Are you expecting a baby? Many parents spend what should be a joyful time worrying about how they’re going to pay for all the baby essentials in time for the little one’s arrival. That anxiety is even greater during our current economic upheaval. On top of that, more parents are becoming concerned about the environment and want to try to keep their baby essentials as green as possible. Here are six ways of getting your baby essentials while saving money and being environmentally friendly.
1) Assess what you already have. The first step is to assess what you’ll really need once your baby arrives. If this isn’t your first child, you probably have a lot of things left over from a previous baby that you could use. Re-use is one of the cornerstones of green living.
2) Figure out what you really need. If this is your first child, you should be aware that a lot of the baby gear marketed as essential is not truly needed, and is even designed to keep you away from your baby. For example, it is not really necessary to create and furnish a nursery. Babies and toddlers couldn’t care less if they have fancy bedding with matching decor.
All your baby or toddler really wants is your time and presence, food and warm clothing. Your baby will likely be happiest if he or she sleeps near you. A bassinet like this Arm’s Reach Mini Co-Sleeper Bassinet from BabyEarth does just that–it easily slips right next to your bed so baby can sleep next to you, with easy reach to your infant or to the gear you stash away in the bottom compartment. Bassinets are usually far less expensive than cribs too.
Overall, remember that the less so-called baby essentials you buy, the more you stick only with what you truly need, the better for the environment (and your wallet.)
3) Be Creative with toys. Babies can play with ordinary household items under your supervision and will often like them just as much as the fanciest toys from a store. Wooden spoons, plastic (BPA free!) food containers, items from nature and other easily obtainable items from your home will stimulate your baby’s creativity and cost nothing because you already own them. You can create a “toy box” full of safe, everyday items you find around your home that your baby could play with. When you do buy toys you should focus on solid, high quality, well-made items that will last for multiple children.
4) Look for multi-tasking gear. Buy baby gear items that serve multiple purposes, and eliminate the wastefulness of having multiple items for related purposes. A baby sling is one example of this, such as the stylishly comfortable Hotslings Hemp Organic Baby Sling Carrier made with undyed, unbleached hemp and organic cotton. A sling like this is highly portable and can be used to feed a baby discreetly in public, comfort them when they’re upset, and gently put them to sleep. It can even stand in for a stroller if necessary. A baby craves direct contact with her parent, and will thrive developmentally and cry less if she is “worn” close to your body.
5) Get used stuff. Buying used toys and other baby gear is an excellent option to help you save money while recycling things not wanted by other people. High quality clothing, cloth diapers, books, toys, furniture and much more are available at yard sales, thrift stores, consignment shops, Ebay, Craigslist and Freecycle. Just please be careful not to purchase items that have been recalled. (Click here for toy recalls, click here for other baby product recalls.)
6) Ask! If your friends or relatives throw you a baby shower, don’t let them waste money buying things you don’t really want and that you’ll later have to return, recycle or throw out. Tell people what you really need, and don’t be afraid to ask for practical gifts you’ll actually use frequently. In addition to the usual clothes, what about asking for a baby food grinder you’ll use to make your own nutritious, money-saving food once your baby is eating solids? If all else fails, ask for a gift card and buy what you need yourself.
Going green through “reduce, reuse, recycle” goes hand in hand with your baby essentials and saving money. Saving money while getting what you need for your baby in an environmentally friendly way just involves a bit of forethought, creativity, and objective assessment of true needs versus wants.