Raising an Eco-Friendly Baby the Thrifty Way

Raising an eco-friendly baby doesn’t have to be expensive. Read about these tips and tricks for going green with your child while saving money.

| February 2013

baby in towel

Photo By Adam Borkowski/Fotolia

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without—our grandmothers knew the importance of responsible thrifty choices. Ecothrifty (New Society Publishers, 2012) by Deborah Niemann is a complete guide for this day and age of living a greener lifestyle without breaking the bank. Covering topics such as personal care products, babies and entertainment, this handy book will show you how small changes can have a huge environmental impact and save you thousands of dollars, all while improving your quality of life. Learn how to raise an eco-friendly baby by choosing safer and more economical choices in this excerpt from chapter 3 “Babies.”

You can purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Ecothrifty.

It was not until I became pregnant with my first child that I began to think about what I ate or what personal products I used. Like a lot of pregnant moms, I started reading books on pregnancy. Most of the books talked about the importance of nutrition and exercise. Knowing what a big difference those books made in my life, I often wonder where I would be today if I had never become pregnant. I started reading labels and was shocked to discover that the blueberry muffin mix I had been buying contained no blueberries, but it did contain other ingredients that I could not pronounce. When I found a blueberry muffin recipe in a cookbook, I realized that the mix saved me only a couple of minutes and that if I made my muffins from scratch, I would know what was in them — and one of the ingredients would be blueberries.

The really significant result of all the reading during my first pregnancy was that I no longer believed something was a good idea simply because everyone else was doing it. I started to question why people did the things they did. Towards the end of my first pregnancy, I was getting very frustrated with my doctor’s attitude that I was an accident waiting to happen, and I was even more frustrated by his belief that he was going to take care of me — and that I didn’t need to worry about making any decisions about my pregnancy or my baby. Three months before my due date, I decided to switch to a midwife. It turned out to be an excellent decision for many reasons, and I went on to receive midwifery care for all three of my pregnancies. In fact, I became so excited about natural childbirth that I became a certified childbirth educator and a certified lactation consultant and went on to work with pregnant and breastfeeding moms for nine years. Having midwifery care during pregnancy was responsible for changing a lot of my habits and attitudes because midwives are very concerned about nutrition and other lifestyle choices that affect your health and the health of your unborn baby. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, the natural lifestyle I chose for my children was also ecothrifty.


You don’t have to think very hard to realize that breastfeeding is an ecothrifty choice. It can be almost free and puts nothing in the landfill, whereas the alternative is costly and creates a lot of trash. There are hundreds of studies showing that breastfed babies are healthier than their formula-fed counterparts. The comparison is similar to that of natural foods and processed foods. When we start creating food in a lab, whether it’s a box of cereal or milk for a baby, all of the same questions about nutrition and safety arise. Just as science does not fully understand why a carrot is good for the body, it does not fully understand why human milk is good for babies.

When scientists start breaking down foods and analyzing them trying to create nutritious food, there will be mistakes. For example, vitamins A, C, E, and selenium can either prevent or cause cancer in various parts of the body, depending on the dosage and how it is administered. Because we lack knowledge about how various nutrients interact with each other and within the human body, experts recommend eating lots of fruits and vegetables, rather than taking a certain dosage of various vitamin pills every day. Although there are plenty of studies that link a highly processed diet with a variety of medical problems and a more natural diet with improved health, more research is needed to figure out exactly which nutrients play what roles in preventing or causing diseases. This makes it challenging to figure out how to create any processed food, and a replacement for human milk for babies is no exception. Indeed, every few years formula manufacturers are extolling the virtues of the latest addition to their product saying that it replicates human milk even more closely.

elderberry, echinacea, bee hive


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