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Parenting: What Does It Mean to Raise a Child in a Green World?

Diaper Duty

When it comes to diapers for your baby, is cloth always greener? Since cloth diapers have to be washed, the way you clean them is important, says Kelley. Her tips for earth-friendly washing and diaper care:

  • Always wash full loads for maximum efficiency.
  • Wash diapers in cold water.
  • Use a high-efficiency machine.
  • Don't soak diapers, use a dry pail instead.
  • Hang your diapers instead of using a dryer.
  • Don't iron diapers.
  • Save diapers for your next baby.
  • If you use a diaper service, ask them about their washing methods. Do they use chlorine bleach? Eco-friendly detergents? How much water do they use?

If you don't want to use cloth, check out earth-friendly disposables, which are nontoxic, hypoallergenic, and chlorine-free.

Other Ways to Go Green

Dressing Your Baby. Look for 100% certified organic cotton on the label, and avoid synthetic fibers. Or buy used baby and children's clothing at garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops, where clothes have likely been washed enough to reduce any chemical residues

Skip the "stuff." It's a myth that babies need lots of gear. For example, instead of bringing your newborn home to a pricey bassinet, put your baby in the crib right away. Don't bother with lots of sterilization equipment – your dishwasher will do just fine. Instead of buying dozens of baby toys, keep your child occupied with measuring cups, plastic storage containers, pots and pans, even the laundry basket.

Get used gear. Buying second-hand on big-ticket baby and child items can save you oodles of cash, not to mention it's better for the environment. Trade or borrow used baby items from friends and family, go to garage sales, and shop at consignment shops. Make sure to check for the status of product recalls and remember that car seats have expiration dates.

Go to the library. Instead of buying loads of children's books and DVDs, visit your local library.

Skip the daily bath. Save water by bathing them every few days instead of daily baths.

Don't track chemical residues, pollen, and dust into your home.  Remove your shoes at the door.

Reviewed on February 14, 2011

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