Ecologico Experiences: Bringing Up Baby...The Eco Way!

Bringing up a baby on a budget and trying to be Earth-kind at the same time don’t seem to go together, as we found out when preparing for the arrival of our first little bundle of joy Squishy.

Don't get me wrong, the internet is great for first-time (or any time!) parents to find out information about pregnancy and parenting, but it can also be pretty intimidating with all of the ‘advice’ on what your baby needs.

We'll get on to Red and Toastie in a minute but I genuinely felt there was a different set of expectations with Squishy: it didn't seem the done thing to scrimp on our first-born and I was getting marketed at from all angles, but at the same time, we knew from friends and family how much new parents buy that they regret in the end.

As the first baby in either of our families, it would have been very easy to spoil him by buying everything new but we made a conscious decision to shop around (read: beg, steal, borrow), especially knowing our income would be quartered while I was off work and it would save so much waste!

On a quick calculation, we spent around £250 on everything we needed for our new arrival first time round, which was then used a year later by Red (although she did get some new to her clothes) and now 3 years on by Toastie (although we have replaced the cot mattress for a new one under guidance).

So what are my top tips for raising an eco baby on a budget?

Play It Forward:

We were lucky that we know a lot of people who have babies and they were more than willing to pass on second-hand things especially toys and clothes.

When receiving stuff for babies, the first thing I’ve noticed is that second-hand doesn’t really mean ‘used.’ A lot of the things we were given had not been used at all and still came in boxes and with price tags on. Even the used things were barely used and so ‘new’ that they are for sale in major retailers. For example, we were given a pram, which was still being sold in Mothercare for over £400, which had been used half a dozen times. Of course there were no instructions, but a quick scoot around on Youtube for an instruction video and we were ready to go.

Secondhand is grand!

Once we had exhausted our family and friends network we scoured online selling sites such as Shpock, Gumtree, Freegle, Olio and eBay for local sellers. A bit of driving around to pick things up and we had bagged ourselves some real bargains. An example of this was a Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep; retailing at over £100, which we got for £25 and a baby beanbag; which I’d looked at online for £38 which I paid £8.50 for in an online auction.

Stop before you shop!

My main piece of advice would be to wait and see how things progress; as soon as I found out I was pregnant I started compiling lists of things we needed and looking at baby clothes, bottles, prams etc.

Each time, as my pregnancies progressed, I was astonished how much stuff I didn’t need, how many of the things I wanted came up secondhand, or the things I received as gifts from people.

And then there were two...or three!

Of course the benefit of choosing some of these products is that they're multi purpose or save you even MORE money when you use them on subsequent children.

Clothes, toys, books and equipment get passed down from child to child and make the value better and environmental impact less!

Of course, we really noticed this as there's only just over a year between Squishy and Red so they were passed straight along but our well-made and loved eco alternatives are still good three years on for Toastie too!

Eco-alternatives can save you cash!

I've been lucky, or stubborn, that I was able to breastfeed so I didn't need feeding bits and if you check my breastfeeding blog you'll see how you can even save more money with feeding by making smarter choices.

Then there's nappies!

It’s estimated that babies get through a minimum of 4,000 nappies before they are potty-trained at a cost of roughly £400 per year. This creates around half a tonne of carbon dioxide, and nappies take forever to decompose – not a happy thought so we also had cloth nappies and wipes, plus reusable washcloths, breast pads and post-partum pads so no extra cost or waste from disposables at all.

Lots more laundry!

Of course, babies mean extra washing and cleaning but I was always conscious of not using toxic chemicals around my little bundles, especially as supermarket detergents and cleaning products are unhealthy in so many ways.

They’re full of toxic chemicals, which are harmful to babies and everyone else, not to mention the environment.

Fortunately, there are many safe alternatives made from simple, natural ingredients, which are better for the whole family: we had already switched to natural toxin-free cleaning products from Dri-Pak and BioD and use an Ecoegg for most of our laundry. Add in some Friendly washing powder and Nappy Fresh for cloth bums and a Natural Stain remover stick for THOSE stains and you're good to go.

What are you putting on your baby?

When it comes to bathtime and baby bottoms, keeping them clean and comfortable can be an ongoing task.

At first, ours were just washed with water and a nice soft bamboo cloth and then as they got older we added lovely safe bubble bath and shampoo and organic lotions from Beaming Baby, as well as Soapnut Salve and Solid Bar Company Calendula Nappy Balm for sore skin and nappy rash (which has been rare!)

When they get a bit bigger Green People's Organic Children range is perfect for natural organic but reliable suncare and toothpaste, paired with a soft bamboo toothbrush for when those first teeth appear!

And now my bigger littles use Rowdy Kind bars; their Just Plain Cheeky and Oat of Control Hair and Everywhere Bars are perfect for children over 1.

What about buying new?

Of course, you’ll still need new things, but if you are buying new try to buy ethically and sustainably, just don’t be sucked into the trap of overbuying because it’s there and a good deal: make sure you really need it and look for companies that sell ethically produced clothes made from sustainable materials, such as hemp, bamboo and organic cotton. You can also get wonderful toys and equipment made from wood, recycled plastic and natural rubber.

Be Kind To Yourself!

Babies need a lot of stuff, so don’t drive yourself mad trying to make everything in their lives eco-friendly; even a few tweaks here and there contribute to a healthy environment and set your baby on an eco-friendly path.

These are our top tips on raising an eco baby on a budget...what are yours?

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