My newborn zero waste essentials list (0 – 3 months)

16 March 2018
A rare photo of the Builder. Enjoying his post work walk around the neighbourhood with our son age one month.

A year has almost passed since our baby was born. How did the time go so quickly? I'm looking back through photos amazed at how different he looks. The dark hair he was born with has now been replaced with a golden rose blonde. I'm not yet ready to give up on his hair turning ginger! He inherited his fathers Lebanese skin tone, which is getting darker by the day. The eye colour has yet to be determined, right now they are hazel but I wonder if they will turn caramel like his fathers. He knows when Dad's at the door before seeing him and starts clapping his hands in excitement. I was going to add he's a great eater but this last month the interest in food has disappeared. He loves to make me laugh all the time and I really can't wait for him to start talking so we can have fun little chats. But then part of me doesn't want him to grow anymore.

We are celebrating his first birthday at the end of this month with family and friends. I think the party is more for me and the Builder to celebrate surviving the first year! I haven't shared a whole lot on our first year of parenting yet. In fact there is a folder on my desktop of half written blog posts with varying baby related stuff – and with the book now out of my hands I have more time to get those blog posts up. And I will have a detailed blog post on nappies in the mix. Ok, let us get onto the zero waste items we used to help reduce waste and plastic during those first three months.

Nappies

I'm kicking the list off with nappies since these little people poo so freakin' much. Goodness me. No matter what people tell you, there is no amount of mental preparedness for how many nappies you will change in the first three months. It begins at around twelve per day. TWELVE. We started with cloth nappies from the beginning. Actually that is not completely true. While I was in a sleepy haze hours after the birth, a disposable nappy found its way onto my baby’s bottom. My advice is to take a cloth nappy into your birthing suite if this is what you are preferring to use straight away. But if you forget to tell the midwife, I completely understand :) I think the only two things I was concerned about post birth was staring at my baby and getting a vegemite sandwich into my mouth. Haha.

The Builder and I agreed that if our baby went to NICU or there was an issue and disposables were an option to reduce some of the stress on us, we'd use them. We wanted to be flexible in case it did happen because there was that possibility and really no one should feel bad about that. Pushing a baby out of your body or having caesarean for the first time is...well, a whole new experience like no other! You don't know how your baby or you will react to it the event. My advice is to be flexible and kind to yourself.

We purchased secondhand birdseye cloth nappies commonly known as flats, later changing to MCN (modern cloth nappies) when he was three months. I chose flats for two reasons. The first being ease of cleaning and drying time. Since we were heading into winter I wanted nappies that would dry quickly. Standard birdseye cloth nappies are a 70cm x 70cm piece of birdeye cotton. We followed this origami fold tutorial. In the first two weeks the fold was a little cumbersome but before the end of the first month I could do it in the dark (which I did!).

The second reason we chose flats was his size. Cloth flats can be folded to fit a baby of any size by changing the folding technique (there are over 10). His growth appeared to slow down during the last trimester leaving all of us, including the doctor, a little worried. Since we were unsure what his size would be once out and the tests leaning towards him being on the smaller size, flats seemed like the most cost effective choice for us rather than buy MCNs specifically for a smaller newborn that might not get much use after a growth spurt. Since cloth flats are not water poof we used second hand nappy covers. We loved using flats and are about to switch back to them soon. What we thought was a underweight baby is now on the other end of the spectrum!

Instead of buying a new nappy pail we collected three used buckets from one of our local bulk food stores. They were free, perfect size, with secure lids.

Another secondhand item we found easily were cloth flannel wipes which we used with water only. They are so soft on their skin and were easy to clean too. I learnt quickly to drape one of his penis while changing to catch any surprises. If you can't buy them secondhand most of the large baby stores sell them or try an online baby store or even Etsy.

A handy tip from one of my readers: Extra flats or nappy boosters work great as additional padding to soak up the constant bleeding post birth. I didn't bother with post-partum pads, with the flats and boosters being enough along with my regular menstrual pads until the bleeding decreased. For any women or men wondering if you could use a menstrual cup for the bleeding – forget about it! Ha! Apart from a cloth pad and an ice pack, you won't want anything else going near that area for a while. If you don't have an ice pack at home, ask family/friends or invest in a reusable one. Trust me.

I didn't look into any “eco” disposable nappies and wipes and we should have, just in case. There are brands out there but I don't have any recommendations, sorry.

Nursing

I had a breastfeeding pillow from my sister who had shared it with another friend before being passed along to me. I've seen many secondhand ones available too. Most come with a removable cover for washing. My sister declined to take it back for her second and truthfully, i'm not sure i'd use it again if we decide to have another child. That's my personal experience. I know others who swear by them. My advice would be to seek extra pillows regardless, one to hold baby until you're comfortable enough and one to prop behind mums back.

I used my own breastmilk instead of nipple cream when I had a bout of cracked nipples and it soothed well. Friends of mine did recommend this Nipple Salve and there were a few local brands at health food stores with similar ingredients.

We bought silicone nipples from Mason Bottle that convert any mason jar into a baby bottle. Since we already had three mason jars it sounded like a simple, low waste option. I planned to only express and feed from the bottle on occasion when I was not home or if I was having any issues, which I did have a couple of feeding issues that were sorted with a lactation consultant. Sometimes he loved the mason bottle without a fuss, other times were a struggle. I don't know if it was the nipple and his mouth not being the right fit or that he preferred the breast. He also never took to the soothers (dummy) or any chew toys when he began teething. We tried two natural rubber soothers, Natursutten and Hevea. At around nine months I stopped expressing for bottle feeding since he was eating more food and now the jars are back in the cupboard full of homemade jam. Had I not gone with the mason bottle I would have invested in Baby Quoddle Nursing Bottle. I have read parents using Pura Stainless baby bottles early on too but wasn't sure about heating up milk in stainless steel.

Since we were using the mason bottle, I froze my milk directly into the glass jars. Sterilising was easy by putting the washed jars into the oven. I washed them using a simple bottle brush similar to this one. To dry, we placed them onto a tea towel away from the other dishes so certain people (ahem my husband) wouldn't mix them up.

Obviously breastfeeding is the least wasteful option. I set myself up with a nursing bottle just in case there were issues with breastfeeding and there were struggles (plus tears of pain!). I would suggest buying one or ask any friends/family if they have a bottle no longer in use. Breastfeeding is not a walk in the park for every woman. If I was unable to breastfeed or chose not to, I would never have felt guilty about buying packaged formula tins. As long as my baby was healthy, that's all that mattered. For anyone who might be interested I was told about the Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB) community.

I love my Hakka breast pump. It's easy to use, comfortable, compact, silent and made from silicone. There were no fiddly extra parts or need to plug in. You just suction it on and let it go to work. I bought my sister one for her second baby. It's something I know we could sell on or find some kind of use for it. I just asked the Builder randomly what we could use it for, his response is watering house plants. Haha.

Soother, mason bottle and hakka breast pump. Basket to the left was used by my Mum when we were babies.

I have had moments where my breastmilk suddenly decreased, something I noticed when stressed or tired. To boost my milk supply during these periods, I would stir some fenugreek powder with warm water and sip throughout the day. Or I would add fenugreek seeds to my meals. Of course, talk with your doctor or maternal health nurse before taking something like fenugreek to help boost milk supply. I just thought i'd share it since fenugreek is an ingredient found at most mainstream bulk stores or could be in your spice cabinet already.

Burp cloths

Flannel wipes were set up as burp cloths though he didn't need them until he was past newborn stage. He had colic and we could never ever get him to burp for months. The gas would just stay in there causing so much pain. But once he started burping the cloths were handy to catch those dribbly milk surprises.

Bathtime

Small babies don't really get dirty so we kept bath time to two times a week, using only water, no soap products. Since we were wiping around his bottom frequently throughout the day during nappy changes we decided frequent full body washing in a bath was not necessary for our baby as we wanted to promote and protect healthy skin bacteria rather than wash it off (read more here).

We used a secondhand bath from the Builder's brother and set it up in the laundry and bought secondhand towels from the op shop. We used a mixture of washcloths we already had and flannel cloths to wash with. 

Bath time with Daddy


Sleeping

I detailed here what Tifl slept in and where we sourced it all from. The world is full of enough wraps and swaddles, buying these brand new would make no sense. We accumulated over 20 from family and friends but found we gravitated towards only needing ten and barely touched the rest. For some reason Tifl didn't like being swaddled! He'd Houdini himself out immediately. Put a call out and no doubt a parent somewhere will have a stash of wraps, blankets and sheets ready to lend.

After some thought, we decided against a monitor since he was sleeping with us in our room or near me most of the time. We did come across a selection of secondhand baby monitors on Ebay and Gumtree, plus friends were happy to pass on ones they didn't use either if we had wanted one.

Pram, carrier and bouncer

We picked up a pram from my the Builders sister and have loved it. Before saying yes we took it for a spin and liked how it handled. It's a Velcobaby, about five years old and has another 10 years in it. I organised for a professional clean by Lilies in Melbourne. There are dedicated Facebook buy/swap/sell groups for prams. Also check out Gumtree where many of my friends got their prams from.

I picked up an Ergo Baby 360 carrier with the newborn insert on Gumtree. We used it for the first three months. If you are in Australia look up carry.org.au to locate baby wearing support groups near you. They sometimes have meetups to try different carry styles.

We didn't think a bouncer was necessary so we borrowed one from the Builder's sister. Well, we were proved wrong! He looooved the bouncer. Ours was a manual non electric one.

Clothes

Onsies, singlets, beanies and socks/booties were so easy to find secondhand. Family and friends were quick to offload there old stuff to us. Secondhand stores had a plethora of items too. We did find that most of the onseies at secondhand stores were usually press studs and not the zips. Trying to press studs while a baby is flailing their arms about at 3am was not always easy. Again, look at online options like Gumtree and Facebook buy/swap/sell or secondhand baby markets for clothes.

Carseat capsule

The Builder's brother also lent us their baby capsule for the first six months. We upgraded to a car seat when we outgrew it. While we could pull out the capsule we never did, but then we didn't use the car much unless going on a long distance drive which was rare.

Toys

We didn't use many toys during those first three months, though we had been gifted a secondhand assortment from family and friends. I sang songs and read books to him, which he seemed to love enough. Babies kinda just lay there for the first three months and sleep so much more than when they are older. My sister loaned us a wooden play gym but he didn't begin interacting with it until closer to three months.

Apps

There were three handy apps I downloaded. One was Baby Tracker I used to note when I had breastfed and from what side. It has a variety of functions like keeping track of sleeping schedules, nappy changes, milestones and growth records with places to write notes. I think by month four I knew his schedule pretty well and deleted it. I also used Sleep Genius for white noise and of course, The Wonder Weeks. The Wonder Weeks app tells you exactly when to expect certain behaviour changes and the weeks or months he'll be going through a developmental leap resulting in unsettled moods. I think every parent we spoke to pre arrival raved about this app for a good reason. Our library had copies of The Wonder Weeks book and I reckon you'd find one secondhand as it's fairly popular.

Nappy bag

One of our old housemates left an unused backpack when they moved out and it has been sitting in our closet for years. I rediscovered it when I was nesting, declaring the bag to be more than suitable as a nappy bag. It's roomy, has different compartments and fits under our pram. I don't think I could do a heavy shoulder bag with my son, preferring the weight of the bag being distributed along my back. I'd come across a couple at a secondhand nappy bags at a baby market looking a bit more stylish than a Fitness First Gym Bag. But hey, it's working for us and is not forever.

In our nappy bag we pack nappies, cloth wipes in an cloth bag, a glass spray bottle (used to be an old deodorant bottle) with water, change of clothes and a wash bag. The wash bag was secondhand too passed on from someone who sold us her MCNs but a cloth bag or even old pillow case would function just as well. For a portable change mat, we bought hand towels from an op shop and use those.

Random items we didn't think of, but needed...

Baby nail clippers is something I could have sourced secondhand from another parent but had not even thought about. By the way, why do babies need long fingernails? They are like weapons! A thermometer was also another investment we didn't think to buy and needed soon enough. Another item to think about are thicker curtains, which could be picked up from a secondhand store. Little Tifl could fall asleep anywhere so we were OK without extra dark block out curtains.



Phew! It looks like a long list, right? You'll see we were able to source pretty much everything secondhand, it just takes a little more planning. But as i've mentioned before, other parents (or at least the ones we know) were always keen to help out and lend us everything we needed. Then there was Ebay, Gumtree, local secondhand baby markets, Facebook buy/swap/sell groups and Op shops to fill in the gaps.

4 comments

  1. I love to see a man pushing a pram. Thankfully nowadays its more common, but when my eldest was growing up, his dad wouldn't have been seen pushing a pram anywhere people might have recognised him. How times change

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    1. He loves taking our son for a walk in the pram. I wonder if men have always wanted to do it but perhaps felt they would be made fun of. Hope the imbalance continues to level out.

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  2. Great how you managed to source almost everything secondhand - it saves so much plastic packaging simply doing this alone! With new babies there is always such a tendency to overhoard and go nuts with the nesting thing.
    Thank You
    Bren

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    1. Yes, I agree. Even now we ask ourselves if we are depriving our child because he appears to have so much less than our friends and family with children. But he seems happy to us!

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