Thursday, February 18, 2010

The eco-nomical baby guide

When Liam was just a few months old, I stumbled upon The Green Baby Guide. I was new to the blogging world and was just beginning to discover the wonders of finding like-minded mamas all over the world. In my little circle here in Northwest Arkansas, I have many wonderful friends with young children of their own, but I struggled with feelings of isolation. NWA has its own little pockets of crunchy people, but no one I knew (yet) had similar philosophies of child-raising. People who cloth-diapered their babes. People who favored wearing the little ones in wraps and slings instead of carting them around in strollers, lugging them around in car seats, or plopping them in various battery-operated gizmos. People who were concerned about plastics, processed foods, and other toxins. People who cared about all these things but still seemed normal. I found all of these things in Joy and Rebecca's posts.

And so it was with a great deal of anticipation that I dug through their first book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down to Earth Ways to Save Money and the Planet.

The main message of the book is simple: buy less, buy used, and buy items with the health of your child and the planet in mind.

Their advice covers the entire spectrum of new parents, from those who are not (yet) concerned about environmental impact to the tofu-eating, prius-driving, straw-bale-home-living greenies. Their recommendations are practical, proving that you don't have to be rich to afford raising baby green.

They give the financial run-down of their own preparing for baby purchases, comparing their own spending with both the national average and the ever-popular Baby Bargains. Together, they saved an average of 85% of what the average American spends on baby gear, and 75% of what the average baby bargain shopper would spend.

Their common-sense approach does away with big-box store baby registry must-haves, and instead focuses on baby's real necessities (page 24):
  • a place for baby to sleep
  • a way to feed baby
  • a way to diaper baby
  • a way to keep baby warm
  • a way to care for baby's health and safety
They go into detail about what this practically looks like, and they acknowledge that this won't look the same for everybody.

My thoughts towards baby necessities were very similar leading up to Liam's birth. We chose to simplify things as much as possible, and I don't regret any of those decisions. In fact, he still has more than he needs, despite our best intentions to make-do with less.

I wish that I would have had this book before he was born almost exclusively for the fantastic chapters on cloth diapering. I knew that I wanted to cloth diaper, but I had no idea what this would look like on a practical level. My online research revealed a bewildering assortment of options, everything from pre-folds to A.I.O.'s (all-in-one diapers).

This book goes through all of the options available today, stressing that cloth-diapering today is not only just as easy as disposables, it's also even enjoyable. They list the pros and cons of the different diapering options as well as the cost factors, including the facts about energy usage and laundering supplies and what to do about smelly diaper issues. They also give the run-down on the "green" disposable diaper options. They even include diagrams of how to actually use pre-fold diapers in a cover without pins or snappis. I had to figure out a lot of this on my own. These chapter's alone make the book a must-read.

That, and the words of wisdom by yours truly on page 72...

All of that said, I think the book is great. It's a great resource to have on hand and to pass along to inquisitive friends. Crystal, this book is coming your way :-)

The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down to Earth Ways to Save Money and the Planet is available on Amazon.


  1. Wow! Thank you for the excellent review! We also felt like cloth diapering what such a mysterious process when we first started out. My baby was born seven months before Joy's, so we started emailing each other back and forth trying to figure it out. A few months after her son was born, Joy said we should write a book about it . . . and now it's finally here.

    I'll link to your review on the GBG next week!

  2. I need this book! I've been trying to make my baby registry as green as possible, but it's so hard to do on a budget! Plus, since I'm a first time mom I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to folding diapers, etc. I think this book will have to go on the baby registry I've been working on at!

  3. Hi Dorothy! I'm not sure now how I found your blog, but I'm so glad I did. I have cloth-diapered since my oldest was 1. However, in the past year since my oldest son was diagnosed with food allergies I have learned so much about natural, healthy eating. We've also completely switched to natural cleaning & personal care items. It is a slow process, but we're getting there--one change at a time. It is so nice (and helpful!) to read about someone that I know who is interested in living more naturally. It is something I don't really talk much about with my friends because I think they would think I was nuts! Anyway, I just wanted you to know your site is very helpful & inspiring.

    Leah Ellcey

  4. Does that mean you contributed to the book on pg. 72?! How awesome! Can't wait to read this - sounds like it would answer a lot of my questions. Love you.

  5. @Mindy

    Thanks for stopping by my site. I remember feeling overwhelmed and inadequate before Liam was born because I knew we couldn't afford to go all-organic and eco-friendly. At least that's what I thought before I realized that sometimes the greeenest option isn't going with the green versions, it's simply doing with less... The only baby-entertaining gizmo we purchased was a -used- bouncy seat (we never used the vibrating function, instead Gabriel and I took turns bouncing it...)which proved indispensable for our fussy sons first few months. No walkers, exersaucers, baby gyms, etc. Baby's actual needs are really simple, and creativity can go a long way.

  6. @Anonymous


    We need to get together sometime. It's funny how Siloam can feel so stinking small and yet so many worlds apart.