If you’re pregnant or have just had your first baby, congratulations. It is a very exciting time in the life of new parents and their families. It’s also a very confusing time and often there seems to be far too much advice and very little practical help. For this reason I decided only take advice from someone who offered to babysit, clean, or cook for us. If someone wasn’t willing to do this I turned a deaf ear.
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I hated being a parent to young children, hated it beyond any expectation. I’m mentioning this so that if you’re not full of a warm fuzzy glow in the early years you know it’s not you’re not alone. Parenting doesn’t really suit my personality. I’m an A type. I like order, getting things done, doing things to extremely high standard. This doesn’t suit parenting at all. I have learned the hard way that seeking order and having parenting goals is a recipe for mental illness. Kids have their own little personalities and will march to their own beat. I have very little influence over this. All I can do is try and keep them clean and fed on their march and steer them clear of any life-threatening dangers. The term ‘herding cats’ comes to mind.
Anyway enough of the parenting advice, after all I haven’t even offered to babysit, clean or cook. This article is really about where to get maternity and baby bits and pieces. Given the busyness of being a new parent, I thought it wise to collate all this information into one article. I’ve previously published about Sustainable Ethical clothing Kids Clothing so check that out too, and if you haven’t already done so read my article on What you don’t need to buy for Baby. You may also like this article by The Green Canuck on Minimalist Baby Prep. Honestly your baby will be much more grateful if you invest your money in well-being activities instead of accumulating a huge collection of shop-bought baby paraphernalia, that you’ll be constantly tripping over, only to re-home it in the near future. On the Zero Waste Ireland group I saw a great suggestion on an alternative to physical gifts; vouchers for food, or a cleaner, or even a doula! A god send when you’re exhausted from parenting.
Alternatively they could get you a voucher for the fabulous website Kindora, where you can hire a buggy or smart sleeper, or buy lots of items second-hand.
Nappies and Wipes
I’m giving a special mention to these bad boys because they’re the one area of parenting where you really can make a huge impact environmentally. I don’t want to guilt anyone away from disposables, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed as it is. Just do a bit of reading, do a bit of thinking and then make a decision that you think will work for you and your family.
Most wipes, even Water Wipes, are made from plastic and cellulose and so are not biodegradable or compostable and will end up in landfill or incineration. I haven’t been able to source compostable wipes but have seen biodegradable baby wipes on the market. I have huge reservations about biodegradable plastic and don’t trust the instruction to put these wipes in the compost bin. Even if they are compostable, which I doubt, I’m not sure the waste collection companies would be happy to have human excrement in the brown bins. The most sustainable option is to reuse cloths that you wash with cloth nappies. You can buy resuable wipes that you come with waterproof storage containers. Alternatively use toilet paper that you flush down the toilet.
Disposable – I have to admit to using disposable nappies when my kids were babies. I did use biodegradable nappies for a while but pay cuts during the recession put an end to them. I now know that reusable is far more sustainable than disposable, even if the disposable is biodegradable, but when my kids were babies I had no notion that reusable cloth nappies existed so I missed the boat on that one. Irish company Eco Nappies says that their nappies can go into commercial composting systems in Ireland but that you’ll need to check with your waste collection company if you’re allowed to put them in your brown bin.
If you’re unsure about cloth nappies you can give them a trial and borrow a set from The Cloth Nappy Library and if you do decide to take the plunge you can get cloth nappies second-hand online. You can also learn all about cloth nappies on the Cloth Libraries website or in the Cloth Nappy Chat Facebook Group
For any bits that you can’t borrow or source pre-loved. Here are some e-tailers of sustainable ethical maternity and baby goods.
- earthmother.ie (Ireland)
- mycottondrawer.com (Ireland)
- organiccottonshop.ie (Ireland – natural rubber soothers)
- anniepooh.ie (Ireland)
- reuzi.ie (Ireland)
- Summers Sweet Baby (Ireland)
- bapipur.co.uk (UK)
- funkymonkeypants.com (UK)
- fluffheaven.com / babame.com (UK)
- laessig-fashion.com (Germany – Items that are free from PVC, nickel, azo dyes, lead and phthalate, some made from recycled polyester)
- Boob Design (Sweden – Maternity Clothes made from organic and recycled fibres)
And some e-tailers specialise in reusable cloth nappies and the hire of fabric slings.
- clothnappylibrary.ie (Ireland – reusable cloth nappy hire)
- fluffybums.ie (Ireland – reusable cloth nappies and wipes)
- littlecomfort.ie (Ireland – reusable cloth nappies)
- joeyroo.com (Ireland – reusable cloth nappies)
- nuababy.com (Ireland – reusable cloth nappies)
- snugglebugs.ie (Ireland – reusable cloth nappies)
- yesbebe.co.uk (UK – reusable cloth nappies)
- mummyhub.ie (Ireland – sling hire)
- kangaroobabies.ie (Ireland – sling hire)
In addition to these companies some kids clothing brands also sell a few baby related items like bibs and blankets, including.
- Piccadilly Organics (UK)
- Cambridge Baby (UK – slings, blankets)
- Little Green Angles (UK – bedding)
- Living Crafts (Germany – bibs, blankets)
- Mini Rodini (Sweden – blankets)
- Keptin Jr (Holland – Comforters for premature babies)
There are also a few general eco e-tailers selling some maternity and baby related items, including.
- littlegreenshop.ie (Ireland)
- reuzi.ie (Ireland)
- bumblelane (Ireland)
- boobaloo.co.uk (UK)
- thenaturalstore.co.uk (UK)
- naturalcollection.com (UK)
- ethicalsuperstore.com (UK)
Before I leave I just wanted to mention an Irish brand of all-natural, cruelty-free, vegan friendly, Halal certified skincare for babies called Mee-go Little Organics. It’s free of SLS, parabens and artificial fragrances and colours. and uses some organic ingredients. I haven’t tested them personally but if you’re interested in finding out more you can do so on their website.