Who would have thought that caring for something so small and beautiful would require such a myriad of different – but essential – items! Unfortunately, as you’ve probably discovered, most of the products aimed at parents of babies are created without the impact on the environment in mind.
You don’t have to compromise on your eco-conscious values when you have a baby, though. Making more sustainable swaps doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive, and you certainly don’t need to aim for perfection – parenting is already challenging enough!
Here are some simple sustainable swaps for day-to-day life with your baby, so see which ones work for your family and your lifestyle. Remember, that even the smallest changes add up. It’s in our hands to protect the world that our children are growing up in.
Swap the plastic dummies for a more natural option. If you decide to give your baby a dummy/soother (or they decide for you!), then you’re going to go through a LOT of them over time. Look for those made with natural rubber teats as they are not only made from natural material, but are very soft, warm, and flexible, resembling a mother’s nipple. Choose dummies made from sustainable plastic parts, and preferably come in recyclable packaging.
Swap the skincare products in plastic for eco-friendly packaging. If you use baby bath and skincare products, have a look around for brands that make natural products and use environmentally-friendly packaging, or see if there’s something you have in your kitchen that’s safe to use on your baby’s delicate skin, such as coconut oil (but ask your MCHN first).
Swap disposable for modern cloth nappies. At least 800 million nappies end up in landfill every year in Australia, and they can take anywhere between 200-500 years to break down. Even if you only swap out a couple of nappies for reusable ones a day, it all quickly adds up to a lot less nappies in landfill.
Swap disposable wipes for reusable nappies. You’ll go through an endless amount of wipes throughout your child’s life, even when they’re past the nappy stage. Not only are they incredibly wasteful, but they’re expensive and sometimes harsh on baby skin. To save money, there are plenty of tutorials online if you’d like to make the wipes yourself.
Swap plastic toys for earth-friendly toys. Do your research, and write a list of toys you like that are made from renewable, natural materials. With all of your own best intentions, people love to shower new parents with gifts so politely let friends and family know in advance what you’d like, or ask for hand-me-downs.
Swap new baby gear for used or sustainable baby gear. Items such as baby carriers, clothes, play mats, cots, prams, swaddles, bedding, and nappy bags can all be purchased second-hand or often they’re just given away in local freebie forums. If you need to buy new (such as the cot mattress), look for natural, organic, BPA-free, and sustainably produced products where possible.
Swap plastic bottles for glass bottles. There are some great tough glass baby bottles now, and plenty of stainless steel sippy cups and drink bottles for when they’re older. The bonus about going plastic-free is that there’s no risk of any chemicals leaching into their drinks. If you prefer plastic bottles, you might choose natural rubber teats as another natural option for bottle feeding.
Swap disposable nursing pads for reusable ones. Organic cotton cloth nursing pads are gentler, contain no chemicals, and are easy to throw in the wash with your cloth wipes and nappies! They can also double up as face wipes for you or bub.
Swap plastic tableware for other sustainable materials. Believe it or not, babies don’t need plastic plates, bowls, cutlery, and cups. They can use whatever you have in the house, so save your money and the planet when you introduce your baby to food. When choosing new feeding products, opt for ceramic, bamboo, stainless steel, or glass.
Swap disposable/plastic food storage for eco-conscious options. Homemade food when you can is obviously better for the environment than pouches and packets. Instead of plastic, you can use glass (keep all your jars!) to store their food in the fridge or freezer. You might like to use stainless steel containers to carry it with you when you’re out. Don’t forget to pack your reusable cup for coffee on the go!
For a list of best eco-friendly sustainable baby products see our top picks for 2022 here