Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Having an Eco Baby - By Huddler's Green Home Community

Having a baby is tough (aside from the obvious difficulty of the process itself), but we're constantly assaulted with a need for more baby stuff. Here are some tips to maintain your shade of green while keeping your baby happy and healthy. Anyone have other ideas? Add 'em below:

A Green Nursery
Before baby is even born, you can get baby in the green vibe. When designing the nursery keep in mind earth friendly and baby friendly.The wall paint or wall finishes: If you use conventional paints, VOCs (volatile organic compounds) will leach toxic fumes over the years; fumes you can't smell. So go low VOC or better yet, nontoxic. Don't forget the floors! Your baby is going to be crawling all over the place sooner than you know it. Check out these eco-friendly options: Cork, bamboo, and this concept by the company Flor where the carpet comes in 19"x19"-sized "tiles" that you pop into place. You can mix and match, and when a tile gets too dirty to clean, you just replace that one piece, not the whole floor. Under the Nile even carries play mats made from organic cotton.Your baby should have somewhere warm and cozy to sleep. Cribs and baby bedding can be found in shades of green. Check out Ecobaby Bedding, Crib Organic Mattresses, Solid Pacific Coast Maple Crib, Puddle Pads, Nature's Crib, Eco-Furniture.com, Eco Tots, or Vivavi.

Your Baby's Bottom
Avoid disposable diapers. Go with cloth or biodegradable diapers. It's true -- there are hot debates over the benefits of cloth diapers versus disposables (cloth diapers do require water, energy, and chemicals to clean). However, one study produced by the Women's Environmental Network said indicated that washing cloth diapers at home has only 53% of the ecological footprint of disposables. But if you don't want to wash those dirty diapers at home, consider a diaper service .Since babies grow so fast, if you have any family or friends who have already had little ones, second-hand baby clothes are a great way to go. Also, try organic cotton, hemp, or otherwise sustainable clothes that are free of dyes and will treat your baby's baby soft skin right .

Healthy Inside and Out
Breastfeed your baby. If you need bottled food, start with pumping your own breast milk. Medela breast pump tubes, shields, and jars are BPA- and phthalate-free. If that's not an option, try organic products like Nature's One. For the mommies, avoid disposable breast pads. Organic and locally produced nipple creams are also a good choice.

If you use formula, make sure it's powdered. The metal lining of formula packaging can leach toxic bisphenol A, and liquid formula tends to have a higher concentration. Choose formula packaged with as little metal as possible. The best options are Nestle, Enfamil, and Similac powdered formulas (BPA in top and bottom of can), followed by Earth's Best and Bright Beginnings powdered (BPA in entire can). The next "best" choice is concentrated liquid formulas, and all ready-to-eat liquid formulas in metal cans should be avoided. Powdered formula is also a better bet because that formula needs water added, which further dilutes any BPA when compared to liquid formulas. Liquid formulas have 8 to 20 times higher potential BPA leaching than the most common powdered formulas because of the smaller can sizes and since it is not diluted with water.

When you give water to a baby under six months old, make sure it is fluoride free. A reverse osmosis filter can be used to remove fluoride, and if your water is not fluoridated, you may want to use a carbon filter. If you choose bottled water make sure it's fluoride-free -- many "nursery" waters contain fluoride, even though it's bad for young babies!

When your baby starts eating solid food, keep some waste out of the landfill by avoiding food in jars and making your own baby food. If you need to buy food off the shelves, try organics .

During your baby's bath time, choose natural, organic, fragrance-free soaps. Buy organic cotton or hemp towels for drying off. For lotions, also go natural, organic, and phthalate-free or try using olive oil. The Environmental Working Group's database on safe baby products is another great resource.

Baby Toys and Accessories
There are now baby swings and bouncers made with organic cotton linings. Oh, if only when our daughter was a baby they had these. I felt so guilty buing the polyester kind. So now without further ado ... check out this Organic Cotton line found at Babies R Us stores.

Since most of your baby's toys will eventually end up in his or her mouth, go for natural options like wood or organic cotton. Try Under the Nile, Organic Gift Shop, the Baby Gift Station, Magic Cabin, Apparel of the Earth, Bright October, and Our Green House (and if you're in Europe, try So Organic). For other tips on toys, check out the wiki on Eco and Kid Friendly Toys.

If you use bottles or sippy cups to feed your baby, make sure that they do not contain bisphenol A (BPA). BPA has been shown to leach from several popular brands of plastic baby bottles when the bottles are heated. BPA is thought to cause birth defects and developmental problems. Avoid clear, hard plastic bottles marked with a 7 or "PC." You can shop for BPA-free plastic and glass baby bottles here. The glass bottles pictured to the right have a safety sleeve to prevent breakage and help babies grip on. With bottles, use silicone nipples -- latex rubber nipples can contain impurities linked to cancer and may cause allergic reactions. Throw away any nipple that is discolored, thinning, tacky, or ripped. Do not use plastic liners; they may leach chemicals into formula, especially if heated. Bottles should be heated by using a pan of hot water. Microwaving bottles can cause them to heat unevenly and leach chemicals from the plastic into the formula.

If you use pacifiers, they should also be silicone rather than latex (see above). Throw away any pacifier that is discolored, thinning, tacky, or ripped.Bottles, nipples, pacifiers, breast shields, pump tubing, and containers should be sterilized before first use. After that, wash with hot, soapy water or use the top shelf of the dishwasher. Avoid sterilizing in the microwave or frequent use of boiling water since both will speed the breakdown of the plastic.
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