This is Part 2 of my series on natural baby gear basics. You can read Part 1 here, which discusses baby carriers, car seats and breastfeeding.
Cloth diapering is traditionally the natural mama way to go. If you’re on the fence, read this objective comparison about the aspects to consider in cloth vs. disposable. And this article provides a cost analysis breakdown between the two diaper options (and also includes links on how to create a cloth diaper stash on a budget).
You’ll find that there are a myriad of cloth diapers on the market these days. For budget reasons, we went with the basic Chinese prefolds. They are the cheapest, and the diapers earn a very extensive second life as cleaning rags afterwards. (We’re still cleaning with Sofie’s prefolds seven years later!) I bought a basic starter package that included diapers, covers, inserts and laundry bags.
As Sofie got older, we tried some of the all-in-ones, which we loved both for the their stylishness and their ease of use. Once Sofie went to daycare, we had to combine cloth with disposables. (Always ask — some daycares are open to cloth.)
Over the Moon Diapers is a great place to shop, offering plenty of options from prefolds to all-in-ones, including organic options. Their site offers detailed information on cloth diaper care plus a rental system of gently used diapers, which is great for fast-growing newborns.
We didn’t use expensive and chemical-laden baby wipes, which made explain why Sofie never had diaper rash. Instead, we wiped her butt with warm wet rags and added a little Burt’s Bees diaper cream. That’s it. If you feel more creative than that, you can make your own non-toxic baby butt cleaning solution. And here’s a tutorial on making cloth wipes.
Want to avoid the whole diaper thing altogether? Some parents swear by the elimination communication method.
Newborns love to be swaddled. They’re not used to the sensation of their arms and legs flailing about. Swaddling is secure and cozy, like the womb. Swaddling helped us get Sofie to sleep the first six to eight months. Some options for organic swaddling blankets include Bambino Land and Aden + Anais. Etsy also offers some cute swaddling blankets, both organic and not. Choose a swaddle cloth for the season your child is born in, and learn how to swaddle safely.
We co-slept with our daughter in our own bed (read my 5 reasons to co-sleep), so I’m not terribly informed about the crib choices out there. I would suggest seeking sustainably harvested woods with non-toxic finishes. Ideally, the bed is a place your baby is going to be spending a lot of time in, so you’ll rest easier knowing she isn’t inhaling formaldehyde and other chemicals (about 300 according to one study).
Avoid disposability by considering the longevity of a piece of furniture—a crib that converts to a bed or a dresser that can also serve as a changing table keeps baby gear out of the landfills. Check out this sustainable guide that lists environmentally certified products, including baby furniture.
Moms who want to keep baby nearby might consider co-sleepers for easy nighttime nursing and soothing. My friend Manda at The Green Mama likes the Baby Bunk, which turns into a bench once outgrown. And there’s the cozy Humanity Family Sleeper that is placed on top of your bed and prevents roll-offs.
Whether your baby is in your bed or his own, opt for a non-toxic mattress if you can afford it. Mommypotamus has a great post on what to look for in such a mattress, plus an inexpensive alternative. (Thanks, Heather, for such great information!)
You can find an assortment of organic cotton blankets, fitted sheets and other crib bedding at the Ultimate Green Store. I’m a fan of reusing what’s already out there, so baby hand-me-downs of blankets, sheets and clothes work for me.
Whichever sleeping option you choose, Natural Parents Network has a list of resources for ensuring safe sleep for your baby.
Miscellaneous Baby Items
- Bathing We had a secondhand baby bath tub we used for Sofie. You might just use a large bowl, the kitchen sink (lined with blankets) or bathe with baby yourself (watch out for slipperiness!). If you’re looking for eco options, I have since discovered this adorable Eco Tub made from 100% recycled plastic. And my green sistah Alicia at The Soft Landing has a great post on choosing non-toxic bath toys for when your child is older.
- Snot Sucker NoseFrida the Snot Sucker is a 100% hygienic, Swedish tool for cleaning out baby’s nose until they learn to blow on their own. Fun stuff!
- Amber Teething Necklace If I’d known about this when I was pregnant, this would have been my teether of choice. Amber necklaces are natural choices for teething pain. Used for centuries in parts of Europe, true amber contains succinic acid, which has the pain-relieving properties. Check out this Guide to Amber Teething Necklaces. Two brands I’ve heard other moms recommend are Amber Artisans and Inspired by Finn.
- Thermometer and Nail Clipper Pretty basic necessities.
- Medicine I found breast milk to be the best medicine for most of Sofie’s ailments, including her minor ear infection and skin rashes. However, you’ll want some basic baby medicines on hand just in case. Kristin at Niblet Blog offers a list of how to build a natural baby first aid kit. This homeopathic starter kit from Hyland’s is a great option if you’re interested in trying homeopathy.