Rewind six years ago and the contents of our home were far removed from our current simplified lifestyle. Every Fisher Price toy that beeped and buzzed amused our first babe and her cupboard groaned with outfits for every occasion. Baby magazines were consulted to determine the "must haves" when raising an infant and lists were checked off as a plethora of bunny embossed items made their way into our world. There was so much stuff! Garish colours, plastic aplenty, man made fibres with those alarming fire warning tags, and so many things never used. We soon came to realise that her needs were few.
Now, not only has our aesthetic changed as we favour a more subtle palette and natural fibres, but more importantly, our ideals. In our bid to live a greener existence we have cast off outdated notions that only new will suffice for a newborn and have pared back what we really need. And frankly, it isn't much. Along with the clutter comes much strain on our environment - energy for production, water wastage, land fill...the list goes on. So here is a small list of ways we are trying to raise our "eco baby".
- In the corner of Inès's room is an old white cupboard. A happy secondhand find it houses seagrass baskets of clothes; knitted hand me downs, vintage florals and neutral basics. Very little of what she wears is new. Regular, quick scans of op shop shelves yield a treasure trove of often unworn cast offs and ebay has proved fruitful for special pieces. Type purebaby, country road, seed and gaia into the search bar and be astounded at all the loveliness on offer (just be mindful of the postage costs). This post may be useful as you explore dressing your children in secondhand clothing.
- A vintage dresser was rescued from the side of the road and cost no more than time (a gentle, meditative task over the months of my pregnancy) and a pot of sweet scented beeswax. It now holds a piece of foam encased in an embroidered pillow case; a simple yet beautiful change table. The storage drawers below are filled with cloth nappies, a natural bottom balm and time softened muslin wraps. I like to think the lavender scented furniture wax is soothing for those more stressful nappy changes.
- Our house move last year meant a small room for Inès. The white cot with change table and drawers attached that held her two older siblings was just too big; it consumed the tiny space and hence was moved on. A simple wooden cot with turned bars was purchased on gumtree for $50 and came with the nostalgia of a Mumma whose babies had long flown the nest. By finding an inexpensive cot we could justify the outlay for a eco friendly cot mattress and since our babies have slept in theirs til they were almost three we thought it a wise investment. Two mattress protectors made from eucalyptus fibres will ensure it lasts the distance.
- Pure cotton sheets in bright whites were found on op shop visits for a dollar a piece (I paid particular attention to check for worn or perished elastic). Thick and sturdy, yet soft they hold no odour of chemical dyes or processes and will soften further with use. Now, I have my sights set on a knitted pure wool baby blanket for Winter, no doubt there is something out there with my name on it
- I bought a dozen or so organic cotton breast pads when Remy was born and they are still going strong. Thrown in with the regular washing and hung in the sun to dry and sterilise they are soft and comfortable and avoid the unnecessary abundance of wrappings that disposable ones come in.
- We used cloth nappies sporadically with Bijou, a lot of the time with Remy and now almost exclusively with Inès so I'm the first to admit it was a learning journey that took time (I have a post coming about all we've learnt) . We have used peapods and totbots chosen for their ease of use and simply because I can't resist a white cloth nappied bum. A warm wet washer is used for nappy changes with a spritz of a natural, homemade cleansing spray.
For now our baby girl's world is small and simple; at the moment she is grasping at a small cloth doll and mesmerised by the black and white stripes of my shirt. And by reducing the chemicals we expose her to and limiting the "stuff" that goes hand in hand with child rearing we'd like to keep it that way as long as possible.
Do you have any frugal tips for baby? Are you on a green mission? I'd love to hear.