It is no surprise that parenthood brings a floodgate of marketing and a whole tidal wave pushing the “stuff” you need to navigate this new world of raising a tiny human. And while we won’t pretend there isn’t indeed a big list of “stuff” that makes navigating parenting a bit easier, it can be done more sustainably, cheaper, and with a whole lot less stress than the big box stores and large baby brands would like you to believe. Sustainable parenting is no doubt another level of challenging, but the payoffs can certainly make the work worth it! Sustainable items are often the ones that last longer, are more durable, and can be later passed down or resold.

We have raised our own four babies starting out our journey in a tiny apartment in a very big city and later a rather big house in a very small rural town. These tips and advice will work for almost any parent on either end or in between.

This guide will break down the top items we suggest buying new with tips on how to make them last for additional kids or resale. Followed by the top items you can (and should) snag secondhand and wrap it up with our best DIY tips and hacks.

Top 5 items to buy new + how to make them last

The modern wave of baby registry websites allows expecting parents to curate a wishlist that pulls from any store on the internet. This includes smaller boutique shops and even makers on Etsy! To learn more check out our guide on a multi-store baby registry. Lets dive in to the 5 baby items we encourage families to buy new.

Oeuf Sparrow Crib

1- Crib and mattress

Setting up the crib feels like an essential right of passage for expecting parents. But since the AAP and WHO recommend keeping baby in a safe sleep environment close to their caregiver for at least the first year, it’s likely going to be weeks or even months before you need one. There are some excellent and eco-friendly brands for cribs out there with more hitting the market every few years. Oeuf gets high marks across most reviews and have both been on the market for a long while. We personally have had one for over 10 years, no affiliation, no code to offer we just love it.

When it comes to mattresses you will need a new one every 3-5 years and this is one area where certifications and materials really do matter. In doing our own research for this article, we found one already written that really covers the good stuff in great detail, you can find it here. It boils down to, chemicals, synthetics, and non-organic materials on a crib mattress are a big deal and are worth worrying about. We don’t fear monger and we try to be chill, but its an area we would splurge on.

2- Carseat

Car seats are one area where sustainability gets really tricky and a little icky. Guidelines, regulations, and laws around car seats have changed drastically in recent years. Children often outgrow car seats before they expire but they *do expire* as plastics wear and break down over time. Using a new seat is often the safest option. Additionally, while years ago it was impossible to find, non-toxic and flame retardant free fabrics on carseats they are becoming much more available. Currently nearly every major carseat manufacture has a line with this fabric option!

Safe in the Seat, a certified car seat pro is our go-to for advice and guidance (no promotion/affiliation we just have found her incredibly straightforward and helpful). You can also check out other popular resources The Car Mom or Carseats for the Littles for certified car seat technician advice on a seat that works best for your family, vehicle, etc.

3- Teething Toys

Since teething toys are used by our littlest humans, they will need constant inspection to ensure there are no loose parts, cracks, or rips. A new to each child teether will cut down on the chance of wear and make those daily look-overs a bit less stressful. Natural rubber teethers tend to hold up better than others and are lower-toxin and more sustainable. We are also big fans of silicone/wood combo teethers newer on the market but loved by babies! Easily washable OR even better closed/ hole free options are going to be your best choice here.

4- Cloth diapers

If it is in your plans to cloth diaper more than one child, this is a smart up-front investment that will continue to create savings down the line for subsequent children. Experienced parenting tip: Buy a few diapers to get started to determine the brand and style that works best for your family. Flats and Pre-Folds, All-in-Ones and Hybrids. Its a whole underground culture with a supportive community and online groups to answer all of your questions and help your family choose the best option for your situation. While new diapers will last a full family of children— very gently used diapers can be found since not everyone who starts a cloth diaper journey sticks with it (not that we know anyone in that boat or anything).

5- Bath towels and washcloths

Quality towels will grow with your child, this one may be a splurge and others may disagree but we have given each of our babies a new set of towels that become “theirs” lasting from infancy, through toddlerhood and beyond. Each fresh round of washcloths pushes the previous set into our art clean-up and rag pile. We are big fans of the organic hooded bath towels from Malabar Baby. They are BIG and stay fluffy and absorbent after years and years of use. Investing upfront will save you in the long run.

Top 5 Items to Get Gently-Used

1- Stroller

Most quality strollers will last for several children and have enough life to make it another family. Uppababy offers free tune-ups on a rotating schedule in major US cities to keep the strollers in great working order and extending their time on the road and out of the landfill. We are also especially fond of the Bumbleride brand for their conscious production process and Bob Strollers for ease of parts replacement and quality of materials.

2- Activity Center and Play Mats

Online buy, sell, trade sites are a great place to find gently used activity centers and play mats since these are used for such a very short window of infancy. Arguably you could get away without one at all but this definitely isn’t an item we find is needed brand new.

3- High Chair

A quality high chair should be a piece of furniture that lasts for several rounds of kids. We are partial to the Tripp Trapp which has been used in our own house daily for over 10 years and is still sturdy and has many years of life left in it. Baby feeding expert Real Food Littles has a guide for choosing a baby-safe and appropriate high chair.

4- Clothing

Until you hit those adventurous toddler years, baby clothes are almost always outgrown long before they are worn out. From re-sale boutiques to online groups, sourcing baby clothes second hand is an amazing way to save considerable money and landfill waste for your baby and toddler. Splurging on the occasional special outfit but for every day staples and sleepers, snagging second hand is your sustainable and budget friendly option.

DIY Ideas and Hacks

Decor, dressers, changing pads, and other items that your child will never be in/around unsupervised are fun areas to get crafty and DIY. Be advised all furniture should be appropriately anchored to the wall and decor with small parts that could pose a choking risk need to be out of reach of small children under 3.

A few of our favorite baby furniture DIYs are linked below. We are always looking for new ideas so share them below in the comments!

Frosted Blog on Pinterest

Project Nursery

Happiest Baby

Congrats on this next chapter in your journey. Lets chat over email or DMs if you have more questions or ideas to add to this article.

-Brittany (hello at marleyandmoose dot com)