Never thought I’d say those words. In keeping with my promise not to “baby-up” my Facebook page too much, here I am making another blog post. Okay so I’m not some kind of hippie (not that that’s a bad thing to be called!) as I know that I still do A LOT of damage to my environment and the planet. There are some things I am interested in doing now that we are having a baby, adding yet another footprint on the earth. Definitely for the benefit of us and the baby, but also for the environment, and then there’s the cost factor.
I’d say the biggest is that we have chosen to cloth diaper. I know, it’s crazy. It’s going to be A LOT of work. And it’s not PERFECT as far as the earth is concerned, but I feel it’s a step in the right direction. Disposable diapers make up a huge part of the garbage that we dump in our nation’s landfills each year (4%). With an average of about 60 diapers per week, that’s 6240 diapers for the first 2 years that I could be saving from sitting in our landfills which they think could potentially take 250-500 years to decompose. I know there’s the other part of the environmental debate, that we’ll be using our wash machine at least every other day, if not everyday, and the cost of the energy and the water is nothing to scoff at! I guess I had to pick what I felt the lesser of the 2 evils was. We do have a brand new washer and dryer which we bought when we moved into our house, so they aren’t as bad as some of the older W/D’s that used ungodly amounts of energy and water, but it’s still not one of those fancy and smart energy efficient front loaders. We would love to have one before baby comes, but know that most likely will not happen. But it still could happen eventually. The other part of of our choice was cost. Cloth diapering is very expensive up front. Probably going to cost us about $400 for everything. However, with the average cost of between $1600-2300 using disposable diapers by the time they are potty trained, I feel like $400 is a much wiser choice for us. Now, I haven’t ignored the fact that it will certainly be more than $400 in the end. The energy and water costs are still going to be substantial. I guess if anything we’ll be able to save ourselves a few late night trips to the store to buy diapers. We definitely are not rich, are definitely struggling like the other 99% ;), and so this felt like overall a better choice for us. And finally, I felt that the health benefits of cloth diapering far outweigh disposable diapers. I’ve read that disposable diapers increase the temperature inside the diaper versus a cotton diaper that breathes which can brew more bacteria and cause more diaper rash. Of course I’ve also read that there are no significant differences in diaper rash between cloth and disposable diapers. I choose to believe that having a cloth diaper pressed against my babies skin rather than a disposable filled with chemicals to increase its absorbency is better in the end. Knowing this, yes, I realize we will probably have to change baby’s diaper more often. I’m really okay with that. Yes, I’ve read all sides of the debate, neither one is perfect (at the end of the day, we’re still talking about how to deal with WASTE), so I know there will be those that will challenge our decision or disagree with it. Guess it depends on which studies you read. I know the internet can be a fickle thing and you can pretty much find something to support or unsupport anything you desire. I don’t plan on judging those who choose to go with disposable diapers. I think cloth diapers are a big commitment, and one that I really hope that we can stick with. But – you never know. We may find that it doesn’t work for us. We’ll see next year!
Find out more about the benefits of cloth diapering here.
We chose to go with BumGenius’ new Freetime diaper (above). I follow/read a lot of mommy blogs these days (fucking weird, right?) and especially ones that lean towards being environmentally and health conscious. These were really recommended. We’re also going with cloth wipes (duh?!). And we’ll be getting a diaper sprayer to hook up to our toilet to help our diapers stay cleaner and stain-free longer. Cloth diapering is not like it used to be! I know when we told my parents and Dan’s mom that we were going to do this, all 3 of them thought we were crazy and said we would change our minds shortly after realizing how much work it is. We’re slowly trying to win them over by explaining to them how the new cloth diapers are and how they are nowhere like the old school pre-folds (although we still plan on having some of those around for when we are behind on laundry) where you have to dunk and squeeze like back in the old days. They’re as simple and easy as disposable diapers, only instead of taking them out to the trash, we’ll be throwing them in the wash. I know once we get them and we show them how they work, they will see this and be in full support and even be willing to do it themselves when they’re watching baby.
Another thing we’ve chosen to use with baby (For now he will be called baby on these posts. We’re chosen a name but are not ready to reveal it on the blog yet!) are glass bottles. This one is pretty basic. Glass is one of the greenest man-made materials on the planet and 100% recyclable. It’s also free of BPA and other toxic chemicals that can possibly seep into its contents. Glass also keeps something at a constant temperature longer. With milk for a baby, that’s probably a good thing. I know that now most bottles are BPA-free and most parents wouldn’t dream of purchasing anything but BPA-free, but only glass is 100% BPA and toxic chemical-free. The jury is still out on all the BPA-free plastics out there and what other chemicals in the plastic can do. I thought we’d bypass any potential harm by going glass, but admittedly, I happened to run across these adorable Lifefactory bottles and the decision was made for me. Made from durable glass (in France no less), with fun, colorful silicon sleeves to protect it from drops/falls (silicon being made from sand, just as glass is), and converts to a toddler sippy cup as well as has caps to hold solid foods (such as Goldfish, mmmm!). The only other con, other than them being more breakable that plastic, is that they are expensive. At $12-15 a pop they definitely aren’t cheap. But I’m told that we won’t need that many. A lot of people go overboard and get like 15-30 dang bottles, but really it’s not necessary. As long as we stay up on washing them regularly so baby always has one ready, we should be okay with the few that we will have. We have several things in our kitchen that we use and only have one of, which requires almost daily washing, so that’s not the end of the world for us. I’m really excited for them. If we hadn’t gone glass, our other front runner was stainless steel. In fact the toddler sippy cups we were looking at were stainless steel, until we discovered that the Lifefactory bottles convert to sippy cups. We are, however, going with stainless steel plates/bowls/utensils for baby once we’re at that point.
You could Google and find a million articles on glass vs. plastic bottles – I found one brief one here.
Another environmental and health conscious route we decided to go with was to use organic and natural baby products, such as shampoo, lotion, bubble bath, etc. Actually for this category, health won out over the environment. I was allergic to metal as a baby/child, including the little snaps from my Carter’s pajamas and Dan has the most sensitive skin I have ever come across. He’s got faded scars all over his chest/back from all the little stickers that the hospital has stuck on him over the years for the heart monitors. He also gets rashes on his shoulder every time he goes to the gym from the equipment and gets little indentations on his back/arms from our sheets that have little threaded dots all over them that stick out which take a few days to go away. Needless to say, we don’t use those sheets anymore. So, we wanted to be prepared for the possibility of baby having sensitive skin as well. We chose to go with California Baby products for shampoo/body wash, and calendula cream for for face, body, diaper rash, cradle cap, eczema, dry skin, etc. It’s rated really highly on lists for both the environment and health. We also decided to go with Badger Baby sunblock to protect the boy from the sun’s harmful rays. It’s at or close to the top of almost every list I could find online, including the EPA’s. The down part of all these is that they are considerably more expensive. But hey, I spend a bit more on my own beauty arsenol like make-up and shampoo/conditioner that’s animal cruelty-free, so I figured I could do the same for baby. Luckily, we’ve chosen just 3 products to keep it minimal so we don’t have a million creams for different things, in an effort to try to keep the cost down. The calendula cream was highly recommended for lots of different health solutions for baby.
This decision was definitely reaffirmed for me when I heard yesterday that Johnson & Johnson, you know the “baby experts”, the trusted “no more tears” brand, the one that almost every new mother/father is gifted due to its “trusted” name – has had 2 toxic chemicals in their products that they have finally agreed to phase out in the next TWO YEARS due to health concerns. Read more about that here.
And lastly, we are hoping to have a 100% breastfed baby. Dan, with his medical education background, is a huge proponent for this. I never had given it much thought before. Growing up with daycare kids I only ever saw babies being fed formula that their parents provided to my mom, so I think I just assumed that was the way to go. Plus, I guess the immaturity in me felt that it would be weird to breastfeed. However, with Dan having such strong feelings about the benefits of it, I thought it would be important to give it a try. Now, 5 months into the pregnancy and many hours of research later, I am so totally 100% gung-ho about doing it and making it work at any cost. There are almost no cons to breastfeeding, as opposed to formula which has countless cons. And sticking with our theme – it’s free. Breastfeeding supplies (such as pumps and everything that go along with those) are now tax-free as of this year (after years and years of pediatricians, parents, and pro-breastfeeding foundations fighting Uncle Sam for that one). I’m stoked. I’ve already signed up for a breastfeeding class, bought a book on it, and looked up foundations in my area that will be there to help answer my questions and even come to my house if needed once baby is born. My mom had trouble with it for all her kids due to not having enough support from the military doctors as well as our society who at the time looked down upon it. I’m determined not to let that happen to me. My mom had a discussion about it the other day and how during the 50’s (right as moms started working regularly) breastfeeding took a backseat to formula. My grandma made my mom’s formula out of water, evaporated milk, and a dash of corn syrup to make it sweet. It’s so sad that our society put such a stigma on women’s bodies and breasts were made into such a sexual body part, as opposed to a source of food for life. It wasn’t as acceptable to see women breastfeeding, and still isn’t here in the states. I remember on our trip to Europe I saw women whipping them out all over the place to feed their baby and how odd that seemed to me. Now, in the position I am in, I think, GO MOM!
Read more about breastfeeding here, although this is hands-down the way to go and I don’t think anybody could argue otherwise. Not that I would judge a mom who decided to go with formula. Breastfeeding is harder than it looks and you need the right amount of support to be successful with it.
I think that about covers it for now for this post. A very long one indeed. But it felt good to write it because it helped reaffirm that we have made the right decisions.