An Earth-Friendly, American-Made Baby Registry- Pregnancy, Delivery, and the 4th Trimester

by - Thursday, July 14, 2016

Congratulations, you are going to spawn! When you get pregnant, it doesn't take long before you realize that having a baby takes a lot of stuff. A whole lot of stuff.

 If you are trying to be Earth-friendly, this can cause a real dilemma- you are about to get a whole bunch of items that you might only use for a month or two, and a lot of it is made cheaply (meaning some super sketchy labor policies, non-recyclable materials, all sorts of nonsense). If you are trying to encourage American labor, this can be tricky as well, since most major baby clothing brands are made elsewhere. This is the bad news.

The good news is that it can be done! Welcome to the Earth-Friendly and American-Made Baby Registry.

I wish I had realized how many possibilities there are when we made our registry, so this is what I have learned along the way. I will also try to mention products I have really loved, because I know I looked for that when I was perusing mommy blogs to make our registry. Not everything will be perfect, but you can make many choices in baby preparation that do a little bit for the world before your baby even gets here! 

The first huge step you can take toward buying ethically for your baby is when you are planning his or her space and making your registry. You can't control everything that your family and friends buy you for your future spawn (you will get at least one onesie with "Mommy's future ballerina" or "Future Slugger" on it. I am sorry, but we all live through it), but you can try to be strategic about what you ask for. First, think about how you group what you need: 

1. Can you re-use something else to fill that purpose? Old shelves might work for toys or an old dresser for a changing table with a little creativity and a fresh coat of paint. Think creatively about your nursery, because you may have a lot of what you need already.

2. Can I buy it (or be gifted it) used? This is HUGE for clothes. Baby consignment stores are relatively easy to find, and there are usually sizable collections of baby clothes at Goodwill and the like. Gifting economies (like the Buy Nothing Project) have baby clothes up for grabs almost everyday. You can't stop other people, but you can commit to cutting out most new clothes from your own purchases. We can talk more about this later.

 Go see your local consignment places first, because you may be surprised. We got our changing pads there, as well as blankets (those Aden and Anais ones that people love, as well as the little ones with animal heads, which are great but super creepy), toys, and books. Join your Buy Nothing Project (or start one!)- we have already lent out a swing and a bouncer (both of which are absolutely essential for about 5 minutes, and then you never use it again). 

3. Can I find it made in the USA or out of Sustainable materials? Your priorities are your own, but I will try to give you a heads up on some of the products and companies that are more ethical and responsible.

4. Can I find it Open Box? You can also usually find "Open Box" versions on many of the big baby products on Amazon, meaning someone returned it almost immediately, but everything is in place. Once you are filling those gaps in your registry, this can be a Godsend, because they are always cheaper and it keeps the world from being filled with stuff people aren't using. 

So, if you have a dresser that you can use for a changing table, don't register for a changing table! And if you find a good baby bathtub in a consignment store, don't register for that either! Without further ado, these are some of the good options we found (and I will try to at least mention other ethical, green, or American-made products and you can report back if you liked them):

The first step for many (though not all) of us, most of which happens before you even start your baby wishlist, is taking care of yourself, before, during, and after that big day where a bunch of strangers hang out around your business (ah, the memories). This can get overlooked, but let's take a minute and focus on that, because you do make a lot of little purchases, and they do matter.

while you are prego 

Baby Books (used)-  What to Expect is good to have, but you probably don't need to buy it fresh when there are hundreds of copies waiting to get love again (and I bet you will use websites and apps more). You could also check your local library for some of that wisdom. If you think something is particularly great- buy it! You can also get the digital version if you love trees, but also want to pay people for their intellectual contribution.

Belevation from Amazon
Belly Band (used)- The Ingrid and Isabel model is genius, but it is also imported. Check out your consignment store for these gems, because really, what else are people going to use them for? So you can find them in most baby consignment stores that sell maternity clothes or even thread up. A belly band and a hair band can keep you regular clothes lasting so much longer. Ingrid and Isabel's are now imported, so if you need to get one new, I recommend Belevation or My Bella Mama.

Belly Care (new)- The effectiveness of these things is pretty well-debated. but I loved the way it felt, and I made it through without stretch marks. Two of the brands I loved and used are made in the US; Burt's Bee's Mama Bee Belly Butter (I used this most days after the shower, and if nothing else it felt good and smelled great) and Mother's Special Blend (mostly after the fact).

Other Options- Bobbie's Belly and Body Balm, Best Nest Wellness, Nine Naturals, Midwife and Mum Belly Butter, Baby Belly Bar, Green Earth Naturals, Empire Squid, Wandering Mom Shop (this one looks especially great), and Earth Wise Skincare Co
from Neodesigner
Body Pillows, Support Bands and Ginger Pops (just wait)- As soon as you are pregnant, it's tempting to address all the crazy symptoms you might have. But you won't have all of them. In fact, most pregos don't even get most of them. Address your discomforts as they come! Your pregnancy will be all your own.

If you do decide one (or all) of these are needs, I have you covered. For a body pillow, I have used a giant stuffed fish, which I highly recommend, but if you can't find one (and you dont want to buy the Made in China Boppy pillows- why does a pillow ever need to be imported?)- NeodesignerLeachco, Coop Home Goods, SnugglePedic, Relax Home Life, Five Diamond Collection, and Millas World.

Support bands will supposedly help your back if you are having a lot of pain. You have a few Made in the USA options, though you might try a friend's first to see if it helps- Gabrialla, Bao Bei Maternity (for sports), Underworks, or Alpha Medical.

Ginger Pops can be a lifesaver for nausea, so it might be a good first stop before considering medication.Eco-friendly brands? Preggie Pops and Tummy Drops,

Clothing (mostly used, just a few pieces new)- Contrary to popular belief, many of us can go a pretty long time before calling in the maternity clothes. Also good to know is that most baby consignment stores have small maternity sections. The first time, I spent too much on clothes. This time, I mostly filled my closet with used clothes. Name brand stuff too! If you make your wardrobe with secondhand pieces, you can focus your money on key pieces.

My essential list for maternity clothing is pretty short- 1-2 pairs of jeans, 1 stretchy maxi skirt, 5 shirts, 2-3 casual dresses, 1 nice dress, and 3 pairs of leggings.

Where can you find solid, made in America pieces? Both Motherhood Maternity and A Pea in the Pod have Made in the USA filters so you can find things easily. Etsy has tons of t-shirt, robe, and maternity dress options, so it is worth looking there. Another great place to look is Pink Blush Maternity- not everything is made in the US (you have to check) but much of it is and they have extended sizes compared to lots of other places.

I like Bun Maternity's choices for ponchos and sweatshirts. Majamas sells all kinds of maternity pajamas.

-One Pair of Jeans- These pregnancy jeans were made in the US by AG Jeans, and are my favorite jeans I have ever owned. Writing this, I kind of miss these jeans. They seem expensive for maternity clothes, but they got constant use and stayed out the longest of all my maternity clothes.

To add, for my second time around, I bought another pair of American-made maternity jeans from J Brand, and they are still great but they are TIGHT. I would recommend sizing up for sure. These jeans I bought are expensive, but I wore that one pair of maternity jeans constantly (even past being pregnant), so it felt like a solid investment. If you just can't on jeans you won't wear long, go to a local baby consignment store- ours has so many you can ask to see more if you can't find ones you want. My best advice is to go stretchy and to make sure you know your preference about how much of your belly is covered.

- One Fancy DressThis dress was another huge winner which has since been passed around to prego neighbors. Nothing should be called flattering when you carry a giant cauldron on your front, but damn this dress is flattering. From Ingrid and Isabel (not everything is from China), and you can tell they know their way around a prego- slightly longer but flowy sleeves, empire waist, and a great view of some oversized nunjas.

This year, I bought three casual dresses used, but I did splurge on one Rachel Pally dress. This one isn't it, but I do love what I got (and it is made in the US). If you are going to splurge, you need to find things you feel genuinely beautiful in.

- A Few Versatile Pieces- Say it with me- Maxi dress. You can buy a few pieces that give you space in that first trimester that will stretch as you grow and make for good wear when the baby comes. I love a good Made in America maxi from Modcloth. I have the Breezy Night Stroll dress, but you do what works for you.

-Some Shapewear- This sounds like a joke, but it is nice to have some things that hold you in. For me, I just wanted something to keep my giant prego thighs separate so I could still walk everywhere. Belevation has great options, and they are all made here.

Nursing Bras (new) - You think this is something to worry about late in pregnancy, but as soon as you are thinking "bigger bra" you should think about getting really supportive nursing bras with clasps. Rather than buying two sets of not great bras, buy one set of really supportive bras (because your boobs have it so hard anyway).  I would recommend Bella Materna. Most of their stuff is made in America, and they have a stellar  reputation and customer service.

Also, people talk about "sleeping bras" or soft bras which look like a sports bra. Actually, what it reminds me of is a starter bra. I think they are too wimpy for the task at hand. Here is a US-made one from Belly Bandit in case it turns out to be just what you need, but I wouldn't recommend them.

Did I mention you can get almost everything you need used? Do that. Check Thred Up if you don't have any consignment nearby! Don't waste a bunch of money on clothes you will only wear for a few months! But it also isn't the time to buy junk that will make it straight to the landfill. You don't want your baby's world to be a giant landfill.

Prenatal Vitamins (new)- Yep, you need them. Check the bottle and get them in bulk (if you plan to breastfeed, you have a long run with those horse pills). Beyond that, my best advice

Workout DVDs- You can buy some of the gems (my favorite is Summer Sanders and her sister in law- on sale for 1 cent). There are plenty of options, just be sure to check the Used section.

what to bring to the hospital

We way overpacked for the hospital and then my husband just kept forgetting our bag in the car. So we spent all but the last day with just a third of what we had planned. The point of this is, you will need less than you think. The bub spent his first two days diaper only, and you don't want to miss any good skin to skin time. I wouldn't buy anything specifically for this time unless you think you would use it again.

We got our packing list here, which includes genius things like a phone charger (you will be sitting in bed a lot). I would add your camera charger, a surprise bag for your partner, and flip flops for the shower (bring socks too! hospitals are cold).

I am not going to do too much for these, but I do want to point out that there isn't anything on this shopping list (like so many others) that you can't buy with ethical materials or Made in the US.

from Ginger Lous
A Going Home Outfit (new)- Last time, we used a newborn outfit gifted to us. I think Carter's made it. Now, I am planning on going big and getting something on Etsy, since it is literally the only newborn thing I am buying. Etsy has so many stores that sell just this kind of adorable thing to browse through- Monroe's House, Jolie and June, Ginger Lous, Little Beans, Baby Nell, Gigi and Max, The Southern Closet 101, and Maine Girl Creations.

One Swaddle Blanket (used)- I have talked about swaddle blankets on my Don't Buy Aden and Anais post, and I will talk about it more later in the registry. You can find used Aden and Anais blankets in pretty good condition at many kid's consignment stores, so if you are feeling like you have to be in on the trend, do it that way. My quick suggestion is one Snug Bug muslin blanket to practice, but they will have lots of blankets at the hospital for you.

from Bliss Joy Bull

Toiletry Bag, Shower, and/ or Make Up Bag (wait)- Do you have any of these already? Then they will work just fine. I also think you overestimate how much you will be sprucing in those first few days. I must have showered, but I don't remember it, and it would have been a rinse off. Bring the toiletries you can't live without, but you don't need tons of make up or gussing tools. A few options if you don't have the bags you need- Bliss Joy Bull,  Jack and Mulligan, Dana Herbert, The Club Bag, Purifyou reusable mesh bags, Gracie Designs, and Needle and Oak.

Shampoo and Conditioner Bottles (new)- Never buy those little travel-sized shampoos! Are you crazy!? It's just waste. If you want something that size, try a cool reusable bottle like these from Moyo Natural Labs (my new favorites). I have these GoToob ones, and they need to travel in their own biobag, but otherwise, they are awesome and waste-free. You can use the same ones for a long, long time and keep tons of "travel-sized" waste out of landfills.

Toothbrush (you have it)- Ok, you have one of these already. I get that. But if you are ready to make an eco-friendly change (and this is a perfect opportunity- almost all toothbrushes are fresh plastic and made in China), try a recycled plastic toothbrush from Preserve or a bamboo toothbrush.

Hairbrush (you have it)- I feel confident if you need one, one already lives in your home, but if you are looking to replace there are made in America and eco-friendly options.

Moisturizer and Face Wash (you have it)- If these things matter to you, you already have these products (and probably some failed experiments) at home. We have been trying to find natural and made in America face wash we love, and so far I think Avalon Organics is winning. For moisturizer, we have stuck with Aveeno's moisturizer and sunscreen combo; it's made in Canada, and it has served us well for so many years I can't talk The Boy out of it.

2 Maxi Dresses (new/used)- Look up! Already covered this. If you are trying to breastfeed, bring something you can get a boob out of easily. Otherwise, whatever you already have in maternity clothes will be perfect.

One Cardigan (you have it)- Just bring something you already have at home. It's just to stay warm if the maxi dress isn't cutting it!

One Nursing Tank/ Pajama (new/used)- I covered this in the pregnancy section, and honestly, this is only if you are a pajama pants and top kind of girl. At least for me, I was still in a hospital gown most of the time, so I just wore a pair of old pajama shorts underneath. Nothing fancy or special. You know which of your business you feel alright having out.

Phone Charger (you have it)- Ack, alright, there is one thing you can't buy Made in the USA. As soon as they make a smart phone in the US, I will be all over it.

Camera Charger (you have it)- Yeah, yeah. Same story. For the record, electronics are the worst. You can sometimes find something refurbished, but otherwise, no really good options exist.

Socks (maybe 1 pair new?) - I wore a pair of fox socks in the hospital with the Bub, and I feel like homey socks makes the cold hospital seem a little better. The bad news is that Sock it to Me and Hot Sox are both imported, so if you want to cut down on unecessary shipping, you have to get more creative looking for novelty socks. My current favorites are Solmate Socks- they are made in the US with recycled yarn, and I love that they intentionally don't match! We have some for the Bub, and we get way more compliments than you might expect.

Other Options- For Bare Feet make their (fishy!) socks in Indiana. Wheelhouse makes novelty socks here in the States, though seemingly only of cats. Sockwell makes their socks in the US, and they even have gradual compression socks, which will be great if you swell or have a c-section (this might be my pick this time). Mad Sports Socks and World's Softest sell US-made socks as well.

fourth trimester

Nursing Pads (new)- You will see lots of these one time use, disposable nursing pads AND IT MAKES NO SENSE. What evil villain convinced us that this was something to throw away? So much garbage (and wasted money)  They wash up just like anything else in your laundry and are perfectly reusable. This one is more than a little annoying. My pick? Love your Reusables are organic, made in America, and around the same price as a box of the the disposables (but they will last for much longer). If you want to register for something more fun, I think Marley's Monsters has adorable designs to really spice up those nipples (I kid, but not really).

Other Options- NuAngel, Baby Kicks, Loveybums, Baby Greeters, Prarie Love Organic, Soft and Scrubby, and Greening Boutique.

Nursing Pajamas (used or new)- It is probably fine to get used, but these aren't something I have noticed in stores. You probably don't need a ton (2 or 3 at the most), but it is nice to not have to fight the battle of getting your nunjas out early on when they already hurt. Majamas are made in the USA and have glowing reviews.

Nursing Tank (used or new)-  Tanks with snaps were a big part of my nursing mainstay. You could do a button up and easily stay mostly covered. You can sometimes find them in Maternity sections in consignment stores, but in general, your best bet is probably to get an American-made version. I really like this ruffled one from Shop Pretty Girl- perfect for summer. This one from Preggers Maternity is also a support tank.

Post-partum Belly Wrap (new)- I didn't find these particularly helpful after my c-section, but some people do swear by them, especially helping them refind their shape and accelerate healing. I may not have been committed enough to wearing it, but I didn't mind wearing my Belly Bandit. Belly Bandits are one of the most loved versions of this idea, and they are Made in the USA! This one looks even better because it is made from bamboo. Bellefit are also (mostly?) made in America. 

Sanitary Pads and Panty Liners (new)- This blog has never touched on this, but pads and panty liners, like diapers make a whole lot of waste and aren't very eco-friendly at all. Best case scenario, we would all use reusable ones all the time, but I can't imagine being ok with my mother or mother-in-law having to deal with that mess while I recovered post-birth. If you are doing all your own laundry, maybe that would work for you, but let's look at some other options too.

Organyc makes organic cotton pads that are biodegradable and much kinder to the wearer than the bleached things we all grew up with. Maybe not perfect for regular shopping, but worth it post-partum? Natratouch also has all-cotton pads (so biodegradable and healthy), and their cotton is even grown in the United States. Honestly, Seventh Generation's offering is pretty freaking lame, and it looks like they aren't even made in the US, but it is still better than plastic-lined and chlorine soaked panty liners that mainstream brands schlep. Veeda liners look a little better.

Alright! Be on the look out for Part 2 next week and please leave comments if there are things I should add! It can be tough to do all this research as 1 person, but if we share our ideas, I think we can make a big difference!

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