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5 Items the Eco-Conscious New Parent Doesn't Need

When expecting a new child, you might find yourself bombarded with the ideas of "stuff."  You need this, you need that, don't get this, buy that, etc.   Here are five baby items that I feel a green parent really doesn't need...save money and reduce waste!  

- A baby wipe warmer.  If the wipes are that cold, just warm them up in your hands for few minutes.  The wipe warmer is a waste of energy and usually by the time your baby gets a little older they won't mind a cold wipe on their skin.  You can even make your own baby wipes with old t-shirts and receiving blankets...so you really don't even need baby wipes!

- A bottle warmer.   If you plan to breast feed, definitely skip this purchase.  Even if you end up bottle-feeding, this isn't really a necessary item either.  If you're home, you can warm a bottle up in some hot water.  If you're out to eat, restaurants will often give you a cup of hot water to warm up a bottle.  My son was not usually particular about his milk or formula being warm, and room temperature sufficed.   Breast milk can actually sit at room temperature for 6 hours before it spoils.  Formula shouldn't sit at room temperature for more than an hour, but you can always mix it on the go with room temperature water.

- Diaper Genie.  If you're cloth diapering, a Diaper Genie isn't something you'd need.  If you're not cloth diapering, a Diaper Genie is wasteful, as it simply creates more non-biodegradable trash.  Most diapers are not biodegradable, and the diaper genie just encases it with plastic -- also not biodegradable.  VegFamily.com comically explains, "[A Diaper Genie] produces what can only be described as a giant doody caterpillar when full."  When we use disposable diapers, we just throw them in a trash can with a lid.  If it's really stinky, we run outside and toss it in the trash barrel.

- New baby gear.  With the exception of car seats which should always be bought new, you really don't need a lot of new items.  You can get gently used baby gear for cheap or even free.  Look for consignment shops, look on craigslist, or join your local Freecycle.  Give that baby gear a second life!  I got a swing, pack & play, bassinet, and Exersaucer used.  After my son got older I got a toddler jungle gym and lots of used toys as well.  

- Infant car seat.  I might get flack galore for this one because people truly believe they're necessary, but I don't think an infant car seat is something you really need.  Unless you have a premie, convertible seats suffice.  Most can accomodate infants as small as 5 pounds, then they convert to forward-facing and even to a booster seat.  Infant car seats are a relatively new invention.  Before that, parents would take the baby out of the car seat and put them in the stroller, bring them into the house, etc.   This is what I did...and during a New England winter, no less!    Because car seats should not be bought used, unless you give or get one of these as a hand-me-down, it is a waste of resources.  We saved money and we don’t have a big hunk of plastic sitting around catching dust in case we have another child before the seat expires (or worse — it could be sitting in a landfill).   Additionally and not green-related, the hospital where I gave birth said that they are currently working on a study which will advise against infant car seats, claiming that they are bad for a baby's development because they stay in the same position too much.  (In the car, as a stroller, as a carrier)  Instead, I advise expecting parents to buy a really good convertible car seat, a good stroller with a reclining seat or bassinet, and a carrier such as an Ergo which will last until your child is a toddler.   All three of those purchases will last for years.

Honorable mention for a baby item that you might not need:  a changing table.  When my son was a newborn, I'd change him wherever we were...sometimes the living room floor, sometimes our bed, etc.   We did buy a changing pad to put on top of his dresser which we began to use once he got older.  It makes things easier but isn't necessary.