Updated: Sep 4, 2020
Cloth nappies were our gateway to making some pretty big sustainable changes in our household. That’s not to say without cloth nappies we wouldn’t have made the changes, the world is a much different place now than it was in 2018, however, having H was certainly a catalyst.
I'm certainly not alone in this, in fact I've spoken to many people who changed their opinion on their environmental impact following the birth of a child. Fellow blogger Emma Reed also explores the differences in her choices, between becoming a parent the first vs the second time in her recent post.
Before I chose this title I had written 3 things I'd do differently if I were a first time Mum again, with a view of how I could have made more environmentally friendly back then, however as I worked through my list I realised I actually did a lot of my recommendations without realising they had such an eco impact! So here we go:
1. Accept hand me downs
I was one of the last of my friends to conceive and I have some very lovely friends. Some of these friends have finished having their babies and we were kindly gifted a cot, nursing chair and a stool and plenty of clothes (in fact we haven’t had to buy any clothes other than vests and socks).
2. Borrow, Borrow, Borrow
It wasn’t just my friends who had finished having their babies who were so generous, my friends who are between babies kindly lent us a number of essential and non-essential but handy to have items including:
Next to me crib
Baby Bjorn carrier
Tommee Tippee Electric Steriliser
More clothes, muslins and sleep bags
Most of the clothes we were gifted or loaned have now been passed on to other friends and then on again, meaning that many of these items are soon to be on their fourth baby, but they still look practically new (unlike toddlers, newborns make much less mess).
3. Buy pre-loved
Most baby items outlive the length of their requirement, this meaning you can also grab some amazing bargains by buying pre-loved, if you look in the right places you can even pick some bits up for free. See Stapo's Thrift Life Hacks for her top 5 baby items you should be buying second hand.
My favourite places to shop for pre-loved are Facebook Marketplace and Charity Shops, mainly because they are local so I don’t need to travel too far to collect the items. I have seen cots sell for around £20-50, jumperoos and bouncers for £20-40 and clothes for pennies. Most things wash up well, I bought a baby bouncer from Marketplace and when I picked it up it was filthy, but it was only £10 when they were usually going for £25+ and were £50+ brand new, I whipped the covers off popped it through the washing machine and it was as good as new again! That's the beauty of baby items - they are designed to be cleaned easily.
Don't forget you can always upcycle your finds, we bought a well loved solid wood changing table which would have been around £300 brand new, I sanded it down, re-painted it and my mum decoupaged some beautiful Peter Rabbit prints to make it a truly unique piece of furniture I now love.
Another option is Freecycle, if you have a board for your area this is a great tool where one mans trash is another’s treasure. The only rules with Freecycle is, it has to be free! We recently picked up a stroller from there, it was well loved but it still worked and suits what we need it for. Another benefit of this is you can also post Wanted ads, I’ve responded to a few looking for baby items and been more than happy to pass on some bits we don’t use anymore (it’s a great place for free toys too).
Buying nearly new has so many more benefits than the obvious sustainability and money saving ones I've indicated here, Me, Them and the Others has explored her 10 top reasons a blog post on her site.
Following the above three steps meant that the only big ticket item we needed to buy was the travel system. We bought a whole new system which in hindsight really wasn't necessary, we could have saved a lot of money buying a pre-loved buggy and then just a new car seat - you can get a top of the range buggy second hand for around £100 which would be in excess of £500 brand new. Alternatively, you could rent, Buggi - the UKs first buggy subscription service offer parents the opportunity to rent a buggy brand new for the time they need it, in between each rental the buggy is fully serviced and cleaned so it is like new when you receive it, allowing parents to hire a top of the range buggy for a small monthly fee.
The one thing you should always buy new if you can, because you cannot know if it has been in a car accident and if it has the seat can be compromised whilst still looking in perfect condition. It is better to buy a cheaper new car seat than a second hand one, as all car seats have to conform to strict safety guidelines, so what you are paying for is ease of use over additional safety.
It can seem that you need to buy everything brand new for your new baby and it’s fine if you want to, however it is also absolutely fine not to. As I've already said most of these items long outlive the children they are bought for, so share the love, give them that life, and when you’re finished pass them on to someone new.