Ya’ll probably know I love my thrift store finds and Craigslist gems. Our entire house, along with our AirBnB, is practically all second hand. Not to mention our wardrobes.
But I don’t think it has to stop there.
Since we are tree-hugging-earth-lovin-hippies, we want to raise Jr. Jack (short for Junior Lumberjack) and our future children just like us! 😉 Cuz we think we’re pretty cool. Though that’s up for debate.
Not only is it way better for the environment, but countless people have already told us how expensive having kids can be. And I’m sure that’s true to some degree. That’s probably why The Beard and I have already tried to think of sports that cost little to nothing for our kids to participate in. If they are anything like their parents, they’ll have a competitive streak running through them that we’ll have to simmer down a time or two. But a little artist would be okay too!
So how do we raise eco-friendly and frugal babies is a world overtaken by consumerism?
I’ll let you in on a few of my secrets. And a lot of these ideas can be put into place even before your whole new world arrives.
I am not here to judge. I am here to inform you of your choices. Take all of these, none of these, or some of these ideas.
I don’t think I need to go into much detail here about why you should breastfeed over formula feed, but if you need some convincing check out these 101 Reasons to Breastfeed. If we’re thinking economically — it’s FREE. Like completely free! And you really don’t even need a pump if you are a SAHM. For those of your workin mamas, most insurance companies are now required to offer free breast pumps. And we better take all the health insurance benefits we can because we all know we pay way too much for even basic coverage.
It’s amazing for you, your baby, and your wallet! Many organizations like UNICEF, UN, and WHO all promote breastfeeding into toddlerhood. Further helping your wallet and your bonding skills.
However, if breastfeeding doesn’t work out for you for one reason or another — remember, fed is best! Whether it’s formula or breast milk, or breast fed.
Talk about a 2-for-1. Not only can the initial investment be less than 1/10th of traditional disposable diapers, but cloth diapers also do wonders for the environment.
Imagine filling your entire bathroom up from floor to ceiling with dirty disposable diapers. That’s probably how many diapers ONE child can produce in their lifetime. And we haven’t even made it to the age of depends yet.
And what if you had 5 kids?
That doesn’t include all the toxic waste, forced labor, and fossil fuels put into producing those one use ‘wonders.’
Take it even a step further and purchase secondhand cloth diapers. Or maybe a family member is all done with cloth diapers and you can have theirs. My favorite kind of score! Cloth diapers can typically last up to 3 children from infancy to potty trained.
If you still can’t afford the initial investment, even secondhand diapers — put them on your baby shower registry. People love buying adorable cloth diapers. Have you seen all those patterns?! They don’t even need to know how they work. They just know they look adorable!
And we aren’t just talking a difference of hundreds of dollars. We’re talking thousands and thousands of dollars. If you have more than one kid, all those diapers you wasted your money on could have gone to an Ivy League college fund or a future endeavor for your children.
All I’m saying is cloth diaper your babies’ bums! Just do it. And it can even help prevent diaper rash!
And because I love cloth diapers so much, try reusable wipes instead of disposable ones. You really don’t know how many you are going through until you switch to reusable ones. But totally keep a package of wet wipes on hand because you never know if you need to wipe down sticky hands, your phone, or a face full of mud.
The one exception I do have to cloth diapers is the first 2-3 days your baby is born. They produce a tar-like poop that is hard to get out of diapers and can even destroy the cloth diaper. So I recommend getting some bamboo, non-toxic disposable diapers for those first 3 days. Because we could be talking up to 40 cloth diapers getting destroyed and that could get expensive! And because I am now one of the millions of people who love Amazon Prime — you can get those eco-friendly disposable diapers there!
And the single best addition to our cloth diapering system, a diaper sprayer attached to your toilet! It cleans the diapers off so well — helping prevent ammonia build up and stains. Don’t be like me and buy a diaper shield or spray pal that is supposed to keep the water from spraying everywhere. We haven’t used it once and it just adds an inconvenience if you do try and use it. Save yourself the money and the plastic!
However, if you are going back to work — I know many daycares do not allow cloth diapers. I suggest searching around to find one that does or maybe you’ll have better luck with an in-home daycare. If not, I recommend using eco-friendly bamboo disposable diapers and wipes or cloth diaper part-time!
All those beeping, singing, and clapping toys are a waste of money and sometimes your sanity. Honestly, I don’t want to hear ‘A is for Apple’ 200 times in one day. Or hear the Frozen theme song blasting from a plastic Elsa doll over and over.
Most wooden toys are non-toxic and last way longer than plastic toys that seem to never get used and end up in hoarders’ homes or in landfills.
I haven’t even mentioned all the toxic batteries those toys take. And have you ever had to pay for batteries? We would have to take out a second mortgage just to pay for all those batteries just so we could have a ‘battery powered this or that’ that the baby just had to have.
Wooden toys are typically also less gender specific so they work for future children when you have two different sex children. And because they aren’t so flashy and only scream out one purpose, it allows your child to have an imagination. Blocks can be sand castles, or a log cabin, or a truck, a skyscraper, or even bowling pins. But when your blinking toys are just screaming ‘HIT THIS BUTTON 1000 TIMES.’ It leaves little to the imagination for the child.
And guess what — wooden toys are biodegradable. So if your dog chews a toy (grrrrr!), or it’ts been broken in half, it won’t take 2,000 years to decompose.
Think wooden animals, wooden puzzles, blocks, lincoln logs, bowls, rattles, and teethers.
Really, how can you go wrong with books?! They encourage life long learning in children. They are a free source of entertainment. And they help children use their imagination (just like wooden toys).
I love our local libraries because they have a bookstore with retired or less popular books where you can buy children’s books for 25 cents. How can I pass that up?! Let’s just say I have a really hard time not stopping in there when I go to the library.
Reading to your children can also enhance their IQ and create great readers in your children. A book will entertain a child longer than any movie, unless that is you let them watch it over and over again, all day long. And it fosters life long learning.
Have you seen a 3 year old with a picture book before? They can make up their own story over and over again, adding detail each time they ‘read’ through the book again. Hence, enhancing their imagination and also stimulating their brain to relate the pictures to their stories. Or they might change the story every time or start a new story when the picture doesn’t relate to their story. But see, they are already understanding that the same pictures have different meanings or that their story needs to relate to the pictures. Fundamental skills required when words are introduced to help with decoding.
There are so many places to get children’s books from. I would first recommend your local library where you can rent them for free, also a used bookstore if your library has one, garage sales, and secondhand stores. Also ask your family members because I’m sure they are just waiting to share those favorite childhood books with you and your little one.
So I’ve been told, babies grow out of outfits by the time they have worn it 3 times. And many outfits even get lost in the shuffle and are outgrown before you even knew you had them. Like Jr. Jack going from newborn to 6-12 month clothing in a matter of 3 months. So why would I pay $20 for this adorable little outfit they might wear 2 or 3 times?
I’m telling you, I wouldn’t! I love love love my thrift stores (especially Salvation Army) for this sole purpose. Since baby clothes are barely worn, they get sent to secondhand stores still practically brand new. I can get that adorable Baby Gap outfit for $2 that may have cost $30 in it’s original store.
Not to mention, right before school starts, Salvation Army runs a special on children’s clothing. 89 cents per item! Um — hello!!! Talk about dangerous. I still have to hold myself back from buying everything. But I’ve found an adorable bunting suit for Jr. Jack for $2 since he will be a winter baby. And I even bought 3 pairs of overalls for 89 cents each. If I haven’t told you — overalls are my jam and obsession for little boys. We’ll see if he feels the same way.
The only thing about secondhand stores and baby clothing is that sometimes the deals are so good, I can’t help myself. But really, how can you pass of 20 pairs of socks for $4. I was in Target the other day and they had a package of 4 pairs of socks for $6!!!! Don’t ask me why I was in Target. I hate Target — it wasn’t by choice! Target is where moms go to get credit card debt. Target has very, very good marketing and advertising people.
Secondhand is the way to go. Also, express to those attending your baby shower that you would love secondhand or hand-me-down items. One baby shower, we got an entire tupperware container full of secondhand boys clothing! All that stuff brand new would have cost hundreds of dollars!
And it doesn’t have to stop at clothing. I found a $350 stroller for $25 at a local thrift store. Ask my husband and he will tell you I can’t shut up about the damn thing! But when I brought it home, he had to admit it was a pretty bad ass stroller that he could see himself strolling the little man around in.
Think of all the stuff you can save from going into landfills. And you aren’t contributing MORE to those landfills.
I bet no one told you this one, but make sure you wash any new baby clothing. They are typically sprayed with formaldehyde to keep them from wrinkling. WHY WOULD YOU SPRAY BABY CLOTHING WITH ONE OF THE MOST TOXIC-CANCER CAUSING CHEMICALS?!! It’s beyond me, but not really something I want my baby absorbing into his skin.
Secondhand is best! Not to mention those super adorable vintage/ throwback shirts and outfits!
And just talking from experience, I like easy. And there are a lot of diaper changes that happen with little ones. Way more often than you think and you want to prevent diaper rash. So it might not be fun taking their socks, overalls, vest, and onesie off just to change their diaper. And then have to put it all back together. Shirts and open bottom onesies are my go to with a newborn. OK so maybe I shouldn’t have bought as many overalls as I did.
Glass or Wooden Containers
Everything from glass bottles to bamboo plates are awesome! Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants there is. It’s non-toxic and highly durable for plates, bowls, and cups. It’s a great choice for toddlers, as well, because they tend to be a little more aggressive with their dishes by throwing them on the floor or all the way across the room.
Now I know you’re thinking, “I’m not giving my baby glass to play with!” But hear me out.
Glass bottles prevent toxic plastic chemicals from leaching into your babies food or directly into their mouths. I’m sure you’re all thinking I’m crazy for promoting glass bottles, when all they are going to do is throw it on the floor to see if it shatters. Now, they produce silicone wraps for your glass bottles to help prevent this from happening. They also use shatter resistant glass to keep the bottles from breaking, as well.
Keep that plastic away from their mouths as much as you can. It’s hurting them and the environment. It may be durable and last long, but eventually it will find it’s way into a landfill.
Register or find secondhand items that can be used for multiple purposes or at different stages of your child’s life.
For instance, opt for a 3-in-1 car seat that grows with your baby as opposed to an infant car seat that only last up to 12 months of age. Just make sure the minimum weight capacity if 6 lbs or less. At which point, you will be forced to buy a forward facing car seat and then a booster seat. Of course a baby is going to get expensive if you have to buy 3 different items to make up for 1 item.
Just don’t be like us where the minimum was 9 lbs and The Beard had to run to the store to buy an infant car seat because Jr. Jack only weighed 7 lbs 5 oz when we left the hospital.
Or purchase a good baby carrier or wrap. This will help eliminate the need for multiple strollers and carriers. Some carriers are able to hold up to 45 lbs. I heard ErgoBaby carriers are a dream but I’m just not ready to fork up the money for that one yet. And my Moby wraps are doing just fine! Jr. Jack loves sleeping in them. These also eliminate the need for multiple swings, bouncers, etc.
Don’t buy things your baby doesn’t need
Let’s talk about shoes. Even if you’re just registering for them, you don’t need to. Especially, when they can’t even walk. I mean your 3 month old is going to live in socks and it’s not like they’ll be running any time soon. Children’s shoes are expensive and they grow out of them so fast, it’s just not worth it. Especially in the beginning. Now, obviously there will come a time when your child needs shoes, and by all means — buy the shoes.
There is one exception to this. If you are having a winter baby, I would recommend getting some fleece booties to keep their toes warm while being out and about or transporting them from the house to the car or the the grocery store or whatever. But you only need 1 pair. 2 at max.
They also don’t need 500 toys. Kids tend to stick with a few toys and the rest just get left behind. Try and minimize their toys so they are actually used and not just collecting dust in the ‘toy box’ or strewn all over the house. They might even grow out of toys before they even use them. If you have found yourself with too many toys already — collect the ones you never see your child playing with. I bet they won’t even know they are missing. That is if they don’t see you taking them to a donation center or boxing them up.
And baby really doesn’t need 6 swimsuits. One or two will do just fine.
I even met a lady who called herself a stroller hoarder. I didn’t know that was a thing. But I guess people have different strollers for different occasions. I feel like we’re talking about dresses now. Why does anyone need more than 1 stroller? She said she had like 10 strollers in her garage. Unless you’re running an orphanage, I suggest you research every type of stroller and pick the best one that works for your lifestyle. And remember those baby carriers — they can eliminate some of those circumstances that call for a different stroller. If you’re a big walker or runner, I suggest investing in a jogging stroller. Those can also be used for casual occasions.
Not registering or purchasing unnecessary items will allow your baby shower guests to purchase more of what you actually need instead of those cute bedazzles jeans.
There are hundreds more ideas on how to raise eco-friendly, frugal babies, like vegan babies, having a doula, free birthing, using organic cotton, and convertible cribs. But I thought I would put a dent in some of the major ones. And who knows, maybe I’ll make a Part II post.
I’m not saying I have this whole eco-friendly, frugal baby thing down, but at least I’m trying to make a small difference. And I also think other future and soon-to-be mamas need to know about the choices they can make for the environment, their child, and their finances. We tend to educate ourselves quite a bit on labor and little on what happens after the baby arrives. I’ve totally been guilty of this!
In a perfect world, it would be great if every parent tried to lessen their child’s impact on the environment. But at least sharing this knowledge will help a few people make more informed decisions when it comes to their children and how they affect the world and other people. It’s not just the trees and the grass being affected. It’s people and their working conditions and health conditions.