Getting to go the movies with my husband or just take a nap once in awhile was a tremendous support. I would have traded all the adorable onesies I ever received for a dozen hours of babysitting. Am I the only one who feels this way?
What were your favorite gifts as a new parent? Is there anything you do for friends and family that might inspire some of our readers. Thanks for your ideas!
Back when I began cloth diapering, new fangled products like Go Green Diapers, Rumparooz, and Lil Joey Diapers didn’t even exist. Now I find myself in green baby boutiques, playing with the velcro closures and almost wishing that I was back in the glory days of diapering.
Have you fallen in love with any new cloth diapering brands? Are you loyal to old favorites like Bummis, Charlie Banana, or Fuzzibunz? Or are you perfectly happy with prefold diapers and plastic pants?
We have nearly fifty thousand readers hitting our site on a monthly basis and many of them are new to cloth diapering. Please share your insights on which cloth diapers have worked best for your family!
I should disclose that I started with Bummis and prefolds and then fell deeply in love with Fuzzibunz and Charlie Banana. The snap diapers held up much better, especially with my second child and they were incredibly easy to get on and off.
Just five years ago, I was shocked to see that major manufacturers weren’t making more BPA-free baby products. Now, you can wander down the aisles of any big box store and find dozens of shiny plastic goods with BPA-free labels. But what can you find beyond your basic BPA-free plastic baby dishes?
Green Sprouts has several options for baby dishes including the one above, made from a cornstarch based biodegradable plastic. It’s BPA and phthalate free but can’t be used in the dishwasher or microwave.
Fresh Baby’s Divided Dish is made of stainless steel, which can be washed on the top shelf of the dishwasher. It’s safe for the freezer, but obviously not the microwave. It’s snap-on lid makes it convenient for toting snacks or transporting meals to daycare. It’s also BPA, lead, melamine and phthalate free.
And now for my all time favorite…the custard cup. It’s made of thick, nearly unbreakable glass, it will be useful once your tot outgrows baby food, and it is usually microwave, dishwasher, freezer and, oven safe. Unlike many other food containers jumbled into your cupboards, custard cups are stackable and compact. Many styles come with snap on plastic lids that make them instantly into small tupperware containers. (Double check to make sure the lids are BPA and phthalate free as well.)
What are your favorite eco-friendly dishes for baby? How have they held up over many meals of mashed yams and applesauce? Did you even get baby dishes or just work with what you already had?
Do you wish for an affordable green disposable diaper made of milkweed? Are you thinking that your children’s boundless energy could be harnessed to heat your entire home? Do you long for organic, local produce that’s cheaper than those waxy apples flown in from Chile? (This exists! Join a local CSA and be amazed by what you’ll get!)
My personal obsession is with a hybrid minivan. Why hasn’t this happened yet? Or maybe someday they’ll create a crossover vehicle for up to eight passengers that runs entirely on the old crackers and raisins that lurk under car seats.
Also, why can’t our shower, bath, and sink waste water run directly into our gardens in the summer time? There are systems available that can recycle this runoff, but why isn’t it standard in every home?
Does anyone else enjoy pondering such simple, eco-friendly solutions while folding cloth diapers? (Which are a miraculous eco-friendly, budget friendly invention!) What are your desires for green, money-saving solutions?
After two years of research, editing, and writing (with spit-up on our shoulders and cloth diapers in the dryer) The Eco-nomical Baby Guide hit bookstore shelves in the spring of 2010. We packed the book with practical tips to help families save thousands of dollars by going green. The insider secrets we’d learned in the trenches of early motherhood and from hundreds of Green Baby Guide readers were finally organized into the book that we wished we’d had as new parents.
Since then thousands of copies of The Eco-nomical Baby Guide have ended up at baby showers and green boutiques across the nation––and even the world! In December my cousin wrote me from Seoul where he and his wife are on a temporary teaching contract. Their South Korean birth coach had a copy of The Eco-nomical Baby Guide prominently displayed on her shelf. I have no idea how it made it that far, but it’s a thrill to know that our down-to-earth message is resonating with readers.
More than anything, Rebecca and I want to get copies into the hands of new and expectant parents. The Eco-nomical Baby Guide has been selling for under $10 on amazon lately, which is a great value for the amount of money it can help you save! If you’d like to read it before you buy, check it out at your local library. We have hundreds of copies in media centers across the country. If yours doesn’t have one yet, just make a request! We’re also happy to add that our publisher has just released a Kindle version of the book.
Thanks so much for your enthusiastic support of our exploration of green baby rearing on a budget. Who knew that whirling up sweet potatoes, finding secondhand strollers, and getting the best value on green goods could be such fun?
If you have tips on buying diapers, laundering diapers or dealing with other challenges, please share! Today is the last of our posts this mont on cloth diapering and our favorite insider ideas always come from our readers. (Oh… and our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide!)
It can be tricky to transport large amounts of clean and soiled diapers back and forth to daycare as conveniently as possible–or to lug dirty diapers on a summer road trip without the smell invading the rest of the car.
The Planet Wise Wet/Dry Bag is the perfect solution. It has two pockets to separate dirty and fresh cloth diapers and can store 8-9 total in the smaller size or 20-24 diapers in the larger version.
If your childcare provider is hesitant to dry cloth diapering, it’s almost worth bringing some cloth diapers in along with the Planet Wise Dry Bag to show how easy it can to hygienically store dirty diapers. The bag is quick drying and so can be rinsed and tossed in the dryer each night. Or, if that’s too challenging, pick up a couple of these and rotate them out during the week.
The Planet Wise Wet/Dry Bagis also the perfect solution for traveling with cloth diapers. As you’re toting these snazzy bags through airports and train stations, no one would ever guess, (or smell…..) what they’re transporting.
If you want a far cheaper solution, you can pick up a dry bag (used on rafting trips to keep gear dry) from a resale outdoor store for a bit less. Rebecca used this system without a hitch! Have you found a dry bag you love? Is your daycare provider willing to work with cloth diapers?
My children were happily rash free while using cloth during the day, but we struggled with regular nocturnal yeast infections. I felt copious amounts of guilt, poured boiling water into a bathtub of clean prefolds, experimented with different detergents, and felt more guilt when we couldn’t seem to resolve the issue. But now I finally know what I could have done to prevent the infections altogether! (At the time I switched to disposables at night and felt much sadness about it.)
To attack this hearty fungi in the laundry, wash diapers in 122+ degree water or with a few drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract to eliminate yeast spores. Just what is GSE extract? It’s a natural product that that combats fungus, viruses and bacteria. A four ounce bottle will run you nearly fifteen dollars, but you only need to include a few drops with each load so it may be worth it in the long run.
Although some people recommend using chlorine bleach, others insist that it will not actually kill yeast spores. (And other additives such as borax, peroxide, or baking soda probably won’t do the trick.) Sunlight, while a wonderful natural bleaching and antibacterial agent, will not wipe out yeast spores either.
There are host of other things our readers have recommended including Neem Cream, or Neem Oil, hemp diaper inserts, and using a probiotic such as Florajen 3. For more info check out our post on Solutions for Nighttime Yeast Infections with Cloth Diapers.
Have you struggled with your baby’s yeast infections when using cloth? What long term solutions have you found? Do you find that yeast infections have something to do with the hardness or softness of the water? (Rebecca, who lives two hours north of me, never had a single problem with yeast infections during night diapering even though we did our cloth diapering laundry exactly the same. How is this possible?)
For those of you who theme-diaper your babies, here are the hot new looks for spring. We all know the rules: don’t dress the baby in tinsel and jingle bells after March 1! These looks will make your baby feel confident on the playground or in the crib.
There you have it–spring’s hottest diaper trends! [Applause.]
Thank goodness for the greener, cheaper, and far more adorable alternative: reusable swim diapers! Even for those families who don’t want to make a full-time commitment to cloth diapering, reusable swim diapers are incredibly easy.
During our swim diapering years, we owned two reusable cloth swim diapers for each of our kids. If one diaper became soiled while swimming, we popped it into a dry bag, cleaned our baby, and put her into the other one. The total cost was around $12 for both diapers, which we found on clearance at target. They lasted for about five years and saved us heaps of cash and piles of soggy disposables.
At some of our local pools, they ONLY allow reusable swim diapers because apparently their elastic holds in messes better than their disposable counterparts. I love that eco-friendly, budget-friendly cloth swim diapers are also more effective. Does your pool allow reusable swim diapers? Are they a hit in your community or considered a bit odd?