My friend sent me an email a couple weeks ago, very excited that she had just completed a pair of pants for her 15-month-old daughter on her new sewing machine. “Just call me Crafty Mama!” she exclaimed proudly. When I next saw her, she had made a gift for Coraline, too: an elephant lovey, filled with chamomile. Crafty mama, indeed. She instructed me that it could be warmed in the microwave, which would release the soothing scent of the chamomile. Excellent… only I don’t have a microwave. But I’m a crafty mama of a different sort, and a few minutes in the dryer did the trick.
Sometimes the next best thing is actually the best thing, environmentally or economically speaking. When you can use something you already have in the house, it means one less trip to the store and money saved. It may also produce less trash, less laundry, or be less toxic, which means a more eco-friendly solution. Here are a few ideas that have worked so far for me:
A piece of celery makes a great teether. It’s cool and firm, and just the right size for baby’s tiny hand. Celery ranks number four on the Environmental Working Group’s pesticide load list, so go organic.
Out of baby wipes? Washcloths will do the trick nicely. In fact, you can purchase cloth baby wipes — which are, in essence, washcloths. With its grippy texture and some warm water, they clean up nicely, and are super gentle on baby’s sensitive bottom. A cut-up old towel or t-shirt also works.
Baking soda is great for cleaning the kitchen and bathroom — it works much better than spray on cleaners and is 100% environmentally safe, too. Sprinkle it in the sink, on the stove, or in the shower and scrub with a sponge to remove all kinds of gross build-up or stains. And you can rest assured that any residue left behind won’t pose a hazard to baby. Check out Eco-Cycle for some more alternative cleaner ideas.
Want to get a little more life out of your rapidly growing baby’s onesies? Take an outgrown onesie and cut the tabs at the bottom off. Then sew the two pieces together so that it can be used as an extender to snap together an otherwise too short onesie. This could be invaluable if you use cloth diapers, since otherwise appropriately sized clothing always has to be stretched over the extra fluffy bottom.
If you bed-share like me (and only have one set of sheets, like me) then leaky diapers can be a huge inconvenience. Take a travel changing pad (I like the Circo ones from Target) and slide it into an extra pillowcase. I’ve found it a more effective (and comfortable) way of protecting the bed than a folded up towel or sheet.
Since I’m with her all day, every day, Coraline has never had a bottle. And introducing one now — when she’s almost five months old — just in case, seems like more work (and more of an investment) than is necessary. So what do I do? According to Coraline’s doctor, use a shot glass (yes, a shot glass). I haven’t tried this yet, but apparently it’s pretty easy for an infant to sip from a small glass. Other good alternatives are a teaspoon or, for an older baby, a sippy cup.