Sustainability from Day One - What Does My Baby Really Need?
Photo by @igel.naeherei
Are you expecting a baby? Congratulations! You're probably wondering what your baby will need as soon as they arrive in this world. It's not uncommon for parents, full of anticipation, to buy eagerly everything that might be useful. Often, half of these items remain unused and turn out to be unnecessary purchases. However, if you want to know what you really need during the initial time with your baby and how you can incorporate sustainability into your daily routine from day one, you're in the right place.
What basic equipment does a baby need? In the beginning, your baby will need season-appropriate basic clothing, a place to sleep and change, diaper cream, burp cloths and soft blankets. For the expectant mom, nursing pads and nursing bras are also necessary, and for drivers, a suitable baby car seat is essential.
In the following, we will give you 7 valuable tips for sustainable living with a baby. We'll show you which items you really need and which purchases you can avoid.
Sustainable First Equipment – What Do You Need in the Beginning with Baby?
When it comes to sustainability in everyday baby life, it's primarily about buying only what you really need. Additionally, the products should not harm the environment – neither during production nor in use. At this point, you're probably thinking of the roughly 6,000 disposable diapers and the tons of wet wipes an average baby uses. But even convenient and practical products like jarred baby food, various creams, and numerous cute clothing items can make it difficult for many parents to live sustainably with a baby.
There are also numerous articles that are supposed to make parenting easier, but in the end, they are totally unnecessary. With the help of this article, you'll gain insight into what you and your baby really need during the initial time after birth.
So before you set out and spend a fortune on baby gear, we'll give you an overview of the 10 most important items you'll need for your initial equipment:
- A basic set of clothing suitable for the season in size 50/56
- A sleeping place for the baby
- A changing place for the baby
- Nursing bras and nursing pads
- OR formula and bottles with nipples for newborns
- Diaper cream and baby oil
- Burp cloths and soft blankets
- A carrier or a wrap
- A cozy and breathable blanket
- For drivers: A suitable baby car seat
The contrast: The 10 least necessary items for your initial baby gear:
- Baby bathtub
- Baby scale
- Stuffed animals
- (numerous) pacifiers and bottles
- Baby shoes
- Too much baby clothing
- Baby skincare products
- Baby water
- Baby bed and nursery equipment
- Breast pump
Photo by @isabelplett
7 Tips for Sustainability in Everyday Baby Life
In principle, life with a baby can be very minimalistic and sustainable . In the following, we have compiled some tips on how you can make your life resource-efficient without suffering from restrictions. It's absolutely okay if not all of our tips match your idea of parenthood. We simply want to show you which options you might consider.
A Minimalist Start
Initially, only get the things you really need for the first days and weeks with your baby. You can buy anything additional over time, once you have an overview of what you actually need. A selection of clothes and diapers should suffice for the beginning. If you already know that you don't want to breastfeed, of course, you will need additional materials to bottle-feed your child.
Moreover, you can opt to buy secondhand or rent clothes packages . To avoid being overwhelmed with unnecessary clothes and toys by relatives, you could ask for vouchers for your favorite baby shops.
Your Baby's Sleeping Place
Come to terms with the fact that it won't be you who decides where the baby sleeps. In most cases, the expensive baby bed isn't even used in the first few months. No matter how much you've planned for your baby to sleep in their own bed, preferably even in their own room, accept that it may not happen. Babies need closeness and parents need short distances. Nowhere else will your child sleep as peacefully and feel as secure as right beside you. Also, for nighttime nursing and diaper changing, having a sleeping place in the parents' room simplifies the process.
Nevertheless, of course, you should think about a safe sleeping place. Highly recommended are co-sleeping cots which are open towards the parents' bed. This way, your child has their own and safe sleeping place, yet still close to you. If the co-sleeping cot is rejected, you can still use it brilliantly as storage for spare diapers and similar items.
Save the money for an expensive children's bed – or even a whole nursery. I was so proud when my son's room was finally set up. We used it exclusively for changing diapers for the first year. He slept with us in the family bed from birth, and the crib was only used to safely lay him down when I needed my hands free. Yes, a cabinet for storing children's clothing is useful, but everything else can wait.
Photo by @ammenmaerchen
The Changing Place
One thing is certain: You need a changing place. A place where you can safely change your child and have all the necessary materials at hand. Consider whether it really needs to be the fancy and expensive changing table, or whether a towel on the couch and a small cabinet would be completely sufficient.
In my case: Yes, with the first child I enjoyed using the changing table. Everything in one spot and a comfortable place for my son. However, once my daughter was born, my perspective changed. Often, the trip from the living room to the nursery felt too long, so the changing place moved into the living room within the first weeks. I have two baskets with spare diapers and care products, and the changing happens on the couch. At first, with a waterproof pad, but now a towel is enough. In winter, or generally with temperature-sensitive children, a heat lamp can also be advantageous to make the changing as comfortable as possible.
Washable Wipes, Changing Pads, and Nursing Pads
With the right resources, you can avoid a lot of waste in life with your baby. Unfortunately, many everyday items are designed for single use. Items such as wet wipes, changing pads and nursing pads are not only made of plastic and often chemicals but are also disposed of after just one use. Yet the alternative is so simple and also much healthier.
Wet wipes can be easily replaced with washcloths. You have various options to choose from:
- Normal washcloths,
- special washcloths for changing, or a small cut-up towel.
If you choose the washable alternative to wet wipes, you not only reduce waste but also benefit from several advantages:
- You save money! Once purchased, you can use the cloth wipes throughout the entire diapering period. If you decide, for example, to cut up an old towel, the acquisition costs are even zero.
- Naturalness. Classic wet wipes are often perfumed and contain other ingredients that should not touch your baby's bottom. With washable clothes, you control what comes into contact with your child's intimate area. You can use clean water or add a drop of baby oil for care.
- Always warm, always ready to use: Cleaning with washcloths is by no means complicated. In the morning, I fill a small thermos with warm water and place it at the changing area. This way, you not only have it immediately at hand but also save your child from the cold of classic wet wipes. Especially during nighttime changes, babies are very sensitive to temperature. A warm and soft cloth simply feels better than a cold wet wipe.
For nursing pads, there are now very discreet, washable alternatives. I've been using my 8 pairs of cloth nursing pads for more than three years now.
Introducing Solids at the Family Table
Even though reaching for ready-made baby food jars may seem convenient : Instead of buying or making purees, you can offer your baby what's on the family table once they are ready for solids. Just make sure that the food is as low in salt and appropriate for babies as possible. The food should be easy to grab and to chew . The rule of thumb is: about as long and thick as your little finger and easily squished with their fingers. So besides steamed vegetable sticks, you can also offer your baby strips of pancake, bread, or other foods.
Elimination Communication After Birth – How It Works
Only about 20 % of babies worldwide wear diapers. The remaining 80 % grow up from birth without diapers—did you know that? Even in our culture, it was once common for babies to be held over a pot or the sink based on their signals so they could do their business. When the disposable diaper entered the market in the 1960s, the knowledge of natural infant care gradually disappeared. Since then, mountains of disposable diapers have grown, and the era of sustainability in everyday baby life was over.
Like sleep and eating, elimination is one of the basic needs of every baby. It's important to know: Naturally, no baby wants to lie in their excretions, dirty their sleeping place, or their caregiver. Babies are competent enough from birth to signal their need to eliminate; we have just stopped listening to them over time.
Although living completely without diapers is possible, we don't expect you to always pay attention to your baby's signals amidst the hectic routine of baby care. However, it is worthwhile to hold your baby over the potty in what are called standard situations and who knows – maybe this could create a healthy communication basis, and you might delve further into the subject. Standard situations include:
- after sleeping
- after feeding
- after being carried
Through elimination communication, you can strengthen the bond with your child, prevent tummy aches and, as a side benefit, save on diaper waste.
Cloth Diapers Instead of Disposable Diapers – How to Be Sustainable with Baby
One important issue in terms of sustainability is diapers. Each child produces about one ton of diaper waste over the course of their diapering period. You can avoid this by choosing cloth diapers. Thus, Judes has brought to market a cloth diaper that is easy to use and absolutely sustainable. You can wash and reuse the used diapers and even pass them on to more children. The more children you use cloth diapers for, the more sustainable they become.
Do you have any more tips for sustainability with a baby? Feel free to leave us a comment!