Eco friendly parenting through the toddler years
Eco-Parenting,  Parenting & Family

Eco-Friendly Toddlers: How to Eco-Parent Through the Toddler Years

Eco-Parenting Through the Toddler & Preschool Years

Toddlers are special creatures. They have so many signals being sent to them all day it’s amazing that their little brains even function.

Toddlerhood and preschool are a time for learning and exploring – perfect for raising an Eco-Kid! Eco-parenting through the toddler years is full of ups and downs and learning experiences for us all.

What is Eco-Parenting?

The main three things we focus on when raising eco-conscious children are modeling eco-friendly behavior, teaching environmental ethics, and using or seeking products that are better for the earth and our health.

If you missed my post about Eco-Parenting: How to Grow Greener Children – read all about it here!
For a recap of how to be an eco-parent in the baby stage, click here.
For the ultimate list of eco-friendly baby products, check out this post.

Here are 3 big ways you can eco-parent through the toddler years

Early potty training

Potty training is a huge topic to start on. There are so many different beliefs and training programs you can follow. Every child is also very different and may or may not respond to the chosen style of training.

But one thing is certain, diapers are not good for the environment. Disposable diapers (even eco-friendly ones) still end up in landfills. (Did you know babies go through about 2,000 diapers in the first year alone!?)

Cloth diapers still need to be laundered frequently and use water and energy to do it. Not to mention our most valuable resource – time!

Whichever method of diapering you choose, the most eco-friendly thing to do is to potty train early and reduce the number of diapers your child uses overall.

Have you heard of elimination communication? It’s learning your child’s bathroom cues and rhythms and starting to toilet train at an extremely early age, even from birth.

Now, I’m not suggesting you go full-on elimination communication. But that is an option! Another option is just to start the potty training process as soon as there is interest from your child.

This could be your child telling you when their diaper is wet or soiled, asking questions about the toilet or process, having long stretches of dry diapers, and being able to undress themselves.

I potty trained my twins at 18 months out of necessity – they refused to keep clothes or diapers on! I couldn’t have them peeing on everything so potty training was a priority. I’m so glad I did because I saved a lot of time, money, and resources.

If you try to potty train and your toddler doesn’t seem to get it. That’s ok. Try again in a few weeks. Every child is different.

Eco-friendly toys

When it comes to toys in toddlerhood & the preschool years, less is best. Keep it simple! Kids get overwhelmed and overstimulated easily and do better with fewer options.

Choose open-ended toys that will stand the test of time and be engaging for years. Toys that they will age out of quickly will end up in a landfill or clutter up your space.

A solid set of wooden building blocks, magnetic tiles, animal and people figurines, and push cars or trains will entertain children in small-world play.

Loose-part play can include using things found in nature or around the house to stimulate the imagination. Think counting, sorting, and designing with size-appropriate rocks, gems, sticks, buttons, bottle caps, rings, corks, spools, shells, pinecones, and more.

Loose part play is incredibly sustainable as most of these items are recycled and repurposed from household items.

Another form of this can be creating artwork from materials meant for the garbage or recycling bin. With some paint, glue, and creativity, your toddler can stay busy for hours!

Sensory play is another great thing to include in your repertoire with clay, dough, sand, and water. (Not all at the same time, though!)

Overall, pass on electronics or toys that require batteries. These tend to break quickly and kids outgrow them even faster.

For the Best Eco-Friendly Toddler Toys, see my post here!

Embrace hand-me-downs

Another way to be sustainable with your toddler is to purchase or acquire things second-hand. Kids grow so fast and it can be such a waste to continually purchase brand-new items. Not to mention disposing of after!

Clothes, shoes, toys, and playroom/bedroom furniture can be found at thrift stores, online second-hand markets, and even in buy-nothing groups.

My favorite thing to do is find a group of friends with kids older and younger and swap clothes throughout the group.

Me, my sister, and 2 other friends have been swapping our children’s clothes, shoes, and toys back and forth for years. It has saved us all so much time and money and kept trash bags full of clothes out of the landfill. I love our micro-circular economy!

Teach kids to donate or pass on unused clothes and toys regularly. By purchasing from and shopping at thrift stores, we keep perfectly good items in use and give them a second (or third or fourth) life. Reducing waste is the name of the game when it comes to thrifting.

Eco-Friendly Toddlers

Raising Eco-Friendly Toddlers

Potty training, sustainable toys, and embracing hand-me-downs are amazing places to improve upon environmental practices but don’t forget how important the day-to-day is.

Your children are learning all the time. Walk or bike places, turn off lights when you leave the room, teach them to turn off the faucet while brushing their teeth, show them where the recycling goes, foster a love of the library, get out in nature…all these daily practices add up to a lifetime of eco-friendly habits!

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How do you encourage eco-friendly behaviors in your toddlers or preschool kids? Let me know in the comments!

For more green-living tips, click here!


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