We are less than 6 days away (at most) from having our baby, and I think we’re just about ready. Unfortunately, we’ve also been fighting a virus in our household this past weekend, so as long as our baby is content in there, I want him to stay in as long as possible.
I’ve wanted to make a natural nursery/baby essentials post, but it’s been repeatedly delayed because I haven’t had the energy recently to stage and photograph all the products I want to talk about - how silly is that? So putting my vanity aside, there are plenty of brand photos out there, and I think my readers are more interested in a fellow green mom’s honest review/recommendations. So here we go, and for the sake of consistency, I may swap out all the brand photos with our own when they’re all ready (including one of our set-up)...we’ll see! I'm approaching this more right now as a "here are some ideas for you" instead of a "look at our space!" post.
I remember as a first-time mom being a little overwhelmed at all the “baby stuff” out there and not really knowing what is necessary and what is not. Now, nearly 8 years later, I can confidently say we’ve streamlined our baby essentials, and I'm happy to share what works for us in hopes of giving others some ideas and inspiration as well!
How to be Mindful and Sustainable
Firstly, use what you have.
Seriously! It’s not about following the season’s aesthetic or getting the latest eco/boho baby trends “as seen on Instagram” (although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting inspired!). Now that being said, we gave away/donated most of our baby gear after Willow had outgrown them because we were so sure we wouldn’t be having another baby...but here we are. This post will cover some of my favourite products that I’ve used for my babies and some new products I’ve mindfully sourced from ethical and handmade businesses.
Design Dua Signature Bilia Bassinet
For baby’s first 0-4 or even 6 months, you’ll want to keep them close by because of frequent feedings, and also, it reduces their risk of SIDS. This bassinet from BIPOC-owned Design Dua is gorgeous and can be tucked in neatly beside your bed for easy access. It is handmade from natural elephant grass grown without pesticides in West Africa. They are woven, and steam cleaned under strict standards and are the only baby bassinet of its kind that is also tested by a US CPSC-approved laboratory for safety.
Jolly Jumper Wooden Base
You may want to pair the bassinet with a rocking base. Design Dua sells their own, or you can source more locally (as we did) and go with the Jolly Jumper Rocking Basket Stand. It is made from a lightweight yet sturdy hardwood frame that makes it easy to carry from one room to the next.
Snuggle Me Organic Lounger
Remember the popular dock-a-tot? Well, we never had one, but I’ve heard so many moms swear by them for nap time and lounging. The Snuggle Me Organic is a more natural alternative as it is hand-stitched from GOTS certified organic cotton. It’s basically a full-body pillow for the baby that gives them the sensation of being hugged/snuggled. These are meant for supervised rest, lounging, tummy time etc. *Please note it’s not meant to be used as a co-sleeper as there is a risk for suffocation. Be sure to pair this with an organic cover which is sold separately.
Levo Wooden Rocker
A good baby bouncer/rocker is a must-have - up there with a bassinet/a safe sleeping device. During the day, I had our babies in their rockers most of the time if I wasn’t wearing them. We had a Coco Bloom Stylewood Lounger, which we loved...and passed on a few months before finding out I was pregnant. The stylewood lounger was very solid, heavy and quite frankly a pain to lug around the house. The Levo Rocker is quite similar but better in some ways. The cushion is made from organic cotton and is very comfortable. It’s also much more lightweight than the Coco Bloom, which I didn’t like at first but now appreciate because it’ll be so much easier to move around!
Non-Toxic Carseat: Nuna Pipa
This is an essential you will use right away as you’ll need a safe car seat to bring your baby home! Did you know, most of the popular car seat brands contain harmful chemicals such as flame retardants?
“Car seats with added flame retardants put babies and young children in close contact with chemical additives, some of which are known to be carcinogens, hormone disruptors, and developmental toxicants,” - Gillian Miller (Senior Scientist Ecology Center)
The Nuna PIPA, Pipa Lite and Lite LX are free of flame retardant chemicals and also have a privacy canopy which I love. It comes with a base, and while both are quite heavy, it feels well made, and we have peace of mind in its safety and reliability.
An Organic Layette
Transitioning from the warm, cozy comfort of the womb can’t be easy! I try to make it as comfortable as possible by choosing soft, organic materials to clothe the baby in. We love merino wool and silk for their ability to help regulate a baby’s body temperature (keeping him cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cool). You can see my recommendations here: organic baby capsule wardrobe.
Biodegradable Diapers and Wipes
While cloth diapering is the more sustainable option, sometimes it’s just not the right fit for your family for whatever reason, and also newborns go through so many diaper changes that even cloth diapering families go with disposables at some stage. And while some popular brands like Seventh Generation, Hello Bello and Honest Company Diapers are making better diapers in terms of fewer chemicals and being better for the health of our babies, they are still not biodegradable, which means they can take up to 500 years to decompose -- that’s a lot of diapers in the landfill. Did you know there are eco-friendly disposables alternatives?
We’ll be keeping both Nateen and Eco Pea Co diapers* on hand. They make soft and absorbent disposable diapers from bamboo, no chemicals, carbon-neutral shipping and are cruelty-free. Best of all, they decompose in 2-3 years!
They also come in biodegradable packaging, and you can save 10-20% off with a subscription and free shipping.
*I will write a review on both once we’ve had a chance to test them out.
Sakura Bloom Linen Ring Sling
I have a classic Sakura Bloom Linen Ring Sling in a rusty red colour, which I loved and used every day with Willow (I used hard carriers such as Baby Bjorn with my other two). For this ring sling, I chose linen because it’s a strong, natural and sustainable material that feels so good against the skin! And who am I kidding? My motto is pretty much to give me linen everything. Anyway, baby-wearing is a wonderful way to keep your baby close, feeling secure and also frees up your hands so you can tend to your other children or household chores.
There is a slight learning curve to using the ring sling. I recommend watching some videos if you’re a visual learner like me and then practicing with a doll before fumbling around with your newborn!
Other Recommendations for the Nursery
I feel like most of my recommendations above are pretty standard, so here are some other essentials I like to have in my space with the baby.
Dyson Air Purifier
As someone who is sensitive to environmental pollutants and allergens, I seriously couldn't live/sleep without this. And now, with all the *cough* viruses going around, having a high-quality air purifier in your baby's room is (in my opinion) an essential investment.
We have the Dyson Air Purifier, which "automatically senses and captures pollutants and purifies the whole room. It uses an advanced filtration HEPA system that captures gases and 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. It also has a charcoal filter that removes odours from the room. Seriously, our bedroom smells ridiculously fresh.
Essential Oil Diffuser + Lavender Essential Oil
Keeping a diffuser in the nursery is a great way to add moisture to the air and create a soothing atmosphere. However, be super careful with using essential oils around newborns. Despite what you may hear or read from some essential oil advocates, I personally only recommend diffusing lavender essential oil when they are at least 3 months old and diluted heavily (1-2 drops per 300 ml of water etc.). And please, only use the pure, high-quality stuff because the last thing you want to do is diffuse adulterated oils that contain additives and other chemicals around your baby!
What we didn't need:
This list may surprise you, but 3 (almost 4) babies later, this is the list of some common nursery essentials that we didn't end up using/needing:
A Change Table: we did have one but used it more for storing diapers etc. I was too mobile to be constantly going back to a changing table to do the job, and instead, I would change them wherever we were: on my lap, on the bed, on a pad on the floor, on the couch etc.
Nursing/Rocking Chair and Ottoman: pretty much every photo of a nursery has one, and for a first-time mom, this may be useful -- but again, I found with so many kids to look after, it was challenging to leave whatever I'm doing to sit in a room that has a designated nursing chair. I would nurse my babies everywhere and anywhere!
Remember to keep it simple
Of course, a quintessential item you’ll need is a good baby stroller. Honestly, I don’t know where I would start with recommending one because it really depends on where you live (urban vs. rural) and how you intend to use it (sidewalk strolling or trekking on trails). Personally, we have the City Select Baby Jogger, and it’s been perfect for our needs of doing all of the above. I would recommend doing some research online, reading mom reviews on different strollers and then trying them out in person. It’s similar to driving a car; you’ll know when you’ve found “the one” by how well it handles and pushes.
My last bit of advice for purchasing baby gear is to keep it simple and minimal. If there’s one phrase that’s true, it’s that babies don’t keep. They really grow so quickly that before you know it, it’ll be a different set of needs to address. I will do a post about choosing a good crib, organic mattress, natural playpen etc., with my 6-12 month baby essentials update.
Of course, in this post, I also focused exclusively on baby; I’ll try to make a new mama essentials post next or maybe it'll be a birth story — hang on tight (this mama is!)