4 Types Of Baby Products That You Should Buy Green (And One You Can Skip)

Sure, you'd love to buy everything organic for your baby. But if you have choose, which ones matter most?

August 2, 2016

There are more green baby products available now than ever before. That's good news, since parents, environmentalists, and pediatric organizations have ever-growing concerns about the harmful chemicals, additives, and toxins present in many baby products. If you're an eco-conscious parent, you may feel like every product you buy for your baby needs to be green, but that's not always the case—and not always realistic. 

For many baby products, the difference between organic and conventional doesn’t necessarily change the item's quality, says Emily Murray, mother of two and owner of Modern Natural Baby, a natural baby store in Ferndale, Michigan. And where there's no health or quality impact for baby, parents can let personal choice guide their purchase decisions. When it comes to choosing organic, green, and natural products, “parents seem mostly concerned about items related to eating/chewing and sleeping," says Murray. “We recommend parents buy the items that they feel comfortable with.” (Here are 20 things you really don't need to buy for a new baby.)

Find out which green products are must-buys, and which ones you can live without. (Whether you're starting your first garden or switching to organic, Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening has all the answers and advice you need—get your copy today!)

Related: The 5 Most Alarming Ingredients Found In Baby Formula

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Teething Products

Any product that's mouthed on or chewed by infants should be entirely free of any harmful toxins and chemical ingredients. Look for teething aids that are free of Bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates (also known as plasticizers), and Polyvinyl chloride (PVC). There's a reason the popular Sophie la Giraffe teether, while pricey, is a favorite among parents—it’s made from 100% natural rubber and colored with non-toxic food paint, making it a safe choice for baby.

One popular green teething product to skip: Amber necklaces are often touted as a natural remedy for teething—proponents believe the amber beads release succinic acid that acts as a natural painkiller for sore gums. But these claims aren't backed by the medical community. Additionally, necklaces of any kind pose a strangulation risk to newborns and infants, and should be used with caution and constant adult supervision, if at all. 

Related: 7 Foods You Should Never Feed Your Baby

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Bath Time Essentials

Keep things simple for baby bath time. You don’t need to spend money on bubble bath, baby oils, gels, powders, or bath scrubs, which can be abrasive to baby’s sensitive skin. For a newborn, a sponge bath or rinse-down with plain water will suffice. Once you do start using soap and shampoo, choose products that are mild and free of chemicals and fragrance, as added ingredients may irritate baby’s skin.

Lotion is one bath time add-on that's recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). After you pat baby dry post-bath, choose a fragrance-free and hypoallergenic lotion to help prevent dry skin. 

bored baby in crib
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Newborns sleep 14 to 16 hours each day, so making their sleep space clean and green is important. If your budget allows, splurge on organic cotton sheets, a crib mattress, and mattress pad for your little one. Skip crib bumpers and decorative pillows—organic or not—because these items shouldn't be in baby’s crib at all, according to sleep safety standards from the AAP.

baby bottles
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Anything your baby ingests should be as natural and clean as possible. When it comes to bottles—and later, sippy cups—avoiding BPA is the biggest priority. The AAP recommends parents use plastic bottles that are certified BPA-free or opt for glass bottles.

If you're a breastfeeding mom, be aware of what you're putting on your body—nipple creams and breastfeeding balms applied to soothe sore breasts should be free of harmful ingredients, as remnants of these products could be ingested by baby during a feeding session. 

Related: 5 Things To Keep In Mind When Raising A Vegetarian Baby

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The Bottom Line

As with all baby-related decisions, it all boils down to what you, as a parent, think is best. For Murray, a combination of environmental factors and being an example for her children influence her purchasing patterns, both personally and for her store. “For me, it’s important to buy green products for the environmental impact, and the impact on my child,” said Murray. “I also want my children to know how important it is to care for the environment and live sustainably.” Consider all angles, from financial to environmental, before making your baby product purchases to determine what will work best for you and your family.