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How green was 2012?

14 Jan

I’ve reviewed 2012 with personal highlights here but I’ve also been thinking about the green highlights (and lowlights) of the year. I’m hoping that it will provide me with inspiration for living green in 2013!

Baby

I had my second baby in 2012 (and an utterly gorgeous baby she is too!). We didn’t buy much for her – there’s something very special about seeing your second baby in clothes that your first baby has grown out of!- but we did buy a newborn insert for our Ergo. And we loved it and recommend it to anyone who’ll listen.

We also treated ourselves to a Tummy Tub for her first months – I had wanted one with my son but was given a bath & a bath seat so couldn’t justify it. This time we couldn’t resist and it was a joy to use – bath time was so special, as her 2 year old brother could really get involved and it was a lovely bonding time for us all. I’d definitely recommend it.

Diapers-wise, this time we used some Bummis prefolds & wraps to boost our washable diaper stash, as our son was still using his Bumgenius v3 and Flips. I was nervous, as I thought they seemed like a lot of hassle but we needed an inexpensive solution until our daughter could start using her brother’s diapers. And not only was I won over, but I fell for them utterly! Gorgeous soft fabric, fast and easy to use, quick drying. Very enjoyable to use and I highly recommend them.

But a green lowlight was that we used far more disposables than we should have. During our first month in the US we had no choice – our washables were being shipped over with the rest of our stuff – but then we got lazy. We got used to the convenience…and used “eco” brands to assuage our guilt. Luckily we’re back on track using washable diapers & wipes now but it was a lesson in how easy it can be to slip into bad habits.

A resolution for 2013 is to primarily use washable diapers & wipes.

Housekeeping

2012 was the year I started using white vinegar…which doesn’t sound like much but honestly, it is a revelation. I love it!

I’ve always tried to buy green cleaning products – Ecover was a favourite brand in the UK but I now use Method (which are now, conveniently, the same company!). The impact that cleaning products can have on our eco systems is something that really matters to me. But when my baby started eating her food off the table I was suddenly very bothered by even my green surface cleaner. I didn’t want any unnecessary chemicals polluting her food. So I switched to a 50% white vinegar solution and I love it – surfaces are clean & sparkling, there’s no vinegar-y smell, it’s super cheap (which is a big factor now I’m a stay-at-home parent) and I don’t have to worry about contamination of her food. I’m a convert.

A resolution for 2013 is to switch to more homemade green cleaning products.

We’ve also had our first experience of using a tumble dryer. We didn’t have one in the UK and never missed it. When we spent a month in Manhattan we had no choice but to use it – there was no other way to dry clothes in the tiny apartment – and I really didn’t like it. I shrank some clothes that I really loved and just felt guilty about it. But it became a habit that carried over into our new home.

But we have a spacious basement and my husband picked up a big sturdy clothes horse (it dwarfs our trusty clothes horse from our London life!). So we’re back to air-drying clothes with the tumble dryer for emergencies only. But it’s something to keep an eye on as I can now see how seductive the tumble dryer can be!

A resolution for 2012 is to primarily air dry our laundry.

Food

We had the joy of baby-led weaning all over again with our daughter. Like her brother, she’s never had processed baby food and it means we all eat more healthily as a result (since we watch the salt & sugar intake in everything we cook so she can handle it). I recommend baby led weaning to all parents as it is really a wonderful time in your baby’s first year – so much fun as your little one discovers the fun of food (my 9 month old daughter is going through the phrase of intentially dropping food on the floor, watching it falls…she’s like a mini physicist discovering gravity!).

We’ve also decided to eat more vegetarian food to reduce the carbon footprint of our good (read up on the environmental benefits of vegetarian eating here). So today was lentil soup & spelt bread for lunch and the Moosewood’s super tasty sweet potato quesadillas for dinner.

A resolution for 2013 is to have at least 2 vegetarian days a week.

Household Waste

I’ve already admitted to our disposable diaper addiction above, so that was a definitely green lowlight of 2012 in terms of household waste. But we’ve also had to sacrifice our home composting in our new rental home in Maplewood. We have no garden, so have no where to use any compost we create, and food waste isn’t collected by the town (oh how I miss Haringey’s food waste collection!). But we’re hoping to buy our own house this year and having an enclosed back yard we can garden is a priorty so I hope that by the time 2013 ends we’ll be back to home composting most of our food waste.

A resolution for 2013 is to start composting as soon as we can.

We’ve also just stared having milk delivered from the Green Market Dairy – and we love it! There is something so satisfying about the lovely glass bottles. And since the bottles are then reused it is also help cut down the volume of single use plastic or tetra packs we recycle.

OK, quite a rambly post but I hope that this informal green audit helps me move into 2013 more committed than ever to living green!

Why I hate the phrase “good baby”

22 Jan

I’ve been thinking about this phrase a lot recently. I know many people (including my mum) who use this as the highest form of praise for a small infant…and it annoys me so much it makes my teeth itch! A “good baby” is one who makes as little impact on the adults in her life as possible – going for hours between feeds from birth, sleeping through the night from a magically young age, not making a peep when she’s in her cot/pram/recliner.

Don’t get me wrong, my mum loves children, babies in particular (good thing, as she had 6 of her own!), and I know she’s just trying to be nice. Especially as she experienced all sorts of baby personalities in her own brood.

But there are many reasons why the phrase “good baby” annoys me…

Perhaps most importantly, I think it contributes to our society’s poor understanding of normal infant behaviour.

So you’ll get strangers telling you you’re spoiling your infant if you carry them (the first time this happened to me a perfect stranger told me I was spoiling my 4 week old son for carrying him in a sling – she said “why isn’t he in his pram? He’ll never sleep properly if he’s not in his pram” and I was actually too surprised to answer, how on earth was it her business?).

Or you’ll be met with horror if you admit to breastfeeding your baby to sleep – you’re making a rod for your own back! He’ll never self-settle! Are you mad?!?

Breastfeeding in particular is undermined by this mythical “good baby”. Breastmilk is so easily digestible, and babies’ tummies are so tiny, that breastfed babies are just not designed to go for hours between feeds (which makes breastfed babies more “challenging” apparently, though it’s more a case of the “good baby” myth rearing its head!). So having to feed just an hour after the last feed ended does not mean you have an excessively hungry baby, it does not mean you’re not producing enough milk (though your baby may be helping your body produce more milk by going through a growth spurt). Crucially, it does not mean you’re failing your baby in any way.

But where my real hatred of the phrase lies is that the flip side of good is bad. To say that this baby is good implies that that baby is bad. And I just cannot accept that any babies are bad. How can it be bad to have your needs for love, food, comfort, company met by crying? Why is wanting to be carried or in physical contact with your parents a bad thing? Why can’t more of us just accept that babies are babies and will behave like babies? It may mean less stressed out parents trying to raise some sort of textbook “good baby”.