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10 Tips for Healthy, Green Babies

Easy ways to have a happy, healthy newborn

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Parents looking for ways to have happy, healthy, green babiescan use these 10 easy tips. It's simple to bring your healthy baby into a green, more sustainable home. From your green nursery to eco diapers and green baby clothing, make your child and your home healthy, safe and natural.

1. A Green Baby Shower

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Even if you're having a green baby shower, remind your friends and family that it isn't necessary to shower you or your new baby with lots of consumer goods. After all, green living isn't about things you buy -- it's about things you don't buy. If, however, there are things you really do need and can't find second-hand, then register for products made of safe, sustainable materials at Go Green Baby, Nayla Natural Care, or Green for Baby.

2. Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby

Choosing organic food and other healthy alternatives can help to reduce your baby's exposure -- and yours -- to toxins like mercury, lead, pesticides and arsenic. Babies can be exposed before birth and through breastfeeding, so removing dietary sources of these contaminants as early as possible from your diet is a great idea for both of you. Start by cutting out processed junk foods, then ease back on commercially grown produce and some types of fish (a source of mercury).

3. Is Breastfeeding Really the Best Feeding?

Yes, say most experts: Breastfeeding provides a mix of nutrients and disease-fighting compounds that baby formula can't rival, but good-quality formula is a perfectly acceptable alternative, especially for working parents or moms who have difficulty breastfeeding. There are organic baby formulas available now that include all recommended nutrients including the essential fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid). For added safety, use glass bottles with silicone nipples and powdered formula to avoid exposure to BPA (bisphenol A), a dangerous endocrine disruptor found in many plastics.

4. The Green Diapers Debate

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Wars have been won and lost on the playing fields of Eton -- and in the Green Diapers Debate. Cloth diapers have been shown to have a low environmental impact compared to disposables, and though cloth diaper services can be pricey, these may have the lowest impact overall due to their economies of scale. Disposables, however, are often the best option for busy working parents, those who use a public laundromat, or for babies in daycare (where disposables are sometimes required). Try finding well-reviewed disposables like Seventh Generation, Earth's Best or another chlorine-free disposable.

5. New and Used Green Baby Clothes

The most sustainable clothes that green babies can wear are hand-me-downs from friends, family, thrift stores, or your baby's older sibling. Costly new baby fashions will last about a minute before getting splattered with food and bodily fluids anyway, and your baby is going to grow out of them in a matter of weeks. Alternately, you and your gift-giving loved ones can choose to buy clothes and blankets made from organic cotton, wool, hemp or other fabrics.

6. Skin Care for Healthy, Green Babies

Babies smell sweet and fresh anyway, so why cover them up with fragranced powders and lotions? Some folks swear by olive oil for baby lotion, and others use calendula salve for diaper rash. When buying other baby skin care products, look for those with organic, natural ingredients that are free of dyes and perfumes.

7. Green Laundry and Green Cleaners

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Because you'll be baby-proofing your cleaner storage under the sink -- even 100% natural cleaners aren't safe for kids to touch -- this is also a great time to replace your household cleaners and laundry detergent with products that contain safer ingredients and fewer compounds like alcohol, dyes and fragrance. While you're at it, how about taking all that old paint, drain cleaner and gasoline from your garage or storage down to your local haz-mat recycling center?

8. Indoor Air Quality

If you or anyone in the household smokes, there's no better time to stop than now. Other airborne contaminants include mold, dust, paint fumes and pesticides. Indoor air is also polluted by new carpet, curtains or furniture, all of which can emit some nasty chemical fumes. At the very least, let anything questionable air out for a day or two before exposing your baby to the item.

9. Toys, Toys and More Toys

For anyone who grew up in the era of lead paint, candy cigarettes and Jarts (as I did), toys are incomparably safer these days. Nonetheless, it pays to think about just how many toys your kids really need, and what they're made of. Toys with magnets, batteries and noisemakers aren't right for infants, and even older kids should be kept away from toys containing harmful compounds like phthalates, BPA and lead. The good news: Lots of manufacturers now make toys from wood, organic cloth and other safe materials.

10. New and Used Green Baby Gear

Just like with baby clothes, second-hand furniture and family heirlooms are the lowest-impact way to furnish your baby's sleeping quarters -- as long as they don't contain lead paint, questionable plastics or other unsafe components. Otherwise, look for solid, safe, good-quality cribs and other furniture made from sustainable materials that will last for years.

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