It's not easy being green, especially when there's a baby in the house. Our little ones may be small, but they often end up leaving a big carbon footprint. At the dinner table, baby can have a big impact on Mother Nature, and it is up to us, parents and eco-friendly consumers, to lower the environmental cost of having a tiny mouth to feed.
So what's a mama to do? Four words: when possible, avoid plastic. Plastic is light and cheap, and there's a lot of it in the baby feeding aisle. It is also durable and doesn't just go away. It ends up in landfills, invades natural habitats, and injures wildlife. Plastic isn't too kind to baby either. It contains chemicals like Bisphenol A (BPA) – a plasticizer that is known to disrupt our hormone system and be linked to a long list of serious health problems. In 2012, the FDA banned the use of BPA in children's food products. This move basically solidified a practice that many manufacturers had already adopted; and the regulation still doesn't guarantee that we are in the clear. In fact, studies have shown that BPA substitutions aren't automatically safer.
It's a lot to take in, but not to worry. There are many eco-friendly products out there that can help you green up your parenting act. Here are 12 picks that we think will allow you to feed your baby, sans toxin, while doing some good for the planet.
PREP & CLEAN
1. Stokke: Tripp Trapp Chair Stokke's Tripp Trapp has been an all-time mommy favorite since its launch in 1972, and for good reasons. While it is on the expensive side, the high chair is highly adjustable and designed to grow with baby. Once he is done using it, you can convert it into an adult chair or a stool. The Tripp Trapp is made of beech wood and comes in a variety of colors. The brand uses only water-based, nontoxic paint and BPA-, phthalate-free materials. The Tripp Trapp baby set, which allows your littlest one to join the family table, is made of environmentally friendly plastic and is recyclable.
2. The Laundress: Dish Detergent How can such a small human being contribute to so much of the yuck piling up in the sink? Luckily, you don't have to fight dirty dishes alone. The Laundress has a dish detergent that you can use when you hand wash dishes or in the dishwasher. It is soft on our skin but is tough on all the gunk caked on baby's dinnerware. The soap is unscented and doesn't have any artificial coloring or dyes. It doesn't contain any petroleum, chlorine bleach, ammonia and more; and like all of The Laundress' detergents, it is biodegradable.
3. Baby Brezza: Glass One Step Baby Food Maker Even if cooking isn't really your thing, Baby Brezza makes it easier to bring wholesome, homemade baby food at the dinner table. The brand recently launched its Glass One Step Baby Food Maker, which can automatically blend the food after steaming. All you need to do is prep and place the food in the container, wait for the nifty machine to finish its deed, and serve. Plus, the mixing bowl is made of glass, which minimizes food contact with plastic.
4. Modern Twist: Bucket-Bib Here's a bib that puts up a good fight against mealtime messes. Modern Twist bucket bib sustains tantrums and actually catches food that misses baby's mouth. The brand uses food-grade silicone with no BPA, no PVC, no lead, no latex and no phthalates. All of Modern Twist's products (bib included) are silky to touch, easy to clean, reusable and recyclable. The packaging, too, can be recycled, and the brand has a program to help you dispose of silicone properly.
5. Oxo: Mash Maker Baby Food Mill If you are on a tighter budget, Oxo offers an affordable and eco-friendly way to cook for baby. The Mash Maker can purée any grown-up food into a dinner for your wee one. Not so thrilled about plastic? The truth is, plastic is hard to avoid altogether since it's everywhere on the market. But you can shop it and still be on the safe(r) side. Case and point: Oxo's mash maker is made of Polypropylene (PP) and is free of BPA, phthalates and PVC, which makes it one of the safer plastics out there. Not to mention, it's much more ecological than having to continuously stock up on pre-packaged food. For advice on plastics and plastic use, go here.
6. Boon: The Forb, Silicone Bottle Brush This is a flower like no other. It's called Forb, and it is made of sturdy silicone to clean baby's bottles (and nipples) without a scratch! This is important because harmful chemicals may leach more easily if the plastic is worn down. Boon's products are BPA, PVC and phthalate free. This is a small investment that will last you a long time, without mold or rust, and that can even get cleaned in the dishwasher.
1. Bamboo Studio: Kids Dinnerware Set Turn over a new leaf in green eating with the ever popular bamboo dishware. With Bamboo Studio Kids Dinnerware Set, baby can have his cake and eat it too without feeding the waste stream. The reusable kid line, which features all sorts of fun animals, is lightweight and sturdy all at once. Handcrafted from the sheath of the growing bamboo plant, bamboo tableware is biodegradable, making it one of the most sustainable options out there. Do we need to add that it is dishwasher safe?
2. Lollaland: Glass Baby Bottle Lollaland glass bottles have a certain je ne sais quoi that takes us back to our childhood. Maybe it's the old-school birds looking like they were taken out of a Nintendo video game. Or maybe it's the glass, breaking us free from a world of plastic. Made of premium quality glass, Lollaland baby bottles are gentle on both baby and earth. They do not leach toxins, are thermal-shock resistant (you can heat them, even when they are cold), and are recyclable. Lollaland's nipples are made of durable, medical-grade silicone.
3. ThinkBaby: The Complete BPA-Free Feeding Set If baby has graduated to solid foods, it's time to invest in some sturdy, eco-friendly dinnerware. ThinkBaby strives to create safe products while having the least possible impact on the environment. The complete feeding set is lined with medical-grade stainless steel and wrapped in polypropylene plastic. The set is also free of BPA, phthalate, lead, PVC, Melamine and more (review here the complete list of chemicals that ThinkBaby has shunned). Stainless steel itself can last a long time and is 100 percent recyclable. Most stainless steel products are made of about 60 percent recycled material.
4. Green Sprouts: Glass Sip & Straw Cup The Sip & Straw Cup has glass on the inside, and plastic on the outside. This means that whatever baby drinks never touches plastic, which in this case is made of polypropylene. The cup is free of PVC and BPA and is hypoallergenic. It has two drinking options: a straw and a spout that are both made of silicone. Green Sprouts strives to maximize the life cycle of its products while minimizing the impact they have on the environment. With that in mind, they try, when possible, to use resources that are renewable and recycled. Buying products that are made of recycled materials saves natural resources, energy, and water.
5. Beaba: First Stage Silicone Spoon When it comes to baby's first munchies, you want an ergonomic spoon that will keep mealtime stress free for everyone. Enter Béaba's First Stage Silicone Spoon, which happens to go easy on baby's gums and on the environment. Béaba's spoons are BPA, phthalate and PVC free and dishwasher safe. For the most part, silicone is recyclable, although you'll likely need to go through a private recycling facility (like this one).
6. Comotomo: Silicone Bottle Comotomo may be a little bit of a splurge compared to other brands, but it's worth it, especially if your little one is getting ready to transition from breast to bottles. The bottles and their extra-wide nipples are made of squeezable silicone that mimics mom's skin, giving baby a close-to-nursing experience. What's more, silicone – a synthetic material made of sand and oxygen – withstands heat without leaching harmful chemicals. Comotomo bottles do not break or crack and are safe in dishwasher, microwave and boiling water.
HONORABLE MENTION: MOMMY'S BOOBIES If you want to get baby off to a non-toxic, earth-friendly start, breast is best. For moms who can nurse, breast milk is the only food that provides baby all the nutrients he needs without having to worry about harmful chemicals. It also protects both mom and baby against a host of illnesses and diseases. Breastfeeding, which the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends we do for at least the first six months of baby's life, is also kind to the environment. It's a renewable resource that doesn't need to be packaged or transported. It saves energy and is virtually waste free. How is that for reducing your carbon footprint?