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A new parent’s guide to staying sustainable when having a baby
Whether you’re like me, becoming a parent for the first time this year, or you have children already, I bet you’ll agree that it’s an exciting journey. From a pregnancy point of view, feeling all this change and adaption in my body is an indescribable experience and the anticipation is building every day.
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Babies need a lot of stuff
Besides looking forward to meeting our little ones, we also have a load of practical things to sort out before they arrive. Possibly the most overwhelming part, for me at least, is all the stuff we need to find: pram, bed, mattress, clothes, linen, toys, changing table, car seat, nappy bucket, foldable bathtub, bath chair, blankets, bottles, dummies, cloth nappies, baby alarm, mosquito net, rain cover, towels, nursing bras, nursing pillow, nursing pads…I could go on forever.
Do I really need all this, or do my baby really need all this? Is it me or is it my baby that needs this? And what will all those things end up costing me? Not that it must be a question about money, but what do I get if I pay over £1,000 for a brand new pram or less than £300 for a second hand one? And yes, I am using this very specific example because I did buy a secondhand pram for £285. According to smartcells.com, the average UK couple spend around £6,000+ on baby essentials the first year. I have a mission, and that is to do this in a sustainable way both for the planet and my purse!
What do I really need?
This blog post is not going to be me telling you how you must prepare, or which things and brands to buy baby things from. The purpose of this post is for me to share my tips and tricks from my personal experience. I’m also going to show you how I saved a lot of money by putting on my “it’s my decision” filter and doing my baby supplies shopping with this mindset.
The first thing I did was to write a list of things that other people told me I would need. This was not a shopping list, it was just to get an overview of what I potentially could buy but also what I potentially could skip. I started with an online list, which was divided into categories. This made it easier for me to keep track. The categories on my list are:
- Labour/hospital bag
- Breastfeeding and eating
- Winter baby
- Summer baby
- Nappy change and personal care
- On the go & walks
I skipped the “winter baby” category straight away as I am due on 8th July, so I will consider those things later in the year. I then went through each of the other categories and narrowed my list down to what I see as “essential”. Now, this list is obviously going to be personal to your own circumstances and priorities, but if you are interested in what some others included on their lists, I’ve found some examples on Pinterest that you can use as inspiration:
Once you’ve got a list, you can continue to the fun part. GETTING THE THINGS!
Discovering “baby boxes”
I live in Denmark, so this might not be available everywhere, but I found out that local shops in my area offer free starter packs to new parents. You simply apply and pick up the box. An absolute win for you as you get to try the products for free and an amazing marketing opportunity for the shops. As I said, I’m in Denmark, but I know that supermarkets in the UK and stores in the US have also offered similar initiatives. Just Google “free baby box” and add your location in your search, and see what’s on offer near to you.
This is a photo of all the things I got for free – amazing, right? I applied in grocery shops and proper baby equipment shops. From this I was able to tick off from my list:
- Nappy bin
- Nappies for the first week
- Baby skincare
- Wet wipes
- Baby books
Signing up to Facebook pages
If you have a list, you can let the whole world know what you are hunting for! On Facebook there are hundreds of baby/kids pages and groups, where people are either selling or giving away items for free. By searching for groups within your area you make it easier for yourself to pick up the things that you get offered or find. I wasn’t being shy, I just uploaded a photo of my list, so people were able to see what I was missing. I also offered some of the items from the baby boxes that I didn’t think I’d need, or where I had duplicated items. From this approach, I was able to get the following:
- Baby chair
- Baby nest
Embrace second-hand shopping
This approach is inspired by the Ailuna “Buy nothing new” dare. Within this dare there are plenty of good hacks and tips to get away with buying nothing new.
As I mentioned earlier, I bought a pram for £285. This is my proudest (not ever, but in relation to my baby). My brother and sister-in-law have the exact same model but bought it brand new for £865, and honestly the one I got almost looks newer. The brand is BASSON Nordic, it has a bounce function which can be used to calm the baby, and the front wheels can rotate which makes it easier to turn. Also, it’s got long reclining dimensions (98 cm) which allows the child to sleep in the pram until the age of three. Those were some of the criteria I had for a pram as I like to invest in things that can be used for many years. Also, it is common in Denmark to let small children sleep outside in the pram all year around, so the long dimensions are important to me. All in all a great purchase and investment.
As well as this second-hand pram I also bought a baby bed, nursing pillow, changing table and a car seat second hand. These were all in great condition for a very good price. Shopping second hand just feels like such an all-round win to me. There are so many good things out there but sometimes it can be overwhelming scrolling through Facebook marketplace, Gumtree, eBay and other sites. If you already know exactly what you are looking for, don’t hesitate to make a post on those pages asking for what you are after – it makes things so much easier.
This is sometimes how you get the really good stuff.
Here’s a list of my second hand purchases and the prices:
- Pram £285
- Baby bed £11
- Nursing pillow £17
- Changing table £11
- Car seat £51
I don’t know about you, but I always have lots of things that I don’t use. Anything from clothes to tools to brand new cosmetics and so on. And just like asking for free things from people via Facebook pages, friends, and family, I was using my unused things to get things that I actually needed.
I started by making a list of the things that I was willing to swap, took some photos and uploaded them with the “baby essentials list” that I created. I was so surprised at how much interest this approach generated! But of course I’m not the only one stacking things in boxes and hidden corners, and I must say that this is my absolute favourite way of “trading”.
It just felt so good to get rid of things that I don’t use, knowing someone else will use it, and in return, get things that I could use. It’s just simply beautiful and I honestly think this should become a totally normalised way of trading things!
Using this method, I got:
- Rain cover for the pram
- Mosquito net for the pram
- Linen for the pram
- Linen for the baby bed
I swapped these for some of my clothes, ceramic and cosmetics.
Rent your things
The sharing economy is becoming more common and in my area, I have several options of renting from individuals and companies. A quick Google (or Ecosia!) will soon tell you if you have these options available where you live too. Renting is not something I’ve needed to do yet, but I am definitely keeping it in mind for later, as my baby grows and needs different things.
As I mentioned earlier, it has been very overwhelming for me considering all the baby gear that I see in stores, online and in friends and family’s homes. I mean how do I know what I need and how do I know if it works for me and my baby? So, there are a few things that I want to wait considering until I get to know my baby and myself in my new role as a mother. For example, cradles are very hyped amongst my friends, and the cradle motor – but if my son ends up sleeping perfectly in the baby nest, pram and bed why would I get one? This is one of the things I will consider renting and test if I end up having problems and need a different option. There are more things that I will consider renting, especially when we are going on vacation – for example a foldable bed, baby chair etc. which can easily be rented very cheaply. If you’re going on vacation, you might even find it easier to rent these items at your destination, to save luggage space.
Getting baby supplies doesn’t have to cost the Earth
I hope this has given you some ideas for how you could shop more economically and sustainably for your new family member. If you have anything to add, please feel free to email us firstname.lastname@example.org or drop your idea in the Ailuna Community Facebook group, where I will continue to share new ideas as I have them. Otherwise, I wish you an awesome journey into parenthood and hope you’ll add me as your friend in the Ailuna app, which you can download here.
Finally, I’ll check in again with another blog post once I’ve settled into my new role as a mother – so please watch this space for an update!
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