Archive for the ‘Eco-nomical Baby Guide’ Category


Pins? Snappis? A wipe warmer?!

You can definitely cloth diaper without any “extras,” but some parents find cloth diapering much more pleasant with a little help. My sister-in-law, for example, couldn’t live without flushable diaper liners. They eliminate the mess from dirty diapers, making it unnecessary to ever dunk-and-swish a diaper in the toilet. And in this post, we learned why some prefold enthusiasts prefer to use Snappis and diaper pins instead of the lazier method we endorse (which I now know is the “newspaper fold”).

So did I indulge in any cloth diaper bling? Well, we reviewed Monkey Foot Designs wet bags near the end of my diapering days, and I have to say I found my patterned bag much more beautiful than the Zip-loc I’d been using to tote wet diapers around in. While it’s definitely not necessary to the cloth diaper experience, it was a nice perk.

We go over these “diaper accessories” and more in The Eco-nomical Baby Guide,  but now we’re curious: what little extras make cloth diapering easier for you?

Not necessarily! Now, most people probably choose diaper services over home laundering for convenience. You collect your dirty diapers, set them outside once a week, and receive a fresh stack of fluffy white diapers in their place. No messing with smelly diaper laundry. However, as we discuss in further detail in The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, diaper services may or may not be better for the environment than home laundering depending on a few factors.

If you’re considering using a diaper service, you might want to ask them a few questions first:

  • How much water do you use? (Most companies will have statistics on this. Diaper services wash diapers in large quantities and are able to use less water than home launderers.)
  • What chemicals do you use? If they use bleach, you may want to reconsider. Diaper services can sanitize diapers with hot water alone.
  • How do you transport the diapers from house to house? Are they making an effort to use efficient routes? Bonus: Do they use fuel-efficient vehicles?

Have you tried a diaper service? What did you think—both in terms of convenience and eco-friendliness? Let us know!

Does anyone watch the show Parenthood? It follows the lives of four grown siblings and their kids in Berkeley, California. The youngest brother, Crosby, recently found out that he has a five-year-old son. Eager to make up for all those lost years, he volunteers to help the mom throw a big birthday celebration with both of their families.

Jabbar and Crosby in Parenthood

So what do they do? They go to the store, argue about a theme for a few minutes (“We did Sponge Bob last year!”), then proceed to buy stacks of theme-appropriate paper plates and decorations. The weirdest part was, there didn’t appear to be many kids (aside from cousins) at the party. So what was the point of all that disposable party gear—in Berkeley no less, a progressive, eco-friendly community?

Now, I know that it is only television. But is this a reflection of reality? Do kids these days expect to have themed birthday parties with disposable plates to go along with it? Am I naive to think that I can continue to throw low-key celebrations for my daughter and serve cake on our everyday dishes? Are our tips for throwing an “eco-birthday bash” in The Eco-nomical Baby Guide hopelessly unrealistic?

Or does consumerism and waste go hand in hand with birthday parties?

It pains us to admit that cloth diapers do not always win the fight against disposables. We love cloth diapers for their cuteness, cheapness, and eco-friendliness, but the truth is, many people waste so much water and energy laundering their Fuzzibunz that they might as well switch to Huggies as far as the Earth is concerned.

So how can you tell if you’re doing more harm than good? Do a little bit of math to determine how much water you’re using laundering your diapers: multiply the gallons of water your washing machine uses by the number of loads you do per year. (If you aren’t sure, use 40 gallons for a top loader and 12 for a front loader.) Is your resulting number less than 4,000? Then you are on the right track! More than 4,000? You should probably re-evaluate your laundering habits.

Let’s say you have a top-loader and wash diapers every other day. You’re using at least 7,280 gallons of water a year to wash diapers. Do you do an extra rinse each time? You could be blowing through twice that much water.

But don’t panic! There are several easy ways to reduce your impact. Try washing fuller loads less often, eliminating extra rinse cycles, or thinking of ways to reduce the overall amount of laundry you do to “offset” the diaper loads. Our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, contains a thorough list of ways to “green” your cloth diapers to cut down on the water and energy you use. Check it out if you’re ready to get serious about conserving resources!

How many gallons a year do you use on diaper laundry?

Our new book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, costs $13.57 on Amazon.  Is it truly worth that much when you can read our tantalizing posts for free?

Only if you want to save thousands on baby’s first few years.  Thousands?  Seriously?  How can that be?  Here’s a quick outline:

Nursery Gear.  If you use our tips for scoring quality, safe secondhand gear or repurposing what you already have, you’ll save several hundred dollars on nursery furnishings alone.  Plus there’s a directory of quality green products for your eco-splurges.

Diapering. Want to avoid spending nearly two thousand dollars on diapering per child?  Check out our tips on using cloth!  It’s easier than ever and your savings will accumulate without regular runs to the store to stock up on pampers.  When your second or even third baby arrives, you won’t need to spend a dime on new supplies. Plus you’ll keep several tons of waste out of our landfills!

Clothing. Secondhand clothing is hip, cute, and infinitely better for the planet.  Prepare to dress your baby in the best brands for seventy to ninety percent less than retail!

Food. Packed with tips on breastfeeding, using organic formulas, and making your own baby food, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide will help you nourish your child with healthy foods for hundreds less.

Still not convinced?  You can request that your local library purchase our book and then check it out for free!  You just might find that it’s worth having on hand for as a trusty resource for eco-friendly, budget friendly living in baby’s first few years.

DIY Baby Gear

Although I pride myself in being somewhat crafty, I didn’t take on that many DIY projects to prepare for my daughter’s birth four years ago. I did make my own cloth wipes. Anyone who can cut squares with scissors could do the same—I used my husband’s cast off T-shirts! I also created a mobile out of paper and twigs. It hangs in my daughter’s room to this day, so I consider the endeavor worthwhile. Plus, it cost nothing!

In The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, we provide a list of resources for making your own baby gear. Now we want to know—what did you make yourself? Did you sew or knit your baby’s clothes—or even diapers? What about building furniture for the baby’s nursery? What did you make, and what resources did you find the most helpful?

Garage sales always seem like too much work to me. I don’t like waking up early to snag the best deals, I don’t enjoy driving around, and it seems like a pain to wade through piles of other people’s cast-offs to find a few good pieces of clothing or furniture.

This is why I prefer getting my secondhand goods at consignment shops. Everything has been culled over, so the clothes are in good condition and up-to-date with the current trends. If I like Danish Modern furniture, I can usually find a few shops devoted just to that style. So convenient!

But did you know that garage sales will save you 50% or more over consignment or thrift shops? You did if you read our book, the Eco-nomical Baby Guide! We go over the pros and cons of all the usual resale methods to help you find the best deals on used baby gear. I am lucky enough to live within walking distance of a few different children’s consignment shops. I drop in frequently to keep my child properly attired. I’ve found good deals on toys, too.

Where do you prefer to find your secondhand children’s gear? Garage sales, eBay, thrift stores? Why do you prefer one method over the other?

Does your baby know the difference between a free-trade, hand-crafted bamboo stacking toy and your old set of stainless steel measuring cups? Probably not. That’s why we devote a page of The Eco-nomical Baby Guide to “The Top Ten Most Fun Household Objects for Baby.” Chances are, you don’t need to spend a fortune on eco-friendly doo-dads in order to entertain the little one. Dangle some keys in front of his face, let her tear up some old cereal boxes, watch him dig through the compost heap—(okay, maybe not that last one).

The point is, you don’t always need to buy something to fulfill your baby’s needs for fun and excitement. And what’s greener than buying a free-trade, hand-crafted bamboo stacking toy? NOT buying a free-trade, hand-crafted bamboo stacking toy.

Are there any eco-toys you regret buying? And what are your baby’s favorite household objects?

You love your baby with your whole soul, right?  Well that is how Rebecca and I feel about our new book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-To-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and The Planet. (We love our actual children more, but this creative work is a close second…)   It has taken us years to write this gem and it may take us years to celebrate its arrival.  So bear with me for today’s adventure in substandard poetry….

Ode to The Eco-nomical Baby Guide

Oh manifesto of glorious green thriftiness
How I love perusing your pages
And deeply understanding
Every cloth diaper in existence.
Oh treatise of eco-frugality,
Your creativity and humor
Fill my life with laughter,
my wallet with cash,
and the nursery with adorable
secondhand baby gear.

Oh green gift of practicality,
You help new and expectant
parents with your kind wisdom,  and tips
from the trenches.  You make
eco-friendly, budget friendly parenting
a spine-tingling adventure.

Thank you, humble guidebook,
for your emphasis on progress, not
perfection, as we seek to go green
despite our lack of sleep and the spit-up
smudged perpetually on our shoulders.

In those early days with a newborn, did you by any chance find yourself staggering through a Target in search of a swing/bouncy seat/miracle blanket/breast pump? Something—anything—to deal with the demands of caring for a squalling babe? We have a few tricks for avoiding “desperation purchases” in our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide. (And now I’m picturing bleary-eyed parents tearing through a book store, desperate for a copy for our book!)

Will your baby feel deprived and sad without this plastic contraption?

Here are a couple questions for our veteran parents:

  1. Did you make any desperation purchases? What did you buy on impulse—and was it worth it?
  2. What tips do you have for new parents who may fall victim to a similar fate?

Let’s help out those expecting parents!

The Eco-nomical Baby Guide
Eco-nomical Baby Guide
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