This page is also available in: Deutsch (German)
Tips for initial equipment and must-haves for babies abound. Everyone believes to have THE list for the basic needs of a newborn at hand.
But are so many things really necessary?
I want to look at the issue from the point of view of Zero Waste today, questioning a few basic must-haves .
Waste avoidance (Zero Waste or Less Waste)is an issue that is becoming increasingly important with a view to our future. Especially with babies, however, it is not so complicated and relatively easy to implement if one deals with it.
Zero Waste for babies is not about being perfect and not producing garbage.
It’s about reducing waste as much as possible, approaching the whole thing in a minimalistic way, pausing and remembering the basics.
Get out of the spiral of consumption! 😉
Why does my child wear plastic?
For me, the topic of baby and zero waste is very emotional. When that started, I can not say exactly. At some point at the end of the pregnancy with my son, I believe. Especially in a childbed.
I remember it very vividly when I had to give away my baby right after giving birth and after my son dozed on my breast for an hour. That wasn’t a problem, because I was finally allowed to have breakfast after that long long night and knew my child in good hands.
But when he came back, weighed, measured and examined, he had a diaper on.
Yes, a diaper. A Pampers.
I was shocked. Ok. I actually knew that it works like that, babies have diapers on, at least here in Germany. But seeing that at my just born, perfect little naked sweetheart confused me.
The first “garment” in his entire life was a plastic diaper?
By then, I already knew a few about EC and had also read about mineral oil and paraffins in Pamper’s diapers. And it was precisely at this point that I had a desire to stop using disposable diapers.
What does this have to do with Zero Waste at all?
Quite a lot! Disposable diapers of all kinds, which are not biodegradable, produce huge piles of rubbish that could be avoided!
Did you know that?
Source: Nicola Schmidt “artgerecht – Das andere Baby Buch” 
- The first disposable diaper dates back to the 1950s.
- A baby needs an average of 5000 disposable diapers or 1.5 tons of diaper waste.
- A disposable diaper takes 500 years to rot.
But with the diapers, it’s only just getting started. Especially in the baby industry, newer and more awesome disposable products are invented under the guise of simplicity, practicality and hygiene. From wet wipes to pacifiers to disposable bibs.
Since I blew my top again when I think about how the inexperience of many stressed mothers is being exploited, I have decided to write this article.
In this article, I want to show you what you don’t need at all, but what you are being persuaded by the whole world and what alternatives there are for one or the other product .
I want to help you reduce the rubbish around care, food, playing and living with your baby while saving money.
Finally, I tell you what you can even gain for yourself and your baby
This article contains advertising links. With qualified purchases via these links, I get a commission, so you do support my blog, but you do not pay anything extra.
Did you also walk through the baby departments before or during pregnancy and found everything so tiny and cute?
Especially if you were expecting a girl, you might barely passed the pink ribbons, shous and dresses.
This is quite normal, as in most women the nesting instinct when expecting a baby.
… with most … In my case, somehow not at all … I think my nesting instinct was broken …
Since I had no urge to buy baby stuff, I had almost owned only stuff from my sister-in-law and sister until birth. Used, sometimes even from a third hand. A small part was also new, gifts from relatives.
But the good thing was : Second-hand clothes , as you may already know, are a great choice , especially with babies and toddlers!
There are at least three good reasons for this:
- The clothing is already washed several times and free of the washable pollutants.
- The clothes are usually inexpensive or even free (e.g. from relatives)
- Especially in the small sizes there is a large selection of very well preserved clothes, as the small ones are not yet mobile and grow out of the cloth very quickly. The garments look partly like new.
In addition, any clothing that is not discarded but continues to be used is a good step to zero waste and to a clean environment. 🙂
Of course, I bought new things later. At the latest when the small ones are mobile and slipping around on their knees, you just don’t find so many used trousers in good condition anymore, because the wear and tear, especially with the guys, is quite large.
Even as I said, it is never a question of being perfect and dogmatic, but of doing your best. For me, every little step counts.
What you can do
Second-hand clothing is worth it for babies in any case due to the benefits mentioned.
Exchange platforms and suppliers of second-hand children’s clothing are widely available. For example, I like to buy on eBay, my sister-in-law loves local secondhand stores. In Germany there is platform called “Mamikreisel” for swapping and buying used clothes for babies.
Take a look around and choose what suits you.
2 Baby Carrier or Stroller
My most pointless and expensive purchase was our convertible stroller.
My son is now 14 months old. I had the stroller 5 times in use up to day … that’s about 120 dollars per trip!
I dealt endlessly with the topic of strollers during my pregnancy and picked out the most awesome and chicest test winner in the affordable price range. Only to find out a few weeks later that I prefer to carry my child very close with me.
The baby carrier and the baby wrap were a gift from my sister. The wrap was used, the carrier (a manduca) was new. Both for me as opposed to the stroller free of charge.
Even new, the baby carrier would have cost only about 1/8 of the price compared to the stroller at the time.
I am not against strollers in principle. Strollers, too, certainly have their advantages.
I spontaneously can not think of anyone right now … but … um … hm …;)
This failed purchase has shown me that sometimes you just have to sit and wait until you buy. If I had waited patiently until after the birth with the purchase, I would not have bought some baby things
In general, when it comes to the subject of initial equipment for babies, it is enough that you only buy larger purchases, such as bed, pushchairs, cradle, seesaw, etc., when the child is already there and you have the feeling that you really need it.
Had I only known this before.
At least I can spare you that now! 😉
Apart from my bad investment, a stroller has some drawbacks from a sustainability point of view.
When you buy new, like me, resources were wasted that were not produced sustainably and ecologically. In the worst case scenario, such a stroller was produced cheaply abroad and ends up at some point un-recycled on the garbage.
I will, of course, pass on or sell mine!
In addition to various metals, strollers are often made of plastic to a large extent. The covers are often made of plastic rather than natural alternatives. The microplastics from it eventually end up back in our ecosystem.
The Zero Waste variant, which is also the most sustainable, is the simple baby wrap made of natural materials, such as cotton.
With a baby wrap you get over the first few months, sometimes longer. By contrast, a stroller often covers only the first 6 months, depending on size. After that, a toddler seat is necessary.
In the case of baby carriers, you have to differentiate. Carriers that needs to be tied, such as the HOPPEDIZ Mei Tai carrying aid or the Bondolino comfort wear made from natural materials such as cotton or hemp are very environmentally friendly like baby wraps.
My carrying aid is from the brand Manduca and therefore with plastic buckles. However, the fabric is made of cotton and hemp and therefore safe. The plastic buckles, on the other hand, unfortunately produce garbage and therefore have little to do with zero waste.
Nevertheless, I love my Manduca and still use it every day! Thank you sister!
Despite small pieces of plastic, carrying aids are always preferable ecologically to a stroller, which is many times larger and therefore brings with it more artificial parts in purely weight.
What you can do
Wait with the purchase of a stroller, even if the nest-building instict makes the purchase irresistible! Try wearing it first when there are no physical limitations to you.
Carrying also has many other advantages, as you can read here: 10 tips for smarter children.
3 Breastfeeding instead of Baby Bottles
This point is of course only interesting for you, if you can breastfeed. But since most mothers are actually able to breastfeed, I now assume that you can! Go for it! 😉
With regard to Zero Waste, breastfeeding is, of course, at the top of the list. Nothing is additionally necessary here, nothing has to be bought for it, nothing has to be thrown away.
Child docks, milk flows, child docks off. Finished.
But if you have to use the bottle, it looks different. You need at least vials, suction attachment and milk substitutes from the supermarket.
If you have your own milk, the milk substitute is omitted. Then you may have a milk pump and additional vials or containers to freeze the milk.
Unfortunately, the selection is not too big. But I picked out some famous brands.
Breast pumps can be borrowed in the drug store or by the gynecologist or they can be bought used as an alternative to the new purchase.
The milk substitute food industry also has a colorful bouquet of other things every Mum desperately needs for the baby to grow and thrive.
You should always be alert and skeptical and ask yourself if you are just been persuaded to buy something or if you simply can do without it. Not everything “everyone” has and uses really has to fit for you.
What you can do
Breastfeeding is the optimal way to approach your baby’s nutrition as minimalistically as possible.
At first, I also used disposable nursing pads I thought that’s the way it was until I noticed that there was no milk leaking … Nobody is perfect!
Alternatively, there are pads made of bamboo or other natural materials for washing and reusing.
Even with vials and co. you can live Zero Waste or at least “Less Waste” by being vigilant in the choice of materials and not jumping on every new trend for vial warmers, bottle cleaners, suction attachments.
4 Breastfeeding Pillow
Breastfeeding pillows are actually a beautiful thing.
As a pregnant woman for better sleep and as a boundary so that the child does not fall out of bed.
But for breastfeeding? Are there really mothers among you who use a breastfeeding pillow for breastfeeding? Let me know, below in the comments!
I also had two breastfeeding pillows. One was a gift and the other was bought by myself. I didn’t use one of them for breastfeeding. There was always a normal pillow on the sofa. Just because the breastfeeding pillow was usually not where I was breastfeeding.
From an ecological point of view, breastfeeding pillows are often questionable because of their filling.
The most common materials are: Polyester, EPS beads, cotton and natural fillings such as spelled chaff, millet husks and buckwheat.
The most commonly used fillings, Styrofoam and EPS beads, are not biodegradable. It is worthwhile to take a closer look and to use grain or cotton instead.
But even the cover is not always ecological. Not all breastfeeding pillows are made of cotton, many are made of microfiber, which is also made of plastic. When washing, the abrasion then enters our drinking water as a microplastic.
I am aware, of course, that natural alternatives are often not so comfortable and easy to maintain . On the other hand, however, you do not know what all the artificial substances do with us, as there are still no meaningful long-term studies.
What you can do
As with the stroller, my recommendation : Wait until after birth with the purchase of a breastfeeding pillow,if you do not need it as a pregnant woman.
Do you get along well with your available pillows? Then you don’t need a breastfeeding pillow.
Otherwise, look closely at which materials the pillow is made of. Give natural materials a chance, they can be degradable and put less of a strain on the environment.
5 Cloth Diapers
It should be clear: Disposable diapers and Zero Waste are mutually exclusive. 😉
If that was not yet so aware, let it be said that the first diaper being produced is still lying around on some garbage dump, waiting in vain for its decomposition in case it wasn’t burned.
The whole diaper theme is a science in itself and contains material for many more blog articles. And especially with “material,” we are already at the topic.
As an alternative to the normal disposable diapers, I recommend using cloth diapers.
There are also eco diapers, of course, but I personally see more benefits in cloth diapers. Every single eco diaper is also produced, only to be used once and to end up in the trash afterwards.
Disposable products, as environmentally friendly as they appear, are and always will be disposable products.
Cloth diapers nowadays come in many different modern and practical variants, which bear little resemblance to the simple muslin nappies that were used by mum or grandma.
A nice and detailed introduction to the subject can be found on change-diapers.com.
But if this is not enough, you can combine cloth diapers with part-time EC (Elimination Communication). You can find a loads of information on godiaperfree.com:
The most environmentally friendly option is to completely switch to EC without diapers. While this is a challenge for our society, there are families in the US and Europe who are successfully practicing it. If you’re interested in that, ask if there are EC groups in your city.
What you can do
Especially the combination cloth diapers and EC, which means watching out for the baby’s signals and stopping over a vessel if necessary, has proven to be best for me and saves tons of waste.
You generally need fewer diapers, sometimes I only needed one for the night and the poo soon doesn’t go into the diaper anymore (my son has never had a “poo-explosion”).
Other advantages are the growing communication and closeness to the child and the absence of sore, pooped baby butts!
6 Wet Wipes
In addition to diapers, wet wipes are also a large garbage producer that can be easily avoided.
The important thing is to wrap the child where there is water.
For us it is a blessing to have the changing table in the bathroom next to the sink. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work for all parents, so it’s worth always having a bowl of water nearby.
Wet wipes can then be superbly replaced, at least at home, with washcloth .
But you can also take washcloth with you on the go. In most changing areas there are sinks and running water.
And if that is not the case, you can also make reusable wet wipes wonderfully yourself.
What you can do
Wet wipes are simple and convenient. But what is convenient is usually neither sustainable nor healthy for the baby.
If you want to do without waste and at the same time want to know what are the ingredients of your wet wipes, then you can easily make it yourself or fall back on the good old washcloth!
Baby’s bottom will thank you! 😀
7 Changing Pads
Changing pads are something where you can completely avoid waste without any trouble .
The first time I realized how much waste the throwaway changing pads produce was as I attended the PEKiP course with my son here in Germany.
If you do not know the term PEKiP: At PEKiP, mothers (mostly) come together with their babies and let them crawl around completely naked (or lie, depending on their level of development). The point here is to give the children the necessary freedom of movement through their missing clothes and diaper in order to experience their body and their motor skills.
Since the diaper is missing but most babies in the US and Europe are used to excreting in diapers, there are always small misses. Therefore, one uses changing pads on which the little ones are staying.
Most mothers bring the normal disposable changing pads and sometimes use up to two of these pads. That was the point I was a bit disappointed, because unfortunately in this group I was the only one with reusable waterproof changing pads.
The disposable changing pads have more disadvantages than advantages:
- They are not biodegradable (in most cases)
- They cost money, recurring
- You have to rebuy them all the time
- They produce waste
The alternative are, as described, waterproof changing pads, often referred to as mattress pads or mattress covers. These mostly consist of a large part of natural materials such as cotton and are easy to wash in the washing machine.
The advantages are obvious:
- Available with organic cotton (low-pollutant surface)
- Cheaper in the long term
- Later also reusable for potty training at night as a mattress pad.
- Also usable for the next child
- Available in different sizes and price ranges
You can often find very inexpensive variants in your local store.
What you can do
Give up disposable changing pads for the changing table or on the go. There are now good alternatives to the plastic pads.
Although most of the reusable pads still have a PUL core to keep out the wet, but you only buy them once, unlike disposables, and can use them for a long time.
I got three used by my sister and bought two more for myself. I’m getting along great with that. You don’t need more than three to five changing pads.
8 Baby Care
Similar to the wet wipes, the care products for babies are generally overrated. Again, there’s a huge range of creams, shampoos and lotions. Often, however, the products are perfumed and not always pollutant-free.
Even in products for babies that are clearly designated as unperfumed, perfumes are often included, as a certain proportion is allowed without separate labeling.
But let’s face it, what does a baby really need in the first year?
My son is now 14 months old and has only ever got to know water, coconut oil, some wool fat and Weleda Calendula every now and then.
I like to use coconut oil a lot. You have to make sure that it comes natively, cold-pressed and in BIO Quality.
For my son, I like to put a teaspoon in the bath water. It is important to know that coconut oil on its own tends to dry the skin out, so you should always use it with water, which makes the baby skin super soft.
This has long been known to midwives and they usually recommend using only natural oils (olive oil, coconut oil) and water for baby care.
Does your child have a lot of hair and you have to wash hair more often?
You can also safely skip shampoo. This has even reached the adults and triggered a #nopoo and #wateronly movement. Look for the terms on Pinterest, Google or Youtube!
Even with shampoo, water is enough, as children still have a reduced production of sebum until they reach puberty. I can advise from my own experience to natural products such as rye flour as a shampoo replacement.
What you can do
Avoid baby departments in supermarkets and trust in natural products that do not attack baby’s skin, but maintain the natural PH value.
Avoiding the traditional products of well-known manufacturers not only helps the environment but also your baby, its health and protects your wallet.
9 Baby Porridge and Pouches
Whenever I’m in the baby department of a supermarket, which I’m really rare in, the first thing that strikes me is the long shelf with the baby food.
The manufacturers of baby porridge have done a lot of work here. It is already so firmly inoculated in our consciousness that after 4 months you buy sweet little glasses and stuff sweet little plastic spoons of porridge into the sweet little mouths of our not yet sitting cute little babies.
I am very happy that many mothers are beginning to rethink and that terms like Baby Led Weaning are no longer foreign words to midwives either.
What was quite normal for millions of years has been thrown overboard in a matter of decades. Babies now had to be weaned at the age of 4 months so they were allowed to eat the ‘ better ‘ milk formula and ‘ more filling ‘ baby food.
I am very pleased that this is now taught less!
As you know, breastfeeding is the most sustainable and, in principle, does not produce rubbish. And what comes after breastfeeding?
Easy: Food. Eating at the family table.
Of course, there are always cases where mother and child need a special way and problems need to be solved. But most mothers can breastfeed until the child is ready to eat.
And this is rare before the 6th often but even only from the 8th month. And even if you start with baby food not before the 10th month, it’s still perfectly fine.
Eating with the family also strengthens the bond with the child, since the child is involved in normal family life from the beginning and does not need to be fed separately.
By not feeding your child, but letting him eat by himself, you support the independence and self-esteem of your child.
So what you don’t need is baby porridge, baby biscuits and, above all , no baby food in pouches!
Pouches are neither ecological nor sustainable and a trend that hopefully ebbs back. Fruit is fresh and healthier and quickly crushed with the fork without the child having to nuckle at a plastic plug.
What you can do
Long breastfeeding and waiting for your child to really be ready to eat is worth double.
Breastfeeding strengthens the immune system of your little sweetheart sustainably and the renunciation of baby food and pouches protects the environment and reduces garbage.
Yeay, another of my favorite topics 😉
In addition to diapers, porridge and vials, the pacifier lines up as an overrated must-have for babies.
Again, the image of the peacefully nuckling baby with pacifier lying in the stroller has been burned into our consciousness.
Nature has invented something wonderful: The woman’s breast!
The breast has the great advantage over the pacifier that a continuous suckle is not possible here. Or have you ever seen a child who still had the mother’s breast in her mouth while playing?
A baby has a natural sucking need that needs to be satisfied. However, the mother can stop or allow the sucking at the breast as needed, so the child learns that the breast is not permanently available. And that’s a good thing.
The situation is different with the pacifier. The child learns that continuous sucking is normal and getting rid of it can be difficult. Similar to the diapers, the child is taught something that has to be weaned again.
But this is about zero waste. Since you have read up to here, I no longer have to explain to you that a pacifier ends up in the garbage at some point, and probably still lies there if your baby has children himself.
What you can do
Deal with breastfeeding as needed and read books, e.g. about attachment parenting. This is where this topic is covered. The pacifier is a foreign object in the baby’s mouth and should spend as little time there as possible.
Especially in the first year, the subject of toys is a good point where you can approach it in a minimalist way without the child really missing anything.
At this age, the baby or toddler is not yet aware of the difference between toys and everyday objects . On the contrary, as you may have already noticed, kids almost prefer to play with mum’s whisk and potato masher, or drag the broom through the apartment half the day.
Therefore, you are not a bad mother if you do not give your child a toy for birthday or Christmas! I’m sure your sweetheart will not be aware of this firstly, and secondly, it will be showered with presents by grandma, grandfather, aunt and Co.
We invested money in a child seat, rear-facing, for the first birthday. This was more necessary than another toy. In addition, our relatives are encouraged to give little, sustainably and sensibly.
When buying toys, make sure it is made up of renewable, recycled or recyclable resources. Unfortunately, there are far too many plastic toys and alternatives are mostly expensive. Therefore, it is worth considering exactly what you are buying.
Of course, wood is popular as an alternative to plastic. That’s, we gave only one present for Christmas, a walker from EverEarth.
EverEarth, for example, promises safe toys made from FSC certified woods and plants a tree for every product sold when you register the product on the website www.everearth.eu.
Sure, you don’t save the world with it, but still better than a plastic walker … Even if ours doesn’t honk 😉
What you can do
With toys, my motto is: Live with less – Less is definitely more.
Far too much is bought, especially with young children. Above all, the little explorers want to experience real life and need everyday objects, age-appropriate books, things to stack and overturn and to paint and blot.
12 Drinking Bottles
A small odyssey was our search for a sustainably produced drinking bottle. Again, the market is flooded with plastic bottles. Although almost all are free of BPA, this might help the baby but not the environment.
In addition, there are also drinking bottles made of glass, bamboo and stainless steel.
All three materials have their pros and cons. In common, however, they have less of a burden on the environment than plastic, as they are either biodegradable (bamboo) or recyclable (glass and metal).
For young children, bamboo and glass is rather difficult, due to the risk of breakage. Therefore, we decided to take stainless steel.
We were looking for a drinking bottle for my then 11-month-old son. Not one for milk meals, but as a regular drinking bottle. At the end of the day, we ended up with the company Pura and so far we have been very satisfied.
Pura in particular offers bottles of all kinds of sizes and with a wide variety of lids fitting to all bottles. All materials are pollutant-free, plastic-free, mineral oil-free and , as far as I can estimate, environmentally friendly.
Above all, the bottles are absolutely unbreakable and look beautiful too! I speak here from my own experience and genuine enthusiasm. I’m not sponsored by Pura … unfortunately. 😉
What you can do
Unfortunately, the market for sustainable drinking bottles is not too big compared to conventional drinking bottles.
At the latest with the nipples, cuts often have to be made. In addition, I have found barely sustainably produced bottles in local shops and supermarkets.
Therefore, I definitely recommend searching online. The alternatives are often more expensive, but also often, e.g. with Pura, growing with your child and usable for years. Comparing pays off in the long term.
13 Children’s Furniture
Finally, I reveal my second mispurchase: The co-sleeper bed side crib.
The purchase of the co-sleeping crib was not quite as pointless as the purchase of the stroller, but again I could have saved money properly, e.g. the bumper, the drape and the drape holder, which of course you always have to buy extra.
In the co-sleeper crib, my son slept a maximum of two times only a few hours. Otherwise, it serves as an extension of the family bed and storage of books, creams, medicines, etc.
I bought a nice large co-sleeper bed of 90cm length of the brand FabiMax, with the intention that my little son can sleep there a long time next to me.
There is nothing wrong with the bed itself.
It’s made of unvarnished wood, large, solid, offers a bunch of stuff to buy and has child-proof rounded edges. But unfortunately no one sleeps in it.
In general, children’s furniture, whether for sleeping or playing, is something you can usually do without. These furniture are often not used for a long time and then end up in the garbage in the worst case.
if it comes to sleeping, I recommend to try the family bed. Contrary to the general opinion, you do not spoil your child.
Children don’t have to learn to sleep alone by sleeping alone and in isolation in a separate room at a few months or even weeks age, while mum and dad are allowed to snuggle up together in the sleeping room.
If you want to know more about the bed-sharing and what advantages and myths there are in this context, then I recommend this article.
In everyday life, when it comes to seating for children, children’s tables, etc., I would fall back on used things if you can not completely do without it. You can also buy a cot used at low cost. Only the mattress should be new for hygienic reasons.
What you can do
Special children’s furniture is often not really necessary. A lot of money and waste can be saved here. If you practice the bed-sharing with your baby you save a separate bed for the child for a long time and strengthen the bond with your own offspring.
There are many possibilities and many places where you can save on the baby without the child missing anything. On the contrary, if you think about the original things, your baby and you even gain a lot of positive things!
Your sweetheart gains closeness by beeing carried, breastfeeding and co-sleeping.
He gains attention and communication through EC.
He gains health through a long breastfeeding period and the abandonment of industrially manufactured products, unnatural toiletries and the use of plastic.
You gain relaxation and calm by allowing your baby to sleep safely with you and allowing her to fall asleep peacefully through breastfeeding.
Your back thanks you by not having to carry a stroller up and down the steps.
Your wallet thanks you by not feeding the baby food industry.
I could go on like this forever. 🙂
I hope you could take some ideas for yourself and your baby from this blog article.
If you still have additions or questions or completely disagree, please leave a comment.
Subscribe to my blog if you want to be informed about new similar topics in the future. And if you liked the article, you are welcome to share it with the world.