Not all baby products are geared towards the vegan lifestyle and many raise sustainability questions too. For parents trying to lead by example, here’s our Ultimate Guide to ethical baby products.
With the majority of mainstream baby brands not concerned with catering to the vegan lifestyle, it can be time-consuming, difficult and expensive to stay true to your ethics while parenting. Add in your instant sleep deprivation and new parent brain fog and you’d be more than forgiven for making a few slip-ups, but you don’t have to risk it anymore.
I’ve had a baby and I’ve put in the hours, so please relax, try to enjoy a warm drink (I promise, you will remember what hot drinks taste like one day!) and let me tell you about the vegan baby products that I’ve used. Hopefully, these will help you to avoid any shopping nightmares and will keep your baby happy and healthy too.
Here’s our Ultimate Guide to vegan and sustainable baby products.
Nappies must all be vegan, because they are just wadded paper, right? No. Most mainstream nappies are constructed with plastics and polymers, most of which use catalysts from cow tallow. The use of plastic in nappies is a bone of contention with non-vegan parents too, as there are schools of thought that say it increases the risk of nappy rash, but even if it doesn’t, it has a huge impact on the planet.
Standard nappies do not degrade and will simply contribute to landfill. Think about how many changes you do a day in those first six months and just one baby will leave a lasting impact. There are a few options that I’ve used which not only reduce the eco-impact of keeping bottoms clean but also clearly label themselves as being suitable for vegans.
Eco by Naty
My favourite disposable brand, Eco by Naty products are available as nappies or nappy pants, are labelled as vegan, come in packaging made of renewable materials and ensure no oil-based plastic touches delicate skin. They are not 100% biodegradable but will break down far more than mainstream brands. They also have sweet little positivity mantras printed on the front.
Kit and Kin
The “most accredited eco-nappy”, Kit and Kin prides itself on fun designs and being carbon neutral. Also labelled as cruelty-free and vegan, these nappies tick a lot of boxes, but they weren’t my top choice. I found them small in size and my daughter is pretty tiny. We also had a couple of leaks overnight, which we never have with Naty.
My ultimate recommendation is to use reusable nappies, but I know they can be scary and confusing. Let me break them down for you a bit. I buy size-adjustable reusable nappies from Bambino Mio, with poppers on the front so you can make them as big or small as you need. I prefer the ones with inside pockets for absorbent liners and I buy bamboo liner pads. You can get biodegradable topliners as well (that look a little like a dryer sheet), which sit between the nappy and your baby’s bottom. Essentially, they just catch most of the poop, so you can lift it out.
The only issue with reusables is the extra washing you’ll need to do. We have a very energy-efficient washing machine, but no tumble dryer, so I just took to washing by hand after each change and hanging on our Aga to dry. This left the nappies a little crispier than I would have liked, but a quick scrunch and they were good to go.
If you’re wondering what I did about dirty nappies when out and about, I don’t blame you. I wondered the same thing, so asked a mum-friend. Her solution was to take a fully sealable Tupperware container out with her, to trap in the smell and make for easy transportation. I found it worked beautifully as well and nobody in my local coffee shop ever looked at me in a way that suggested I smelled bad.
It can take a few tries to get the fit and liners right, but once you master reusables, you’ll never look back. There’s also the added bonus that you can sell them on afterwards, because they are a significant investment. When you compare them to at least two years of disposables though, you will be making a huge saving.
Similar to nappies, wipes often have plastics or animal-based lotions included that can upset delicate skin and your vegan beliefs. Here are my favourite ethical choices.
Eco by Naty
Just like the nappies, these wipes are totally suitable for vegan parents who don’t want to contribute to landfill if they can help it. Biodegradable, chemical-free and with no fragrance, they are excellent. I also liked these because they weren’t too ‘wet’. A lot of wipes feel sodden to the touch and leave your baby taking a long time to dry, but these are the perfect middle ground.
The Cheeky Panda
Purified water, aloe vera and fruit extracts are the only additions to The Cheeky Panda wipes, and they really are great. Made from bamboo, they are fully biodegradable but there is a snag: they cost a lot. Baby wipes are something that you use all the time and without really considering being stingy about, meaning that a packet is gone before you know it. In the first few months, these would be a cost-heavy big shop addition.
Reusable nappies are one thing, but wipes are another and take some serious commitment. These are really only a viable option for parents who are at home most of the time, unless you like rinsing out dirty cloths in public bathrooms.
Simple face flannels or cotton burping clothes make good wipes, especially if you can store them in a tub, with some homemade lotion. These are the kind of things you can throw straight in the washing machine with your nappies, or give them a hand wash and get them out to dry. In the interests of full disclosure, I’ve also cut up old t-shirts to use as wipes and they worked well too. Apologies to my old McFly tee.
Nappy rash creams
Until you see it, you can’t comprehend the horror of nappy rash. It’s not a gentle little pink hue, as the name almost suggests, but a glaring red, chapped skin condition that causes a huge amount of distress and pain. Our baby didn’t get a flareup until she was six months old, which I’m so grateful for, but when she did, a program of gentle bathing, followed by thorough drying and a layer of good, vegan-friendly cream was instigated. I liked the following best.
This is one of the few products that actually was vegan, as most seem to contain beeswax for some unknown reason, though frequently just labelled as ‘cera alba’, so beware. Unscented, light and not greasy, this was an easy-to-find choice and didn’t cost the earth either.
I did try other brands, but honestly don’t feel that they performed well enough to recommend them. Child’s Farm was the one for us.
We didn’t need to use a lot of moisturiser, but it is handy to have in. It’s odd how babies suddenly get a dry patch of skin and if you can’t deal with it straight away, it could get really sore. I tried countless brand on myself, in shops, but the following proved the best long-term purchases:
The scent-free softening lotion is a lovely, if expensive, way to keep your baby’s skin snuggly soft and free of dry patches. The moisturiser by Organic Babies works well on any little spots of eczema and isn’t sticky like some creams. This is really key in the first few months, when your little one will be rolling around and picking everything up, like a human lint brush. Trust me when I say that a non-sticky moisturiser will be a welcome choice
As a budget-friendly option, the Child’s Farm moisturiser ticked every box. Non-sticky, no obnoxious fragrance and it contains nothing nasty to worry about either. The pump dispenser is a handy touch too, showing that parents definitely developed the product, as when you’ve got your hands full of a wriggly baby and everything else, the last thing you need is to try and unscrew a cap.
Earth Friendly Baby
The chamomile lotion is amazing. Not artificially scented, Earth Friendly Baby’s moisturiser just has a very relaxing and natural fragrance that does seem to calm a fussy baby, while also keeping their skin nice and soft. I found this a little hard to come by occasionally and online preemptive shopping went out of the window with a newborn, otherwise I would have probably stuck with this option throughout. I use this myself now.
Whatever anybody else says, please trust me when I say that you can bath your baby too much, so if you don’t do it every day, forgive yourself. Baby skin is delicate and when you add a tub full of water into the mix as well, you need to be extra cautious about what you’re exposing them to. I tried just plain water with neutral soap and found that a touch drying, but the following soon became bathroom essentials.
Neal Yard’s Baby Bath & Shampoo bottle, though expensive (this might be one to ask for as a present), is still often reached for in our house. The scent is subtle but comforting and the bubbles don’t irritate. I’m not sure it works any better than the cheaper choice below, but it feels a little fancier and sometimes that’s nice.
Boots’s Bedtime Bath Bubbles was a surprise winner for us. Exceptionally cost-effective, it is cruelty-free, vegan and comes in 100% recyclable packaging. I gave it a go when nothing else looked suitable and I was coming down from two hours of sleep in the previous three days. Imagine my shock when not only did it smell amazing but also washed well, left our baby silky soft and made her drift off immediately. I have to admit that after bathing in it myself, I did too.
Finally, let’s talk a bit about teethers. I went into this issue naively, thinking they must all be suitable for sustainable-minded vegans, but no. A lot of the mainstream options, available in large toy chains and supermarkets, are non-recyclable plastic. Even some of the eco styles, made from pretty natural wood, have been finished with something that has animal derivatives in, which left me scratching my head. That’s when I found these.
Sophie La Giraffe
Are you even really a parent if you don’t get a Sophie? The iconic little giraffe toy that is a hallmark of French parenting, I was so pleased to discover she is a vegan choice. Made from natural rubber, with no vinyl or PVC, she was an instant hit and a perpetual tease for our dog, who loves the squeak she makes. I can also recommend her range of books too.
Boo The Bunny
Another animal teether made from natural rubber, Boo doesn’t have quite the same visual appeal to most parents as, say, Sophie, but I was taken with her immediately. So understated and yet textured to help sore gums, it proved to be the most effective teether possible. We looped a ribbon through the handle so we could tether it to our carriers on walks, as losing it was not an option.