Eco kids and babies

There are now many products, services and initiatives to help new mums’, dads’ and carers’ lives that bit easier when welcoming a new baby into the world. But which products do you choose that are best for your new arrival, for you and the environment?

We’re here to help, with a quick list of tips and suggestions – all road-tested by eco-mums on this site. Don’t forget to give us your feedback and personal experiences, too, we’d love to hear from you! All useful suggestions will be added for others to share.

We all know breastfeeding is the best option for babies and kids, but it’s also great for the environment. No packaging. No processing. Natural and organic, what could be better?

The World Health Organisation suggests a baby is fully breast-fed until 6 months. When this is possible, it obviously makes good sense – the milk’s tailored to the exact needs of the baby, natural immunity is passed on from mum and the baby receives it in a direct sterile way. Just think, no endless sterilising of bottles and a handy snack for when baby is hungry when you’re out and about!

Starting your little one on solids can be a bit daunting at first.

Making your own food means you know exactly what has gone into it. It’s always useful to have jars or pouches of readymade food on hand, but the packaging and processing makes them not only worse for the environment, but also worse for your purse.

Follow our tips on eco-eating with regards to trying to pick local, seasonal and organic produce as a start. It’s so easy in the UK now to get organic produce from local shops, markets and supermarkets.

Keeping iron levels up is crucial as you’re weaning. Red meat may be a convenient source of iron, but many vegetarian alternatives are just as good and lower in fat, so do your research and see if this could be a good option for you and your family.

We all hear about the massive impact disposable nappies have on our environment – around 3 billion nappies go into UK landfill a year and remain there for hundreds of years. And that doesn’t even include the vast amount of resources and chemicals which not only go into producing the nappies in the first place, but also on to your precious little baby’s bot!

There are a couple of alternatives to disposable nappies; non-disposable nappies (modern cloth nappies) and biodegradable nappies.

Modern Cloth Nappies (MCNs) This is the new version the old-fashioned cloth nappies and you’ll be glad to hear there’s no soaking or nappy pins in sight! One of our JULI mums swears by them: “I bought a set of 10 nappies to start with just to see how it went as I didn’t want to overburden myself as a new mum,” says Jenny. “I started using them when Charlotte was 6 weeks old and just loved them, so now I’m using them again for my second baby. Every time I use them I know I’m doing my bit for the environment – and they’re very trendy too!”

MCNs are used and put in a separate bin until ready to wash every couple of days. They only need a tiny amount of detergent to wash and can then be line dried or tumble dried. They often come in two parts, the colourful outer layer and inner natural bamboo lining. By using MCNs you’re not only doing your bit for the environment, you’ll be helping your own pocket, with over $3000 being saved per child by not having to buy disposables!


Biodegradable nappies You can buy reasonably priced biodegradable nappies now both in stores and online.

We all want our families to be germ free and healthy, but are we at risk of exposing our children to more and more chemicals in the process? Why not look into buying products which are natural to help cut down on the amount of chemicals you use in your house. Even if it’s just using baking soda to wipe down the high-chair (see Eco cleaning in our Green House section), or using a muslin cloth or flannel to clean baby’s face and bum rather than expensive wipes. We have become so dependent on chemical wipes for our babies that the marketeers of the big brands are winning hands down. Perhaps we should think about our choices and read the labels before being sucked into all those clever adverts claiming to make our lives easier.

This is a hard one because so many toys are made from plastic and none of us wants to deprive our kids of fun. But why not also look into buying recycled and reused toys from local markets, Ebay or charity shops. The great thing about plastic toys is they’re so easy to clean and reuse.

Kids get bored of things so quickly that you can then sell them on or swap them afterwards, reducing the plastic burden on the environment and keeping everyone happy along the way!