• Green Parenting 29 June 2015 | View comments

  • Following our blog focussing on the green aspects of breastfeeding, we thought we would continue the theme, such was the fabulous response from our readers!
    Being green is popular amongst our eco-conscious tea suppers!

    This month we will look more broadly at some of the ways in which parents can lead family life in a responsible and caring manner.

    Just as with all things that have a comparatively small footprint, the benefits are manifold, with populations, habitats and landscapes reaping the rewards.

    Beginning at the beginning, so to speak, with the advent of a new baby there are often a huge number of items suggested to be "essential" and "necessary", when in fact, as mothers with several children will have learned, many of these items go unused or don't "fit" with a particular parenting style or are disliked by baby.
    Some parents find that a sling in organic cotton is all they need to get around, while others find a pram indispensable - you know what you will need, but research first to avoid mistakes and useless purchases.
    Many families purchase cots, rockers, bouncers, and walkers, only to find that their baby is happiest in their arms or on a play mat.
    Before you go all out with equipment, you could borrow an item or two from a friend to see how they work for you.
    Modern accoutrements tend to engender separation, and sell themselves as items that will occupy your baby and enable you to "get on", when you actually might find household chores simpler while baby-wearing - besides which, you might just want to sleep alongside baby, and enjoy baby sleeping on you!

    The essentials for baby are now relatively simple to find in eco-cotton and sustainable fabrics like hemp and bamboo; even high street stores feature these items, nowadays.

    When it comes to personal care, the early days need the very gentlest of plain water, delicate oils, and the gentlest bath time routines.

    If you are clued-up and very well-supported, you might opt to skip the nappies, altogether and go for EC - or, "elimination communication"; there are several books that explain how to work the "diaper free" option. A small pot and a bit of application and ingenuity will save you and the earth a small fortune, but it takes time and perseverance, and isn't for everyone, dependent upon circumstances and personal capacities.

    The next option is 'washables', of course, which are a long-term saving, and a natural option. There are so many styles, fabrics, and systems out there that you might want to research online and get advice from friends.
    You can either buy and wash your own, or use a nappy service - they collect, wash, and deliver a new set however often you need.
    Baby's awareness is also much more improved with washable nappies, and the potty will come earlier and easier, generally, who have a better awareness of wet and dry.

    This in turn will be an ecological benefit, as you will find there is less laundry to do, saving water and energy!
    What we use at changing time also impacts the environment, of course, so be looking to use washable wipes where one can, and natural creams, from caring companies, that haven't cost the earth to manufacture.

    Washable nappies often come with launderable wet-bags, so you can do away with plastic (there are biodegradable bags on the market).
    When babe starts to signal readiness, you can try washable trainer pants, rather than the throwaway kinds, as this will save considerably on waste and cash!

    The last blog on breastfeeding covered most things related to nurturing the "littles", but maybe a comment on mama pads and cups deserves space.
    Breastfeeding, of course, bestows most mamas with a break, but when menstruation returns, you might want to check out a silicone cup, or the many designs of fabric washable options out there to choose from - or if you are handy with a sewing machine, you can even try making your own!

    Nowadays there are many options for choosing organic fabrics for the family, and sales ensure that being considerate with cloth won't break the bank.
    Choose gentle laundry options, eco cycles, eco balls or soap nuts for gentle washing and delicate young skin. These all minimise toxins and help our waterways stay fresh.
    Drying outdoors gives a freshness to laundry, and keeps your indoor environment more ambient.

    Mealtimes can be tough with children liking different things, and not taking well to set mealtimes.
    It is often less stressful to go with the flow, literally!

    Feed on demand, introduce foods when all the signs are there, when babe is ready and able to wean himself - the much celebrated style of "baby-led" weaning.
    Meals can be simple and adaptable to various tastes, and saved or transformed for further snacking.
    Healthy bits and pieces such as hummus or tahini dips with crudités can be saved for a day or so and kept on hand, and berries are simple and nutritious.
    Flapjacks are incredibly easy and nutrient-packed fillers.
    Many parents are surprised to find that their children actually favour strong tastes and exciting cuisine - toddler favourites can be things such as lemon slices, olives, anchovies, garlic bread and the like. Don't shy from offering big bursts of flavour - you are likely to be surprised! With a little ingenuity and a moment chopping and arranging simple foods, meals can gain instant appeal!

    Lastly, we thought a mention was due for toys.
    Engender a healthier environment by keeping plastics to a minimum; choose wooden toys, or look out the new slew of Eco, recycled, and safer plastics.

    You could even make your own by upcycling general household objects.....

    There are lovely toys made of tough card these days for construction and imaginary play.
    Throwaway ephemera is best avoided, although catches the eye of incredibly children easily - older children can be brought to understand the real cost of toys with a short life-span.

    And, for those toys that outlive their immediate use, they can be joyfully passed to others, or carefully packed away for the enjoyment of your children's children and future generations.

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