10 Easy Ways to Lower Your Environmental Impact When Having a Baby

Parents with baby shoes

Having children creates environmental impact. Even as environmentalists and eco-families, many of us have children anyway. If you are concerned about that, consider these 10 easy ways to lower your impact when you have a baby.

1. Stuff
Become STUFF AWARE. Especially if you haven’t had a baby or been around a friend or family member having a baby before, you won’t know how much of what you are told you need is really needed. The answer: not much. You don’t need all of that stuff on the baby lists. We’ve written about cutting down on baby bstuff to save money, but you also save on environmental impact when you acquire less. Only buy what you need, and even then look for the lower impact stuff.

2. Breastfeed
When you breastfeed, you shorten the chain. You eat food, you make milk, and your baby drinks the milk. No manufacturing, packaging, shipping, selling, or trash to throw away. Breastfeeding is not just good for you and your baby; breastfeeding is good for society.

3. Reusable Diapers
Rather than putting 3,000-4,000 disposable diapers of any material in landfill, wash and reuse a few dozen diapers of any material. You use water, detergent, and energy to wash and dry, but you don’t cause the repetition of extraction-manufacture-shipping thousands of times. To lower impact even further, choose materials carefully, wash warm rather than hot, choose low-impact detergents, and air dry.

4. No (or Few) Diapers
By using the method of infant pottying (elimination communication or diaper-free babies), you use even fewer diapers. You might use more water and cloths for clean up, because accidents will happen, but water is a renewable resource—unlike oil and gas that go into the plastics used to make disposable diapers. Even this choice doesn’t need to be all or nothing. When you follow your baby’s cues, you will probably find yourself doing this naturally.

5. Used Clothing
Buy clothing at a thrift store or consignment store. Babies and children grow so fast. It can be expensive to buy new clothes, but that expense is only one issue. Those clothes that are worn for only a few months have impact where the materials are grown or extracted, where they are manufactured and shipped, and where they are sold. Share great clothes with other parents by passing them around, or buy used.

6. Natural Body Care
One thing you probably will need is a gentle soap for baby baths and perhaps cream or lotion for skin care. Cosmetics often hide nasty chemical ingredients, but you have a lot of choices for baby cream, lotion, soap, and shampoo with all-natural ingredients.

7. Library
If you are like me, you read a lot to learn about new adventures, like having a baby. I had books on pregnancy, on baby care, on parenting, and on and on. Rather than buying every book new and leaving it on the shelf after reading, use your local library. If you don’t see all of the books you are looking for, talk to the librarian about getting them. The process will probably take a while, but you are starting a positive ripple in your community of having these books available for others.

8. Low Tech
Gadgets are certainly available. I see crazy new baby gadgets every year at baby trade shows. You don’t need a plug-in wipes warmer, a baby monitor, a sock that continually takes your baby’s vital signs, or a mechanical arm that feeds your baby a bottle. All of those gadgets are used for a short time then they become waste. They use materials and energy that wasn’t really necessary. Maybe you need a gadget here or there, but you don’t need them all.

9. Good Wood
If you choose to buy baby furniture, like a cradle or a changing table, look for FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification, which tells you that the wood comes from a forest that was managed according to best practices environmentally and socially.

10. Plant a Tree
It isn’t just that a tree can absorb more than a ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Your child will really connect with a tree that was planted at their birth. This tree could become the place where you sit together to talk about their impact on the world. A tree has physical and psychological impact.

Keep in mind, too, that having a child in North America does not have the same impact as in other areas of the world. We use more resources, so having a baby here means a bigger environmental impact. A study out of Oregon State University in 2009 on family planning and environmental impact made the rounds of environmental news that year. The statistical study looked at the impact of having children as compared to efforts to reduce impact through small steps that many of us take. When you look at the numbers, it is clear that having a baby in a high-impact country makes a big difference.

By being conscious of the choices you make and the impacts both now and over time, you can make choices that will significantly lower the impact your baby has on the environment.

Image  ©  | Dreamstime.com

Baby Carrier Safety

Baby Carrier Safety

 

Your baby belongs close to you. Babywearing keeps your baby close enough to kiss. We find, though, that a lot of parents start with concerns about the safety of babywearing and baby carriers.

Parents are right to be concerned. Babywearing is safe when done right with a safe carrier, but not all carriers are equal.

Baby Carrier Safety

Until quite recently, every parent had to rely on baby carrier manufacturers themselves to make safe products without any basic standards to guide them. It was manufacturers themselves who sought standards, and they now have clear, strict standards for making baby carriers as well as clear guidelines for parents to be sure that they use baby carriers safely. An international alliance of baby carrier manufacturers, store owners, and babywearing educators all join together in one organization that oversees baby carrier safety: the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA).

Basic Babywearing Guidelines

Always keep in mind a few basic guidelines:

  • Holding position. Keep your baby in a position you would hold them in arms. Using a carrier mimics holding your baby.
  • Close enough to kiss. Unlike a should bag, your baby shouldn’t be hanging low. Keep the baby up high as you would hold them without a carrier.
  • Face visible. You need to be able to see you baby’s face at all times without skin, fabric, or anything else in the way.
  • Head and neck supported. This is very important. Proper support keeps your baby’s airway from restricting.

Wearing your baby safely is a skill you need to learn. Basic guidelines help, but they aren’t enough. This is why bynature.ca staff are Certified Babywearing Experts, trained to help you learn the skills you need for safe use of your carrier with your baby.

Please come by the store to learn more about babywearing. We want you to be close and safe.

Babywearing Workshops

Which workshop or consultant do you need? Choose from four. If you aren’t sure, drop by or call.

Just starting out? Our Babywearing 101 workshop for new and expectant parents is a great way to prepare for your baby’s birth or learn to wear your infant under 3 months old. The workshop is about 1.5 hours. Register online or in the store.

If you already know the basics, our Better Babywearing Clinic might be for you. Every Thursday morning at 10:00AM we hold a clinic that lasts 30-45 minutes where you learn infant physiology and step-by-step instruction. Each week, we focus on a specific style of carriers, so choose the week you attend based on the style you are interested in. We will also help you try carriers before you buy them after the clinic. Register online or in the store.

If you need more help, we also provide private babywearing consultation. If you’ve already attended the Bettery Babywearing clinic, you start with a 30-minute session. Without the clinic, you will need two 30-minute sessions. Your fee can be deducted from the cost of your carrier purchased from Parenting by Nature within seven days. Register online or in the store.

If you just need your carrier fitted, we can walk you through your choices, help you get the right carrier, and give you lessons to get started. Register for the Baby Carrier Fitting Service for a 30-minute consultation. Your fee can be deducted from the cost of your carrier purchased from Parenting by Nature within seven days. Register online or in the store.

It always helps to be well informed. For more babywearing safety, see the collection of links from BCIA.

Mother’s Day Spring Market

Spring Market 2014

Find unique & hand-crafted items made by moms at the Mother’s Day Spring Market.

Join us Saturday, April 4, 11am-3pm at bynature.ca at 5 Ontario St in Orillia. In addition to our Mompreneur Market, guest speaker Dr. Jody Snider, ND, will help us all to learn healthy habits to cope with stress and increase our energy naturally.

Meet the Makers

H&Co

H&Co logo

H&Co is a small business based in Barrie, specializing in mom and baby fashion. Our signature product is a useful and snazzy bandana bib, and we also offer handmade nursing and teething necklaces, toy straps, mom and baby infinity scarves, soother clips, and stretchy baby hats.

All H&Co products are made with love using 100% cotton prewashed in natural, fragrance-free detergents.

H&Co bib for baby

ARA Gifts

ARA logo

ARA Gifts (representing Angela Ruth Armstrong) first began in the fall of 2010 with a hand-sewn mug cozy. After Angela made one for herself, others began to request orders as well. She decided to explore other items to create and began crocheting cowls with buttons, which also became popular. Angela received a sewing machine and began to sew infinity scarves. These became very popular by word of mouth, so she explored other venues to sell.

Angela is a stay-at-home mom of two children (ages 3 and 5). She loves being able to stay home with them as this small business has enabled her to do. The experience of selling her own creations has been wonderful! She takes great care and enjoyment in each handmade item.

The goal of ARA Gifts is provide unique, creative, hand made and quality items.

ARA Gifts infinity scarf

Junebugs Fashions

Junebugs logo

Josée Chapman is a fun-filled wife, mother of three, will-try-almost-anything-entrepreneur, with a flair for design. She enjoys spending time with family, coffee dates with friends, writing, creating new experiences and finding God’s joy in the everyday moments in life. She carries a strong background in design, having worked in the event industry for over 10 years, with the award winning Rachel. A. Clingen wedding design and Eventure custom environments team.

In the winter of 2011, after the birth of her twin girls, she founded Junebugs Fashions. This was a combination of the desire to provide an income so she could remain at home with her children, and challenge herself in an area outside of the realm of parenting. The inspiration for the name was birthed from the blessing of her three children, all born in the month of June.

Junebugs Fashions explores the realm of all things sewn. Josée enjoys the challenge of new patterns and creating unique designs of her own, working with various forms of textiles. The countless colours, textures and patterns of fabrics, inspire excite and enliven her creativity. Junebugs Fashions products range from nursing covers, crayon wallets, tote bags, clutch purses, fabric cuff bracelets, and aprons. Josée welcomes the opportunity for custom orders, stretching and forcing her to imagine, experiment and have fun.

Josée Chapman endeavors to see Junebugs Fashions continue to flourish into a successful company, that could perhaps provide opportunity for others who would desire to stay at home while raising a family.

Junebugs Nursing Cover

Join us this coming Saturday, April 4th to see great handmade products for Mother’s Day from H&Co, ARA Gifts, Junebug Fashions, and others.

Don’t Cloth Diapers Leak?

Surprised baby

One of the questions we hear often is: “Won’t cloth diapers leak?” Of course, any diaper could leak, so we help our customers choose and care for their diapers properly to avoid the dreaded blow out or the wet bed.

With any diaper, you need to consider these issues to be sure that you have no leaks:

  • the diaper needs to fit well,
  • quality design and materials really does matter,
  • overnight calls for extra absorbency, and
  • sometimes laundry issues can cause problems.

Does size really matter that much when diapers are all one-sized? Size does matter. You need to choose a diaper that fits your baby’s size and shape.

We still focus on fit even when a lot of the diapers we sell are one-sized diapers. Most newborns will not fit well in so-called one-size diapers. Tiny legs don’t block leg openings. When a diaper is too big, a baby will pee right out the leg opening. Even if you plan to use one-size diapers, it helps to start with newborn cloth diapers.

Sometimes the issue isn’t size but shape. Even a bigger baby with skinny legs will need a diaper that has adjustable sizing for legs to prevent leaks. If a diaper slips down on a baby with a low waist, you end up with gaps at the legs. Choose a low-rise diaper to prevent gaps.

Also, check to be sure that the absorbent part of the diaper isn’t sticking out. If that happens, it could act like a wick drawing all of the moisture out of your baby’s diaper onto clothes and bed. At the end of a diaper change, check and tuck to be sure that the diaper is completely inside the cover.

Your baby’s size and shape do matter. We have experience with a variety of styles, sizes, and brands, so we can help you find the best fit to keep those little legs dry.

Aren’t all diapers pretty much the same? We see a big difference in the quality of cloth diapers. Quality does matter. When a family has been using cheap knock-off diapers and we introduce them to the real thing, they are amazed at the difference quality can make.

Sometimes the issue with leaking is design. Brands that have been around for a while have had time to incorporate customer feedback into their designs, adjusting the shape of a diaper for maximum wetness protection.

Other times, the issue with leaking is materials. A surprising number of inexpensive diapers include no absorbent materials at all. We sometimes wonder if these products have ever been tested for absorbency because they just don’t work as well as we expect.

Quality diapers have good reputations, and they are invested in your diapering success. We only carry quality brands we trust. Look for customer ratings and reviews to learn what works for other families.

How can I avoid leaky nighttime diapers? The key to a dry bed overnight is using enough absorbency.

Even if your baby seems to be sleeping through the night, it’s likely s/he is waking once or twice to pee without being so fussy that you wake up. That’s a lot of moisture to expect a diaper to hold until morning.

If you find that your baby’s diapers leak by morning, start by doubling up the absorbent part of the diaper. Add a second prefold or an extra insert, for example.

For heavy nighttime wetters, we recommend hemp boosters because the fibers are very absorbent. Because they are so absorbent, they hang on to water in the wash, and they are more difficult to clean well, so just be sure that you use hot water and plenty of rinses to keep hemp from getting stinky.

Why does my baby pee right out of the diaper? If urine flows right off the diaper without even being absorbed, you likely have an issue with laundry.

Oily residues on on any diaper material can cause the material to repel rather than absorb. This residue can come from diaper cream, fabric softener, even build-up from detergents that haven’t been rinsed properly. This is usually more of a problem with polyester diapers, but it can happen with any diaper if there is enough oily residue.

We are happy to help our customers troubleshoot laundry issues. Come in or call to tell us how we can help.

If the problem was diaper cream, be sure that the diaper cream you choose is safe for cloth diapers. Even then, you can prevent issues with your diapers by using a diaper liner.

If your natural fiber diapers are new, you do need to pre-wash several times until they are fully absorbent. If your new cotton prefolds are leaking, the fix is easy: wash 3-5 times on hot, and you are ready to go.

Occasionally, a diaper will leak. When that happens, figure out why, and you can prevent it from happening every time.

Cloth Diapering Basics

This month we’re covering our answers to common questions and comments that we get in the bynature.ca store about cloth diaper 101 basics, like “I can’t afford cloth diapers,” “I don’t have time for cloth diapers,” and “Aren’t cloth diapers gross?” What! We’ve got the answers.

Image ©  | Dreamstime.com 

Aren’t cloth diapers gross?

Baby waiting for diaper change

We get asked if cloth diapers are gross, and we aren’t sure what to say, other than, “No.” That idea seems to be stuck in people’s minds, though, so let’s examine it and unstick it.

These are the issues I see:

  • any type of diaper leaves you with the same clean up,
  • except that you also wash cloth diapers;
  • accessories can make it easier;
  • a shift in perception can change everything; and
  • you can always give the job to someone else.

But isn’t it easier with a disposable diaper? No, think about it. Cloth or disposable diapers, it’s still a diaper change. No matter which type of diapers you choose, you still have the same clean up at diaper time: wipe the baby, switch the diaper, and dump the solids.

Even disposable diapers should be dumped because waste belongs in the wastewater treatment system, not in landfill. We know a lot of people don’t do it, but that doesn’t change the fact that they should. Think about the accumulation of that waste rather than the treatment of it. All of those babies and mountains and mountains of their poop. What a gift for their future.

No matter what diaper you use, dump the solids.

But isn’t cloth diaper laundry gross? It isn’t, especially if you don’t leave the diapers for a week to stew.

Just wash every couple of days, and the smell stays under control. You could use gloves at diaper washing time, but it isn’t absolutely necessary.

If you meet someone who thinks that diapers are going to leave a washing machine stinky, help them think through the fact that the washing machine is cleaned over and over with hot water and cleaning chemicals. Washing machines do not hang on to residue of human waste. Clothes washed in a machine that has washed diapers will not come out smelling like diapers. Not even the diapers come out smelling like diapers. When you do diaper laundry right, cloth diapers are clean and fresh after washing.

Is there anything that makes it easier for me to clean up after a diaper change? There is, actually. We carry a bunch of clever cloth diaper accessories to make things easier for you.

With a reusable diaper liner, the poop just slides off into the toilet when you dump; with a disposable liner, you pick it up by the ends and dump it with the poop into the toilet.

If the smell from your pail bothers you, try a deoderizer. Don’t use a spray with odor-masking stronger odors. Try our volcanic mineral deodorizer. It absorbs odors without adding masking chemicals.

What is the most important thing I can do to keep diaper changes from being gross? Shift your own perception. It’s only gross if you think it is.

You don’t need to let yourself be controlled by the random thoughts your brain provides you. You can take conscious control and reprogram your thinking.

Try thinking this several times before each diaper change: someone I love so much I could burst needs me for these few short years to help with this job of cleaning up after elimination. This is easy. This is important. I do this with love.

Having done this not only for my babies but for my parent, I understand at a profound level that this kind of care is an act of compassion and love.

So, show it.

When you are changing a diaper, don’t scrunch up your nose and think how much you hate it. That’s the face your baby will see when s/he is completely focused on you. Go make that face in the mirror and ask if that’s what you want your baby to know about you.

In that moment of diaper changing, shift your focus to your baby. Focus on your love and compassion. Look at that little face and just let yourself smile. That genuine smile of love, the smile that reaches your whole face and warms your whole baby, that is what you want your baby to know about you.

What if I really can’t handle it? If you really can’t handle the mess, I have an easy cloth diaper solution for you: diaper service.

If the mess gets to you, you just let someone else handle it. Over two years you will pay more than you would buying and washing your own diapers, but you don’t have to wash them.

Think about the job of a diaper service. They take many, many dozens of wet, poopy diapers and they use their specialized knowledge of laundry science to get them so fresh and clean that you want to bury your face in them when they are delivered back to your doorstep.

Keep in mind, though: even if you let a diaper service clean your baby’s diapers, you still need to clean up your baby, and that’s going to be the same no matter what diaper solution you choose.

Honestly, it’s baby poop. It’s not that scary.

Cloth Diapering Basics

We’re offering our answers to common questions and comments that we get in the bynature.ca store about cloth diaper 101 basics, like “I can’t afford cloth diapers,” “Don’t cloth diapers leak?” and “I don’t have time for cloth diapers.”

Image ©  | Dreamstime.com