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:
Bottles (plural). I got by with one bottle for my daughter’s entire babyhood, and I was very proud of it. It was a plastic bottle, too, since I purchased it right before the BPA scare was all over the news and glass bottles came back in style. If I had to do it again, I’d get a set of glass bottles. A whole set!
Breast pump. My hospital gave me a free hand pump, which was nice. But you know what would have been even nicer? A more sophisticated model like the Hygeia breast pump.
Eco-friendly disposable diapers. I bought six packs of disposable diapers for my daughter’s entire diaper-wearing career. That’s an accomplishment to applaud (I guess), but because I used so few disposables, I should have shelled out the extra money for Seventh Generation diapers that don’t use chlorine.
Stroller. We bought a Maclaren Triumph stroller, and it is hands-down the best piece of baby gear I had because we used it daily for over five years. But for a little more money, I could have bought the Maclaren Quest instead, which would have made the first ten weeks with a new baby more enjoyable.
Baby monitor.Our first house was so small a baby monitor wasn’t necessary. We didn’t really need one after we moved, either. But now I wonder what life might have been like with the monitor. I could have ventured out to the backyard during naps or sat out on the front porch reading. Did I inadvertently tether myself to the nursery for all those years?
Dishwasher. This last one is just wishful thinking. There is no way I could have bought a dishwasher in those early days of parenthood. But oh, what a difference it would have made!
Did you purposefully skimp on any baby gear for cost or space reasons? What baby gear do you wish you had? Or what fanciful doodad (maybe some baby bangs?) would you like us to talk you out of buying?
This is our third holiday season here at Greenbabyguide.com. Our first Christmas posts had a following of a dozen readers, most of them family members. Since then we’ve published our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, and increased our web traffic to about 50,000 unique users each month. Whew!
Despite our modest fame, nothing much has changed for our families. This morning we finished untying our fabric gift bags and have spent the day playing, snacking and reading.
After the crush of preparation and anxiety, there is such relief in just sitting in our toy-strewn living room and enjoying the kids. They aren’t sporting BPA-free bibs or chubby cloth diaper bums this year, but are rapidly leaving babyhood behind at 5 years and 2 years old.
For all of you today, I hope that you have the chance to smell the top of your baby’s head, to get a nap, and to maybe just enjoy this incredibly fleeting (and grueling) era of parenthood. May your milk supply be incredible, your cloth diapers be absorbent, your laundry be minimal, and your sleep tonight be long and luxurious. Most of all, I hope you celebrate yourself as a hard working, green-minded parent!
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.
Ergo carriers. These sturdy carriers were built with your back in mind and balance the baby weight more centrally. Ergo Carriers adapt from newborns to toddlers and can be used as a front or back carrier. In addition to comfort, I loved the zip pockets to tote keys or lip balm when we headed out the door for a walk. They are a bit pricey, but you can often find gently used Ergo Carriers at consignment shops or on craistlist.
Flannel pajamas. Many new mothers can attest to the fact that whole days are spent lounging in bed with a newborn. Elastic waistbands are especially friendly for a postpartum waistline and it’s nice to tuck baby against soft flannel while rocking. Think about getting a button down style if she is breastfeeding.
Stainless Steel Water Bottle. To keep a mother’s milk supply at maximum capacity, she’ll need to be hydrating all day long. We love the Nathan Stainless Steel flip straw water bottle and found it to be incredibly convenient. (It flips up to sip while walking or driving, fits in most car cup holders, and is easy to clean. It also comes with four extra straws for those days when the one straw you had is hiding somewhere in the depths of your dishwasher.
Healthy snacks. The hunger of nursing a newborn made my pregnancy hunger seem trivial. I was eating all day and all night long to keep up with the calories that were going to my baby. Handy, healthy snacks that can be munched in the middle of the night are a great gift. Why not some Roasted Edamame for protein and some Kashi TLC cookies as a healthy-ish treat? (Or make her a batch of “milk making cookies” using this recipe!)
Although the above items can easily be tucked into a gift bag, I can’t emphasize enough the gift of human support. If you can possibly deliver a meal or hold the baby for a few hours while the mother naps, everyone will benefit. Why not load the dishwasher or throw some laundry in the dryer while you’re at it?
Are you a new mother? Do you welcome support or do you wish people would let you just be with your baby? What are you hoping to receive this holiday season?
Also, the winner of our Charlie Banana Cloth Diaper giveaway is Sascha W. Congratulations Sascha!
“I don’t want my child to have a piece of plastic in her mouth at all times. It’s not natural, it makes it difficult for her to speak, it could hurt her teeth, and I’m not confident that the materials used to make pacifiers are safe for the kind of use I’ve seen in small babies.”-Margaret.
“I waited three months so that we could really figure out breastfeeding and ensure that the binky wasn’t going to get in the way. After that, I had no problem using a pacifier, as long is it was BPA free.”-Kathleen
“From about two months of age, I trained my child to start putting her finger in her mouth. She learned it easily and was able to pacify herself the same way kids have been doing for hundreds of years, using her own body.”-Valerie
I didn’t want my child sucking her thumb, simply because you can’t take that away whereas you can wean a child from a pacifier. For that reason, I did use a pacifier early on to provide her with something that could soothe her but that I could remove as she got older. -Chao
If you read Monday’s post you know that I have used pacifiers with both our children, more out of desperation than conscious choice. My daughter covets them and we search them out on daily basis, despite the fact that we have at least eight lurking somewhere in our home. I’m looking forward to a binky-free future sometime in the next 1-2 years. It does happen, right?
My official stance on pacifier use was influenced by lactation specialists who advised that I hold off until baby reached three months of age to ensure we kept up a good breastfeeding latch. For approximately twelve weeks my son’s remarkably ear piercing wails were the norm, sometimes for several hours at a time.
When he hit three months and we popped that magical little (BPA-free) device into his mouth, we experienced a wee bit of heaven. It was quiet, he was content, and the addiction began. Every night (sometimes while cursing under our breath) we searched the house for pacifiers to ensure that he was surrounded by at least a half dozen while he slept. Otherwise we’d wake to his siren scream at 3 a.m. and find ourselves groping under his crib in the dark to find those tiny providers of peace and quiet.
Consequently, we didn’t worry much about giving our daughter a pacifier when she hit three months. Little did we know that her attachment would be personal and all consuming. She kisses her binkies, carries them around in tiny purses, and wails for them when they are out of reach. The other day she announced, “I’m a big girl. I don’t need my binkies anymore!” I happily packed them away and then began a two hour attempt to get her to sleep during her nap. I could have held the line and pushed ahead, but instead I popped a binky in her mouth and she zonked out in seconds.
So should you ever start using pacifiers? What has your experience been? We’ll share opinions from a variety of my mom-peers on Wednesday, but I’d love to hear more from our readers.
Nursing tanks were my absolute favorite breastfeeding support gear. While I was quite comfortable nursing in public, I loved that they helped me to flash as little flesh as possible. And they also provide post-pregnancy tummy coverage and an extra layer of warmth in the chilly months.
If you’d prefer an all-in-one nursing tank, Glamourmom’s Nursing Bra Tank is a good option. It’s extra long to accommodate our shifting sizes in the months after baby and comes with a soft cup bra built into the tank. Clips allow you to fold down the top part of the tank for easy nursing access.
Bravado! Designs Essential Nursing Bra Tank also provides a built in bra and comes in a variety of colors. The length of the tank extends to the thigh and many consumers rave about their love of this product. It’s available in a wide variety of sizes too, although I notice that there aren’t many small cup options.
Nursing women who already love their nursing bras can use a Nursing Tank by Undercover Mama that actually clips onto the straps of your nursing bra. It comes in three colors and still allows you to have the coverage of a nursing tank without having to use a built-in bra.
A similar option is Ecoscape’s Undershirts for Nursing Moms. The tanks actually just come with two large circles cut out of the breast area, allowing women easy access to their nursing bras.
The most deluxe nursing tank I came across was the Double Cream Nursing Tank by Ecoscapes. It’s made to support mom and baby with simple, easy to unhook shoulder straps, but it’s two layer design also allows for hands-free pumping. (I never learned how hands-free pumping was possible with my two babies, but I have to admit that it does sound appealing!)
I used about five cotton nursing tanks from target. They shrank, didn’t provide any support, and were ratty and worn by the time I finally finished nursing. If I would have realized that I would spend a total of four years breastfeeding my children (2 years with each child), I would have just invested in some high quality pieces right from the start. (Or looked for some gently used, high quality
nursing tanks in consignment shops.)
Have you used nursing tanks? What would you recommend for other breastfeeding mothers?
What to Expect When You’re Expecting is a thorough guide to pregnancy that has been tremendously popular for over twenty years–and this week their website, What to Expect, is sponsoring a giveaway! We’re throwing in a few copies of our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, to sweeten the winnings for two lucky readers. There are multiple ways to enter so get in on the action!
What to Expect Before You’re Expecting (+ a copy of our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down to Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet)
For women who are planning conception and pregnancy, What to Expect Before You’re Expecting is a great resource. It provides tips on everything from nutrition to medical care for women (and men) in the months before you get pregnant. And it will help you make the good choices that will lead to a healthier newborn. For couples hoping to conceive quickly, Murkoff educates readers about how to pinpoint ovulation cycles to raise your odds of getting pregnant.
As for our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, we’ve spoken to many women who received it late in their pregnancies only to wish that they would have read it months earlier. Why not learn about cloth diapers and used baby gear before you’re dealing with morning sickness and exhaustion? We hope that having the book far in advance will allow you to gather up the new and used green gear you need while saving thousands of dollars.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting(+ a copy of our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down to Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet)
What to Expect When You’re Expecting is read by over 90% of pregnant women who read pregnancy books and has been on the New York Times bestseller list for decades. So what can you expect from the book? The book is organized into monthly chapters which provide information about how you may feel, common questions, a week-by-week guide to baby’s fetal development, and information about what your midwife or doctor is likely to say during that phase of pregnancy. The book also addresses childbirth plus the emotional and physical issues that couples face in the postpartum period. The question and answer format helped me pick out sections that were relevant to my pregnancy. I was too overwhelmed and exhausted by growing a fetus to actually read any book cover to cover so I appreciated being able to easily reference what I was looking for.
We wish every newly pregnant woman could get a free copy of The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, just to have access to humble, humorous, hands-on advice for gearing up green on a budget. Since we can’t just stand on the corner and hand these out to pregnant passers-by, we’ve decided to send one to accompany What to Expect When You’re Expecting in this giveaway. We hope you can win!
Whether you’re lucky enough to win one of the prizes or not, you should know that What to Expect online now offers heaps of free information for expectant women and new parents. You can pick up a copy of many What to Expect books on Amazon for less than nine bucks and The Eco-nomical Baby Guide is currently on sale for less than eight dollars. (And it will save you much, much more than what you pay for it!)
Each comment counts as an entry. You can enter up to four times. Here’s how:
1. Simply post a comment
2. Like the Green Baby Guide on Facebook (then tell us you did it in a separate comment)
3. Visit the What to Expect website and comment on what you learned.
4. Spread the news about the giveaway! Email someone, post it on Facebook, tweet it, blog it, or send someone a message about it via carrier pigeon. (And again, don’t forget to tell us all about it in the comments!)
This contest ends on Thursday, August 11th, and is only open to U.S. Residents.
One of my first baby purchases was a set of little containers for all of the pureed delights I planned to create for my child. In retrospect I can see this was an odd obsession, considering most babies don’t get a taste of solid food for a good six months after birth—but finding a good system for storing breast milk and homemade baby food can make the whole process much more manageable.
Two things I didn’t know back when I bought those containers in 2005: 1. I should have looked for BPA-free plastic—or found an alternative to plastic. 2. I should have considered buying containers that worked for storing expressed breast milk as well as pureed food to get the most bang for my buck.
The products listed below are all BPA-free, and most of them can be used for freezing ice cubes or storing regular food for years.
Fresh Baby So Easy Baby Food and Breast Milk Trays. On sale—a set of two for $8! These BPA-free trays have snap-on lids and each cube can hold one ounce of food or breast milk.
Juvenile Solutions Baby Cubes (2 oz/Pack of 8) Another great deal for just $6.69.
Set of 10 Baby Cubes 1 Oz. Baby Food Storage Containers. Also by Juvenile Solutions, a set of ten for $6.65. I like that these sets come with individual containers; you don’t have to transfer the food to another plate or bowl.
Mumi&Bubi Solids Starter Kit Premium Baby Food Freezer Trays & Recipes. A bit more for $25, but a good system if you want to freeze a lot of food at once. Each tray holds 21 cubes of food.
Fresh N Freeze 2 oz. Reusable Baby Food Containers 12-Pack. $9.95 for a set of 12 two-ounce containers. Cute and practical. I’d get a lot of use out of these with a five-year-old!
What did you use (or what do you plan to use) for storing expressed breast milk or homemade baby food? Let us know what worked—and what flopped!
Two weeks ago I begged for your collective wisdom to help wean my two-year-old daughter. After implementing a few strategies from our readers, my daughter and I gently gave up nursing within just three days.
First I stopped the morning feedings, which did involve some screaming and sadness, but with a little distraction she quickly acclimated. The next day we nursed at nap again, but at bedtime we had a special discussion of how this would be her last time drinking my milk. We snuggled, talked and really enjoyed it. The next day, my husband put her down for nap and bedtime and she peacefully went to sleep. If I would have known it would be that easy, I might have started sooner!
For those of you still struggling with weaning, Kathleen Huggins’ book, Nursing Mother’s Guide to Weaning – Revised: How to Bring Breastfeeding to a Gentle Close, and How to Decide When the Time Is Right looks like an excellent choice. Does anyone else have a favorite resource to support weaning a toddler?
Our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, is a record of how we saved thousands of dollars by going green. In my podcast with Tanya Lieberman of Dandeliondish.com, I got to reflect on how The Eco-nomical Baby Guide can support new parents as they save money and the planet. If you’re wondering exactly what the book is about, take about fifteen minutes to listen to this interview and see if it might work for you. (And The Eco-nomical Baby Guide is still miraculously cheap right now at just under eight bucks on Amazon–it will earn several dozen times its cost in savings!)