By Katie Virk
Being eco can be hard work, and that is the last thing you need as a new parent. Instead of a ‘to do’ list, here’s a list of things you can ‘not do’ in order to save the planet and your wallet:
Bubble bath, shampoo, conditioner, body wash: your baby doesn’t need any of it. Children’s skin and sweat glands are different from those of adults. Their sweat is much less oily and doesn’t smell, so no need for bubbly stuff to wash it off. Plain water is enough to keep your baby clean, and is much kinder to their skin. Plus when you don’t wash the natural oils off you don’t need moisturiser to replace them - bonus.
Once babies start weaning and rubbing avocado in their hair you may want a tiny amount of shampoo. You can use solid shampoo bars like those from Rowdy Kind.
2. White noise machine
Download an app on your phone instead. And if you don’t want to give up your phone during precious nap time ask family and friends if they have an old phone in a drawer, it only needs to connect to WiFi to download apps, it doesn’t need a sim card or a monthly plan.
3. Baby bath / bath seat
In my experience a baby bath on the floor leads to you breaking your back bending over it. A baby bath on the table leads to you breaking your back emptying it. So two alternatives; either sink wash, babies fit nicely in sinks, kitchen or bathroom. Or only put 1-2 inches of water in the bottom of the bath and lie them on the floor of the bath, ta da, no need for seat. As for a special cushion to kneel on, fold up a towel.
Ownership is so passé. By Borro-ing clothes you’ll save money and the planet compared to buying them. And you don’t have to worry about storing them or getting rid of them once your baby grows out of them, simply put them back in the reusable bag and return for free.
5. Any product that claims it will magically make your baby’s cold better
eg Snot sucker, saline nose drops, humidifier, dehumidifier, air purifier, essential oil diffuser, cough syrup, chesty cough syrup, Vaporub...
There is absolutely no scientific evidence that they will make your baby better. And in the case of the snot sucker it can actually injure your baby’s delicate nasal passages. Check the NHS website for evidence based advice on what to do when your baby is ill rather than hitting Amazon.co.uk in desperation at 2am!
Cuddles and rest might be the only thing that makes your ill baby better!
Unless you are a hermit living in a cave and have no contact with outside world then I guarantee you will be gifted more toys then you will ever need. You can also be fairly sure that your baby will have very little interest in any of them! Babies and toddlers tend to prefer real world items. There’s a fancy word for this – heuristic play. It just means giving them a whisk, your car keys, an empty milk carton or any other baby-safe item in your house to play with. And if you do want some beautiful baby toys, you can rent them from great companies such as Borrow and Nest.
7. Baby wipes
Even if you are not a cloth nappying family you can still give up disposable wipes. Wet the cloth wipes with water and pop them in a Tupperware to take out and about. Chuck them in the wash with your normal load when you’re done. I didn’t use them for pooey nappies when I wasn’t putting a separate cloth nappy wash on, but I did (and still do) use them for everything else – wee nappies, sticky fingers, sticky faces, baby sick, snotty noses etc.
8. Disinfectant wipes / sprays
Babies do not need or benefit from a 100% disinfected environment. A small blob of washing up liquid on a warm wet cloth is more than enough for any surface or high chair encrusted with Weetabix (nicknamed Weeta-concrete in our house).
9. Baby towels
Presumably you already have towels, unless you just drip dry after your shower?! Don’t be fooled into thinking baby towels are softer, they are just newer. They will be as scratchy as your existing towels after a couple of washes. If your towels are really, really rough then wrap baby in a large muslin or old T-shirt before wrapping in the towel.
10. Changing mat
Fold up a bath towel or clean bath mat. Ta-da! you have a changing mat. And for bonus points it absorbs wee rather than somehow funnelling it up towards your baby’s hair like my stupid plastic one. (Chuck in the washing machine every now and again of course.)