Infant asleep with mother's hands around her face

The number of “list” blog posts circulating on the Internet is astounding and I told myself I would not write one.

However, I LOVE lists.

I just love them! I’m a sucker when it comes to clicking on those posts and taking in people’s perspectives of what they find to be important.

I have a number of friends who have their hands full with new little ones. It’s such a sweet and precious time, full of new beginnings and heart-tugging moments. It’s also one of the most crazy-making, mind-bending, heart-wrenching, and confusing times in life.

With a new little on comes a lot of “stuff,” much of which is to make the lives of the parents easier and the life of the baby happier. That’s really not always the case. I do whatever I can to keep a clutter-free house, but it’s incredible how fast “things” can start to pile up.

Here are the top 5 material items that can help out an environmentally-conscious mamma.

I realize that this is *my* opinion and other people’s top 5 list will be different.

Awesome diaper bag

There are so many helpful, beautiful, and utilitarian diaper bags on the market. I had my eye on a gorgeous mint green Asian brocade side-hanging diaper bag and was so happy to acquire it at the baby shower. My husband wasn’t as excited as I was about this gorgeous, feminine bag, unfortunately. When he was in charge of baby, he used an awesome plain, black backpack diaper bag. After a few months of transferring the main essentials from bag to bag, I realized that leaving important pieces of life in the other bag would happen too often. I know I’m not the only one to realize that my wallet was in the other diaper bag while trying to pay for a big shopping trip with a tired toddler in the cart! These little mini-breakdowns, taking place while sleep deprived, happened more often that I’d like to admit, so I gave in and started to use the plain backpack. The gorgeous green bag turned into our daughter’s overnight bag when visiting grandma. Everyone who uses the diaper bag needs to feel good about the style, so a plain black Skip Hop backpack bag worked best for both of us in the end.

Kid sleeping tent

We still wanted to keep some semblance of our “old life” after we had our first child. We wanted to be able to go to dinner or events at other people’s houses and stay past our kid’s bedtime if possible. We came across a little pup tent that our first child loved to sleep in while away from home. Once she was old enough to roll over and move her body safely (around 9 months, I think), we were able to throw up the tent when we were at friend’s houses and she’d be as cozy as ever in her little warm womb and we could enjoy spending time with loved ones after 8 pm. Having this piece of equipment was essential for us to feel connected to friends and gave us a little bit of the freedom that we craved. We kept it in our car (with other essentials, such as a book, a nightlight, and her favorite pillow) so that we could be spontaneous when we were out and about. Just that little bit of freedom and flexibility fed our souls at times!

Nose Frida

I have no doubt that this helpful item was NOT a favorite of our kids, but wow, was it helpful to these parents. It’s a long tube with a filter between two parts, and when you suck from one end, the air will pull the mucous from your kid’s nose, creating the possibility for her/him to breath during a cold. Most kids have an extreme dislike of this essential instrument, which makes complete sense. It’s really quite a surprise! But afterwards, it’s so nice to know that your kid has an open air passage through the nose – if only for a few minutes. If you want to know more about his funny piece of equipment, check out this funny youtube video.

Earthy-friendly diapers

After food and paper, diapers are America’s biggest landfill hogs. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, over 18 billion diapers are dumped into the garbage every year. I encourage everyone to purchase the most eco-friendly diapers as possible to decrease the impact on the planet. It’s not always easy, as eco-friendly diapers might not be readily available in your area or they might be out of the budget. I found that the ones we used (Nature Baby) to be incredibly sturdy, although a bit more pricey. They hold a lot of pee and we experienced minimal blow outs (TMI?). As a result, we used a smaller number of diapers throughout the week. Additionally, these are compostable by a service in the Bay Area called Earth Baby (but the diapers are not compostable in your curbside compost bin!) so the impact on the environment is less than most other brands. I know – this is really fun stuff to think about!

Honeysuckle breastmilk storage bags

I was lucky enough to be a major milk producer for my little ninas, for which I do feel quite grateful. Storing that precious liquid in conventional plastic bags made my stomach churn for two reasons. The first was that I wasn’t sure if chemicals from the bag would leach out into the milk. The second was that I absolutely hated putting those little bags into the landfill after just one use. I multiplied the number of bags I would need to use in a week/month/year, and then multiplied that by the number of new moms I knew who were doing the same thing. That’s A LOT of plastic to go into the landfill, to stay with us well into the lives of our future grandchildren. I was so happy to come across a brand of storage bags made by a small startup company called HoneySuckle. These bags are are recyclable, oxo-biodegradable, phthalate-free, BPA-free, and PVC-free. They break down when exposed to UV rays in 18 months. I never had an experience with a leaky bag, which would be a big disappointment after a session with the lovely breastpump.

There’s really only a handful of items you need for a new baby. However, the beliefs our society holds about convenience and happiness mix with clever marketing by huge corporations. They do everything possible to brainwash pregnant mammas into believing everyone needs a massive amount of stuff to be happy.

Next up – the top 5 NON-material things that new parents need to help make the transition from taking care of themselves to being responsible for a tiny living being easier.

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About The Author

Nikki Pava's picture

Nikki Pava is the author of Green Wisdom: A Guide for Anyone to Start, Engage and Energize a Sustainability Team. She is also the founder of Alegria Partners, a consulting firm that specializes in sustainability engagement initiatives for mission-driven companies.

Prior to her work at Alegria Partners, Nikki founded EcoTuesday, a national networking forum that facilitated vital connections and essential change in the business community. EcoTuesday hosted more than 300 events in 12 cities across the country and brought together hundreds of sustainability professionals, making a positive impact in each city.

Nikki holds an MBA in sustainable management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. She lives in an eco-community in Costa Rica and is currently writing a book about teams in businesses that focus on reaching their company’s climate change goals.

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