An Earth-Friendly, Made In America Baby Registry- Part 2- Dressing, Diapering, and Bathing your Baby

by - Friday, July 22, 2016

picture taken by Jenny Bickel Photography
You are having a baby or celebrating someone who is! That's awesome! When you are looking down the barrel at so much cuteness. Serious cuteness. Teeny Tiny cuteness. It can be easy to only focus on the cuteness.

I get that, but there might be something more important to worry about.

So much of the baby goods we register for is having a profoundly negative effect on our world. It creates (literal) tons of waste, garbage that will add toxicity to the land and water. This may seem like no big deal at first, but if you love that tiny bub enough to be excited for their cuteness, are you really ok with their food being poisoned? Me either. And this is just the beginning.

The VAST majority of the clothes made for tiny people are made in China (I am looking at you, Carter's and Gerber), so they are wasting massive amounts of fossil fuels with shipping AND other human beings are working in deplorable conditions so you can buy that super cute onesie for a dollar less.

I could keep going, but let's get to the good news. So many companies are recognizing these problems, so better options exist for almost every item on your registry list. Even better news? If all new parents switched even a quarter of their registry items over (and cut the plastic- trust me, you will want to when you realize how bad plastics are for your kid), they can make the world a considerably greater place for their little ones!

We aren't powerless, and this is the perfect opportunity to make a difference. I know I wish I had done more, and you can learn from my mistakes. This is the second part of the Made in America and Eco-Friendly Baby Registry, filled with information on how to avoid what we did wrong. If you want to look at the list of just links, check here.

There are three key steps to transforming your approach to your registry:

1. Get Less- Oh, the things people will tell you that you need. It can be tempting to take all advice, because first time parenthood is means you have no idea what the hell you are doing. Trust me from the other side, you need less than you think. Take advice with a grain of salt and talk to some parents who are still new to the game. Also, reuse what you already have! Do you need washclothes if you already have soft ones?

2. Get Things Used- There are tools that will be absolutely essential in your life for about a month (like a swing) and then you will never need them again. All those Fisher Price Rock n Plays or Swings have such a short life with each baby, so they are still in great condition. Join a Buy Nothing Group and get in touch with the other moms (you can also hand your stuff off when you are done with it to keep your house from cluttering up). Check out kids consignment stores. If you aren't buying the majority of your kids' clothes in consignment, you are wasting your money and sending that much more to the landfills. Save money, save the Earth, get your baby stuff used (you can even state this preference on your baby shower invite).

3. Get it Made in the USA- Most mainstream stores (think Babies R Us) won't make this information readily available, because it will show their shortcomings and lack of ethics. But I have done all the research for you. Check out these companies while you do your research, and switch these items over to something that uses less fossil fuels, takes care of the economy your child will inherit from you, and is made with higher labor and environmental standards.

You can do this! Let's get started on Part 2.


what to dress your baby in


When all is said and done, you need 3 or 4 newborn sleepers in season appropriate fabrics and a bunch of onesies. After that, each size depends a lot on the frequency you do laundry and the season/ climate you are in. This link gives you a quiz that can give you an itemized list of what clothes you need based on when your baby is coming. We will split it up another way:

Key Pieces (2-3 for every size)
Basics (sleepers, onesies, pants, and socks)
Shoes

2-3 Pieces per Size you LOVE- My basic estimate is that about 80-90% of a baby's wardrobe in any size should be used. They go through it fast, so hand me downs and consignment finds are going to save the environment and your wallet. That being said, there is always something you have in mind you can't find in stores. One of my friends even requested people buy consignment on her shower invitation, which is pretty genius.

For those last few things, you can buy (or register for) American-made baby clothes to guarantee your child is wearing something ethically-made that isn't traveling crazy distances. You can find simple basics from companies like American Apparel or special pieces for holidays or to treasure forever on Etsy. Yes, people will mostly buy you other things, but you can at least try to direct them to things you will actually love (see: animal onesie that says "I love mommy" I know thats what you want).

There are a few American companies- American Apparel and City Threads (on Amazon too)- that sell baby basics that are adorable and no more expensive than Carter's or other mainstream baby companies that make their clothes far away with unethical labor. I just bought City Threads t shirts for the Bub and they look so good, and he has been wearing American Apparel onesies and hoodies for most of his life. Both are awesome and hold up well to baby use.

Bamboosa also sells some very simple pieces, so their prices are still (relatively) low. And they are going to feel amazing because of what they're made of. There are also some options on Amazon, like these Fluffy co. onesies or these ones from Catfish Designs- they might make a cool gift!

You can find 100% made in America baby clothes on Etsy, which would make for a great gift or splurge. I love so much on this site, so you should really browse on your own, but here are my favorites we have bought for our kids. Is it as cheap as buying Carter's? No, not always, but they make great gifts and paired with a consignment wardrobe, you will still come out on top.


My favorites, which are in that sweet spot between special and usable, are the organic cotton baby leggings from Lola and Stella. I also love the onesies and rompers from Jolie and June. I am looking at coming home outfits a lot lately, and I love these get ups from Little Beans Baby Shop. I also have found this is a great opportunity to support makers in the US who are actively trying to do the right thing by our kids and the environment- my favorites are Honest Elements and Urban Earth Co. I have bought clothing from both stores and found them to be especially wonderful.

Preemies often get left out of these things, but Preemie-yums sells clothes specifically for the under 6 pound set.
from Jenny GG- all clothes in this picture are used


Most Everything Else (used) Soon after having the baby, I realized it is a fools game to ever buy a onesie for more than 5 dollars at a consignment shop. Baby clothes are tough, because no one wants to spend 50 dollars on something that will be worn a few times, but we also don't want someone else's child to be making our child's clothes, right? It's a tricky line to tread.

When the bub was 8 months old, I would guess about 50-60% of his wardrobe has been gifts (maybe 2 things we specifically asked for?), 35% we have bought secondhand or received through Buy Nothing, and that last 5- 10% have been things we specifically needed and couldn't find used (or we just loved). Now at 20 months, I would guess the ratio is about 85% used clothes, 10% made in America, and one gift pair of shoes and shorts from my mom which are neither. And not to toot our own horn, but our kid always looks cute. We have learned a lot, and we love saving money by switching up this strategy.

We bought Christmas pajamas used, swim clothes used, and tons of pajamas and onesies used. People are gifted these things and use them a hand full of times. You can do this too!

From the Wee Little Piggies
Baby Shoes (wait) - This pains me to say, because I love them, but most of the baby shoes I have bought weren't used enough to justify the purchase. My best advice is to only buy things with velcro closures. We only used them in cool weather, so if it is hot, I recommend no shoes, as much as it hurts my heart. If you want a couple of pairs, I suggest looking in consignment stores (so many cute ones, and before they walk you don't have to worry about use at all).

 If you want something really special, Etsy has you covered- Clam FeetStitches and SolesCady and JaxCharlee Oh Creations (from Alaska), Little KMDWild ExplorersWren's Nest Baby Shoes and Bitsy Blossom (has toddler stuff too), Simply DanikaThe Wee Little PiggiesWoolbyLil Sweetie PiesWinter PeachOgres by JamMarley OceanMis Mar DesignRaspberriezAll Things for BabyBB Love Booties, and Pitter Patter Baby Shoes,


diapering

The big question in diapering is whether you are using disposable or reusable cloth diapers. Before having the baby, I couldn't imagine doing cloth diapers, because that is literally too much shit to deal with. Now, we are working on switching over for when we are home, because you make a whole lot of waste in a baby's diapered-time with disposable diapers. Plus, and I don't want to scare you, but the poop is unavoidable, no matter how you package it.

That being said, no judgement. This isn't about us all moving to the woods barefoot and eating roots, it's about making a once radical lifestyle part of our everyday lives. The idea here isn't that you get everything perfectly right.

 I am not particularly granola myself, and I am not sure I even have great information for you on cloth diapers yet, because I am still collecting the info myself. So I will write a separate blog on that once I know better, and just direct you to the best of what I know so far. Even if we don't get it perfect, just trying to do better might make the world a little cleaner for these babies we love. No one is going to have a perfectly green registry, but if we all make some switches, the impact will add up.

Diaper Caddy
Bumper Care
Changing Mats and Covers
Diapers
Changing Pad Liners
Diaper Pail
Travel Changing Mat
Wet Bags
Wipes
Wipe Warmer

from Pom Pom Fringe
A Basket or Caddy to hold this stuff in (you may have it/ new)- it needs a place, or it will take over. That being said, lots of things will be hanging off types of deals, and I don't often see those still in use after long. Equally crazypants are caddies made specifically to hold diapers- what are you going to do with that when it is done? That being said, if you have something like that in mind, let me suggest Yoon 1206 Greene.

So what would I recommend? A Basket. Just normal baskets in any place you keep diapers. We have mostly cleaned out catch all storage baskets already in our house and used them for diapers. And when diapers are over, they will find another life as something else. Skip the cutesy nonsense and just get something that already makes sense in your house (and maybe already exists there).

Need a basket? I love these woven baskets from Colonial Mills, but they are definitely expensive enough that you want to pick one in colors that you can use forever. You can also find lots of simple fabric baskets on Etsy that would do the job perfectly. I think my favorite are these colored baskets- nothing too fancy, but hand woven in the States and you can get whatever colors make sense for you.  Jennifer Helene Home has a simple set that could cover any room in the house where you might need diapers. If you want something more sophisticated (see: expensive) try Sampson and James or (more reasonable) Pom Pom Fringe. Cost effective and multi-use, little square fabric baskets from the Basket Garden might make the most sense for keeping them clean and using them long term.

Bumper Care (new)- You can get through with minor incidents, but there will still be incidents. Bourdeaux's Butt Paste- I guess if you could get this used, maybe that is fine? But this version is organic and does the trick in a day or two.One of those things parents will bring up at parties and everyone agrees it is awesome (weirdly, this has happened). Also smells pretty good, which is a feat in itself. For more basic everyday use, try Burt's Baby Bee All Purpose Ointment.

from Woolf with Me
Changing Mats and Covers (used)- I have never not seen these at our consignment store and they can be tough to find made in the USA- Oeuf has the only one I have seen, and it does look awesome (environmentally friendly and Made in the US both), but expensive for something designed to hold explosive poop. In the last year, LA Baby have started making changing pads in the US as well for much more competitive prices, but their materials aren't nearly as eco-friendly, and some of them are imported. Colgate makes theirs stateside too now. I love seeing areas that are getting more US-made products!

 If you want everything looking good (which I get, I am like that too), you can still get the mat used and use the money you save to get a cool cover on Etsy. Just think, these mats are in use for a relatively short time, and they almost always have a cover on them, so much like a pillow or mattress, what they look like inside doesn't matter much. Buy a ten dollar used pad and then a really nice couple of covers (you only need 2) on Etsy and you will be set.

My favorite changing mat covers are from Carousel Designs. They are made in America, and in the last year they have moved onto Amazon (though I still suggest you check their website, this sure is nice for the registry. Luxe Basics and New Arrivals sell options on Amazon as well. And then there is Etsy, which has way more options than I can cover here, so search what you are looking for and turn that United States filter on. If you do want to browse, here are my favorites: Lou Lou MadeLove Lila AnnWoolf with MeNoni and VMadly WishThree Wishes Bedding CoFinley BabyFern Leslie BabyMod FoxKarolina Designs, and Caden Lane Baby Bedding.

Changing Pad Liners (new)- Ok, this may sound like overkill, but we just bought  four of these liners and switched them out every time there was a blow out. It kept laundry moving and we are using the same (ONE, we only bought one) changing pad cover stain-free. These Healthy Baby Ideas ones would also make a perfectly fine travel pad if you didn't want so many things.
from Polish Prince Diapers
Diapers (new if disposable, new/used mix if reusable)- Again, how you approach this depends entirely on what route you want to take.

If you are using disposable, my advice is to sign up for Amazon Mom (it's a dumb name- my husband is on it for us) and order diapers only a step ahead, because they do grow faster than you expect. Have a couple brands in Newborn and see what fits your baby and you, then have one box a size ahead in case they grow overnight.

Diaper brands are trying to be more recyclable/ biodegradable, but honestly they aren't there yet. That's why the reusable route is the only real green option for diapers. I recommend trying Seventh GenerationEarth's Best, and The Honest Company.

If you are going reusable, you have a couple options, but I suggest starting used. All of them are for sale at our consignment store and many of them have come up on Buy Nothing. Moral of the story- keep an eye out! Even if you are in a less eco-friendly culture, you might be surprised. Get on those mommy forums and ask around.

If you want reusable light, I recommend G Diapers which are less bulky under clothes and can use either disposable or reusable inserts. It's a larger investment upfront, but you will save so much money in the end.

For truly reusable, you have so many totally amazing, American-made options. They are expensive at first, but most fit from 8 to 35 lbs, so basically for two years. Think of all the boxes of diapers you won't be buying. Also, if the price is slowing you down, look into finding them used. You can find tons online and at kids' consignment stores. On Amazon, you can get Smart Bottoms (these look great, but pricey- so maybe a gift?) Jack and Jill diapers (with super sustainable bamboo and charcoal), Tiny TushBest Bottom, and Angelic Ware diapers. That being said, Etsy is the home of cloth diaperers everywhere, so you can find nearly infinite options there. Here is a tiny bite of your choices- LL Precious CreationsMelissa Makes, Polish Prince DiapersCounting the BlessingsElly Diapers (she has swim diapers too), EG ClothLittle BoppersCat and Wolf DesignsBa Ba BottomsOwl Be Green, and Greatest Joy Designs.  I am also really curious about Didy's, which seems like almost a start up to me, so if you get any of her stuff, please tell me about it!

Inserts come in as many varieties, so be sure to size your insert appropriately. You can look at the ones from Sprout and Best Bottoms (these have glowing reviews). Creekside Kids sells liners too, and they come with an almost excessive amount of Etsy love. Other options- Jane's NeedfulsShop Imperfectionista, and Vinyl Madness Mama.

As a side note, I also found this diaper washing contraption that is at least partially made in the US and might be a big help. I honestly have no idea.

A Diaper Pail- Ok, I am kidding myself here, because unless you get the Ubbi steel diaper pail, these things start to stink. No great solution here, but if you have a good idea- please share!

Travel Changing Mats (used)- We bought ours at a consignment store, which is perfect for a piece of cloth spefcifically for getting poop on. Seriously, even if you wouldn't regularly buy things used, a poop pad is not a bad place to start, because this is not a cute object. If you can't find a travel diaper mat in stores, you can find plenty on Etsy- Precious Little TotBlack Arrow Studioyoon 1 greene,  izy and doly, Life Made ChicSimple Grace Design, Daffodils n Dinosaurs, and Kthy's Kreations (these ones look spot on and extremely functional to me. If I needed one, this is what I would pick). and Whimsy for Wee.
Planet Wise from Amazon
Wet Bag (new)- Plastic diaper disposal bags only add insult to injury (not to mention they are a waste of money). Either find bags that biodegrade or use reusable/ washable wet bags. Whether you are doing reusable diapers or not, a wet bag, like this one from Petunia, can be a great investment (way better than wasting lots of ziploc bags), Planet Wise wet bags get a lot of praise for really working and keeping the mess off everything else in your diaper bag dry. You could also buy/register for a wet bag from Snuggy BabyWhimsy for WeeRykie B'sMod Mom ME, and Julian's Boutique.

from Creekside Kid
Wipes (new)- you again are most green using something you can throw in the wash, The only 100% biodegradable are Jackson Reece's, which are made in the UK (they also come in a lot of packaging). You can find about a million options for wipes (120 search pages) on Etsy, and they can last you so much longer than the one time use disposable ones. Creekside Kid comes out the big winner- they have over a thousand 5 star reviews and are very affordable, so I would start here. You can also try Lover of Life Designs (also almost a thousand positive reviews), Green Little Nest (even more beloved! Isn't it encouraging so many people are using reusable cloths for various purposes already?), Playtime and Parties, and Curly Monkey. Two reusable options on Amazon (in case the Etsy thing is harder to connect to your registry) are Oso Cozy and Baby Kicks.

Aleva Naturals are made of Bamboo and biodegrade in 21 days (but they are made in China)- we are going to try these, and I will let you know what I think.

That being said, there are more "organic" options- Seventh Generation's wipes claim to be green because you need fewer to do the job (you can also still buy them in bulk). Babyganics are also made in the USA out of mostly plant-based fibers. Waterwipes claims to be almost all water, but that is nonsense- what is the actual wipe made of? Kirkland wipes are made from 100% renewable materials. Burt's Bees are also made in the USA.

A Wipe Warmer (just wait)-People swore by their wipe warmer, but ours mostly just sat there (and slightly melted the furniture). It may be something to try if late night diapering isn't going well, but I would wait until there are complaints before you address them. They also aren't made in America at all, so if you want one, think about keeping an eye out for something used in consignment or Buy Nothing.



bathing, health, and skin care

Bath time is such a sweet time in our house, as long as you don't mind getting wet. Those tiny babies need a lot of extras to take care of their skin and health, so be sure to check consignment stores first. Anything you can get on this list used (and get clean), just get it used!

Baby Detergent
Baby Shampoos
Bath Toys
Bath Tub
Cradle Cap Brush
First Aid/Grooming Kit
Gripe Water
Nail Clippers
Snot Sucker
Thermometer
Toothbrush
Towels
Washcloth


Baby Detergent (new or handmade)- In the course of our toddler's life, I discovered The Simply Co Laundry detergent. It comes in a reusable glass container (so waste free), has three ingredients, and it works so well. Way better than I expected. Plus, with our super messy toddler, one jar has lasted us well over 4 months. Making your own detergent is probably the most eco and wallet friendly, but this comes in second for me.

We got 2 bottles of Seventh Generation detergent to get us started, in case we were dealing with allergies.

Also, your laundry is about to really keep you busy, and there are a lot of loads in your future. I recommend buying some dryer wool balls instead of using the wasteful one time use dryer sheets. My mother-in-law bought these for me as a birthday gift, and they get the job done again and again.

Baby Shampoo and Wash (new)- Our Pick- Noodle and Boo shampoo and head to toe wash. Smells great, works well, made in the US. Also, one bottle lasts a very long time when you wash tiny heads.

We received a big bottle of Johnson and Johnson's head to toe wash that lasted us at least 9 months (they say the origin is the USA on Amazon, but the bottles come from a mix of places. We also have used the Aveeno head to toe shampoo, which smelled really good and was listed as being made in Canada. One of the best options I have seen is Mommy's Bliss which is made in the USA, all organic, and packaged in a recycled bottle (huzzah!). That is what we will get when our gifts run out.

But there are myriad options here-  Earth Mama is an organic mix made out of Oregon, California Baby has natural ingredients and thoughtful packaging, Gaia organics is in calming lavender (it really helps some babies sleep) and helps with dry scalp,

Almost all of these companies also sell some form of baby lotion, which a lot people use. It gave our baby a rash, so we stopped, but if you want a little to start, I recommend poking around these companies. Noodle and Boo has a wide variety of baby care lotions and such, and they are both eco-friendly (recyclable packaging) and pretty socially responsible (no animal testing).

Green Toys from Amazon
Bath tools and toys (used)- Cups and strainers can help for getting them wet early on, and those might be available used, then you can definitely find bath toys used. We got a set of foam letter on Buy Nothing, and that is most of what he plays with. We do have one toy we love for play and (more practically) getting The Bub's hair wet- Green Toy's tug boat, made of all recycled plastics too! They sell all kinds of boats perfect for the bath, and we also let him play with their pots and pans in the tub, because he really likes pouring.

Want a rubber ducky? Celebriducks makes theirs in the US. If you want a teether that can have a second life as a bath toy, Wowie Stars might do the trick. Begin Again uses eco-friendly materials, but they are made in China, so it depends what your priorities are. My new favorite are these washcloth sea toys from Cozy Chipmunk- cute, useful, and easy to clean! That's a winner.

Bathtub (used)- Bathtubs are another thing that if you work ahead, you can find at consignment stores or on Buy Nothing. The Fisher Price ones are all made in China, but you can find one in stores if you keep an eye out. We loved ours because we could use it from infancy all the way into toddlerhood. That being said, before a year, I just brought him in the shower with me, so I am not sure how long they actually last. I think a sink works for a good chunk of time, but a bathtub might actually save you water (we have also taken our water out and use it to water plants, no joke).  Also, does anyone know of one made of recycled plastic? It seems like that should exist!

If you can't find a used one, there are some good new options. The Primo Eurobath is amazing, and we received it as a gift, but I only recommend it if you have a lot of space for storage, because it is quite large.

Cradle Cap Brush (just wait)- You won't know if you need this until that cap is out and showing its colors. If you do decide you need one, this one is made in the USA.

A First Aid/ Grooming Kit (new)- We really like ours from The First Years. Made in the US.

Gripe Water (just wait) can be a godsend, but it may not be needed. We used Wellements, which is made in the USA and is organic (I just wish they used less packaging).

 Nail Clippers (new or used)- I still find clipping nails slightly horrifying, but these clippers help my meaty fingers with the itty bitty baby nails.The fear of clipping just becomes less than the fear of their wolverine claws. These "No-Mes" clipper look even better, and you don't have the tiny nails popping around. If you could find those tiny clippers used, I say go for it.

Snot Sucker (new)- Nosefreida- You hear what it is, and you just think gross, but those baby noses don't clear themselves out.

A Thermometer (new)- Exgen is Made in the USA. You definitely need one that you can use on a forehead, because the other alternative is way worse.

Baby Banana from Amazon

Toothbrush (new)- By a year, our son loved to brush his teeth (all 7 of them) while we did, and it is good to establish it as a habit early on. I highly recommend these silicon banana toothbrushes; they are made in the US and are perfectly shaped for little mouths and little hands.

from Curly Monkey
Towels (new)- When they are really teeny, you want to have a soft towel to put their delicate skin in. At some point along the way (2 or 3 months?), you use a regular towel in a jam, and you realize that is fine too. Our pick (we got one of these this time)- Curly Monkey sells a simple (but good-sized) hooded towel with pretty trim. Simple and clean with just a little bit of fun, made in America, and eco-friendly materials.

The other big winner? Bamboosa simple hooded towel. Nothing too fussy, but really sweet, made in America, and they use bamboo! Our towel is almost 3 ft by 3 ft, and I recommend a bigger size like this to grow into. I generally advise against sets, but I do love this simple, pretty set from Cherub's BlanketSophia and Sam Organic also sells a simple and beautiful hooded towel, made in California.

Do you want one of the cutesy hooded towels with animals on them? Me too! I love the cutesiness. The ones you see at Target or on Amazon are all made in China- no good, but there are some exceptionally adorable options on Etsy. We bought a monster towel from Yikes Twins, and it is so cute (but maybe a little big to start with?). The cutest animals I have seen are from Wee Chateau- a perfect and excessively adorable option for a baby shower gift!

from Busy Bonnie Bee
 Washclothes (just wait)- These are always listed on registries. But they are washclothes. If you already have some you like, that is probably fine. You could get a washcloth puppet like these from Busy Bonnie Bee, and at least they fill two purposes. If you do want to get some, there are some great bamboo and organic options that were also made nearby-  Bamboosa baby  has some soft, bamboo-made, from the USA options. Cherub's Blanket has 100% cotton washclothes. Curly Monkey sells a pretty simple set, and Marley's Monsters has a bamboo option. You could also try RemiusablesCreated for BabiesGeorgia Threads, Lulu Woobies, or Color me Reckless.

There we go! Clothes, diapers, and everything you need for the bath. Just by switching out some of your registry, taking a different approach that can save waste, save you money, and actually be healthier for your little one. By switching out your registry that way, you can start making a positive impact on your baby's life before you even meet them!

Check out  Part One for all your pregnancy and delivery needs, or look at the whole Made in America Baby Registry to find lots of links, ideas, and eco-friendly goodies for every baby shower gift you could ever think of. Want to do some other environmentally-responsible shopping? Woot! Check out our Giant List of Shopping Lists for ideas you will love. 

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2 comments

  1. I've been collecting cloth diapers my entire pregnancy at consignment stores and garage sales! In fact, I just scored some great cloth diapers and a ton of inserts for $3 at a garage sale today! I also like to make my own :) I've been looking for a good place to get a wet bag. Thanks for the suggestions! This is a great post!

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's awesome and congrats on your coming bub! We do love our wet bag from Planetwise. It has never let us down. You are making a great world for your baby with all of that effort!

    ReplyDelete