If you thought plastic-free or low plastic living was hard before you became a parent, then bringing children into the world can bring a whole new set of plastic-related traps! This photo was taken of myself and my son, aged 7 months old... I've learnt as I've gone along, and hope I can pass on some things I've found.
Even before conception, studies indicate that the toxicity of some plastics can have a bearing on human fertility, on the chances of miscarriage, and the development of a foetus. Plastics can be a part of everyday life for a baby from day one in the big wide world.
The really good news is that this message is becoming more widely spread and heard, and there are now some really great plastic-free alternatives that can help you with parenting without plastic (or with as little as possible). Many alternatives are easy, frugal and can be good to your family, to your pocket, and to Planet Earth.
Here are some plastic free parenting tips to get you on your way…
If in doubt anywhere along the line, opt for natural materials, natural fabrics, and organic where possible. Synthetic fabrics (acrylics, poly-blends, etc) are essentially just plastics, and contribute to microfibres being washed into our seas. The same goes for when you choose cosmetics for your baby - go for all natural ingredients as well as non-plastic packaging: so so many mainstream baby cosmetics have microplastics in them! Opt for all natural, and avoid microplastics around your child completely.
Try these natural baby cosmetics & toiletries: https://plasticfree.baby/collections/toiletries
If you have friends or family that have had kids before you, do ask if you can borrow any baby essentials that will save you money and will save the planet too. My sister gave me a huge amount of baby bits and bobs when I had my son, and I still don’t know how I would have managed without them!
There are some really brilliant plastic-free alternatives to otherwise plastic-laden baby products which keep surfacing on the market at the moment. This should be taken as a really good sign that there’s pressure on manufacturers to really think about sustainable and responsible ways to produce baby products, in an earth friendly way. It shows that we, the parents, are demanding new eco-friendly, plastic-free choices. Some of these products are really worth shelling out a little extra for, all the while I acknowledge it may not be possible for everyone to be able to do this; my finances have been tight while child-raising, and I’ve spent time researching and then money buying the very best of products that I think will have a benefit to myself and my child, and importantly on products that won’t have a negative health impact on my child or on the planet.
This is an eco-friendly alternative to a plastic potty, which I was glad to have invested in for my child: https://plasticfree.baby/collections/plastic-free-bath-changing-bums/products/biodegradable-potty-in-3-colours?variant=31531095523428
Use reusable wipes, for instance: “Disposable baby wipes are a HUGE problem in the UK. Parents mistakenly think that they can flush them down the toilet, (don’t!!) where they are the main cause of sewer blockages, creating giant stinking fatbergs and marine pollution.” (Citytosea.org.uk ). Many disposable wipes on the market contain hidden plastics. It’s much nicer and easier to choose reusables - they work so much better than slippery disposables too!
Try these reusable wipes: https://plasticfree.baby/products/reusable-bamboo-cotton-terry-wipes?_pos=2&_sid=c16a6abfb&_ss=r or even make your own! https://plasticfree.baby/blogs/all-about-plastics/washable-bum-wipes?_pos=1&_sid=c16a6abfb&_ss=r
Feeding time - choose natural materials
Avoid all and any plastic that come into contact with your child’s food! Some plastics leach horrible toxins into the food / drink that your child consumes, and have been found to have an impact on human development. Instead, opt for natural materials such as glass, wood or ceramics, or bio-plastic made from natural materials.
When you’re doing baby weaning, try a ceramic bowl: https://plasticfree.baby/products/handcrafted-ceramic-weaning-bowl?_pos=1&_sid=81e89e4c2&_ss=r
Make Your Own:
Cutting down on prepared food will cut your food bill and cut down on single-use plastic in an instant. As a single parent, I do completely understand the convenience of prepped food, but for me the health benefits and money saving of avoiding prepared ready meals, or food pouches for example, far outweigh the convenience. It’s tricky to find some ingredients without plastic packaging, I know - think about raisins, for instance: I would cost save and plastic-save, by getting a huge bag, and putting together mini jars of raisins for when we are on the go. Win win.
I’d love to hear your plastic free parenting tips too! What are your best plastic free parenting hacks? Are there things you can’t live without?
Founder of Plastic Free Baby