Because parents need a lot of things to care for their little ones, we thought it would be a good idea to pull together some sustainable choices and small, realistic adaptations that you can make long the way.
Small Sustainable Steps for Parents
Thinking about making positive changes as an individual to look after the environment can be overwhelming, but try not to be so overwhelmed that you end up doing nothing.
Remind yourself that one small step will give you the momentum for the next one. When your little one sees you taking sustainable steps, they’ll follow!
We know that the arrival of a baby brings with it a lot of stuff, some of which may not be great for the environment. So, because parents need a lot of things to care for their little ones, we thought it would be a good idea to pull together some sustainable choices and small, realistic adaptations that you can make long the way.
The WHO and UNICEF recommend that babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life, and for parents who are looking to reduce the carbon footprint of their child-raising journey, breastfeeding is a good, cost-effective choice.
In fact in 2019, a research study at Imperial College of London showed that breastfeeding for six months saves 95-153kg of CO2 per baby.
Glass baby bottles
Glass baby bottles are great. They’re long-lasting, stain resistant and free from BPA, phthalates, and toxins.
If your glass baby bottles are still in good condition without damage but you no longer need them, you can store them for future children, donate them to charity, or pass them on to another new parent. Remember that whoever uses the bottles next will need to add brand-new teats.
If your glass bottles can’t be reused to feed another baby, they can be easily recycled or used in other inventive ways. Once you no longer need your baby’s bottles, we’ve got a few ideas about how you can reuse them…
- Why not use them when you’re getting arty to hold water, paint or PVA glue for creative painting sessions? Let your little one release their inner Jackson Pollock!
- Sometimes animal rescue organisations accept old baby bottles and use them to feed newborn critters.
- Most bottles have measurements written on the side, so they can come in handy when you’re cooking up a storm in the kitchen!
Muslin cloths are a parent’s (and a baby’s best friend). Used to clean up baby sick, spills, and dribble, they’re light, soft, breathable, absorbent, quick-drying, and machine washable.
Try to look for organic cotton muslins. These are produced without any synthetic chemicals, are hypoallergenic and have had much less impact on the environment than the non-organic kind. Some organic cotton is also GOTS-certified. This means that you can be sure it’s been organically produced by a socially responsible and environmentally friendly company.
Silicone baby bibs
When you begin your weaning journey, silicone bibs can be really handy. They’re easy to clean without the need for the washing machine, and they’re durable, too. So they can be handed down or passed on from one little one to the next.
In the past, plastic has been the go-to material for brands who make baby tableware. But other, more eco-friendly options are now available, such as bamboo.
Bamboo (unlike plastic) is biodegradable and doesn’t contain any of the toxins and chemicals used to make some kinds of plastic. It’s also very durable, and a natural, renewable resource—no fossil fuels required!
Puree your own fruit and veg
Making your own baby food using a blender means less single use plastic packaging to deal with. Most supermarket-bought baby food now comes in plastic pouches that can be difficult to recycle, rather than the old school mini glass jars.
This is also a great step to take because…
- When it comes to homemade baby food, you can serve up nutritious and delicious meals and broaden your baby’s taste palate by experimenting and pureeing whichever fruits or vegetables you like!
- Making your own baby food is generally cheaper, particularly is you buy and cook the in bulk and the stored in the freezer.
- When making homemade food, you don’t have to wonder how long it was sat on the supermarket shelf. Plus, it tastes fresh, and you know exactly what your baby is eating.
If you have some outdoor space at home and are feeling green fingered, you could try growing some veggies yourself!
Bath & Changetime
If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of your child’s nappies, reusable ones might be a good option for you…
- While making the swap to reusable nappies is a great, eco-friendly option, it can be an expensive one. Instead of buying them brand new, there is a large market of perfectly usable second-hand options available.
- When purchasing reusable nappies, look for ones that’re made using plant-based materials like cotton, bamboo, and hemp, and avoid nappies that’re made using synthetic fibres because they can shed microplastics and contribute to pollution. Non-organic cotton should also be avoided because it requires fertilisers, pesticides, and lots of water to grow.
- Try to air-dry your reusable nappies once you’ve washed them, rather than using a tumble dryer.
- If you plan on having more babies in the future, reusable nappies are great because they can be stored away and used again.
Never flush baby wipes down the toilet and try to use water-based biodegradable wipes.
If you want a reusable option, using cloth wipes is a brilliant alternative to disposable baby wipes. They can be used, washed and used again.
When buying toiletries and skincare products for your baby, try to look out for options with all-natural ingredients and 100% recyclable packaging.
Nurture a love of nature
Encouraging little ones to get outside and appreciate the natural world is an amazing way to teach them about taking care of the planet. Here are some tips to get them interested in nature…
- If you’re out and about on a walk, be quiet and listen—can you hear wind, leaves rustling, echoes, birdsong, animals?
- Be observant yourself, so that you can show them things like bugs, flowers, mountain shapes and cliffs, trees, shrubs, grasses, birds, and footprints.
- Teach them not to disturb and interfere with anything in nature.
- Take a magnifying glass out to look at insects, or binoculars for birds.
- Explain the negative impact that litter can have on wildlife.
Before you pop your tin cans, egg boxes, and plastic yoghurt pots into the recycling bin, why not have some fun with them first. The Green Parent has loads of tips on how you and your little one can get crafty with packaging.
Baby and toddler toys made from wood are certainly making a comeback and they’re a great alternative to plastic. Not only are they better for the planet but they also look great and are hard-wearing. They’re easy to repair using wood glue if they break and can be passed from one generation to the next for years to come.
Most wooden toys are finished with vibrantly coloured water-based dyes, stains, oils, and waxes that’re totally baby-safe. Look out for wooden toys that are The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved, this means that the wood they're made from is sourced from well-managed forests.
Buy second-hand toys
Basically, the longer toys are used, the better it is for the planet, and it can really pay off to look around places like car boot sales and charity shops when buying toys.
Not only will you save money and give a pre-loved toy a new life, but it can be fun! Think of it like a treasure hunt and get your little one involved. Try looking online on sites like Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, and Freecycle, too!
With sites like Whirli™, you can subscribe to a plan and get tokens to spend on toys from a huge library. Then the toys are yours to play with for as long as you want. Simply keep toys as long as they are still being loved at home. When your little one is done playing, you send the toys back and swap them for something different.
Second-hand toys may not be brand new, but they’ll still be new and super exciting to you little one!
Choose organic fibres when buying baby clothes
This one is important, especially for babies that have sensitive skin. Not only are there so many environmental benefits to using organic cotton (it isn’t grown using fertilisers and pesticides), but organic cotton is also considerably softer on delicate skin than non-organic.
Plus, even though they may cost more initially, organic cotton garments last a lot longer than standard cotton, helping you a few pennies in the long run if you want to use the clothes again for another baby in the future.
Buy second-hand baby clothes
It’s common knowledge that little one’s grow out of their clothes at record speed and buying brand-new pieces for each age stage can get pricey! That’s why buying second-hand clothes from other parents, charity shops and sites like Depop, Vinted and Dotte is so good. It saves perfectly good clothing from going into landfill and is kind to your purse too!
Once your baby has outgrown some of their clothes, start the cycle again and donate them to charity shops or sell them to other parents to get some cash for a mini wardrobe refresh.
If you have pieces that you particularly love or that have sentimental value and you plan on having another little one in the future, box them up and keep them!
Washing baby clothes
You should always wash baby clothes (whether store-bought or second hand) before your little one wears them for the first time. When you do wash your little one’s clothes, follow these steps to save energy and a little cash…
- Try to buy clothes of a similar colour and material so that you can easily chuck items all in together and save mountains of time by reducing the number of separate washes you need to do.
- If you can, try and invest in an eco-friendly, non-biological detergent. These are designed especially for sensitive skin and come free of dye, colouring or perfumes.
- Wash at 30/40°C. This is certainly hot enough to get rid of any stains or dirt in clothes, without costing you and the environment too much! The only exception here is when your little one is ill or a garment is heavily soiled, a higher temperature could be beneficial to blast any tougher germs.
- Try to air-dry your laundry rather than using a tumble dryer.
Recycle old clothes that’re damaged
For any outgrown clothes that are too damaged to sell or donate, make sure that instead of binning them and having them end up in landfill, you recycle them.
Most recycling plants have a drop-off point for old clothes, shoes, and other items, and some shops have schemes where you can drop off old clothes to be recycled in exchange for vouchers.
Try to teach your little one about recycling from an early age and help them to know which waste goes into which bin. Explain this to them in simple terms ‘if we put this glass jar into the recycling bin, it will be made into a brand new one, again and again!’.
It’s a great idea to check what your local recycling centre can recycle.
Here at Tommee Tippee, Brighter Futures is our plan to build a better world for our babies to grow up in. Taking care of people and the planet so their futures can shine even brighter. Head over to our Brighter Futures hub to read about what we're doing to every little one’s future shine brighter.