1. Grow your own
Not only is breastfeeding your baby protective against
illness, it is the ultimate home grown, natural resource! Consider the fuel needed to produce infant formula – from producing milk and transporting it to processing a finished packaged product and transporting it to stores, as well as chemicals used for sterilisation of feeding equipment and the disposal of packaging (which will inevitable become landfill). Breastfeeding saves food, resources, fuel and energy – no chemicals required and it comes in naturally sustainable packaging!
You can also save food miles, avoid chemical s and model healthy eating by growing your own chemical free vegetables. Even if space is limited, you can grow many foods in pots – there’s nothing like picking and eating fresh foods grown with love. Otherwise buy fresh, seasonal and organic foods at farmers’ markets . where you can meet the growers and ask how the foods are produced.
2 If it’s on the skin, it goes in
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, your baby is not only affected by what you eat and drink, but by what your skin eats. Our skin is our largest organ and around sixty percent of what we apply to our bodies is absorbed into our skin. The Chinese call our skin ‘the third lung’ because is it such a direct pathway to our bloodstream.
It makes sense then, to choose skincare that is safe and as chemical free as possible while you are pregnant and breastfeeding. And, when your baby is born, you will want to continue protecting your little one from potentially harmful
chemicals being absorbed through delicate newborn skin.
Become a consumer on your baby’s behalf and read labels, avoiding products that contain mineral oils (these are petroleum based) and chemicals such as parabens. The general rule of thumb is, if you wouldn’t eat it, please don’t put it on your baby’s skin.
3. Buy Buy Baby
Although buying baby gear and clothing is a rite of passage, consider how your choices impact both your baby’s well-being and the environment.
Choose natural fabrics for clothing, as synthetics don’t absorb perspiration and may irritate sensitive skin. Reusable nappies (cloth or bamboo) save on energy and money and they are very easy to launder.
Obviously the first criteria when buying baby equipment is safety, then consider, will this make my baby feel loved or will it create distance ( for instance, too many ‘baby containers’ aren’t supportive of close connection between you and your baby)?; will it help our baby’s development ( gear like baby walkers and many infant seats hinder natural stages of development as well as contributing to landfill)?; is it congruent with our parenting style and how will it impact the environment – does production waste precious resources? Does manufacture involve travel miles? Will it be useful or just become another piece of junk in landfill? Can we save resources by using use a recycled product instead of buying new (do though, always buy a new
mattress as there are risks from babies inhaling toxins from previously used mattresses that have become damp from vomit or urine and subsequently developed mould and gases).
4. Choose safe toys.
From lead paints to formaldehyde, phthalates in plastics and flame retardents, there are dangers lurking in some toys. Although there are Australian standards, many imported toys and products are not tested so imported wooden toys may contain lead based paints; stuffed toys that contain foam are likely to contain flame retardents, formaldehyde and dyes, and soft plastic toys (think bath
toys) made from PVC should be avoided as they contain pasticizers that can
Healthier toy choices include: Toys from opshops or ‘hand-me- downs as these will contain fewer chemicals and will also help reduce landfill; toys made from natural materials such as wood, cotton, wool, bamboo or hemp; soft toys filled with natural fibres rather than foam. To reduce the amount of chemical in soft toys wash and dry them in sunshine before giving them to your baby.
As well as being made from non renewable resources and chemicals, consider that plastic baby toys all smell, taste and feel the same so they really aren’t ‘educational’ from a sensory perspective. One safe play alternative for babies is to create a treasure basket: of natural and household objects for baby to rummage in and explore – a cold teaspoon, a soft brush, a pine cone, a natural sponge, a silk scarf and small ‘bean’ bags made from various natural fabrics(velvet, cotton, silk, hessian) and filled with corn .
5 Eliminate chemical cleaners and laundry products
Although you may be more concerned with keeping your environment clean now you have a baby, a bit of natural ‘dirt’ can be far less harmful than many
cleaning products. Avoid exposing your tiny baby or small child to harmful chemicals in household cleaners and laundry products. These chemicals can affect her health now and in the longer term, cause allergic reactions and an upset nervous system as she processes chemicals that have been inhaled or absorbed through her skin. Read labels carefully when you buy cleaning cloths and cleaning and laundry products. Make your own cleaners (sodium bicarbonate and white vinegar will clean most things, recycle rags for cleaning and consider, can we wear that clothing one more time – before wasting energy on unnecessary laundry.