Q: I’m due to have a baby in two months and I’d like to do as much as possible to go green for my little one. It wasn’t really important to me before, but now I’m starting to see the bigger picture. I keep reading about awful pollutants all around us that can make her sick or lead to developmental delays or worse. I’m just starting to fully grasp that the choices we make vis-à-vis the environment today are going to be her problem to deal with in 20, 30 or 40 years. Needless to say, I have enough keeping me up at night (and that’s without the four bathroom trips between midnight and 6 a.m.). Got any good ideas for things I can do for my baby right from the start?
A: Wow, you have a lot on your mind! You’re looking for ways to go green for your new baby and I’d be happy to oblige, but before I do, let me just tell you this. Now that you are becoming a parent, you will worry a heck of a lot more than you used to, and it seems to me like you’re getting quite the head start. First of all, remember that even when you’d like to control all the variables in your new baby’s life, it’s going to be impossible. To take a line from one of my favorite songs, “The only thing for certain is uncertainty.” So just close your eyes, breathe deeply and know that life is full of unexpected surprises you can’t control. Now, on to some things you can:
Use natural cleaners in your home. Now that baby’s about to arrive, you’re probably rushing around trying to make sure the house is spic and span for when baby arrives. But all the stuff you might be using to clean your house might be even worse for your baby than grimy dirt, not to mention, bad for you, my soon-to-be momma. Many cleaning products contain bleach, ammonia and numerous other toxic ingredients. Try switching to natural or organic cleaners, or check out this article for some homemade nontoxic cleaners that are just as effective.
Buy organic baby food. This one won’t apply right away, since in the beginning your newborn will be breastfeeding or formula-feeding, but when it is time to start solids (usually 4-6 months), try to buy organic. A nice investment (if your mother-in-law is paying) is the Beaba BabyCook, which you can use to steam and puree organic fruits and veggies.
Use organic detergent to wash your baby’s clothes. Better yet, wash your entire family’s clothes with organic detergent. Many major brands of detergent contain potentially harmful chemicals. The organic versions are chemical-free and are just as effective in cleaning that diaper blowout you’re bound to have. Try brands like Seventh Generation or Gaiam.
Choose organic toys. Your baby’s modus operandum for interacting with the objects around her? Sticking them in her mouth, that is once she figures out where her mouth is. Many toys are made with harmful chemicals like BPA and PVC, and though you can’t avoid all of them, consider getting a couple of eco-friendly toys that you know she’ll definitely be sticking in her mouth — like her lovey or a favorite rattle or teether.
When it’s nice out, take her outside. Though there may be plenty of harmful pollutants in the air outside, you’d be surprised to know that sometimes our indoor air quality is worse than the air quality outside. So why not take your little peanut out for a walk? Trust me — it’ll do both of you good.
These are just a few things you can do to go green for your baby, but like I said, don’t drive yourself crazy and remember that you can control only so much. The next line in that Darryl Worley song I told you about earlier? “You gotta hold on tight, just enjoy the ride.” Amen, Darryl, Amen.
Editor's note: This column is very timely as our advice columnist Chanie just gave birth to a baby girl last week. The entire MNN staff wishes her a hearty congratulations.