Sierra's Guide to Sustainable Baby and Toddler Necessities

Seven safe, natural and ecofriendly products for little ones

By Avital Andrews

December 12, 2016

Parents of small children are some of the most eco-minded citizens out there—they care not only about protecting their little ones from harsh chemicals, but also about selecting products that are gentle on the planet they'll leave behind. To help parents with those choices, we scoured the massive market for sustainable baby and toddler products and narrowed it down to seven of the greenest, most useful items for tykes.

Ergobaby's Organic Carrier

ERGOBABY's Organic Carrier is the brainchild of clothing designer Karin Frost, who became a new mother at 41. Dissatisfied with existing slings, she stitched together a custom carrier. After many people asked her about it, she launched Ergobaby in 2003. Her invention has since become indispensable for many parents. It keeps arms free for washing dishes, answering emails, and tending to older siblings. Made from soft, pesticide-free cotton, the Ergobaby is comfortable for babies and includes adjustable shoulder straps, a sun-blocking hood, and a zipper pocket for stashing snacks and wipes. Photo by Kira Stackhouse. $130, 

Plantoys' Balancing Tree Game

So bright and cute it could double as nursery decor, PLANTOYs' Balancing Tree Game aims to develop creativity, logic, motor skills, and an understanding of cause and effect. Its six birds and 11 elongated stacking blocks fit in almost infinite combinations. The carbon-neutral company manufactures the games in Trang, Thailand, where abundant, native rubber trees used to be burned when they got old and could no longer produce latex. Now, PlanToys turns them into brain-building playthings via a chemical-free kiln-drying process. Photo by Lori Eanes. $15, 

All Good organic Kids Sunscreen

After the Honest Company flap—plaintiffs sued Jessica Alba’s green brand, alleging that its “natural” sunscreen was mislabeled and didn’t work—parents scrambled to find an eco-sunscreen they could trust unreservedly. Enter ALL GOOD, whose organic Kids Sunscreen is biodegradable and made mostly from plants. Most important, its 22.5 percent zinc oxide content means your kid won’t get scorched. All Good is a certified B Corporation and a 1% for the Planet member, and it never tests on animals. Photo by Lori Eanes. $16 for a three-ounce tube,  

Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddles

In 2006, mother of four Raegan Moya-Jones started ADEN + ANAIS, introducing Americans to muslin swaddles, a baby-care basic in her native Australia. The blankets have become much loved for their versatility. They double as a nursing cover, burp cloth, stroller drape, tummy-time mat, light blanket, or, in a pinch, changing table. Their finely woven, organic material is warm and soft yet still breathable and is made from cotton grown without pesticides or other nasty chemicals. Photo by Lori Eanes. $55 for a three-pack,

Bloom Baby's biodegradable Sensitive Wipes  

It's important to choose baby wipes that do their (ahem) duty, so you don't have to toss more than one per incident. BLOOM BABY's biodegradable Sensitive Wipes are bigger than your average wipe and thick, durable, and soft. They're created from sustainably derived plant cellulose and contain no fragrance, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, or chlorine (so they're great for sensitive skin). They're also made in the United States at a wind-powered factory. Photo by Lori Eanes. $30 for a 640-wipe box,

Seventh Generation's Protection for All Diapers

The question of whether cloth or disposable diapers are easier on the planet is tricky—one load of home-laundered diapers uses up to 50 gallons of heated water, while 16 billion diapers pile up annually in U.S. landfills. SEVENTH GENERATION's new Protection for All diapers are a happy medium. Decorated with forest animals, they're unbleached and made with pulp fiber from FSC-certified forests, and they contain no petroleum-based lotions, fragrances, or chlorine. Oh, and they work: We tested them on a toddler with nary a blowout, a rash, or even a leak. Photo by Lori Eanes. $15 for 27 diapers or $28 for 93 diapers,

Emily Natural Crib Mattress  

Considering that small babies should sleep up to 16 hours per day, you may sleep better if your child is in a nontoxic bed. The Emily Natural Crib Mattress is named for the daughter of Tim Masters, who hand-makes every mattress he sells on his site, MY GREEN MATTRESS, in a small factory in La Grange, Illinois. Emily had asthma, allergies, and eczema, so Masters set to work making a product worthy of her crib. Knowing that conventional mattresses are sprayed with chemical flame retardants and made with synthetic off-gassing foams, Masters designed one with none of that, instead using organic cotton and insecticide-free wool, which acts as a natural fire barrier. $249, including delivery and a 10-year warranty,

This article appeared in the January/February 2017 edition with the headline "A Natural Start."