How to be sustainable when raising a baby

You’re about to welcome a new baby into the world — congratulations!

This is an incredibly exciting time in your life. 

While you’re getting ready to enjoy your expanded family, you want to also stay true to your values or being sustainable and have a positive impact on the planet.

This is incredibly admirable of you, as having a baby can be a very busy and hectic time. 

But being sustainable with a baby doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, sometimes it can make your life much easier.

Here are 9 great tips for keeping your environmental impact to a minimum with a baby.

1) Use cloth diapers

When we think of babies, we often think about the enormous mountain of diapers that they use before they are potty trained.

Well, where do those diapers go afterwards?

If you switch to using cloth diapers, you can avoid an enormous amount of trash going to the landfill in the form of single-use diapers.

It may take some getting used to, but mothers I’ve spoken to have told me that it’s really not as bad as they had imagined.

These diapers can be easily cleaned by pre-rinsing, washing them together in the washing machine, and a post rinse to remove any soap residue. 

Cloth diapers usually come with a guide or instructions on how to use them, or you can look up many useful tutorials online. 

Not only will you save a ton of money, but you will be much more sustainable with your baby as you will generate no diaper waste. 

2) Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is the most sustainable way to feed your baby. It requires no packaging, transportation, or energy consumption.

Ultimately, it is up to every mother how she chooses to feed her baby. But if we are looking at sustainability, it’s clear that breastfeeding is one of the best ways.

As it is produced by the mother’s body, it is a completely natural and renewable resource. This saves the environment in many ways:

  • No waste generation: Breastfeeding produces no waste as it doesn’t require any packaging or disposable equipment.
  • No greenhouse gas emissions: Breastfeeding does not produce any greenhouse gas emissions associated with formula production and transportation.
  • No additional resources required: Breastfeeding requires no additional resources such as formula, bottles, or packaging, which reduces the demand for resources and minimizes waste.

3) Choose sustainable baby clothing

Clothing is an easy way for any human to be more sustainable, and it’s clear babies use a lot of it, needing bigger sizes every few months. 

So there are many helpful ways to be more sustainable with your baby by making environmentally friendly choices about their clothing.

For example, you could choose to borrow second-hand clothing from friends or family members who have had children and kept the baby clothes. If that’s not possible, you could look into buying clothing second-hand.

If you do decide to buy new clothing (and even if you buy second-hand as well), pay attention to the quality and material of the items. 

Cheap clothes tend to come apart very quickly and cannot be used after even just a few uses. If you invest in a higher quality, you can give the clothes a second life by donating, lending, or selling them, or reusing them for a future child. 

And let’s not forget the washing process!

Go for eco-friendly detergents that don’t damage the environment or cause excess microfiber shedding from clothes. Don’t wash the clothes overly frequently, and use a microfiber bag or filter to keep small synthetic fibers from entering and polluting the waterways. 

Of course, all of this can apply to you as the mother as well, especially when it comes to maternity clothes that you will only need for a relatively short period of time. 

4) Borrow or buy second-hand baby gear

I was surprised to find out just how much stuff babies need. There’s the clothing, diapers, and other obvious things like a stroller and a crib. But there’s so, so much more.

A small bathtub, blankets, a car seat, a baby carrier, a body sling, pacifiers, baby bottles, food containers, toys…

The list just went on and on. But I was even more shocked to hear that someone would actually buy all this stuff brand new for their baby.

I mean, you definitely need these items. But many of them, you only need for a short period of time. So do they really all need to be brand new? 

You can borrow a lot of items and toys from friends or family members who have children and held onto these items. Whatever you can’t, you can probably buy second-hand.

This not only saves money for you, but it also reduces impact on the environment as there is no extra production, packaging, or shipping involved in reusing the same item again. 

There are even companies that allow you to rent toys and other items for a certain period of time until your baby outgrows them. 

5) Avoid single-use products

A great way to be sustainable with a baby is to avoid single-use or plastic products.

For example, reusable baby wipes can reduce the waste you and your baby produce significantly. The same thing goes for single-use baby food pouches. 

The most sustainable baby food is food that you make yourself and package in reusable containers. But even if you don’t have the time and resources to make food yourself, look for options that come in recyclable packaging, or the least packaging possible.

And even when you buy reusable items such as containers, bottles, and toys, go for items that are made of sustainable materials. You do need to avoid certain materials like glass for your baby’s safety, but there are still plenty of safe options made with biodegradable or recycled plastic. 

6) Use eco-friendly cleaning products

Anyone who has had a baby can tell you that they create a lot of mess!

Of course, this mess needs to be cleaned. But the products you choose to clean can make all the difference for the environment.

Use eco-friendly products that don’t use harsh chemicals to clean baby gear, including the stroller or baby toys. 

This might require you to get familiar with some ingredients, as you can’t always tell if a cleaning product is truly sustainable or not just by looking at the label. These days, many companies use the terms “environmentally friendly” as a marketing tactic, so you want to do your own research.

When tidying up your home, also go for energy-efficient appliances. For example, choose a washing machine and dishwasher that have an eco-mode to save water. 

Other appliances like vacuum cleaners can also have energy-efficient settings.

And of course, there are simple things like lightbulbs and batteries for baby toys to consider. 

7) Don’t overuse the car

Whenever possible, choosing to walk or take public transport is another way to be sustainable with a baby.

This is not only healthy for the environment, but also incredibly beneficial for you and your baby too. You can combine getting some exercise along with fresh air for both you and your baby.

When babies start to be more alert, they will find it much more interesting to look around the outdoors rather than sitting in a car seat all the time too. 

8) Save water during bath time

Water is a precious resource, so avoiding excess use for things like bathtime is another great sustainability tip.

The average bath in a full-size bathtub takes 135-190 liters of water. Even if you’re only filling it halfway for your baby, that’s a lot to be used on a daily basis!

One easy solution is to borrow or buy a second-hand baby bathtub, to only use as much water as your baby needs.

Otherwise, if the baby has siblings, you might consider having them share baths. They’re in close contact anyways, so there shouldn’t be any hygiene concerns unless one of them is sick. 

But if you prefer for them to have separate bathtime, you can at least make it a little less frequent. 

Some new parents think that babies need baths every single day. But unless your baby makes a big mess while eating for example, two or three baths per week tend to be plenty enough. 

9) Use natural baby skincare products

You’re probably careful about what cosmetic products you use on your baby, for their own health and safety.

But another great reason to do this is to be more sustainable.

Just like with cleaning products, you may need to learn a bit about different ingredients and their effects on both human health and the environment. 

I’ve learned that reading the ingredient label is the only way to truly tell if a product is healthy or not, as some companies use all sorts of marketing tactics on their labels and advertising.

Familiarize yourself with the names of nasty chemicals and toxins in creams and powders, and make sure to avoid them.

If possible, you can also buy your cosmetic products in a package-free shop, bringing your own containers to refill each time. 

Final thoughts

Now you have 9 great tips for being sustainable with a baby.

I hope these tips help you enjoy this incredibly exciting new period of your life while being confident in the fact that you’re doing what you can to help the environment.

If you have any more tips to share, our community would love to hear your advice and experiences. Share them with us below and help us all support each other!

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Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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