Good green things you can do for your baby

Green Parenting
Just before my daughter was born, I read a book called 'Green Parenting' by Juliet Solomon.  It was a revelation to hear that I didn't need most of the things people had told me that I would.  It may be a little out of date now, but many of the basics are still the same.

Beware the Freebies
Later, when I was given a welcome pack / goody bag by the hospital, I felt able to politely refuse saying that I wouldn't need the disposable nappy samples, the formula milk or any of the plastic items the bag contained.

Easy-peasy nappies
Things have moved on enormously and re-usable nappies are now so easy to use!  Often grants and vouchers are given to help buy them or they can be bought second hand.  I think it's very sad when people feel that everything has to be brand new for a baby - clothes, toys etc.  As long as they are washed thoroughly, the baby doesn't mind.  And you can save your pennies (pounds) for their education later on.  In fact, if every time you were thinking of buying something, then didn't or bought a preloved version, you could put the saved money aside for the college fund.

There are a zillion bargains to be had at boot sales, charity shops, preloved, facebook groups, ebay, swap groups etc etc etc.  Because babies grow so quickly, many of the items will only have been worn a few times if at all.  Or make your own from a free sewing pattern on-line.  More on clothes later.

It's never too early to introduce babies to books and libraries have a great selection of board books which obviously don't get torn.  There are also bags of bargains to be had buying books from the places mentioned above. Another great thing about the library is that you'll have access to so many different stories. It also gets children used to the idea that they don't have to own everything.

How many times have you seen or heard that the box was more played with than the toy? Although manufacturers would prefer you to believe otherwise, babies don't need bought toys in order to learn. Wooden spoons, boxes, tupperware etc are all just as capable of teaching your baby about the world around them and will probably keep them entertained for longer.  When babies are a little older, they can enjoy natural 'toys' too like pine cones and autumn leaves.

Toy Libraries
See if there is one near you. A toy can be borrowed for a couple of weeks for a small hire charge, then replaced with something else. This works out much cheaper than forking out for something expensive that is tossed aside fairly quickly.

There is a lot about gender in the media at the moment and about how we treat boys and girls differently meaning that many grow up without fulfilling their potential or being paid less. Part of the trouble starts when the baby is born; the 'pink and blue' scenario. Once again, manufacturers will do anything they can to get us to part with our cash. If you buy pink for a girl and then later have a boy, guess what, you'll be encouraged to buy the same again in blue instead of passing the item down.  In fact there's a real joy to siblings wearing the same outfit that their older brother or sister wore.  The 'pink and blue' scenario made me cross twenty-five years ago and if anything, it's got worse: the number of people selling at boot sales that have halved their customers. The waste. The encouragement with stereotyping. Grrr. In Scandinavia many baby clothes are made in unisex colours, they are also far better designed, with buttons, poppers or turn-ups to lengthen clothes and make them last longer when the baby grows.  Clothes are more expensive there too, so people value them more and it's consequently a much less throw-away society. I've even seen someone chuck out a blue baby changing mat because it was the wrong colour. Look at the designs on clothes too, tractors, cars, rockets and pirates for boys, princesses, fairies and hearts for girls. Our children are moulded into the 'wrongs and rights' then it's far harder for girls to become scientists or for boys to play with dolls should they wish.  Go unisex with the clothes and toys, but do avoid white as it isn't great for food or mud stains!

Plastic toys may seem like a good idea as they are easy to keep clean, but they are often packaged in yet more plastic and when they come to the end of their use, they will almost certainly be landfilled. Instead look for toys made in a traditional way from wood, or improvise!

Don't be afraid to let friends and family know that you would prefer second hand items as you are doing your bit to preserve the planet for your children. Or if there are greener toys and clothes, ask if you could possibly have these instead. It's much better that a child wears or plays with something than a well meaning gift being unused.

Unusual Gifts
Why not dedicate a tree or adopt an endangered species? Although it's lovely and kind to give gifts, do give a thought to where someone may have to store things, especially if they have a big family and circle of friends and a small house.  If you really want to buy new, try at least to support a charity, fair-trade, local business or artist.  Ethical clothing ideas via The Independent.

Processed Baby Foods
Speciality baby foods are a million dollar market.  Make your own, it will be healthier, cheaper and there will be less packaging.  Steam some carrots, peas or pears, then purée and freeze them, starting with ice cube trays for tiny portions.

Bike pushchair
I wish we'd had one of these amazing tagabikes. You can use it as a pushchair or turn it into a bike for you with the pushchair on the front.  Think how fit and healthly you'd stay and how much fuel you'd save your purse and lungs.

Babies don't need sugar. In fact it's bad for their teeth. The only puddings they require are bananas and other unsweetened fruits. Having said that, it's not great for adults either and you could set an excellent example. If you're in doubt, watch That Sugar Film.

Thinking outside the box
When my daughter was a month old, we visited relatives who said they'd buy a travel cot.  Very kind, but really no need I replied, a drawer will be fine and guess what - it was!