How to save the planet (and money) with a baby

The environment is an ever-growing concern across the globe, particularly among parents or soon-to-be parents who are going to be raising children in an ever-changing harsher climate. We know that a lot of waste comes along with your beautiful baby. Did you know that almost all of that waste includes plastic?

Here are our top tips for reducing your baby’s carbon footprint. You can be more conscious of your little one’s environment – best part is, our tips will save you money too!

~ Diapering, Wipes and Pull-ups ~

FOR BABIES

Your baby will go through approx 2,000 – 3,000 disposable diapers in their first year. Add another few thousand until they are fully toilet trained. In North America alone about 30 – 40 BILLION diapers (and baby’s waste) end up in landfills every year. That’s a lot of shit piling up – literally!

Disposable diapers are full of plastics and polymers. Let’s not even get into the chemicals that are up against your baby’s sensitive parts that don’t break down in landfills. Even so called “Eco-friendly, bio-degradable” diapers cannot break down in a landfill. They need fresh air and sunlight and the most perfect conditions to degrade. That is why cloth diapers are still the best option if we’re talking environmentally friendly.

Cloth Diapers

I know, even saying the words can seem can seem overwhelming. When I was living in an apartment and expecting my twins the idea of washing cloth diapers in a shared laundromat was just too much to wrap my head around.

CONSIDER CLOTH:  There are different levels of cloth diapering you can do. You can switch to cloth diapers completely or partially. One strategy can be to use cloth diapers only during the day and only when you’re at home. If it is the idea of extra laundry that is overwhelming to you, there are cloth diapering services. All you do is put them in the bag they provide and the diapers get picked up once a week and fresh clean ones are dropped of to you!

For families that live north of Caledon, Ontario

We scoured the internet and spoke with multiple GTA companies. Although they do not deliver to Dufferin County, WONDERWEAR MODERN DIAPER SERVICES were eager to help us find a solution. They can do pick ups and drop offs at another location for you (think partner’s place of work, grandparent’s house, friend’s house). They have also offered our clients, students and readers a special 25% off promo code on any Starter Pack. Use LOLDOULADIAPERS on your first order and save!

What about baby wipes?

You can ditch the wipes partially or completely. For generations and all around the world commercial wipes never existed and babies (and caregivers) did just fine. At home it’s so easy to use wash cloths to clean your baby’s bum instead of disposable wipes. We recommend this to our clients who have babies with very sensitive skin and are struggling with commercial diaper and wipe induced rashes.

FOR TODDLERS

When learning to toilet train you can often skip the disposable pull-ups and training pants. When you are at home go bare bum or in underwear. This will actually help your little one toilet train faster because they’ll be able to feel their accidents. Often pull-ups and training pants are too absorbent to help your little one feel what is happening.

What about night time?

Buy a few washable bed pads to put under or on top of your child’s sheets. A bonus is that this method can lead to quicker success. Night time pull-ups will often be so absorbent that children can sleep through their night time incidents. However, if they wet the bed pad that will wake them up. This helps them become aware of and eliminate their night time incidents.

~ Infant feeding and meals ~

FOR THE BREASTFED BABY

Breastfeeding is environmentally friendly, and uses very little water or land resources. It does not require palm oil, factory emissions or transportation to get to your little one.

Storage Tips

When storing your breastmilk consider using reusable BPA free plastic or glass freezer safe containers instead of the disposable milk storage bags.  Check out this brand new reusable breastmilk storage bag by Junobie we have recently discovered (necessity IS the mother of invention).

Nursing Pads

Try using reusable nursing pads instead of disposable ones. They are easy to throw into the wash with all the other dirty laundry that’s accumulating.

If you are currently expecting your baby and are planning to breastfeed consider taking a prenatal breastfeeding class. Arrange to have breastfeeding support after your baby is born by a IBCLC (Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant) or a Postpartum & Infant Care Doula that has breastfeeding support training. This can help you meet your infant feeding goals! Even if you can only breastfeed a small amount each day or for a short period of time, you are making a difference.

FOR THE BOTTLE FED BABY

Not everyone is able to or wants to breastfeed. If you are formula feeding or pumping your breastmilk to bottle feed you can still make some awesome changes to be more eco-friendly.

Glass bottles

GLASS BOTTLES are a great investment. You can also pass them on to another family member when you are done with them. They last longer and are easier to clean. They can go in the top of your dishwasher with your dishes. Did you know that new dishwashers use less water than hand washing? They may be cumbersome to travel with, but even if you just use them at home, that is a few less plastic bottles you will end up buying!

FOR THE BABY EATING SOLID FOODS

Consider making homemade meals

Yes, baby food to go comes in convenient packaging. Where does all of that packaging end up? In landfills or in our oceans. 

Baby Led Feeding or Baby Led Weaning

The most current recommendations for most babies is to follow the “Baby Led Feeding” technique. This refers to feeding your baby a little of what you are eating from your plate instead of making separate meals. There are however safety tips around this method. It is recommend that you follow a dietitian’s advice or take a class to learn more. Other meal time methods include batch cooking meals. You can freeze them in BPA free ice cube trays or containers for easy reheating later. There are so many great recipes out there that most families can eliminate the majority of processed and prepackaged food.

~ Clothing ~

pregnant woman making a packing list including clothes for a newborn

The world consumes 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year but there are only 7.7 billion people world wide. That is a lot of consumerism and people are throwing out clothing faster than ever! We can’t blame you though when it comes to shopping for babies – it’s all so FREAKING CUTE!

Part of pregnancy nesting is purchasing, washing, folding and putting away clothing for your little one. We totally think you should do that! However, your child probably need less blankets, hats, bibs, socks, pants, shirts, sweaters, dresses, diaper shirts, sleepers, and shoes than you think. Here’s the thing – not everything needs to be brand new. Consider participating in clothing swaps with other families. You could also purchase gently used clothing online or in stores that carry gently used children’s wear. When your baby grows out of their clothing, considering donating to local organizations that help families who are struggling financially.

REMEMBER:  Being environmentally conscious and reducing yours and your baby’s carbon footprint is not about perfection. Small changes make a big difference. Imagine if everyone cut down on waste even by 25%?  It would certainly make a lasting impact for our children’s generation!


Sarah Baker is a the co-owner of Lifetime of Love Doula Services. She has been supporting families for almost a decade as a birth doula, postpartum & infant care doula and childbirth educator.  She is mom to three boys, twins and a singleton.

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