Walk into any big box baby store and you’ll be overwhelmed by the amount of stuff made from plastic. From baby bottles and sippy cups to high chairs, dummies and baby bath tubs, not to mention all the items packaged in plastic: nappy cream, baby wash, baby lotion, wipes and all that. Is it hard to go plastic free when you have a baby?
Plastic is practically ubiquitous and—unfortunately—is problematic in so many different ways. It’s one of the worst pollutants man has ever made.
To start with, the production of plastic is a dirty, wasteful process. Next, it off-gasses toxic chemicals throughout its lifetime. And when it finally ends up in landfill, it doesn’t biodegrade, which means that every single plastic toy, toothbrush, and bottle cap you ever used is still somewhere out there, sitting underground or floating in the ocean.
You probably already know about BPA (bisphenol-A) in plastics. But do you also know that “BPA free” may not be any better? Experts say that some of the plasticisers that replaced BPA may actually be more dangerous for our children.
Knowing all this, it seems to me that one of the best ways to protect our families—and our planet—is simply to avoid buying plastic whenever possible.
And, yes, that includes when you’re about to welcome a new baby into the family. Trust us, it’s not as hard as it sounds!
Try swapping out common baby items with these nonplastic alternatives:
Ditch the disposables and use cloth nappies, even if only part time. Brands like Bambino Mio and Pea Pods make lovely one size cloth nappies your bub can wear from day 1 up until potty training time, further reducing your baby’s carbon footprint.
Reusable swim nappies
Instead of disposable wet wipes that contain plastic fibres (and come in plastic packaging), use reusable cloth wipes or washcloths. You save money and the environment - and avoid harmful chemicals!
Glass baby bottles
One of the best ways to reduce your baby’s exposure to BPA, phthalates, and other nasties is by using glass bottles instead of plastic ones.
Glass is good because it doesn’t leach at all. Get one with a silicone sleeve to prevent breakage. This one from Cherub Baby has a clever temperature warning sleeve that changes colour when your baby’s milk is too hot.
Safe-T-Bottle makes “the ultimate baby bottle” from shatter and heat shock resistant Tuxan borosilicate glass. Because of its smooth surface, this baby bottle attracts fewer bacteria and is easier to sanitise than plastic bottles.
Stainless steel sippy cups
If, like many of us, you have a kitchen drawer filled with cracked, warped, and leaky plastic sippy cups, it’s time to make the switch to glass or stainless steel. Both of these materials are safer, sturdier, and—let’s face it—look much nicer than plastic.
Make My Day has 3 in 1 sippy cups that convert into 3 different styles (sippy, easy to grip cup, and tumbler) so your child can use them for years. They come in adorable colour combos, are made of high grade 304 stainless steel, and are BPA and phthalate free.
Cherub Baby offers an adaptor pack so your little one can continue using their wide neck glass baby bottles as sippy cups.
Bamboo dishes, bowls & cutlery
These won't be needed right away, but if you're already stocking up on baby dinnerware, know that you're not limited to plastic. Nowadays, there’s an absolute wealth of plastic free brands making children's plates, bowls, and cutlery from bamboo, glass, and stainless steel. Unlike plastic and melamine, these materials are safe and eco friendly.
Stainless steel food storage
For storing baby food and toddler snacks, swap out your plastic containers with stainless steel. These mini ones from Kids Konserve are the perfect size for tiny servings, are great for travel, and become part of your child’s lunch kit when she starts school. For more stainless steel options, check out Onyx and Ever Eco.
Latex dummies and teethers
Plastic dummies and teethers may contain chemical softeners and artificial colours. Choose 100% rubber latex instead. Hevea and Natural Rubber Soothers make wonderful dummies and teethers that are minimally processed, nitrosamine free, and reasonably priced.
Avoid all plastic toys. From the latest pricey gizmo to the cheap ones you get with fast food kids’ meals, just say no to them all.
Why? First, because plastic toys can contain BPA, phthalates, and even lead. And we all know how much babies and toddlers love to put toys in their mouths! Second, because plastic toys break almost instantly and inevitably wind up in the trash bin. Also, to me, plastic often doesn’t look or feel very nice. And, of course, we know that plastic is very bad for the planet.
Wood, on the other hand, is safe and better for the environment. It’s durable and, with proper care, will last a really long time. If you get a well made piece, your children’s children (and maybe their children) can still enjoy it. And wood is just beautiful to behold and beautiful to the touch.
Aside from good quality wooden toys, stock up on soft toys. These are the perfect comfort toys for babies and toddlers. The best ones are made with organic fabrics and stuffed with natural fibres.
Nontoxic bath toys
Skincare in glass jars or tins
There are tonnes of natural skincare products available for little ones, but few that come in zero waste packaging. Not only do Badger Balm and Nature’s Child make skincare products that are absolute must haves, they also put them in recyclable glass bottles and tins.
Eco friendly dental care
Check out the bamboo toothbrushes from Go Bamboo and Pearlbar. Jack 'N Jill Kids also have biodegradable resin toothbrushes for kids. They’re gentle on baby gums and teeth and are light enough for toddlers just learning to brush on their own. Best part? They all have fully biodegradable handles. Put the nylon heads into the bin, and the handles into the compost when you're done.Pearlbar
Nonplastic first aid
You can even go plastic free in your first aid kit! ‘Bandaids’? No, thanks. These nonplastic adhesive strips from Patch are made with 100% organic bamboo fibre and are BPA free, hypoallergenic, and suitable for all skin types.
More plastic free baby needs
Here’s some more nonplastic items you might find useful:
- A beautiful hair brush and comb set
- This popular portable change mat from Skip Hop that folds up into a stylish clutch (BPA, PVC, and phthalate free!)
- The ergonomically designed BabyBjorn Bouncer Bliss
- Wooden or cloth rattles and pram toys
What else you can do to avoid plastic
You can also limit your baby’s exposure to plastics by:
- Buying baby food in glass jars (or making your own at home)
- Storing baby food in glass containers (jam jars work perfectly!)
- Saying no to produce and grocery items packaged in plastic
- Using cloth carriers or slings instead of prams
- Whenever possible, choosing natural fibres over synthetics for bub's clothes and beddings
- Choosing wood, natural fabrics, and other nonplastic materials for your nursery decor and furniture
How do you go plastic free with your baby? What are your favourite nonplastic baby gear? Share your thoughts and tips with us and other new mums and mums to be in the comments below.Image credits: Bambino Mio, Love Mae, Ever Earth, and Pearlbar
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