I’ve been in high-octane, super-overwhelmed mode for just over a week now. My due date is nine weeks away, my house is only half unpacked, and I have some very serious exams coming up the beginning of June. Between studying, settling, and sleeping (hello third trimester fatigue), baby has sort of slipped to the back of my mind (thank you foggy, flaky pregnancy brain). So when my friend asked me about registering the other day, I balked. “Oh, I’ll do it next month,” I said. “Your shower is next month,” she replied. Oh right.
At the onset of the pregnancy papa and I agreed we would not get sucked into a gimmicky, consumerist baby quagmire. Just envisioning the house crammed with baby paraphernalia sends me into a tailspin. Plus, I have some pretty strong convictions about the quality of things my child will be exposed to, and I mean that it terms of developmental facilitation and safety. Ironically, most baby products are made with some of the more toxic materials out there: cotton, synthetic fabrics, and plastic.
So, what kind of stuff is out there that’s manufactured with a green earth and baby in mind? Turns out, more than you think (green is the new black). Here are a few of the “necessities”:
As I’m not a fan of car seats with removal buckets (check out Catherine McKenzie’s article Car Seats are for Cars to see why) I plan on using a convertible seat. Unlike the infant-only seats that often have the handle and detachable base, a convertible seat stays fixed in the car and can be used rear-facing for a little baby and then front-facing for an older child, so just one product to get me through the next several years. Sunshine Kids Radian65 convertible is completely bromine, lead, and chlorine free, chemicals that are frequently found in car seats. Britax and Evenflo seats also test low. A number of companies also make organic, formaldehyde-free cotton car seat covers, so don’t be so quick to reject a hand-me down seat.
Strollers are just like car seats, with wheels. I like the ones from UPPAbaby, a green-minded company that uses recycled materials and even offers an organic bassinet made from cotton and soybean fibers. And while it’s expensive, their adaptable VISTA stroller is appropriate for a child up to 50 pounds, which means just one stroller from birth to bike.
Cotton is one of the most chemical-intensive crops in the world. And let’s not even go into synthetic fibers like rayon, polyester, or acrylic. A number of companies, including Gerber and Carter, have begun manufacturing organic cotton clothing and blankets for baby. And of course there are a number of “designer” baby brands offering soft, chemical-free, fashionable duds for your stylish wee one. Imps & Elves, a Dutch company, has become one of my favorites — you can find a large selection at No Sugar in Rhinebeck (845-876-6040).
While I plan on breastfeeding exclusively, I am sure there will come a time when a bottle o’ breastmilk from daddy will have to do. Plastic is full of nasty chemicals like BPA, phthalates, and PVC, which have been proven to leach out over time. Things like baby bottles are particularly susceptible to this as they’re used over and over again, washed in hot water or forgotten in warm places like the car, compromising the integrity of the plastic. And since glass is not practical for this particular product genre it’s best to find a brand of baby bottles, sippy cups, or breastmilk containers that is BPA-free; popular brands like Medela, Evenflo, and Avent all make them. For more information on safe plastics, check out www.safemama.com.
The great diaper debate: Cloth versus disposable? This is a big one. Cloth is clearly the greenest option, and arguably better for baby (there is some pretty funky stuff hiding in those Huggies — check out this article from Mothering magazine). My own mother scoffed when I said I was planning on using cloth diapers, but that was only until I explained how they’ve changed over the past several years. Gone are the days of fabric secured on either side by ducky safety pins; today there are a number of options that involve snaps or Velcro, waterproof shells, and cloth or flushable inserts (the latter is called a hybrid and is technically the most environmentally sound option as there is no washing necessary). You can wash at home or join a diaper service that does the dirty work for you. With all the various options some guidance is useful: The wide selection and knowledgeable staff at Waddle n’ Swaddle in Poughkeepsie is a good place to start (plus, shopping local is the green way to go).