Everything you Need on your Green Registry for Carrying the Baby and Toys

by - Tuesday, October 03, 2017

This is the fourth part of the Earth-Friendly and American-Made Baby Registry for all the mommas, daddies, guardians, grandparents, and loves ones out there who want to leave the world a little bit better for the tiny person they can't wait to meet.

Most people make their registry by finding a list online or in a store and checking off the items. Lots of parents do research on safety. This registry is asking you to take three steps towards that registry that will cut down on waste, put more money back into local and American businesses, send companies the message you will prioritize ethical labor practices, and save fossil fuels by minimizing shipping (if you have 100 things on your registry, and they all have to take a trip from Asia, how much gas does that needlessly use?). 

This list covers the final touches on many registries. If you have some baby showers in your future (don't we all?), these gifts might be the future parents' favorite. Or offer them a date night or a cleaning service if you really want to be a favorite.

You can point people to secondhand items by registering for items secondhand or even asking for secondhand items on your shower invitationEncore Baby Registry is an awesome baby registry where you can register for brand new and secondhand items in the same place. 

Are you going to have a perfect environmental impact free registry? Eh, probably not, but the goal isn't to be perfect. Let's all try to make some better choices and simple switches, and those smaller steps, taken by many, will have a huge impact on that beloved baby's world.

car seats

Car Seat 
Distraction Toys
Evenflo from Amazon

The Car Seat (new)

Our Pick- Evenflo
Other Options- Baby Trend and Safety First

Car seats really shouldn't be bought used (and you know it must be serious if I am telling you only new- I would buy almost anything used). You can't know the history of a car seat, whether it has been in a car accident, etc. If offered one by someone you trust, that is one thing, but you need to know the person well to consider it seriously. When it comes to something this important, just go ahead and buy it new. If you need extra bases or something, it might be alright to look into, but this one makes sense to go big on. There are a couple good made in America options for this, though I have yet to see any made with any recycled or recyclable materials.

Evenflo makes their  car seats in the US (from low to high price points too), and the convertible seats can actually last much longer than the infant car seat "system." This will last from 5 to 40 pounds. Sometimes, parents want that infant carrier (no judgement, we have one), but Evenflo's stationary systems will at least save you money in the short  term. This company is generally my pick That being said, some of Evenflo's Infant car seats are made in the US (not all), but the whole system (carrier, car seat base, and stroller) does seem to be made in China.

 If you want a Made in the USA option for a system you can take in and out of the car (it did help us because we live in rainy Seattle, but maybe not as much as we expected, and we are already shopping again for a car seat and stroller that can grow  with our baby more)- Baby Trend is my winner, because it comes with a stroller that the baby can grow into (minimizing how much you buy). It also has overwhelmingly positive reviews. Safety First also makes their Grow and Go carseat out of Ohio.

These three brands are your best bet, but you still have to keep an eye out- some are made in the US, and some aren't.

Car Seat Covers (used)

Our Pick- A Blanket
Other Options- Used and multi use ones

Good to keep out weather or sun, but a blanket and clips can work, or you can find covers used. We got a coupon for free ones that I think everyone has, so someone has to be willing to part with it. Honestly, I don't think we used ours enough for it to feel worth it. Plus, if you have a nursing scarf that stretches, it can fulfill the same purpose. They always have enough at the consignment store that I don't really get why anyone would get it new.

Some babies are more sensitive and really need the cover- if that is your bub, you have plenty of options. Multi-use ones make the most sense- Loved Littles and Kids n Such both work that way,  You could also go for something more stylish from Caden Lane Gifts or Oh Baby Fargo,  But really, used or a blanket will work just fine.

Distraction Aids (just wait)

They love to push car accessories for babies- special blankets, hangy toys, etc. You can see how your bubba does in the car before you strategize. Some babies love the car seat as a napping spot, other tiny people just hate it. You won't know who you've got until they get here, so don't prep for challenges you may not have. You have enough to worry about.

lugging the bubba

Hiking Carrier

One wrap and one carrier (new or used)

Our Pick- Solly Baby wraps  or Used
Other Options- TulaHappy WrapTekhni  and so many more

 For the first 8-10 months, we used our wraps and carriers ten times more than our strollers. Wraps and baby-wearing can be an incredibly hardcore enterprise, but like any environmentally-conscientious choice, you don't have to dive into the deep end to make waves. We didn't turn out to be hardcore baby wearers, but I would recommend it to any and all parents. You can wear your baby around the house or out on walks, it keeps them close, and you can use both hands. My philosophy is to minimize your baggage if you want to stay mobile, strollers don't encourage traveling light.

I will add, second time around, babywearing was EVEN MORE of a lifesaver. I still had my hands free for my toddler while lugging around our baby too. If you have never thought about it, or it still seems super granola to you, I am saying give it a second look.

If your heart is set on the two big mainstream carriers- Baby Bjorn or the Ergo, please get them used, You can find so easily in a baby consignment store or used online if you want one. You can also find ergo-similar carriers at a lot from some of the companies coming up (people have gushed to me about Tula carriers and they are made of natural fibers and no plastic). There is no need to get these new and they are made Elsewhere, so you can do better. If you can't find one used where you are, tell me, and I will go get one for you.

We loved our for the first few months (and it would last longer if your baby isn't a squirmy meatball like ours). The stretchiness helped us learn how to wrap, and it kept my hands free during the day while still getting constant cuddles. They also come in great designs and patterns, have mini ones for dollies (so cute) and sell swaddle blankets (if anyone has one, let me know how it is- this seems like a genius idea to me).

My wonderful friend Mindy babywraps like a boss, and she was able to give me all the details on wraps and carriers worth knowing about. She made the point that since babywearing is a deeply-rooted cultural practice, you can find great ones from around the world, but we will try to focus on ones that don't have to travel far. Be sure to poke through all the options before you decide for sure, and there are groups for babywearers that you could visit to get information and try lots of these.

Happy Wrap- Not as heavy as a Moby, with a little bit of stretch. It comes in lots of colors, which can be a little tougher to find in the Made in the US category, but these are beautiful and functional with lots of choices. Chimparoo is beloved (and Canadian-made, for you Baby Mounties out there) and that Tekhni is not only awesome, but made out of recycled post-consumer water bottles- my favorite thing! This is the one I am thinking of for Baby #2. Other options from Mindy- MJ baby Carriers (perfect alternative to the Ergo), Poe Wovens, Pavo, Golden Thread Mistress, Babyhawk,  Action Baby Carrier, Kinderpack, Cassiope Woven, Emmeline Textiles, Kokoskaa,  Cardbird Baby (some are 100% made in America, and some are America and China), Risaroo Wovens, and Maya Wrap's Premium Wovens

Hiking Carrier (used or new)

Our Pick- Tough Traveler

 This is obviously not for everyone, but we know lots of very active new parents, and a hiking carrier keeps them moving even with a very little one. I would absolutely recommend these baby carriers from Tough Traveler over anything else you will find on the market. Not only are they Made in the USA, they are also absolutely beloved by the people that use them.

Strollers (used)

Our Pick- Used
Other Options- Safety First system

If you can, absolutely get this used! You will be saving money and doing good. Strollers, in general, are not great news. We received a City Mini Baby Jogger stroller which we wanted partially because it was listed as "Made in America" and the box arrived with a big old "Made in China" right on it. So not great. It's a great stroller, so snatch it up if you see a used one (I see 3 open box right now), but that's a lot of money getting sent off elsewhere. Big bummer, really. I am still on the lookout for good options, but for now, I think used is best.

Safety First and Cosco brands still make some of their strollers (and car seats) in the US (though the parts are from a mix of places), so they are your best option from all the research I have done. That's it. How depressing! If you want an ethical stroller, your best bet is used or open box. If I find anything else, I promise I will pass the info along.


Outdoor Toys
Play Mats
Sensory Toys
Shape Sorter
Stuffed Toys
Things on Wheels

Alright, in toys, what you actually need in the first year really depends on your baby, but you will need at least 2 teethers, a play mat, some books, something that makes annoying noises (it's a rite of passage) and maybe three other things (everything they tell you about them liking the box better is true).

Don't feel pressured to get a lot.  Always err on the side of buying less or even nothing.

 I know I keep saying this, but your baby will not care about something you are sure is cool now. Boxes, Measuring Cups, and anything he isn't supposed to have are our baby's favorite toys. You really need 5 or 6 things tops for the first 6 months, and by then he or she should be able to show you what he or she finds interesting. And not to get all sentimental, but the thing he or she will most want to play with is you.


 They shouldn't be so beloved, but they are. Our house's favorite is the Green Toys set of keys, which are made of recycled plastic and are our gift to most of the babies we know. Not much is universal, but these keys seem to appeal to most tiny people. You can also get this set for a sure bet.

Outdoor Toys (used)

 My Nana got one of these Little Tikes Cars secondhand at least 15 years ago for her grandchildren, and it is still hard at work with her great granchildren now. Those plastic toys, mostly better for toddler than babies but people love to buy them early, last literally forever. So go check your Goodwill. Even if something is faded, you can repaint it for less money than buying one new (plus you can make it unique and fun), and save toys from the landfill.

If you have to buy something, many Little Tikes toys are made in America (not all of them are) and last from child to child (whereas Fisher Price are all imported and often come with parts that break). Even though they are made of plastic, these could be great if used by many children (which it will be; kids love that car)! They also have swings, kitchens, and water play tables. I will never recommend plastic toys new- you should and can do used, but if you HAVE to get something (or you have someone who wants to buy new things, because our parent's generation has weird hangups about this), always Little Tikes over Fisher Price, V Tech (just no), or Melissa and Doug nonsense.

Play Mats (used, Etsy)

 These are another one of those things that is great then totally useless in quick succession. If you can find one used and washable (and you probably can, because they really do run out of uses quickly), it's worth it.

If you want to get a new one, I recommend skipping the ones with a mat (it's just a blanket, and you have plenty of those) and getting something more eco-friendly, like a Finn and Emma arch. If I had it to do again, this is the route I would take. You would think babies would rather have the ones with lights and whistles, but I have seen at least half a dozen tiny ones sucked into the mesmerizing glory of simple wood toys hanging from an arch. They love it. If you see one that is used? Buy that sucker right away, and take yourself for ice cream These are pretty popular on Etsy right now, so you can find many options there as well- Alluring Co and Fawn Over Baby have some of the cutest ones while still being affordable.

I have seen ones with all sorts of bonus nonsense. Your kid does not care about that. If you do, ok, whatever, but your kid will not care.

You can also get a play rug made in America from Flagship Carpets if that is more what you have in mind.

Sensory Toys (new or make yourself)

 Small babies go through long periods where they mostly want to touch and grab. I like small sensory blankets like this one from Baby Jack (made by moms in Wisconsin!) or sensory cubes like this one. from Nel Quilts. If you are registering, gifting, or making something like this, it's in the same period where they can only see high contrast colors, so I would be sure to go vivid!

Shape Sorter (new)

  Babies love putting things into things, and then taking them out. Toddlers like figuring out shapes and testing. Shape sorters do the trick, but none are as great as this one from Maple Landmark. At our house, someone has been playing with this toy almost everyday for 2 years. A few have come through our house, but this one is EPICALLY awesome; great for figuring out shapes but also for the simple joy of stuffing a thing full of stuff. If you want a slam dunk toy for a tiny person, this is a great bet. If that isn't for you, check the one from Green Toys. Just don't buy from Melissa and Doug, because those guys are shisters.

Stuffed Toys (made, used, or new)

 Most of the favorites in our house are gifts from an aunt or uncle. We have a Tigger that was my brother's and a pikachu that was the Boy' sister's, and we love those. We also have a solid pile of beanie babies I still had, because I was sure they would be worth something? Whatever, they are valuable for hearing my son say "hippopotamus" now. The Bub was also given a used bunny doll from Ebay that is identical to the bunny I adored as a kid. You may think it is weird to give someone something used as a gift, but for this category, almost his whole collection is made up of meaningful gifts that meant something to someone he loved first. They are really special to us, much more so than anything bought at a store.

We have also had some kickass Goodwill finds- a Wall-E, an Elmo, and a Woody doll. Throw it in the wash and it is ready to go.

The Bub was also gifted two really adorable foxes by my cousin, and she made them herself! You can find tons of stuffed toy PDF's on Etsy, so you could do something amazing like this too.

Lastly, check out Bears for Humanity. This company assembles the bears in America (not as good as making them completely here, but once you start looking, stuffed animal pickings are slim), uses recycled polyfill, and gifts a bear to a kids charity for every bear they sell. They even employ Welfare to work participants, so you are helping someone in trouble have a job. One of my favorites and it makes for a sweet and ethical gift.

If you are looking for something specific, try Etsy. There are so many stuffed animal and doll options on that site. Will you pay more than at Walmart? Yes. But the toy will be well-made and made in America. Nothing in that Walmart toy section can boast that.

Teethers (new/ used)

 So many choices! This is designed to make it into your baby's mouth, so it is a good place to be a little more cautious.There are wood ones and silicon ones, I would get one of each beforehand, see what sticks, and maybe do another one if you have a hit on your hands.

 Our Pick for Silicone - Lifefactory Silicone Teethers- We kept ours in the freezer and gave it to the baby when teething really got him down. They are also dishwasher safe, so you can throw them in when needed. So nice.

Other options- Freaking Sophie the Giraffe is everywhere (even photobombing my holidays), so maybe you can start looking for her used or donated (she can be easily sanitized as well. She is made in France with all baby-friendly materials, and her design gives multiple gnawing options, making her a favorite of teethers everywhere. Seahorse Teethers  are so stinking cute, and I love the colors. They remind me of Lamaze toys, which you definitely won't see this list.You could also try a Wowie Star, Green Toys Twist Teether (I recommend the keys as well), and Begin Again's Green Ring Teether.

Our Pick for Wood Teethers-  Etsy has a lock on cool and unique wooden teethers, so if you are gifting, you can find something perfect for the bub you love there. Little Sapling Toys has the coolest designs (including state teethers!) and 13,000 glowing reviews. 13,000. I also think this teething ring from Honey Bee Toy and Craft is a spot on combination of sensory toys, high contrast somethings to stare at, and a classic teether. It's a big winner in my book.

Other Options- Manzanita Kids have tons of really fun and creative options, but they also have great reviews and a lot of sales, so you know you are getting something good.  I really wish we had a camera-shaped teether like this one from Keepsake Toys, Beckman Woodworks have little rings on them that would have kept our 8 month old busy for days (they also have jewelry teethers, which sounds crazy, but really works when you are out of the house with an antsy baby).This castle from Finn and Emma is basically my favorite thing that has ever existed. The Teething Fairy sells wood/silicone combos which look really cute. Paci Catcher sells adorable teethers with the clips so the baby can hold on to them, even when they can't.

Things on Wheels (new or used)

 One or two does the trick, but they sure are interesting to tiny people. My favorites? These animals on wheels from Green Toys and some little wooden cars from Holgate Toys (including this Daniel Tiger inspired trolley). Also, if you can find one used (you can) a push toy like a shopping cart is a great find.

odds and ends

Almost all of these don't qualify as needs, but they are a few things we have found that we loved along the way. Mostly they would make good gifts for the right family. 

Diaper Bag
Teething Necklace
White Noise

Baby's First Bible (new)

Jesus Storybook Bible- This children's Bible is both whimsical and beautiful- one of the best baby recommendations we were given. 

Books (new and used)

 You might feel a little silly reading to such tiny people, but it is well-proven to be great for those developping brains (you are also supposed to talk to them at all times, which I hated, so reading felt like a nice break. If you are gifting, I highly recommend gifting a subscription to Baby Bug- they are filled with tiny stories and poems that the parents might hate, but the baby will ask for as soon as they can ask, they also have great suggestions for caretakers on how to put the material to use, and they are printed in the US. They are also perfect for planes, because there is a lot of content but they are light and flexible for a diaper bag. My Aunt Joanna gifted The Bub this, and we may hate Kim and Carrots, but deep down we love them. Best gift ever. 

Other absolute favorites in our house for the first year? The Pout Pout Fish (the first time your baby tries to kiss the fish, you can write and thank me), Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Green Eggs and HamOh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Monster at the End of this BookFirst Word Books (I really like an Usborne one as well) and Mercer Mayer books. They are almost all available used on Amazon (you could buy this whole pile for like 10 dollars), though some are printed in the US (Yay Sandra Boyton!) and no matter what, it can be great to support the authors. This is one that depends on your priorities. 

Diaper Bag (new)

Our Pick- A Backpack (Oliday)
Other Options- Tom Bihnika bag totes, Christy Studio, or Precious Little Tot 

 If you already carry a big purse, it might work, otherwise it is time to get something that can handle your new job as both cow and pack mule. They often try to sell you super cutesy bags with monograms and a million pockets- this isn't really necessary, you are better off picking something you actually want to wear for 3 years, because you will get so much use out of this. Seriously, are you a grown person who loves Winnie the Pooh or pink chevron? Then skip it, and carry a grown up bag.

My best advice? Get a backpack. Not even one made specifically for diapers. It will be a long while before you don't need it with you, and in that time you will need your hands more and more. Plus, my big purse bag just whacks my toddler in the head now when we hold hands. I got a backpack for free on Buy Nothing, and used that for everyday life until it was busted. Then, I got an Oliday bag for a Christmas gift. We carry it every single day and everywhere. It was an awesome purchase, and I would recommend it to everybody.

Learn from my mistakes. I got a Kelly Moore bag, which doubles as a camera bag, but it is made in China, so maybe not a great choice ( they did assure me they have visited the factory multiple times and it stood up well to inspection, but I have heard that racket before from lots of people who don't get recommended here). Also, for the price, it hasn't really held up that well in the three years I've used it. It looks ROUGH. The most similar bags I found on Etsy were from Kith and Kin.

If you are looking for something sporty and gender neutral,  Tom Bihn has a bag I have heard raves  about. This  Ika Bag looks a little more unisex (though I love this striped one)- and they are from Paris, so you will be one chic momma). Christy Studio and Precious Little Tot also make thoughtful bags that would work past the diaper years.

A Fan (new or used)

  Keeping babies cool can be as tough as keeping them warm, so be sure to prepare for hot summers. This one, from Honeywell, was made from recycled materials in the USA.

Humidifier (new)

 The only ones I see that are made in America look like teapots. May be one, like the baby monitor, where not much exists but bad options. All the more reason to try to do better in nearly every other category!

from Style Hungry

Teething Jewels

Oh, the Bub loves his jewels, and the silicon beads make for an easily portable and clean-able toy when you are on the run, They really look cute too, so I may have them in 3 colors. You can also get wood/silicone ones on Etsy from stores like Style Hungry (love these), mint sunshine shop, My Sunshine Studio, and Babes and Babies.

 A White Noise Machine (just wait)

Many parents love their white noise (myself included), but you can download an app or album on your phone. One of the smaller ones might be good, but in general we haven't needed ours much, because we already have electronics that can play white noise. We ended up getting a simple kindle that we use for watching things (on airplanes only) and playing soothing music at night. Multi-purpose is the name of the game here.

We made it through! Be sure to check out the rest of the registry. If you want more shopping inspiration (lots more), visit my Giant List of Shopping Lists page!

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