Zero Waste Baby

10+ Ideas for Raising a Zero Waste Baby

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Although raising a zero waste baby seems like a new, sustainable fad, in many aspects it’s simply reverting back to the ways of the old. I know what you’re thinking, that sounds archaic and like a lot of work!

Let’s be real, becoming a new parent is beyond exhausting and can be completely overwhelming at times. More important than almost anything else is the mental well-being of Mum (and Dad). If swapping out disposable nappies for cloth ones just makes you want to cry, then don’t even attempt it.

We are creatures of habit and maybe trying to break an old habit and instil a new one, right at the moment you step into the role of 24-hour personal assistant, is not the best time. I’ve been there. You have my total support!

However, if you are ready to tackle one aspect or maybe even the whole realm of zero waste living, then read on. I have some great zero waste baby ideas for you to have a go at.

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Zero Waste Baby

Wipes

Zero Waste Baby Wipes

Disposable → Cloth Wipes & Toilet Paper

Baby wipes are one of the biggest contributors to the plastic baby waste in our modern culture.

Many of the wipes on the market claim to be ‘biodegradable,’ but it’s quite often greenwashing. If you’ve never heard of ‘greenwashing,’ it’s essentially the practice where companies provide misleading information to give the illusion of being ‘green.’

95% of baby wipes are made from oil plastic. Plastic wipes stay plastic forever.

Eco by Naty

The reality is, plastic will degrade (break down into minuscule pieces), but it will take hundreds of years to biodegrade (decompose) and may release toxins into the environment in the process.

Instead of using disposable wipes, opt for reusable cloth wipes and toilet paper.

Cloth Wipes

For reusable cloth wipes, you can buy pre-made cloth cotton or bamboo wipes. Alternatively, you can use spare fabric that you’ve already got (cut up squares from old sheets or towels). Or, get yourself a stack of nice, soft washcloths, which can be dedicated baby wipes.

Cloth Wipes
Reusable Cloth Wipes (eBay) →

To make life easier, pre-dampen a stack of cloth wipes for the day and store them in a container beside the nappy change area.

If you want to add a little baby-friendly soap or oil to the water, you can do so. Add a teaspoon of coconut oil into a bucket of water with the cloth wipes. Then wring out and stack into your container.

When you’re heading out for the day, you can store the damp cloth wipes in a wet bag.

Nappy Bucket
Nappy Bucket (eBay) →

Throw used cloth wipes into a nappy bucket to soak until you’re ready to wash them. You can pre-rinse soiled wipes before they go into the nappy bucket if you prefer.

Toilet Paper

For wees, I recommend using a damp cloth wipe on baby’s bum. But if you want to reduce the amount of poo that you need to clean off the cloth wipes, keep a roll of toilet paper beside the nappy change area.

You can gently clean up some of the mess (especially easy with solid poos) and flush the used toilet paper, then finish off with a damp cloth wipe. This will eliminate some of the rinsing and soaking of the cloth wipes for you.

? READ: Who Gives A Crap – Recycled Toilet Paper [Review] >

What about Compostable & Biodegradable Wipes?

If you’re not keen on using the cloth wipes or just want something more convenient for when you’re out with baby, go for biodegradable wipes.

Yes, they are a bit more expensive than the cheap, chemical, plastic homebrand version. But, if you’re only using them when you’re out, while utilising the reusable ones at home, you’re already saving a tonne on disposable wipes.

Wotnot Natural Wipes
Biodegradable Wipes (eBay) →

Biodegradable wipes will still take a long time to beak down in landfill, but they’re a lesser evil than plastic-based wet wipes. They’re often made from bamboo which is a fast-growing, more sustainable resource to begin with.

Compostable wipes are really only compostable in commercial set-ups and need certain conditions (high heat, moisture, oxygen, microorganisms etc.) to break down.

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Nappies

Zero Waste Nappies Diapers

Disposable Nappies → Cloth Nappies

The next big contributor of plastic baby waste going into landfill is of course, disposable nappies.

When my son was a baby I had no idea about cloth nappies (it was 2008). By the time I was pregnant with my daughter a year later, I had one friend who was using the modern cloth nappies and I was keen to give them a crack.

Unfortunately, I was royally talked out of using them by all of the women who had exhausting memories of the old terry towelling-style nappies that required a lot of work. Overwhelmed by the thought of two under two as it was, I didn’t end up using cloth nappies.

To this day, I regret it. Modern cloth nappies were something that I wanted to conquer and now I’ll never have the chance. Nope, no more kids for me – I’m a single Mum to two high schoolers. I’m certainly not going back to babies! However, after using cloth pads for about four years I can see how easy it is to get into a routine of soaking and washing.

Modern Cloth Nappies
Reusable Cloth Nappies (eBay) →

The point is, cloth nappies/ diapers are not what they used to be. They come with inbuilt clips so that you can do them up the same as a disposable. Plus, there are multiple clips, so that the nappies will grow with baby over time, meaning you don’t need to buy new ones every time they have a growth spurt.

Sure, there’s an initial outlay, but it’s far cheaper than the cost of disposable nappies over the years until your toddler is fully toilet trained.

Cloth Nappy Styles

  • Fitted Nappies – Made with layers of cloth (bamboo, cotton, fleece or hemp). Require a leak-proof cover & may have absorbent insert. [Slower to dry]
  • Pocket Nappies – Leak-proof outer shell with soft inner layer. There’s a pocket to slide the absorbent insert into & remove for washing. [Quicker to dry]
  • All-in-ones – Leak-proof outer layer with absorbent inner layer. [Slower to dry]
  • All-in-twos – Leak-proof outer layer with absorbent ‘snap-in’ boosters. [Quicker to dry]
Cloth Nappy & Insert
Cloth Nappy Liners/ Inserts (eBay) →

Washing Cloth Nappies

Washing Cloth Nappies

Obviously it’s the washing of cloth nappies that turns people off them. However, just like when using cloth pads, once you’re in the routine, it’s simple.

For wet nappies, pull out any liners or boosters and soak the whole lot in a nappy bucket with water. For dirty nappies, empty what you can into the toilet and rinse the nappy in the laundry. Then throw it into the nappy bucket until you’re ready to put a load of washing on. Hang to dry.

Take a decent sized wet bag when you’re out, to store any used nappies in until you get home.

Eco Disposable Nappies

The reality is, even ‘eco’ nappies are going to sit in landfill for hundreds of years. Landfills are designed to store the rubbish, not break it down.

The only ways to actually compost the ‘compostable’ nappies is to take them to an industrial facility or in a home compost system. However, if you’re going through five nappies a day, home composting isn’t really going to be a viable option. It could work for the occasional nappy when you’re out and about though.

The pros for eco nappies are that they are generally made from more sustainable resources (e.g. bamboo), meaning that the manufacturing process isn’t quite as environmentally taxing. Plus, you won’t find as many chemicals in the nappy.

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Bottles

Zero Waste Baby Bottles

Plastic → Glass or Stainless Steel

Unsurprisingly, most of the baby bottles on the market are all plastic. When it comes to sustainable zero waste baby bottles, there are two styles to choose from: glass or stainless steel. Let’s explore them both.

Glass Baby Bottles

Initially, when I heard about glass baby bottles, I couldn’t help but think of the bottle being dropped (or thrown out of the pram by a 6 month old), with glass shattering everywhere. It seems I wasn’t alone in that thinking as a few companies have come up with rubber and silicone sleeves to protect the bottle and give baby extra grip.

PHILIPS AVENT:

Philips is a well-known baby bottle brand, who now have 120mL and 240mL borosilicate glass bottles within their Avent range. The teats are silicone and you can get a fitted velcro sleeve for each bottle to protect hands against the heat. Unfortunately the sleeves are made from polyester (petroleum-based fabric).

Philips Glass Bottle and Sleeve
Avent Glass Bottles (eBay) →

LIFEFACTORY:

Lifefactory glass bottles are made from a shock resistant borosilicate glass, meaning that you can take the bottle from the freezer to boiling water safely. Included with each bottle is a silicone sleeve, to protect from breakages and slipping during feeding. They’re available in 120mL and 265mL.

The thing I love about the Lifefactory bottles is that you can extend their life by investing in a few sippy lids, which replace the teats as baby grows into toddler.

Lifefactory Glass Bottles
Lifefactory Glass Bottles (eBay) →

HEVEA:

Hevea offer borosilicate glass bottles in 120mL and 240mL with natural rubber teats. The cool thing is that the rubber teats are fully compostable, which is great for zero waste. However, because of their biodegradable qualities, the teats will need to be replaced every 4 – 6 weeks.

Hevea also sell a natural rubber star ball, which sits around the 120mL glass bottle to protect it, plus give baby something to grip onto. Once baby has outgrown the bottle, the bouncy ball can be used as a sensory toy.

Hevea Glass Bottle & Natural Rubber Star Ball
Hevea Glass Bottles (eBay) →

Stainless Steel Baby Bottles

Baby bottles made out of food grade stainless steel appeal to me a lot. They’re unbreakable and stainless steel is very easy to clean and keep sterile. Let’s have a look at the options.

PURA:

The Pura baby bottles are made from 304 stainless steel and are 100% recyclable. They come in 150mL, 260mL and 325mL sizes. There are a range of silicone teats, straws and sports tops available so that the bottles can be used from baby, right through to toddler and beyond.

Some of the Pura baby bottles are insulated, while some aren’t. With the uninsulated bottles you’re able to warm the milk up inside the bottle using a bottle warmer or bowl of warm water. But if you’re heading out, you could pre-warm some milk and store it in an insulated bottle to stay warm while on the go.

Pura Stainless Steel Bottles
Pura Stainless Steel Bottles (eBay) →

KLEAN KANTEEN:

Stainless steel bottles have become pretty mainstream, thanks to Klean Kanteen. They’ve been doing it for years and they even have two baby bottles in their range, a 148mL and a 266mL. There are a range of teats available as baby’s flow needs change.

Klean Kanteen 18/8 stainless steel bottles are break-proof and have a wide mouth, allowing frozen cubes of milk to be easily added to the bottle.

Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Baby Bottles
Klean Kanteen Stainless Bottles (eBay) →

How to Heat Milk in Glass/ Metal Bottles

  • Warm Water: Fill a bowl with warm water (from the tap or warmed on the stove). Sit the bottle in the warm water to gently heat through. It shouldn’t be too hot to touch. Or, you can just hold the bottle under hot running tap water.
  • Electric Bottle Warmer: An electric bottle warmer will warm the milk to a perfect temperature, without any worries about over-heating.
Baby Bottle Warmer
Baby Bottle Warmers (eBay) →
  • Battery Bottle Warmer: Battery operated bottle warmers are great for when you’re out. They will heat the milk nicely whenever you need it.
  • Microwave: Warming in the microwave isn’t recommended as it can reduce the nutrients in the milk and heat unevenly (causing possibly scalding).
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Soothers

Zero Waste Dummy/ Pacifier/ Soother

Plastic → Natural Rubber

If you’re looking for a zero waste baby soother (dummy/ pacifier), check out these natural rubber ones. They are made from 100% pure natural rubber from the sap of the Hevea Brasiliensis tree and are fully biodegradable.

Natural Rubber Soothers
Natural Rubber Soothers →

Being that it’s a natural ingredient, you will need to replace the dummy every 2 – 3 months or when it starts to get sticky. But don’t worry, they’re completely natural, safe and chemical-free.

While the natural rubber dummies are compostable, they will only break down in a hot compost system. Although they’ll still most probably end up in your trash bin, the product itself is 100% natural, more sustainably sourced and will break down quicker in landfill than plastic.

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Change Mat

Zero Waste Change Mat

Disposable Mats → Bamboo Mat

Instead of using disposable, plastic-based change mats, which are all landfill-bound, opt for a zero waste baby change mat (reusable and made from sustainable hemp or bamboo). They’re super soft, washable and can travel with you anywhere and everywhere.

Bamboo Change Mat
Bamboo Change Mat (eBay) →

You can throw it on the change table or on your bed for change time at home, or keep it in the nappy bag for when you’re out at the park, someone’s house or on a road trip when change time pops up.

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Skin Care

Baby massage

Babies really don’t need a lot of skin care, mostly just some mild soap, a nappy cream and maybe some bath oil.

Baby Soap

Newborn babies don’t need soap, just some warm water and a gentle washcloth. From about 4 – 6 weeks you can start using a very mild soap on baby.

For a zero waste baby soap, see if you can get a bar of soap either package-free or packed in a box (which can be burned or recycled).

Ecostore have a nice goats milk and lavendar soap for $2.50, which you can find in the baby aisle at Woolworths.

Ecostore Baby Soap
Ecostore Baby Soap (eBay) →

Nappy Cream

You will definitely need a nice, natural nappy cream from time to time. There are lots of lovely homemade, natural creams on Etsy. Look for creams that are sold in a jar or tin for your zero waste baby.

If you’re up for it, you can make your own simple nappy cream. Once you purchase all of the ingredients, you’ll be able to make multiple batches as you need them.

DIY Nappy Cream INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup shea butter
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp zinc oxide
  • 4 tbsp bentonite clay
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil
Double Boiler - Shea Butter, Coconut Oil
Double Boiler (bowl of shea butter & coconut oil over boiling water)

DIY Nappy Cream METHOD:

  1. Sit a bowl over the top of a pot of boiling water on the stove (double boiler).
  2. Melt shea butter and coconut oil in the bowl.
  3. Stir in zine oxide.
  4. Stir in bentonite clay.
  5. Sit in essential oil drops.
  6. Pour into a jar, let cool, then pop a lid on.

Baby Oil

If your baby’s skin is a little dry you can add a little bit of coconut oil to their bath water. Using a bit of oil on baby’s skin is also nice when massaging. Coconut oil, almond oil and vaseline petroleum jelly are all good for baby’s skin.

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Baby Clothes

Zero Waste Baby Clothes

New → Pre-loved

I know it’s super tempting to fill your baby’s closet with all the cute little clothes you see calling your name in the stores. But the truth is, babies grow so fast. My son was literally in his size 0000 jumpsuits and singlets for 2 weeks!

There are already tonnes of cute and practical baby clothes in existence without having to go and buy brand new stuff.

Check out the thrift stores for zero waste baby clothes while you’re pregnant and pick up bits and pieces as you go along. Ask around to see if your friends or family have outgrown baby clothes that they could pass your way. Have a look on Gumtree and Marketplace for bundles of pre-loved baby gear.

Collect things in all sizes, from Newborn right up to size 1. Bag up each size separately, so when baby has an overnight growth spurt, you can pull down the next size, ready to go.

As you finish up with baby clothes, pass them along to someone else who could use them.

TIP: Don’t store clothes directly in cardboard boxes as they will end up stained. Bag them, then box them.

Browse pre-loved baby clothes on eBay.

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Toys

Zero Waste Baby Toys

New Plastic → Wood, Felt, Fabric & Pre-loved

For zero waste baby toys opt for wooden, fabric and felt toys, as well as pre-loved toys. Wooden and fabric toys are much more sustainable than plastic and will last for years. Once your kids outgrow the toys, you can pass them along to someone else.

Babies also love to explore with house hold items (like recycling and tupperware). Quite often the fancy kids toys get overlooked for interesting object from around the house anyway.

Too many toys can be overwhelming, so keep it simple. Just keep one box of toys out and put the rest in the cupboard to rotate around.

For plastic toys that you’ve got your eye on (example, a walker or trike), pick it up on the second-hand market.

Browse pre-loved baby toys on eBay.

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Food Time

Zero Waste Baby Food

Pre-packaged → Homemade & Bulk Buy

To avoid all of the plastic single-use pouches and packets from the baby aisle in the supermarket, make your own baby food.

Initially you can boil up various vegetables and fruits, mash them, then spoon them into ice cube trays and pop into the freezer. Once frozen, pop them out and store them in a container in the freezer. One for ‘fruit,’ one for ‘veg.’

When you’re out and about, you can pop a few ‘fruit’ cubes into a little container and throw it in the nappy bag. By the time bubs is ready for a snack, the fruit will have softened to be a nice, cool fruit puree.

Once baby has progressed to different foods, freeze up tiny portions of some of your own meals (pasta, rice, bakes etc.).

Instead of buying individually packaged food, buy in larger packs, then portion out with your own containers.

Zero Waste Food Storage:

  • Beeswax wraps
  • Compartment lunchbox
  • Containers & jars
  • Reusable Food Pouches
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Nursing Breast Pads

Zero Waste Nursing Pads

Disposable → Reusable Cloth

When you’re breastfeeding, your boobs can leak… like, a lot. A set of soft, washable nursing pads are perfect for soaking up any milk and they’re easy enough to change in the toilets when you’re out. Store the damp pads in a little wet bag until you get home.

I remember one particular day when my milk was drying up with baby #1. I was going through so many nursing pads that I just jumped into the shower and let my boobs drip. In hindsight, soaking in a bath would have been better – but what new Mum has time for a long, hot bath, right?

Reusable nursing pads are fantastic. The are generally made from cotton, hemp or bamboo. Washing them is really simple, just throw them into a lingerie bag with the rest of the washing and hang to dry.

Bamboo Nursing Pads
Bamboo Nursing Pads (eBay) →
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Keep it Simple

Baby planning

The marketing around baby ‘stuff’ is huge and it’s easy to get swept up in it with all of the excitement. Especially with well-intentioned friends and family members.

Make a list of all the things you really need and when people ask what you’d like for your baby shower – ask for something off your list. If you’re comfortable to do so, explain your wishes that you’d like as much as possible to be reusable or pre-loved.

Consider making your own buntings from scrap fabrics for baby shower decorations, then hang them up in the nursery afterwards to decorate the room.

? READ: DIY Scrap Fabric Bunting →

When it comes to prams, bouncers, jolly jumpers and furniture, look for good quality used items. With a car seat, it is recommended to buy new as you can’t be sure that a second-hand one hasn’t been in a car accident or sustained some damage along the way.

Babies really don’t require as much ‘stuff’ as the well-planned advertising would have us think. Warm clean clothes, comfortable and safe bedding, plus plenty of food and love are the main requirements.


Being a parent can be all-consuming enough without adding extra unnecessary pressure to your plate. If you want to tackle one or a few zero waste baby ideas, that’s totally awesome! But if it all just sounds like too much, you have my full support there as well. Being a happy and present mamma should always come first.

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