Contributed by Mounya Accad, Spain, founder of LunaLanna. Mounya is the happy mother of a boy and the use of masculine pronouns for the child is simply a reflection of her personal experience.
An easy way to reduce waste when you’re just starting your zerowaste journey is actually to consume less. With this is mind, here are a few tips for when you’re having or just had a baby, and everything is just sooo tempting because you’re of course not shopping for yourself but for your little one, who naturally deserves the best.
… that the best for your kid is actually your love, respect and attention.
… thoughtfully the arrival of your little one:
- What kind of educational approach are you going to follow, and what does it imply as far as equipment is concerned? For instance, if you follow a Montessori-inspired approach (like the bedroom above), you will soon realize you’re going to need much less furniture than you initially thought.
- What kind of lifestyle do you have? How are you going to move about with your little one?
After considering the above, make a list of the things you actually need .
3. Family and friends
… will want to shower you with gifts, the hardest to avoid being the “doudou” [comfort object]. Even if you tell everyone around you that stuffed animals are not hygienic, you will end up with more than you actually need. It’s a good strategy to be quite firm on that, so you only end up with one or two (to which your little one will get attached, but never admit that or you will receive one every time your mother-in-law visits).
So, how to prevent your home being invaded by plastic?
- Make a list of what you need.
- Gratefully accept second-hand items.
- Start the list over 😛
- Open a bank account and encourage family members to contribute instead to the beautiful soul-searching trip your future 18-year-old will certainly take if they have 18 years’ worth of donations saved up (you can use a fraction of the donations for the immediate needs of the child, and save the rest.)
- Encourage experience gifts, which are an opportunity for the giver to spend time with your kid.
4. Repurpose and reuse!
This is an excellent opportunity to rifle through the bottom of your drawers and discover forgotten treasures with a new eye.
A home environment is incredibly rich for a baby. You don’t need to spread toys through the house: keep them in his room, and let everyday objects be the purpose of new exploration and discoveries in the rest of the house.
If you accompany your child in his discoveries you won’t even need to keep things away of his reach (except very fragile breakable items in the beginning): you can teach him very early on to treat objects with care, and let him discover at his ease other things that are neither breakable nor hazardous.
Practical tips to transform your home into a discovery park:
In the kitchen:
Gather some everyday kitchenware in a lower drawer for easy access: the more materials and shapes the better. Move all non-breakable to lower shelves so your little one can play freely while you cook: baskets full of potatoes or onions, wooden kitchenware, tupperwares… Later on (10 -12 months) you can create a learning tower for him to observe and participate in your activity.
In the bathroom:
Put your bidet to good use! It can become a sink in which you can teach you kid to wash himself you can even hang a little mirror over it.
In the other rooms:
Just make sure there are interesting things for him to discover within his reach.
5. Buying strategies
Buy second-hand, buy less, and prioritize long-life items.
Ideally, everything should be at your little one’s level so all you really need is a nice thick carpet, a low bed (made up of a mattress on the floor – useful for day naps if you practice co-sleeping and don’t need a cot) and a few baskets with his toys within reach. Okay, you can also have a comfortable chair for nursing, but that’s it! 😉
The changing station:
You might be amazed to know that you can reduce your changing station to a towel, a cotton cloth, a bowl and a natural sponge — and relocate the lot wherever you need it or feel comfortable (to the bed or even the floor if you have an adapted space with thick carpet).
You can bathe you child in the sink and then directly in the bathtub, even very early on. Between this and the changing station, you’ve just saved at least 5 square meters of floor space.
If you’ve read all of the above, you can probably guess where this is going. Although there are some very cool toys out there, here is how to choose what to buy:
- Avoid plastic, button- and battery-operated toys that do things for themselves.
- Choose environment-conscious companies that use safe components and beautiful, natural materials.
- Choose toys that can be enjoyed for many years, as opposed to single-purpose toys. The industry makes us believe that we need one toy to teach our kid one specific thing — nothing can be further from the truth. And be especially careful of the new educational toys wave…. Why would you need to buy a wooden shoe with laces so that your kid can learn that? Don’t you have shoes around the house?? Why do you need a “permanence box”? Can’t you actually use the shoebox of the aforementioned shoe and hide… hmmm, let’s see… a shoe in it? On the other hand, wooden blocks, Lego, and objects collected in nature with no specific use, leave it to the child’s creativity and have endless uses over many years.
- Don’t buy too much: over-stimulation lowers the capacity to focus. In addition, boredom is the mother of creativity, so allow time for your kid to get bored.
Buy second hand, especially the famous trio, of which two pieces will very soon be taking up storage space somewhere (but never ever buy a second hand car seat).
Here too, less is more. Unless your child has specific skin problems, it is best to let his body regulate itself; so use cream only when necessary. A natural soap or washing cream for body and hair, and a home-made calendula and oil balm should be enough — along with sunscreen, of course!