Thursday, April 28, 2011

Guest Post: Reusable and Sustainable Baby and Mommy Products

By Anika McCarter

Cat has graciously let me be a guest blogger on her blog for a topic that I have really been researching lately.

First of all, I guess I should do a little back story. I’m from Seattle, but I live in Vietnam now. I’m five months pregnant with my second child and do not quite know what to expect with having a little baby here. I am going back to the States to have my baby, but there are products readily available in the States that I cannot get in Vietnam or can't find consistently. For example... swim diapers? They are very difficult to find. When we went to Singapore I had researched washable swim diapers and found a place I could get some. They literally saved me because we go swimming all the time.

Okay... so to my point... for people like me and for other people who maybe want to go a little "greener" or "cheaper" what are some reusable/washable products that are really great to have for mommy or baby?

They could be patterns to make your own items or actual products. I'm interested to hear of any great ideas that people might have on this topic of being more “sustainable” with baby/mommy items that we all use frequently.

Here are some things that Cat & I have come up with:

Just a Note: I'm not interested so much in cloth diapers because they don't fit my lifestyle here, but I know that's something too. Cloth Diapers are a WHOLE other topic on their own.

Baby Food
I recently learned you can use your blender/food processor to make the food and then pour it in ice cube trays to create baby-sized portions. You pop them in the freezer and once frozen you can transfer the frozen food into a Ziploc bag to make room for a variety of baby foods. They say you should use the frozen food within 3 months. I found the Wholesome Baby Food website to be extremely helpful and informative on subjects regarding preparing, storing and the nutritional requirements for baby. There’s also a kit you can purchase that does the same thing (Make your own baby food).

Reusable Nursing Pads
I’m listing three different types that we’ve found.

Silicone Nursing Pads
LilyPadz are silicone nursing pads that sort of “seal off” the source. I used these with my first child and LOVED them. They are easy to use and you just rinse them off with water and dish soap. You can use them while using lanolin ointment as well. I have heard that women with bigger cup sizes don’t like these as much because they make the breast a funny shape, but I’m a “C” and didn’t have any problem. You just put these on and check them every once in awhile. You may have to “empty” them out occasionally, but as long as you don’t completely forget about them, they will not leak. You can wear them in the pool too. A word of warning with these though is that I DO NOT recommend wearing these at night or until your milk is fully established. This will help reduce the risk of them possibly giving you mastitis.

Washable Nursing Pads
These are great as well. I also used these with my first child because I found the disposable nursing pads irritating to my skin. There are many different brands and styles of these, but I favored Medela. I think that these could EASILY be made at home. You just find a soft material and sew several layers together. I think I would also add a water-proof PUL (Polyurethane laminate) fabric to the backside just to make them a little more “leak-proof".

Hot or Cold Soothing Pads
These come in handy for soothing sore areas from feeding. These are also nice if you develop mastitis, engorgement or other irritations from breast-feeding. The Thera Pearl would be best if you’re wanting a pad to be worn for a short time in public or there’s something like the Earth Mama Angel Booby Tubes as well. I think you could probably make heating pads for yourself by making a washable pad out of cotton or a breathable material and filling it with uncooked rice. Then you can microwave it to heat it up.

Reusable Swim Diapers
As mentioned above in the post, these have saved me. Not only are washable swim diapers convenient they are so much cheaper! I’m a huge fan of adjustable swim diapers like these or these. There are also pull-up swim diapers, but I tend to like the adjustable ones better. They will grow more with your baby and work just as well. The adjustable ones that come apart at the sides are also a lot nicer to have if there does happen to be an “accident”. It makes clean up a lot easier. I use our swim diaper all the time and it really works. We’ve had messy accidents while in the pool and the diaper kept everything fully contained.

I imagine that making these diapers wouldn’t be too difficult, but that’s only if you’re into sewing with elastic. I found a few patterns for this: Swim Pattern or Free Diaper Patterns. You can start with a cloth diaper pattern and use three different layers of fabric. The outer layer can be some cute cotton fabric, the middle layer should be a water-proof PUL fabric and the inner layer can be some soft mesh or thin terry cloth.

Reusable Wipes
Now I’m not so sure I would use these myself for cleaning up diaper messes, but I think I would consider these for cleaning up food messes and spit-up… things of that nature. We all know how sensitive baby-skin is and this would be a “greener” alternative to the wet-wipe epidemic that seems to have struck my house. I found the Growing a Green Family blog to be very insightful on this topic. See also: Wet bags for storage of clean/dirty wipes.

Wet Bags and Snack Bags
I really like the idea of having a Wet Bag for times when there are blow-outs or for storing dirty/clean reusable wipes. I think these would be easy to make. Just make a bag out of PUL and cotton with a good leak-proof zipper. For how much these are selling for, I think an attempt at making one yourself might be a good investment. You can also make snack bags that are smaller for everyday snack use. I’m very excited about getting my hands on the snack bags since I feel like we go through boxes of Ziploc bags every month and the right sizes are not easy to find in Vietnam.

Lunch Box/ Snack Carrier
This was just something I came across recently that I thought was pretty cool. Again, this Lunch Box/ Snack Carrier is a way to eliminate the amount of Ziploc bags that we tend to use. I thought this box was cool because of how compact it is, but I realize that good old-fashioned Tupperware containers will work just as easily.

So these are just a few ideas, but I'm really interested to know what other items people have heard of that are "greener" or reusable.

1 comment:

Cammy said...

Thanks for the reusable diaper links. I have the pull up kind but really like the idea of the adjustable ones. Now I can order some for this summer.

One reusable/green product I absolutely LOVE is my menstrual cup. It is a reusable silicone(or rubber) cup that you use and rinse out so you don't have to use pads or tampons. In the states I know of two major brands: Diva and Keeper/Mooncup. I have actually seen the Diva sold at REI and a few other places. I have a Diva and it is okay but the one I use now is a Lunette brand. It isn't sold in the US but you can get it online. I have been using it for 5 years now and love it. Anyway something to consider.