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When it comes to building your registry, a great deal of thought goes into the process of choosing safe, functional baby gear for your precious little one. But what about the impact your purchases have on the environment?
Whether or not a product is eco-friendly is a consideration that more and more parents are making when purchasing registry essentials. If that concept is new to you, don’t worry — we’re here to break it down (or decompose?) for you and share a few recommendations for eco-friendly baby products.
If you’re not familiar with the concept, the term “eco-friendly” means that a product is not harmful to the environment.
You may also have heard the term “sustainable” being used to describe a product that’s eco-friendly. When a product is sustainable it’s held to even higher standards because, not only is it safe for the environment, but it has the added benefit of not taking up many (or any) environmental resources or causing pollution.
If you’re a new parent, there are far more reasons to purchase eco-friendly baby gear than the sheer fact of helping reduce waste in the environment. Although that is a huge reason — babies produce a ton of waste!
In fact, approximately 4 million tons of disposable diapers are added to landfills each year.
One of the most important benefits is the fact that eco-friendly baby gear tends to be safer for you and your baby. These products don’t contain harmful chemicals like BPA, phthalates, or parabens which have been linked to health concerns.
These products also tend to use sustainable ingredients like bamboo, which doesn’t require pesticides and breaks down in the environment more easily, reducing your footprint. After all, this planet is your baby’s home!
Lastly, while eco-friendly products are often more expensive, they can save you a bunch of money in the long run.
Sure, a single cloth diaper costs more than a single disposable diaper initially — but if you’re washing and reusing it, you’re likely to save a chunk of change on diapers over time. You can even reuse them for a second child!
Eco-friendly baby gear needs to be safe for the environment, but also functional and useful for parents in their everyday lives. Here’s what we considered for this list:
- Safe for baby. Almost all of these products (by design) are free of harsh chemicals that could be harmful to your little one.
- Footprint-friendly. Is the product recyclable or biodegradable so that once your child outgrows it (or you’re no longer using it), it doesn’t lead to pollution?
- Certifications. When a product claims to be “organic,” it’s important to check the certifications to make sure that they meet the criteria of large-scale environmental organizations such as Greenguard, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), and USDA Certified Organic.
- Reviews. We also reached out to parents to learn what eco-friendly essentials they found to be the most valuable for their family, and we factored in product reviews to ensure that the gear we are recommended had a high satisfaction rating.
Best eco-friendly crib mattress
Price: Typically around $280
A crib mattress is an incredibly important purchase — if it’s dual-sided, it’s something your child will sleep on for the first few years of their life. This two-sided mattress by Naturepedic is free from harmful chemicals like flame retardants, latex, foam, vinyl, PVC, phthalates, formaldehyde and more.
This mattress is both GOTS and Greenguard certified and is made from a nontoxic cotton fabric. Its lining is also waterproof, thanks to a coating of eco-polymer made from non-GMO sugarcane. Sweet!
Best eco-friendly disposable diapers
Price: Typically around $15 for 34
Diapers are something you’ll go through a lot in your baby’s first few years. In fact, it’s estimated that parents go through an average of 2,500 to 3,000 diapers in the first year alone, so it’s important to make sure you’re using materials that are safe for your baby’s bottom and the environment.
Eco Pea Co. makes natural diapers from an incredibly soft and absorbent biodegradable bamboo. They’re free from harmful ingredients that could irritate your baby’s precious skin, and degrade at a much faster rate (think months as opposed to hundreds of years) than disposable diapers.
They also offer a subscription service, so you can have them sent right to your doorstep each month.
Best cloth diapers
Price: Typically around $17
If you’re intrigued by the idea of cloth diapering but not sure if you’re ready to make the jump, these hybrid diapers from GroVia are an excellent stepping stone. Made of GOTS-certified organic materials, they have a sturdy, yet soft exterior shell and can be used with both cloth and disposable (biodegradable) inserts.
Parents have mostly great things to say about the ease of use and absorbency of these diapers. A couple folks warn that thicker cloth liners take a while to dry, so it’s best to have a handful in rotation.
Best eco-friendly disposable wipes
Price: Typically around $17 for a 6-pack
If there’s one item you’ll use more than diapers, it’s wipes. Using wipes made from non-harmful ingredients should be top of mind, as well as wipes that are biodegradable (meaning they are capable of breaking down naturally without burdening the environment).
Mum & You wipes are made from plant fibers and contain 99.4 percent water. They are free of harmful and irritating ingredients like parabens and sulphates so they’re ultra gentle on your baby’s brand-new skin.
Worth noting: Fans of these wipes say they do their job, but a few parents mention frustrations with packaging, saying they’re hard to get out of the dispenser.
Best eco-friendly changing pad
Price: Typically around $99
When it comes to a changing pad, not only will you want something comfortable that supports your baby during diaper changes, but you’ll want to rest assured that the material the pad is made from is safe for your baby and the environment.
Naturepedic comes in again as top-of-mind in the eco-friendly category. Although it is on the pricey side, it’s both GOTS and Greenguard certified and made from organic cotton and food-grade polyethylene. It’s also free of harmful chemicals including soy, latex, GMOs, PVC and vinyl, and phthalates.
Best eco-friendly changing pad cover
Price: Typically around $15
For both aesthetic and comfort purposes, you’ll want to also invest in changing pad covers. Having several comes in handy, since diaper changing can be a messy job (to say the least).
Burt’s Bees sells GOTS-certified changing pad covers made from a soft and breathable organic cotton material that’s free from harmful chemicals and pesticides. These fit on any 16-inch x 32-inch changing pads and are machine washable. #winning
Best eco-friendly baby carrier
Price: Typically around $115
A baby carrier serves two important purposes: holding your baby close to you and keeping your hands free so you can accomplish things you need to get done (like laundry and answering emails). This baby carrier from Ergobaby is made from 100 percent premium cotton and can be used in both parent-facing and outward-facing positions.
And while the materials aren’t certified organic (the brand seems to have discontinued their organic line), Ergobaby gets kudos for their sustainability project, Everlove, where the company buys back old baby carriers from parents who no longer need them. After washing, repairing, and inspecting them before reselling them to parents at a lower price.
Best eco-friendly pacifiers
Price: Typically around $12
You’re going to want to stock up on quite a few pacifiers if your baby takes well to them. In addition to helping reduce the risk of SIDS, pacifiers are one of the best ways to soothe a fussy baby.
Natursutten pacis are made from 100 percent natural rubber that’s sustainably sourced from rubber trees in Brazil. It’s uniquely hygienic thanks to its strong build — no need to worry about cracks or joints where dirt and bacteria can lurk. They’re also free from BPA, PVC, phthalates, and other harmful chemicals.
Best eco-friendly baby lotion
Price: Typically around $17
When it comes to lotion, the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not a certain brand might cause irritation. Earth Mama’s all natural and organic personal care products are dermatologically tested, get a great rating from the EWG, and are NSF/ANSI 305 certified for using high-quality, organic ingredients in their products.
This baby lotion contains organic herbs and oils like aloe, shea butter, and calendula extract that help soothe your baby’s sensitive skin. It’s worth noting, though, that this lotion is (naturally) orange and vanilla scented, so if you’re scent-averse you might consider their unscented babylotion.
Best eco-friendly baby bottles
Price: Typically around $25
This set of baby bottles from Thinkbaby is unique for so many reasons. For starters, they transition from regular baby bottles to sippy cups! They’re also free of harmful chemicals like BPA, lead, PVC and phthalates and are designed to mimic breastfeeding and cut down on tummy troubles.
The best part? They’re recyclable. Yep — once your baby’s no longer using them, you can toss them right into your recycling bin instead of your trash.