Last year, one of my best friends gave birth to a beautiful baby boy (isn’t he gorgeous?!) Bertille and her partner have always been eco-minded, and in fact that’s how we first made friends!
(Cue flash back – we were at work together, and she was ordering a reusable coffee cup for herself, and asked if I’d like one. Together we bonded over good coffee, sustainability, and now we live only a few streets away from each other!)
With baby Willow now joining their young family, I’ve had the joy of visiting them regularly and seeing how they’re expanding their eco approach to include their son. So while I’m not planning a family any time soon, I did want to share her best tips for raising a child in an eco-friendly way…
Where to Source Sustainable Baby Clothes
Don’t babies grow fast?! In fact, this little guy is already a lot bigger than he is in these photos… So I totally get why sourcing baby clothes seems to be a never-ending quest.
While I haven’t changed in height since I turned 14, my sustainable fashion recommendations for babies and small children is still the same advice that I follow when shopping for myself: start by looking for second-hand clothing, and if you can’t find it, try an ethical fashion brand. If you still can’t find something, look for sustainable materials.
Most of little Willow’s wardrobe is made up of second-hand finds. His mum likes to shop on second-hand apps such as eBay*, Gumtree, and Depop. These apps often focus on location too, so you may find yourself purchasing clothes from local parents and families!
Willow’s clothes are often bought with growth in mind – so while something might be a little baggy now, it’ll definitely be a good fit in a month’s time.
And when he’s outgrown his clothes, back on the apps they go! It’s a great way to earn a little extra income (which will probably be spent on more baby clothes) and help out another parent in need.
Top tips when shopping for sustainable baby clothes:
- Go for gender-neutral styles: these will sell well, or even age well if you have more children planned.
- Look for good quality brands: Bertille’s favourites are Baby Mori, John Lewis, M&S, and Organic Zoo.
- Don’t be afraid of buying larger items for your child to grow into.
- Go for skin-kind fabrics: linen, hemp, and cotton are all naturally hypoallergenic and sustainable.
Best UK Brands for Sustainable Baby Clothes
If you can’t find certain items second-hand (or would prefer to buy certain items first-hand), try shopping with these sustainable UK brands:
- Boba: Organic cotton and bamboo slings that Bertille swears by!
- Ethical Superstore*: Huge range of sustainable baby clothes, blankets, and more
- Frugi*: Colourful organic baby clothes and accessories
- Joha: Danish brand producing wool and cotton clothes with a sustainable manufacture
- John Lewis*: GOTS-certified organic cotton range for babies
- Mori: Organic cotton and bamboo baby clothes
- Oxfam Online*: Second-hand baby clothes, shoes, and accessories that benefits charity
- Organic Zoo: 100% organic cotton baby clothes
- Toby Tiger: Pattern-ful organic clothing for babies
Sustainable Furniture & Toys for Babies
Next up: furniture and toys! With Willow being Bertille’s first child, there was a lot of shopping involved during her maternity period. They say nothing quite prepares you for your first child (and personally, I wouldn’t know) but I imagine the sudden need for a million different things can be quite overwhelming!
One of the easiest ways to be more sustainable is to reduce how much you shop. You can use this same rule of thumb when it comes to preparing for a child – there are some must-haves, and a lot of must-avoids.
Essential items that every new family needs include:
- Play mat
- Storage cupboards
- Changing table
- Baby monitor
- Bath tub
- High chair
- Car seat
- Rocking chair
To give you an idea of what’s possible to source in an eco-friendly way, Bertille found big ticket items like her baby’s cot, and their rocking chair second-hand, while she got her mattress from Little Green Sheep, a brand that uses 100% natural materials.
Which Baby Toys are Sustainable?
Just like furniture, toys are an essential part of a baby’s life and development. They provide learning and communication opportunities, but so often these toys are made from shiny, brightly coloured plastics.
That said, sustainable toys are making a comeback! Heritage brands, such as Brio, are still producing wooden and rubber toys that are both baby-safe and last for years. In fact, I gifted little Willow a second-hand Brio train set for Christmas!
It’s often perfectly safe to buy second-hand toys for your child, but in their early days make sure to sterilise everything. Sometimes you may wish to get something new too – teething toys, for example. Good brands making sustainable toys include:
- BuyMeOnce: A range of sustainable toys that are built to last
- Cissy Wears: Eco-friendly toys, bibs, pacifiers and more
- Ethical Superstore*: A range of sustainably-made toys
- Grimms: Wooden toys made in rainbow bright colours and shapes
- Oli and Carol: Natural rubber toys perfect for bathtime and for teething
- Oxfam Online*: New, second-hand, and vintage children’s toys that benefits charity
- Sophie La Giraffe*: French brand creating 100% natural rubber soft teething toys
- Konges Sløejd: Danish brand creating conscious interior and toys for little ones
- Kids Concept: Children’s wooden and soft play toys in a nordic minimal style
And if you’re thinking of buying a gift for a new baby? Go for a book. Bertille was quite open about books being a valuable way to support Willow’s life and play, and the personal touch came from the books we all gifted – many of them being instrumental in our own childhoods. My favourite children’s books have to be Bambi*, The Town Mouse & The Country Mouse*, and The Tiger Who Came To Tea*.
A Guide to Eco-Friendly Nappies
Here’s a hard truth: conventional nappies are one of the WORST disposable items potentially ever created. These plastic-heavy poop catchers can be used up in a matter of hours, and will take hundreds of years to break down. Oh and every single-use nappy ever used still exists. Yeah, the ones you wore as a baby haven’t even broken down yet.
Reusable nappies are helping to clean all that up. Even if you switched just one nappy a day to a reusable one, you can stop hundreds of nappies going to landfill across the course of your baby needing them.
Her top tips for switching to reusable nappies:
- Go for natural fibres rather than synthetic
- Wash your nappies in baby-safe natural cleaning products – unfortunately eco cleaning brands like Ecover reduce the absorbency of reusable nappies
- Wash your reusable nappies between 40 – 60°C
- Don’t tumble-dry your reusable nappies
- And don’t be worried if you need to use a conventional nappy every now and again!
And an added note – you can still use nappy cream with reusable nappies! Bertille swears by Weleda’s Nappy Cream*.
Sustainable Weaning Ideas & Recipes
Finally, let’s talk food. Willow is now weaning, and Bertille is following a baby-led approach: “We had to be patient as initially he didn’t eat much but now loves it. There is a bit of food waste as he discovers and play with his food, but we give him little by little. You can even cook leftover porridge in a muffin tin and the baby loves it!”
While we both enjoy cooking, I think it’s best we leave it to the professionals to advise on recipes and techniques. For blogs, Bertille’s go-to is SR Nutrition, by Charlotte Stirling-Reed, and she also loves the Young Gums cookbook, that has easy recipes that are perfect for babies and adults alike! And as Bertille tends to do most of the food prep herself, and recently picked up a second-hand food processor to help.
Another note on weaning – try to go without single-use wipes: “When weaning, have a small towel or cloth to wipe your baby’s hands and face after meal – same on the move. Or even simpler, just take your baby to the tap… I see people all the time with wipes when there’s really no need!
And a final note from Bertille on being an eco warrior parent:
“For me, it’s more about not using too much plastic and avoiding things that are single use.”
So even if you can’t do everything in this guide, we hope you may find a few ways to reduce you and your baby’s impact!
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