If you’re pregnant and looking for a list of baby items for newborns that are eco friendly you’ve come to the right place.
The internet is littered with newborn essentials lists that encourage you to buy baby items you can live without. The truth of the matter is that babies don’t actually need all that much stuff at all.
When I was sorting out my newborn baby shopping list, I was overwhelmed by all the “must have” baby items out there. All I wanted was the minimum baby essentials for the first 3 months.
So here’s what I actually found are the must have eco friendly baby items you need.
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1. Snuzpod Bedside Crib
It may be tempting to try and save money by buying big items second hand, but a crib or cot is something you should buy new. The Lullaby Trust has found research linking second hand baby cots and an increased risk of SIDS.
The safest place for your newborn baby to sleep is in a bedside cot right next to you. Personally I cannot rate the Snuzpod bedside crib for baby highly enough.
Cleverly designed to function both as a side cot for night times and a moveable Moses basket for daytime, the Snuzpod is both stylish and practical. Babies should sleep in the same room as you for at least the first 6 months of their lives for SIDS prevention, so moving baby from room to room is essential.
It also has a rocking stand and can be detached from the bed easily when you are ready to make the transition from bedside to nursery. Although from the looks of the mama groups I’m in, most of our babes have just transitioned from bedside crib to mum’s side of the bed!
Nappies or diapers are obviously high on the list of essential baby items for newborns, but what are the most eco friendly nappies? There are environmental costs to all options but the most eco friendly choices are either modern cloth nappies or eco friendly disposable nappies.
You can see a full breakdown of the benefits of cloth nappies in my Ultimate Guide To Reusable Nappies. It also reveals why both reusable nappies and eco disposable nappies aren’t always sustainable. However, you do need to use nappies of some kind! My recommendation for the best cloth nappy for newborns is the TotsBots Teenyfit STAR.
If the thought of cloth nappies is daunting, then I love Kit & Kin eco disposable nappies. No disposable nappy is 100% biodegradable in landfill, but Kit & Kin still use sustainable materials to create their hypoallergenic eco nappies. They are also completely cruelty free diapers.
With a sleek fit and super cute animal faces on the booty, they’re a stylish choice as well as an ethical one. Before prompt potty training, we used daytime cloth nappies at home and disposables for long trips out and at night.
Having tried almost all the eco nappies available, I can honestly say that Kit & Kin are by far the best available eco disposable nappies available in the UK – and their signature designs are super cute too!
When your baby gets evicted from their nice comfy womb, they’re usually a bit upset about it. Very often they need to be comforted through this by having their birth mother hold them as much as possible. It’s a fair enough request given that her body has been their home for their entire existence!
However, we’ve all got stuff to do and no matter how much you love your baby your arms need a break sometimes. Baby-wearing your newborn in a nice, comfy sling that fulfils their need to be close to you AND gives you your arms back is a win-win situation.
Fabric baby-wearing wraps are a great way to get into the world of baby-wearing. I absolutely loved wearing my newborn baby around the house in a soft wrap like the Ergobaby wrap.
When Ursula was around 12 weeks old I started to feel like I needed something a bit more supportive. I was also going out more by that stage and the wrap wasn’t always very easy to use in public places.
Although I still used the wrap around the home I bought a Close Caboo sling for going out. It was still lovely and soft but was much quicker for popping baby in and out of when going to baby groups.
Like cloth nappies, the best baby sling for newborn babies is very much a personal decision so I’d recommend having a look for your nearest sling library and trying a few different options before investing in anything very expensive.
Wet wipes are high up on the list of baby items for newborns. However n astonishing 11 BILLION disposable wet wipes are being thrown away in the UK every year. This is one area where we seriously need to be going reusable.
Fortunately it’s so easy to go reusable when it comes to wipes. The benefits far outweigh the inconvenience of having to wash them.
As well as the environmental benefits, they’re much kinder to your baby’s bits and bobs as you just wet them with plain water.
Important note: please don’t listen to folks on Pinterest telling you to add essential oils and other random gunk to a cloth wipe solution. Anything other than plain water is no good for a baby’s delicate genitals. This is especially true for girls.
Cloth wipes also do a much better job of cleaning up messy, sticky poop. You’ll find you only use two, maaaaybe three wipes on even the most explosive post-weaning poo. With disposable wipes, you’ll get through half a packet and still wonder if you’re finished.
Then of course there’s the financial saving. We spent £20 on 25 reusable wipes and that’s literally all we’ve had to spend*.
A quick stalk around mum forums tells me that people get through about 1.5 disposable packs a week. At 55p a pack for a supermarket’s own brand I would have spent £61.42 in the same time frame. If I opted for allegedly biodegradable baby wipes (remember: nothing’s biodegradable in landfill) at £1.50 a pack, I’d have spent a whopping £166.50.
Do yourself, the planet, and your bank balance a favour and go reusable with these lovely soft wipes from ImseVimse instead.
*At the time of writing we’d been using cloth wipes for 17 months. We continued to use the same wipes right up to potty training at 24 months.
A good stash of muslins are one of the most essential things a newborn baby needs if you ask me, especially if you find yourself with a super refluxy baby like we did – there’s milky spit-up EVERYWHERE!
Unfortunately, the cotton industry is one of the most environmentally damaging industries there is on the planet, with water consumption alone making it completely unsustainable, never mind the pollution caused by the aggressive chemicals used in its manufacture. Organic fairtrade cotton is really the only way to go if you’re buying new and wanting to be conscious about your environmental impact. I love Storksak Organics’ gorgeously soft muslins which are made from a combination of bamboo and organic cotton to make them feel super soft and yummy. Their stylish Scandi prints are beautiful too.
That said, we got through AT LEAST two muslins a day in the first 6 months, usually more like three or four, so I’d recommend getting some second hand as well as some beautiful new ones, so you can have a decent stash without breaking the bank. NCT sales are perfect for finding bundles of muslins to swell out your organic starter stash cheaply.
6. Swaddle Blankets
A few weeks into my pregnancy I suddenly started to panic that I knew next to nothing about babies and what on Earth you do with them. What should a newborn wear to sleep was among the many MANY holes in my knowledge and I remember spending an inordinate amount of time trying to find the “right” answer to how to cover a newborn baby at night. Sleeping bags seemed to be very popular but seemed far too big and flappy for a tiny newborn.
I needn’t have panicked so much, as swaddle blankets are the quick, easy and comforting solution to the question. Not only do they provide a breathable cover for baby to keep them warm but not overheated when they sleep, the tight binding of the swaddle (sort of like wrapping up a burrito) makes your baby feel nice and snug, as if they are still in the constrained environment of the womb. Swaddle blankets are also a great investment as they continue to be useful even after the newborn phase – ad-hoc changing or play mat, breathable buggy shade, summertime blanket (for an older baby, 12 months+), they honestly have loads of uses.
As with muslins, cotton production methods mean that organic cotton or bamboo are the only ethical solutions when buying new and I adore these ridiculously soft bamboo swaddles from aden + anais. Their prints are so stylish and they are well worth the investment for their high-quality and multitude of uses.
If you’re wondering what do newborns wear, the very simple answer is BABY GROWS and lots of them. As cute and adorable as little baby outfits, dresses, trousers and shirts may be, newborns sleep a lot and are so awkward to get clothes onto that really all you want are big stash of onesies. I’d even go so far as to tell your relatives to only buy baby grows in the way of newborn baby clothes – we were given so many gorgeous little newborn dresses for Ursula, but for day-to-day wear they’re just not practical, so sadly most went unworn.
What did get worn again and again were lovely soft, organic cotton sleep suits and baby grows with newborn vests underneath for extra warmth – the rule of thumb is that, whatever the weather, a newborn baby needs one more layer than you do.
Once again, organic cotton is best and Frugi have a lovely range of GOTS Certified organic cotton, cloth-nappy-friendly baby grows, including many with ZIPS. Honestly, zips are a total game changer when you’re doing middle-of-the-night nappy change and you’ve lost the basic coordination skills required for doing up approximately 50 million teeny-tiny poppers!
8. the gentle sleep book
Not exactly an essential item for a newborn baby, but definitely an essential item for parents to a newborn! I’m a huge Sarah Ockwell-Smith fan and this book is the absolute Bible on baby sleep as far as I’m concerned. It will help guide you through the sleep deprivation not just of the newborn phase but up into the pre-school years – as she says, infant sleep is a rollercoaster and you’ve got many months and even years of sleep challenges ahead of you. This book will help you navigate it all from newborn hourly wake-ups and changes in nap routines, through periodic sleep regressions and all the way up to nightmares and monsters under the bed, all with absolutely NO cry-it-out or other such archaic methods of sleep training.
Sarah’s techniques are truly gentle, child-led, ethical and biologically normative, and they set realistic expectations for you which are so important if you’re going to keep a hold of your sanity over the next few years. I recommend this book so heartily I honestly think it should just be given to you free at your first pregnancy appointment!
9. Bouncer or Swing
When I bought a second hand baby swing at and NCT sale while I was pregnant, I have to admit that there was a large part of me that thought I may have just wasted my money on a completely unnecessary baby gizmo. But when Ursula was a few weeks old, the swing came out of the cupboard and turned out to be one of my absolute essential items.
See, you need somewhere to PUT a new baby who is awake but can’t move or sit up by themselves, and lugging the Snuzpod back on forth between bedroom and living room all the time isn’t always practical. Plus, after a few weeks Earth-side, baby is up for a little bit more interest than just lying down staring at the ceiling and a bouncer or swing with some interesting objects on it can keep them entertained for ages while you potter around doing whatever you need to do.
This is one of those items that’s perfectly fine to buy second hand and, since not all babies take to a bouncer, you might want to hedge your bets. That said, this is a post on the best eco-friendly baby essentials and in my travels I came across this absolutely stunning piece from an artisan maker on Etsy. It’s handmade from natural wood, made from GOTS certified organic Turkish cotton and there are no nasty chemicals in the varnish making it free from harmful toxins too. If you’re looking to splash out or have a relative who wants to treat baby to something special, this would make a great addition to your living room.
10. Weleda Products
If you’re looking for 100% ethical, natural baby products that are high-quality and effective then Weleda are your go-to. Their nappy cream is an absolute miracle worker and, even though it’s got a relatively high price tag, it goes a long way – we’re still using the tube I bought for Ursula as a newborn, although admittedly cloth-bum babies tend to get less nappy rash anyway! I also love love love the calendula baby shampoo and bodywash for when baby gets a bit older (newborns should just be washed in plain water).
They’ve also got mamas and papas covered with their gorgeous Skin Food, a must for parents to newborns who end up washing their hands 50 kajillion times a day (literally, no exaggeration), and luscious wild rose scented facial lotion for when mama finally gets time for a bit of self-care.
11. Bentley Organic Hand Sanitiser
Speaking of washing your hands 50 kajillion times a day, hand sanitiser is a goddess-send when you’ve got a newborn baby. All those nappy changes and wanting to keep germs away from your little one means you’re constantly needing to clean your hand some way or another.
Traditional hand sanitisers tend to be very drying and full of nasty chemicals but this alcohol free hand sanitiser is much kinder to your hard working hands. It’s organic, moisturising and free from parabens yet is affordable and effective, killing 99.9% of germs and wiping out influenza and swine flu viruses so you can rest assured that your hands will be ready to get back to all those lovely newborn snuggles.
12. Bio D Washing Powder
One thing no-one mentions when you get pregnant is how your laundry load is going instantly, as if by magic, quadruple and then quadruple again the second that baby comes out of your body. That’s just one baby, too, heaven help you if you have multiples! 😳
If you’re looking for the best eco friendly washing powder then, look no further than Bio D. It’s the only UK washing powder that ticks all the ethical boxes in one go – vegan, cruelty-free, UK made, minimal plastic, sustainable palm oil sourcing and biodegradable. It’s also brilliant on reusable nappies if my Ultimate Guide To Cloth Nappies has inspired you to try cloth bumming your newborn.
The hope for most mothers, and almost certainly the kind of mothers wanting to do things ethically and with biological normativity in mind, is that they will be able to exclusively breastfeed their newborn baby, at least up to the 6 months minimum recommended by the World Health Organisation. Things don’t always go according to plan when it comes to breastfeeding, though. It may be natural but it’s far from easy for most women and support and access to specialist knowledge for new mothers in the UK is woefully inadequate. No wonder then that we have some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, with 80% of women stopping breastfeeding before they want to.
Having had a traumatic breastfeeding journey myself, I am absolutely not one to try and lecture you on the need to breastfeed if, for whatever reason, it’s not possible or practical for you. Yes, human babies should ideally be drinking human breast milk for the first part of their lives, but women have always had to seek alternatives for breastfeeding due to the intensely difficult and time consuming nature of it. Wet nurses, other family members and, yes, bottle feeding have all been used by mothers for thousands of years, so there is NO SHAME in a 21st century woman seeking alternatives either.
Bottle feeding, whether exclusively or in combination with breastfeeding as I ended up doing, isn’t a particularly eco friendly way to feed your baby and there’s a limit to what you can do about it. If you’re using formula there’s a whole host of environmental problems with that from the use of cattle to the tin packaging, and if you’re pumping breast milk you’ll have to live with some kind of plastic in your life even if it’s just the breast pump.
There are, however, some eco friendly alternatives to plastic bottles that you can invest in to help minimise the environmental impact of bottle feeding. After an extensive search I found that Kleen Kanteen and Hevea are among the most ethical, plastic-free alternatives to traditional bottles. They are an investment and, like all bottle systems, require regular disposal of the silicone teat, however if you are committed to using plastic-free baby bottles then these are high quality and worth the money.
14. Nappy Changing Backpack
When you first have a baby, you’ll need to get used to carrying not just one but two new additions to your household around with you all the time – the second being a nappy changing bag.
So ubiquitous is the nappy changing bag that it feels like a genuine reason to celebrate the day you realise you don’t need to carry half the nursery around with you anymore.
Investing in a good quality nappy changing bag is definitely worthwhile in my opinion given how much you’ll be using it – even when you’re at the toddler stage where you don’t need it from day to day it’s still useful for those longer day trips out, so you may as well get something stylish as well as practical.
This vegan option by Babymel has plenty of room and pockets to help you keep all those bits and pieces well organised, including a thermal insulated pocket to keep a bottle with warm or cold for up to 4 hours. It can function either as a backpack, so perfect for babywearing, as a shoulder bag AND converts to hook onto your pram or buggy. It’s also sleek and stylish enough that it doesn’t scream NAPPY BAG so can serve as a useful item for years to come. On top of that, Babymel as a company started as a small business run by two mums so, although they’ve now gone global and operate across an impressive 5 continents, you’re purchasing from a family-oriented UK-based business.
15. Changing Mat
While we’re on the subject of nappy changing, you’ll be needing a baby changing mat. It’s true that this isn’t technically an essential since you can easily use a towel or muslin to instead of a nappy changing mat, but let’s face it, a mat is far more convenient, especially for out and about. I love the Bambino Mio travel changing mat as a wonderful eco friendly nappy change mat option and I bought two of them, one for home and one for the nappy changing bag.
Although not completely plastic free due to the waterproof polyurethane backing, these mats last so much longer than your traditional plastic covered changing mats and won’t crack and end up in landfills as plastic mats often do.
They have a lovely soft quilted side to lie baby on and absorbent padding to catch those inevitable little accidents, plus their designs are utterly adorable. I recommend using a muslin to cover it when you’re dealing with a poo just to reduce the amount you’ll need to wash and dry it, but ideally get two so you always have a spare one clean.
16. Wet Bags
If you’re going the cloth nappy and reusable wipes route then you’ll need some wet bags. In fact, even if you’re not getting one anyway for swimming and going to the beach, they’re incredibly useful! I’d never heard of them before researching how to use cloth nappies but they’re waterproof bags that can be used in your nursery, diaper caddy, nappy changing bag and basically anywhere in the house to store dirty nappies and wipes, or keep pre-wetted wipes handy.
They come in a variety of sizes but I’d personally recommend getting one big one to keep near your main nappy changing area, a medium one for your nappy changing bag and at least one small one for keeping pre-wetted wipes in either in your bag or in your bedroom for night changes on the bed. Even better, buy some Bambooty Easy Dry cloth nappies which come with a matching wet bag just the right size for a dirty nappy or a handful of wet wipes.
If you’re new to cloth nappies, don’t forget to check my ultimate guide to reusable nappies to get you started on your way to being a cloth-bum-mum!
17. Playmat & Gym
As with the bouncer suggestion above, this is another solution to the question of where do you put a newborn down when they’re awake and not in the bedroom. I got an excellent second hand Mama’s & Papa’s playmat from my local Facebook selling group but if you’re looking to buy new and want something really special, I found these gorgeous handmade wooden play gyms from No.33 Ltd on Etsy.
Made from solid pine and painted in non-toxic paint, these lovely frames are reasonably priced as well as stylish. You can choose from a range of wooden toys to dangle from the frame, and all the toys are treated in organic flaxseed and use non-toxic silicone that is free from BPA and other such nasties. Used it in combination with a custom-made organic cotton playmat like this one from My Happy Place By Jenny on Etsy, your baby will be happy for hours!
18. Cotton Buds
There’s no easy way to say this but I’ll try: when you have a baby, you’re going to be getting up close and personal with all their cracks and crevices to make sure everything is as clean as possible after the latest explosive poop. This is where the humble cotton bud comes into its’ own, but now that a UK-wide ban on the manufacture and sale of plastic cotton buds has come into force, you’ll need a source of eco friendly cotton buds to help you keep your baby’s bits and bobs nice and clean.
I’ve tried a few different brands of biodegradable cotton buds and these organic bamboo buds by Bambaw are hands-down my favourite. With 100% organic cotton tips and sustainably-sourced bamboo stems, they also vegan and support the fight against plastic pollution, as Bambaw donate a percentage of profits to charitable organisations The Plastic Soup Foundation and the 5 Gyres Institute.
19. Coconut Oil
I’m going to tell you this now to save you the trouble of finding out for yourself – coconut oil is the absolute BOMB and every single eco mama needs to have copious amounts of it in her cupboards. Here are just some of the uses you’ll have for this stuff when your baby arrives:
The best results will come from the highest quality extra virgin coconut oil and, as well as being the best coconut oil for babies skin, Suma Organic ticks all the ethical boxes. As well as being organic, it’s vegan, uses non-plastic packaging, is palm-oil free and is sourced from a company in the Philippines that is committed to ethical worker practices and development. It’s also remarkably well priced given the high ethical standards and this 650g pot should last you long enough to make you feel it’s worth the investment.
I hope you’ve found this newborn essentials list helpful and have discovered some awesome new products as a result. Don’t forget about yourself, though – mama needs some essentials too! Fortunately I’ve got a list of my top eco-friendly postpartum essentials list for you right here.
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