At Product of the North, we believe that sustainability is an always and forever kind of thing. It is something we practiced as single people and something we embrace together as a growing family, community, and world.
Raising a newborn can feel like a whole new world in itself. We can promise that you’re still on the same planet, though, and we think it's possible to live sustainably with a newborn without adding a ton of extra tasks to your already overflowing checklist of daily must-dos.
If we are being fully honest, we think that living sustainably becomes even more important when you become parents. Raising children who understand the importance of preserving our planet from a very young age grow up to be Earth-changing adults of the future.
Although in-your-face items like brand-new baby clothes, disposable diapers, and already-prepared formula bottles seem like the easiest way to adjust to parenthood, they aren’t.
There are sustainable ways to feed, clothe, care for, and nurture your baby without claiming your stake at the local landfill and, most importantly, without adding any extra worry to your overflowing parenting plate.
How To Live Sustainably With A Newborn Baby
Let’s get real for a second. Becoming a parent for the first or fourth time is hectic. Your to-do list seems to double in size, with each baby throwing you into an endless pursuit to find the easiest and most efficient way to handle literally everything.
Although we are firm believers in taking the road that best suits your family’s needs, many of us can easily slip into bad habits that produce a lot of waste if we aren’t consciously thinking about our carbon footprint and global impact. Sure, that sounds like a big concept to consider when we are trying to juggle everyday tasks, but we promise it isn’t. The best part? You’ll be keeping your family cared for while also caring for the planet they will live in for all future generations.
Before your baby is born or you start receiving gifts for your upcoming arrival, you should consider how you can maintain a sustainable lifestyle with a newborn baby. Don’t be afraid to share this with people closest to you so they know exactly what they can do to support your family, especially when it comes to gift-giving.
Adopting sustainable practices before your baby is born will make it easier to raise your child with an eco-friendly mindset from the beginning. Making something part of their daily routine at an early age is easier to tackle than implementing it later on. We know that kids will always have questions, but if they see their parents leading by example, it will foster a sense of necessity for caring for the planet and others as part of who they are.
As we said, we understand that everyone manages their family a little differently, and every parent knows what works best for their child to thrive. Still, with the right tools and mindset, maintaining an eco-friendly environment and mindset is possible while also caring for the needs of your new child.
Here are some of our favorite ways to integrate sustainability into your daily routine as your family grows.
1. Have an Eco-Friendly Baby Shower
Parents can begin living sustainably before their baby is born by having an eco-friendly baby shower.
Some of our favorite ways to turn a standard baby shower into a sustainable event include:
- Use electronic invitations over paper ones that quickly become wasteful. If you’re sold on having physical invitations consider choosing a non-paper option such as those made from banana leaves or coconut fibers. Another option is to use an eco-friendly printing company like Minted.
- Avoid single-use decorations and instead choose reusable options like linen tablecloths, glass or bamboo cups, plates and bowls, and silverware.
- Instead of opting for a balloon arch or large centerpieces, place fresh plants and flowers in the middle of each table and consider gifting a small plant as a “thank you for attending” gift.
- Serve food and drink made with organic ingredients from your local farmer’s market or neighborhood store.
- Compost leftovers and waste after the party is over.
2. Opt for Sustainable Clothing
With the abundance of baby clothes that are available and the futility of purchasing new clothes, choosing outfits for your child can feel overwhelming quickly.
The truth is that babies grow extremely fast, so there’s no point in purchasing brand new clothes when your baby will grow out of them in no time. The most sustainable alternative is to accept hand-me-downs from other parents or shop at secondhand or thrift stores.
Although we think that hand-me-downs and gently-loved clothing options should be your first choice for baby clothes, those aren’t always an option for everyone.
If and when you need to purchase new clothes for your child, opt for organic baby clothes from sustainable brands. Not only will you be supporting a more fruitful planet, but you will also be outfitting your baby in clothes that are made from safe and gentle materials.
Some of our favorite organic baby clothing brands include:
Need more eco-loving product inspo? Check out our highlight post featuring the best sustainable baby products on the market. We promise you’ll feel better when you grab some items from this list versus their non-sustainable counterparts. They’re good for you and good for the planet.
3. Shop for Sustainable Toys
Toys are synonymous with joy for kids, right? This idea seems to begin the second they’re born. We know first-hand how tempting it is to buy every bright and colorful toy for your baby, especially when they all claim to boost their imagination, intelligence, and happiness.
Although we think toys are non-negotiables for a wholesome and fun childhood, we can promise you that your child does not need every toy on the market to thrive and make the most out of playtime.
The truth is that building up your child’s toy collection often leads to a lot of unnecessary waste, especially when most babies are perfectly content playing with the boxes toys come in or random household items.
If you’re a veteran parent, you probably already realize how most kids will pick a cardboard box over an extravagant playhouse, anyway, right?
With all that being said, we think toys are great learning tools that foster imagination and learning. We don’t believe an overabundance is necessary, especially if they’re made from heavy plastics and other non-renewable or recyclable materials.
When you do choose toys for your child, we suggest:
- Buying toys that grow with your child to be used for a longer period of time.
- Opt for ones made out of organic materials that are biodegradable and earth-friendly.
- Consider second-hand toys over brand-new ones.
- If you have to buy new, shop locally.
- Avoid plastic and instead choose wooden items or those made out of organic cotton, wool, or felt materials.
- Go battery-free, as batteries can cause a slew of issues for your young child. Not to mention they wind up in landfills.
- Swap toys with friends and family members to create a fun rotation of new toys that don’t require a new purchase.
The most important thing to remember about playtime with your child is that they enjoy quality time over anything else. Simply sitting and playing with them fosters a deeper connection between parent and child while stimulating their imagination.
4. Choose Organic Products for Feeding Time
Proper nourishment is vital at any age but especially important for growing infants and toddlers.
Before babies can have solid food, breastfeeding is the obvious choice for sustainability, only requiring feeding time between a mother and child. When breastfeeding, consider using an eco-friendly feeding cover and breast pads made of organic cotton, if needed. Avoid the disposable options that cause excess waste. If you have to store breastmilk after pumping, we recommend using glass storage containers over plastic disposable bags.
As a mother myself, I understand that breastfeeding is not an option for every mother and that’s perfectly normal and completely okay. If you bottle-feed your baby choose glass bottles over plastic and opt for organic and sustainable feeding solutions such as organic cotton bibs and burp cloths.
Once your child is ready to start solids, we suggest making your own. Although cooking up your own baby food seems more laborious than simply grabbing a handful of jars off of the grocery store shelf, it is much healthier for your child. The small bit of extra effort goes a long way.
Making your own baby food means you’ll know exactly what’s in it. As a result, you don’t have to worry about added sugars or preservatives. In addition, you can store your homemade baby food in sustainable containers like mason jars, glass, or stainless steel containers, thereby reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills as most baby food containers are non-recyclable.
When feeding your baby, opt for glass bottles and cups and bamboo plates, dishes, and silverware instead of plastic or paper options. They save the environment and provide added safety against the toxins that could be found in plastic containers.
5. Slumber is Eco-Friendly, Too
We wish we could tell you that sleeping with a newborn is heavenly, but it's nothing short of chaos until you get a more solid routine down pat. The good news is that high-quality sleep materials can help lull your sweet baby to bed and keep them safe from toxins, too (all while protecting Mama Earth!). If that doesn’t sound like a win, we don’t know what does.
As your baby is adjusting to life outside the womb and you’re adjusting to life with your baby, a healthy sleep cycle is vital for everyone. Yet, when most people think of sustainability, how we sleep isn’t top of mind. The truth is that many sleep products are wasteful and harmful to the planet.
When choosing your child’s bedding (and yours, too!), we encourage you to pick healthy items for both you and the planet.
Here are some of our favorite materials to choose from when picking out bedding:
- Organic cotton
- Organic hemp
- Organic linen
- Organic latex (especially for mattresses)
We spend nearly a third of our lives asleep and most of our days. Furthermore, newborns spend between 14 to 17 hours sleeping, so how and where they sleep matters. Choosing eco-friendly, organic materials for your baby’s bedding (and yours, too!) is imperative to higher quality, healthier sleep.
6. Nix the Disposable Items + Choose Reusable
When we think about sustainability, the “3 R’s” often repeat in our minds. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
Nowhere in the plan to save the world are we taught that single-use items, especially plastics, are the ideal choice for anything because, well, they’re not.
When we think about living sustainably with a newborn and growing a family, we couldn’t help but remind you that reusable items are best because they:
- Conserve resources
- Reduce the waste stream
- Reduce pollution
- Save you money
- Provide the materials you require without the need to make new products from virgin materials
When stocking up on your baby’s nursery and home with must-haves, consider reaching for reusable options of:
- Breast pads
- Baby wipes (reusable or compostable)
- Snack containers
- Baby food pouches
- Diaper pail liners
- A wet bag for soiled diapers and clothing on the go
Final Thoughts on Living Sustainably With A Newborn
Sustainable living doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. It should be part of your standard practice when living and raising a family- no matter where you live. The Earth needs more people who care deeply about making a difference by choosing products that help the planet flourish.
At Product of the North, we are always committed to providing sustainable baby products, like our diaper bag backpacks, that make parents' lives easier with baby-in-tow and keep our planet in mind from conception to production and beyond. Your family matters to us.
Together we can create a healthy planet and future for our babies. So join our tribe and follow the movement today to stay in the know on all our latest product launches, sustainability tips, and behind-the-scenes details on our brand.