After spending thousands of dollars on organic baby products, I got a reality—and budget—check.

March 10, 2010

This time last year I was about to pop with my first child. I was in full on nesting mode and driving my husband crazy with demands for assembling our eco-friendly, Latvian-made (nothing from China, please!) crib. I also took pains to find a nontoxic baby mattress filled with coconut husks coated in natural latex (whatever that means). And of course I made sure that my baby’s first onesies and pajamas were made from organic cotton. All in all, we—and our very generous friends and family—spent thousands of dollars outfitting little Willa’s natural nursery in anticipation of her arrival.

There’s nothing like the concept of a brand new, totally unadulterated life to put you on the defensive against chemicals and environmental contaminants. But the realities of the recession and high price of living in New York set in six months later, just when Willa’s first batch of baby clothes stopped fitting her. Suddenly an organic footed onesie for $28 seemed entirely impractical when I could get really cute ones for $4 on sale at OldNavy.com, plus free shipping. I will admit that I never could bring myself to dress her in the flame-retardant, acrylic sleepers my mom sent.


(Getty Images)

For health- and eco-conscious parents who want to give their child the best start without going bankrupt, maybe the best approach should be light green. Because newborns spend up to 16 hours a day sleeping (they continue to sleep about 12 hours a day for the first 5 years of life), it's probably smart to invest in an organic mattress. And since they’re now ubiquitous, buying anything other than BPA-free bottles and nipples these days would likely qualify as child abuse. But buying organic clothing, bibs, and booties that babies might only wear for a few months may be overkill. Think about how often your child will be using a product before forking over the lion’s share of your salary for something “green.”

I’ve decided to limit Willa’s exposure to toxins by feeding her organic food—when and where I can with BPA-free utensils. And since she has a birthday coming up, it certainly would be nice if relatives want to gift her with some nontoxic wooden toys. If not, that’s OK too.

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