Baby Basics For the Slightly Crunchy, Eco-Conscious Mommy

Heather Dessinger

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Mommypotamus 33small

I can’t knit little hats. Or sew my own ring sling. I wish I could, but . . .

YOU KNOW WHAT??? I can makes lists of great stuff other people make!

With your help, of course. Would you please tell me what YOU found essential in the early days of mothering? Even though this is my second baby I am still mystified by some of this stuff. Case in point: I didn’t have a good rocking chair with Katie, so I held her and nursed/paced the floor while she fell asleep. Until she was sixteen months old. This time around I’ve decided to save myself the chiropractic bills and just buy a rocking chair. But which one? I need your help! Here’s what I have so far. Let me know what you’d add/change/omit!

#1: Cloth Diapers

Pass the prefolds, please! If there’s anything I’ve learned in my cloth diapering days it’s that what worked for Grandma will work for me (with a few modifications, of course). Fancy microfleece /multi-layer/ all-in-one varieties need not apply.

Natural fabrics beat synthetic ones when it comes to breathability and freshness (synthetic fabrics hold stink . . . blech!)

Back when our parents were slapping prefolds on our parents bottoms everything was cotton. Now there’s hemp. Cha-ching! Katie has some hemp liners for her nighttime panties . . . super absorbent and non-stinky! Love them ; – )

I’ll leave the diaper pins to nostalgia, though. Snappi’s are wonderful.

I’m also looking forward to giving wool covers a try. The lanolin from the wool makes them naturally water resistant. Plus, they’re breathable,Β  naturally antimicrobial, and cute!

If Babypotamus doesn’t do well with wool I’ll go back to Thirsties. They’re synthetic and not extremely eco-friendly, but they really work!

#2: Rocking Chair or Glider

I am “The Princess and the Pea” of rocking chairs. My first chair, a Craigslist regret, was generously picked up and delivered to my house by Gigi. When she tried it she loved it! When I sat down in it all I noticed was the rough bumping motion it made mid-glide while going “CLICK!”

Every time I tried to settle Katie to sleep in that blasted thing it went like this: “HUMP . . . CLICK . . . . You’re never going to get this baby to sleep . . . BUMPΒ  . . . CLICK . . . I’ll help you count the seconds as they stretch into eternity . . . HUMP CLICK . . . I can make this noise forever lady and this baby can stay awake just as long.”

So, with that said, I want a GOOD one this time. Unfortunately, the big comfy gliders are expensive, and I’m afraid to invest too much in a rocking chair that Babypotamus may not like. Suggestions for finding one that is affordable? Any “must have” features? I know ya’ll are going to help me figure this out!

#3: Ring Sling

The first time around I thought ring-slings were old generation, so I opted for the hip looking Hotslings and super-functional Moby Wrap.

Then, while watching another mom discreetly cover her nursling with the tail of a ring sling I had a revelation:

I’ve got to get one of those!

Oh, to be able to nurse discreetly while chasing my toddler around in public. Sounds a lot more fun than suffering through the hungry cries of a precious baby that has to be put on hold too often.

With all the brands and variations available, though, I’m not sure what to look for. Should I get one with a padded shoulder? Who has the best prices? Better yet, who is finished with theirs and wants to sell it to me???

What I Already Have

One essential didn’t make the list because I already have it. How anyone swaddles a baby without a Miracle Blanket mystifies me.

It’s designed to support proper hip positioning, which is super important for development.

Another item we have is the Arms Reach Co-Sleeper. We didn’t use it much with Katie, but I think we will more this time since we want to keep Katie in bed with us while setting aside a safe place for baby.

A couple of things that did not make the list are a double stroller and baby swing. Do I need these? If so, what should I buy?

That’s my list so far. What would you add?

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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

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49 thoughts on “Baby Basics For the Slightly Crunchy, Eco-Conscious Mommy”

  1. Aden and Anais blankets.
    I think I might wait on the swing and see if your baby needs it. It is really easy for swing babies to get dependent on motion to sleep and it’s hard to break them of the habit when they out grow it (can you tell that I am speaking from experience?). With that said, some babies just NEED motion in the early months to mimic the environment in the womb. You could just wear her for naps but that gets old fast.
    A sound machine.
    Wash pod (you can borrow mine)
    We have a Shermag glider and love it. Look on Craigslist.

    • Kate – Great point about babies getting dependent on motion to sleep. That is my biggest concern about overusing any sleep aid. For example, we have a little sound machine and love it. But since we used it every time we put Katie down she expects it now.

      This time I am going to be more deliberate about getting Babypotamus (thank you so much for that cute nickname!) used to falling asleep in different ways.

  2. Did you end up going with the shorn or unshorn? I am so happy you will experience the woolie (some people call them lambies) love!!!

    • Unshorn. I take my friends recommendations seriously ; – ) I haven’t purchased it yet, though. We have X amount to spend and so many different things to weigh I am carefully weighing what is essential and haven’t purchased anything.

      The lambskin is #1 or #2 on my priority list, though, so I’m pretty sure I’ll get one.

  3. Ok..I got all sorts of opinions…ring sling-I love my maya padded shoulder. Tried one without padded shoulder and didnt like it at all. Also love the little zipper pocket the maya has on the tail. laughed at your rocking chair mess the first time around–I too had a garage sale one and it made me cringe when I used it…but it still saved me. So I did researched on best brands ( knew we could not afford them new!) and searched craigslist for those brands. This time around I got a dutailer brand used for $75…best $75 we ever spent! Also the postpartum doula in me highly recommends a great breastfeeding pillow…and not just any one but the Breastfriend. I got one at Divine Consign for less than $15. My one luxury splurge ( if you want to call it that) was my Warmies wipes warmer made specifically for cloth wipes…LOVE it and so does Lexi!! I always thought they were dumb….but since I use cloth wipes consistently and make my own solution, I love this one for keeping them not only moist but also warm! Also–my othr thing that was must have is lots of burp cloths or things to be used as burp cloths…I hate spit up on my clothes ALL the time!! I am a total no-nonsense baby stuff person…and I pretty much buy ALL things used or at a resale store. I also LOVE my swing I got on craiglist that plugs in…and I could go on and on!! But I will stop for now!!

    • Thank you, Lesley. Your recommendations are VERY helpful. One question, what makes the Breastfriend better than the Boppy? I have a Boppy but I’m open to making a switch!

      • Well after my training for breastfeeding consulting, I learned how important it is that baby be supported well with the the right pillow. I thought the boppy did that…until I used the Breastfriend and had others use it…and their really is such a difference in the better support it gives in helping you hold baby up to you versus you leaning down to baby. Boppy is cute and trendy…which is why I think its gets so much press…but the BF pillow is really the best support. Its the only one most all lactation consultants use…which I also think speaks volumes!

  4. I hardly used the swing with my second…she was always in the sleepy wrap or Maya. I got the sit and stand. I used it when my daughter got to big for the sleepy time wrap.It was great when my son go to tired to walk and could just hop on. I loved the Maya. between 6 and 8pm. That is when she would cry and only fall asleep awkward and sweaty in that beloved thing! Never heard of the lamb but man that looks like I could fall asleep on it πŸ™‚

    • Christie – I was thinking maybe the swing would make less sense with #2, so thanks for confirming that. From what I’ve heard from other moms, newborns get the rocking motion more often from being worn while moms chase their active toddlers. Oh dear, what am I in for?

  5. LOL you know I consider chiropractic a necessity. And even if I didn’t (which will never happen), I would still make appointments just to get some social time with our busy friends ; – )

  6. I second the breastfriend. I like that you can snap it on and then pick up baby instead of picking up baby, siting down, getting the boppy situated while trying not to drop baby. And Asher always fell in the crack of the boppy.It is more supportive too. I think I had mine snapped on for the first 3 months of Asher’s life. HAHA
    I have a gender neutral one that you can borrow if a new pillow isn’t in the budget. I also have a swing that you could have. It is the Fisher Price rainforest swing. A friend gave it to us but we already had one. It works but does not have the tray- I never put the tray on though. I only used the swing for when he was asleep, not for playtime. It might be worth it to just have it in the garage just in case you ever need it- and no budget money used! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you, Kate! I am TOTALLY SOLD on the Breastfriend. I am going to add it to my wishlist but if I don’t end buying one before baby is born I may borrow yours for a bit ; – ) I may also take you up on your swing offer just to see if baby likes it before I commit to one. Thanks again!!!

  7. You sound exactly like me upon the birth of our second child. First we are minimalists. We don’t own a crib, have never created a nursery, don’t have a swing, or pretty much anything you see in cute baby stores. I have a rocking chair we got from target but in hindsight I wish I would have upgraded. Things that are good features in a rocking chair: a high back, arm rests that are completly covered in fabric and padding (I’ve bumped a few baby heads with the one we have), a locking feature in the rocking chair AND the ottoman (our target one does not allow for the ottoman to lock which pretty much renders it useless to me), and a cool pull out nursing stool attached to the ottoman. These are all things I wish would be better about my rocking chair. I know Dutailers are expensive but they tend to have all these feature and I didn’t understand what their purpose was until now. If you can find one used go for it. Now that we have baby #3, in hindsight I wish I would have upgraded on the rocking chair.

    Wool covers are awesome as long as you don’t have a mother who was trying to be helpful in washing your diapers that she sticks it in with the diapers on the sanitary cycle on your washing machine and dries it in the dryer. That was $35 gone.

    Baby #3 I’ve used my ABC style carrier pretty much everywhere we go in public and also in the house. I carry the baby on that and hold the other 2 older children’s hands when we are walking in the parking lot places.

    A used bouncer type seat would be nice for the “I need to cook dinner but I don’t wanna burn my baby” times. But currently we don’t own one.

    I ended up getting a Breastfriend with baby #2. Such a huge difference than the boppy. Yes you look oh so fashionable but the back support and the flat top make a huge difference. The breastfriend goes all the way around your waist (if we are to call a post partum saggy belly a waist). So you are set up in a little contraption but it works. With baby #2 I’d read the older child a story for naptime and pat pat her to sleep for nap (which was her preferred method to go to sleep) while breastfeeding the baby in the breastfriend.

    I hope that helps a bit!

    • A bit? That was AWESOME, Valerie! I am using your glider recommendations as a checklist as I sort through Craigslist.

      Re: Wool Covers. Yikes! That’s EXPENSIVE free help!

  8. Heather,

    I had a rocking glider chair with the gliding ottoman with my first. With my 2nd, my husband and I decided to get a rocking leather recliner. THE BEST THING I EVER DID! That was THE most comfortable thing to nurse in. When it was time to nurse, and if Robbie was sitting in it, he had to move. I wouldn’t nurse anywhere else. (unless we were out of course)

    With #2, I found that a lot of things that I used with #1 were useless. Colt (#2) liked the swing for about the first 4 weeks, and that was it. After that, he wouldn’t sit in it without crying. When we moved, we ended up just selling it to a second hand baby store. The bouncy chair, same thing. Only used it for a short amount of time.

    I have no experience with any of the things that you mentioned other than the chair, but I hope this helps.

    Good luck!

  9. Okay, so I can totally relate to your rocking chair dilemma. I want one of those overstuffed comfy gorgeous chairs too, but just can’t afford it. We have one I got off of freecycle when I was pregnant with Gregory. Bobby steam-cleaned it for the arrival of this baby…so it looks better than it did, but it’s just your basic wood frame one with a gliding footstool. I’ve looked on Craigslist, but no one seems to be getting rid of the kind I want. So, I am willing to let my wish go…at least for now.
    As far as cloth diapers…not my cup of tea. I have enough laundry thank you. lol And I am guessing I couldn’t get my husband on board to that idea either. I do have a friend however, that loves cloth diapers. You might find her tips useful. Also on the miracle blanket. Here is her blog.

    I just purchased Balboa Baby Nursing Pillow – Lola. I got it from target. Of course the baby is still in my body, so I have yet to try it out. But it seems to be awesome! I have nursed two for 17mo each…so I can imagine how it would work better than the boppy pillow I used both times.;)

    Hope you have better luck with finding your dream chair.

  10. I loved reading all these comments! Helps be better prepare for what we have coming in 7 1/2 months! πŸ˜‰

    I for sure want to try some of these next time around. I LOVE my rocking glider, it is nothing fancy but I have spent so much time there and have even slept there when needed. I also love that our rocker has a foot stool, I used that alot when I started nursing. We also love our swaddle blanket!

  11. Love your blog! I found it when searching for new recipes to try while to the SP Cleanse. πŸ™‚

    As to baby carriers- I have opinions. (I have three little girls- 6yrs, 4yrs, and 17mo).

    I love the ring sling. You are right about the extra practical benefits they offer. My favorite it from, but I also have one from that I love too. (I also have a pouch carrier like the hotslings, and those are nice when you are getting the hang of babywearing, but the ring sling is really where it is at) The baby moon has slight padding in the shoulder which I could see being nice, but I am very small (5 ft 1 if I stand up really straight) and have narrow shoulders and just feel the padding is too bulky. It does feel nice though. Don’t get a sling with padded rails though, it makes it very difficult to adjust properly and get a good hold on baby. Now that my *baby* is almost 30lbs I am thinking of switching to the Ergo. I am borrowing a friends right now and love it, but not ready to commit just yet.

    I totally agree about pre-folds vs fancy diapers. Although I also love motherease. I am using the same 13 diapers I bought with my first and they still are working. And a wipes warmer with cloth wipes is so wonderful. This is the first baby I got one for and wish I would have done it ages ago. (I have the prince lionheart brand that I bought from and it works great. I use cheap/old baby wash cloths for wipes with just plain water).

    Both the swaddle blanket and the lambskin look wonderful and I now have the start of my new wish list if we are blessed with more!

    Looking forward to reading more here. Always fun to find other crunchy moms doing the things that make people look at me funny for. πŸ™‚

  12. Hi TIffany! I’m really glad you stopped by. It’s always great to “meet” another crunchy mom ; – ) Thanks for your thoughts on the ring sling. I am very tall so the padding will probably make sense for my body type . . . glad to know why some choose not to go with that feature. I hope you come back and offer your insight in future posts. Mothers with experience are especially welcome here!

  13. I’m in the market for a rocking chair, too, after not having one the first time around. My problem is the comfy kind won’t fit into the living room. So I’m checking craigslist religiously for a wooden one padding. I hope you find your perfect chair!

  14. When looking for a sling, I HIGHLY recommend There are SO many more slings out there available other than the maya. You’ll be amazed. There are gathered shoulders styles, pleated shoulder styles, hot dog styles.. and they all affect the wearer differently. I personally recommend a great gathered shoulder style ling. It is the style that distrubutes the weight most easily and effectively across your entire back and torso. There are so many brands too.. but I make my own. I love, but I can’t afford them.. so being able to sew and purchase my own dupioni silk has been great. Deffinatly come on down and check out It’s full of crunchy granola mamas and we are a great community! I’m ClarebearNkids there. Hope to see you there soon!

  15. I love my la-Z-boy rocker/recliner. The one I got is smallish, and has no ottoman, but a fold out footrest so it’s great for our smaller nursery. It is SO awesome to recline while rocking at the end of a long day. Never seen a chair that reclines AND rocks other than this one. The store has great, diverse fabric choices, too. Made in America, and if you get a nice neutral color you can probably keep it long term in your living room once baby is grown. My baby’s room is all in aquas and greens and I got this nice deep olive green color that almost looks brown (will match living room eventually)…but accent it with a nice coordinating pillow and it fits in great!

  16. Oh- and can I recommend that over-the-shoulder-baby-holder sling? I love the padded shoulder, and it is a ring sling, but it doesn’t come “undone” so it’s always in position when you need to use it. My only complaint is that their fabric choices are dowdy… But lots of fabric available to cover baby as needed- i used to nurse in this thing while grocery shopping!

  17. I know this is an old post but I’ve only just found this site, and love the info on it! Wanted to share about lambskin rugs. I’m from New Zealand, where sheep are a major industry. When both I and my brother were born, my grandmother bought for us a lambskin rug, which was common practice here back then, great for baby to lie on, if they peed and the nappy leaked, the wool kept them (us!) warm not wet, etc etc. I don’t remember that bit but I do remember that for my whole childhood the “lambie” had to cover my pillow for me to go to sleep. Which made sleeping over at other houses less strange and difficult. I only stopped doing that when I was about 12 and realized at school camp that that wasn’t what everyone else did. But at the tender age of 39 now, I STILL have my lambie stored away and it will never ever be disposed of! πŸ™‚

  18. As you already know I’m pregnant with #2 and I’m reading this post telling myself that I need to buy a lambskin for this next little one. Where did you end up buying yours? And if you don’t mind me asking, why did you go with the unshorn versus the shorn?

    And thankfully I already know the wonders of the Miracle Blanket – it was really nice to have with M!

    • I bought mine from Bowron and went with the unshorn because I thought it would be more cushiony. πŸ™‚ Micah slept on my chest when he was teeny tiny and then swaddled in his back after that so I wasn’t worried about him suffocating. He was big enough for it not to be an issue when he outgrew his swaddle.

      Someone sent me an article about a fungus and arsenic in lambskins recently (, and I think if I had to do it over I’d opt for the e Kaiser Mimosa since it was processed without chemicals. With that said, the company bashing lambies in the link I just posted is promoting a synthetic replacement, so I’d take their info with a grain of salt.

      • Thanks Heather πŸ™‚ I have actually had my eye on the Kaiser Mimosa one over on the website for some time. Just need to take the plunge and buy it!

      • Heather!

        Just wanted to update you that I did buy a “Blessed Nest” nursing pillow last year (July 2012) and now that I’ve had it for over a year now, I wanted to tell you that I love it! I used it in the last month of my pregnancy to help sleep at night and then used it from day one nursing my little guy. The customer service at the company is wonderful too!

  19. You may not be aware but there is a new(ish) study out from a dr in New Zealand regarding SIDS and the off gassing of harmful chemicals from mattress and…lambskins! I was going to get one of the woolies, but when I was reading up to find a truly non-toxic mattress for my new little one, I saw this, and found out that lambskins contain arsenic, phosphorus, and antimony, all of which give off poisonous gases and could be linked to SIDS. Just as an FYI…not as crunchy as they first appear. And since NZ has a very high SIDS rate, and use a lot of lambskins, I can’t help but take this study to heart.

    • What about Kaiser sheepskins. They are tanned all naturally. Bowron medically santizes theirs so thy are machine washable but don’t use harsh chemicals and whiten with hydrogen peroxide. Kaiser’s Eco baby sheepskin is tanned without any chemicals at all. Check out their website. But the kaiser Eco skins have to be hand washed. I’m in the process of buying one myself and throwing out pros and cons of washable vs truly chemical free. Love to read the study if you can post the link. Thanks!

      • I am still researching other sources Mira, but here’s one study:

        “Mitchell EA, Thompson JM, Ford RP, Taylor BJ.

        Department of Paediatrics, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

        We carried out a nationwide case-control study, comparing 393 case patients with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) with 1592 control subjects, in order to examine sheepskin bedding as a risk factor. Sheepskin use was similar for case patients and control subjects (both, 42%; adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 1.28; 95% CI = 0.92, 1.79). Sheepskin use among the control subjects was associated with socioeconomic advantage. The relative risk for SIDS with sheepskin use was significantly increased in the infants placed prone to sleep (adjusted OR = 1.70; 95% CI = 1.08, 2.67), but not for infants placed in the supine or lateral position (adjusted OR = 0.82; 95% CI = 0.45, 1.48). An interaction between sheepskin use and bed sharing was also found. Sheepskin use was associated with a decreased risk of SIDS among infants sharing beds (adjusted OR = 0.61; 95% CI = 0.38, 0.99), but an increased risk among infants not bed sharing (adjusted OR = 2.25; 95% CI = 1.32, 3.86). We conclude that if an infant needs to be placed prone to sleep for medical reasons, a sheepskin should not be used as underbedding. However, for infants placed supine to sleep, sheepskins are not associated with an increased risk of SIDS.” source:

    • Hi Crysta! Yes, I did recently run across that research and have been looking into it – thanks for reminding me about this post so I can come back and update! My little one is almost two now – oh how time flies!

  20. Now that you have 3 kids…would you be willing to share a list of things that seem to work best for you? I’m especially interested in the cloth diapers as I am trying to make the switch, but I don’t even know where to begin as there is SO much out there. Maybe you could do a “cloth diapers: 101”??? Wishful thinking:)

      • Has Heather already written about her cloth diapering preferences somewhere? I’d like to start using them too, but am having a hard time deciding which method/style to utilize. (Cheap-ish, but simple, and not too bulky is what I’m interested in to get Husband involved.) Would love to hear what the baby potami use! πŸ™‚

        I’m reading this post now after doing a search for what her solution to wipes is.
        Heather, could you share what kind of wipes and wipe solution (water/diy mix/etc.) you like to use on your little bottoms, please? Thanks so much!

  21. Hi,
    We recently purchased an arms reach co-sleeper for use when we bring our baby home from the hospital but I’m concerned about whether or not the mattress pad it comes with is safe given one of your other posts on toxi mattresses. I was curious if you bought a special pad for the co-sleeper or if you use the one it comes with? I’d appreciate any recommendations you have. Thank you!

  22. I have a couple questions about cloth diapering. I am due in late November with our first child, a boy πŸ™‚ My husband and I are very excited! But back to cloth diapers.
    I make our laundry detergent and have read in several different places that washing soda and borax should not be used on cloth diapers. Have you found this to be true? Will these affect the absorbency of the diapers?
    Also I am wanting to use reusable wipes as well but am having a hard time finding a wipe mixture that does not include some type of Johnson& Johnson product, which I DO NOT want to use on my baby. Any suggestions?

    • I don’t know if this is still useful, you’ve probably figured it out by now, but you can just use water for your cloth wipes. I usually get a bunch wet and then wring them out and put them in a container with a lid (an old disposable wipes container works really well). You can also make a solution with a few drops of Dr. Bronners liquid castille soap in water, and add some essential oils if you like. Tea tree oil is good, and lavender. Not all essential oils are gentle enough for baby’s skin, so you might want to look into which ones are safe.