Raising a baby and going green can be a pricey proposition -- or a cheap one -- depending on which eco-friendly avenue you choose.
Pricey organic crib mattresses can cost hundreds -- sometimes even more than the crib, said Rebecca Carter of Miami, mom of Oliver, 1, and founder of http://www.greenermiami.com/.
While it was a splurge, Carter and her husband, Edmundo, have saved in other ways by using tactics such as making their own baby food and buying secondhand baby clothing.
"People say that having a kid is expensive, but we haven't bought a lot of stuff," Carter said.
Here are some tips on how to raise your baby in a greener fashion:
Companies such as Seventh Generation sell disposable diapers that are chlorine- and fragrance-free. "They've taken a lot of the freaky stuff out of them," Carter said. Cloth diapers such as Fuzzi Bunz also are a popular choice.
Stefani Newman of Boca Raton, mom of two girls ages 4 and 6 and founder of http://www.teensygreen.com/, says gDiapers combine the two concepts. It's a cloth cover with a disposable, flushable, biodegradable insert.
"But some parents say they're stiff and don't fit well," Newman said. The cloth diapers also need to be washed twice in hot water between each use, so you're gobbling up other resources, she said. The new trend is the "diaper-free movement," Carter says, which is essentially potty-training at a younger age. Carter started putting Oliver on the potty at 6 months. Now she puts him on whenever he wakes up, and they use fewer diapers.
Breast-feeding is the most environmentally friendly, of course. Carter said she breastfed Oliver and never had to pump, so he has never had a bottle. When he started drinking water, he went straight to the sippy cup.
Look for BPA-free plastic bottles, such as BornFree. Glass bottles covered with a silicone sleeve also are gaining popularity, Newman said. BPA-free liners for plastic bottles with rubber nipples also are available. Check out http://www.zrecs.com/ for product reviews.
Stainless steel versions are offered from Thermos' brand for children, called Foogo, as well as Klean Kanteen and Sigg.
BOWLS AND SPOONS
You don't really need special bowls, just use what you have, Carter says. She grabs her glass Pyrex bowls at mealtime and feeds Oliver with a metal spoon.
Newman says that if you are looking to buy pint-size plates and bowls, there are several options. A more affordable bamboo blend is now on the market and retailer Ikea sells BPA-free plastic that is recyclable, she said. Melamine is another option, but its merits have been under recent debate. The bottom line is, if you do use plastic, don't microwave food in it, as that has been proven to release carcinogens.
Feed your child what you eat. Carter made her own baby cereal by using a coffee grinder to grind brown organic rice into a powder. At mealtime, she boiled a couple of spoonfuls of the powder with water to make cereal. When Oliver was ready for table food, she pureed cooked food in a hand-cranked food mill.
Forgo plastic in favor of wooden toys and organic cloth toys. German-made toys also seem to be of high quality, made of good wood with safe paint, Carter said. Newman likes battery-free toys and those that require a child's imagination to work. Craft projects made from recycled goods also are a green option.
One strategy is to buy used, then resell when your child outgrows them. Consignment shops such as Baby Posh Garage in Aventura and Lolliposh in Broward buy and sell high-end baby clothes. If you want to buy new, look for organic fabrics, which are becoming more mainstream, and can now be found in stores like Wal-mart and Target.
Newman said fair trade clothing also is big. "It's usually marketed as fair trade, so you know the people who make the clothes are treated fairly, and that you're not buying something made in a sweat shop," she said.