Caroline McGuiness Brooks from Zero Waste North West and Maria Herron founder of social good company iBreastfeed, recently got together to create a bespoke programme, Zero Waste Parenting Programme, to encourage new parents to reduce their carbon footprint and make more use of local resources and support.
The resulting free 8-week parenting programme is currently being delivered at St. Columb’s Park House on Saturday afternoons, and has been funded by Collaboration for Change and Commoning Possibilities. Topics include cloth nappies, baby wearing, infant feeding, baby-led weaning, positive pelvic health following childbirth, walking and outdoor activities, eco cleaning and an introduction to the new toy library & the importance of play.
Zero Waste Parenting Programme Workshops
The workshops are very informal, baby-friendly and are led by guest speakers who enable parents to explore each topic in more depth. The recent workshop on Cloth Nappies and Baby Slings was attended by a lively group of parents and babies. Caroline McGuiness Brooks outlined the increasing interest in cloth nappies: “The current design of cloth nappies is so much more advanced and convenient now. Plus they save parents money and reduce waste. Parents who are interested in trying out these products can contact the Cloth Nappy Library at the Zero Waste Hub on Spencer Rd”. Caroline went on to say: “The growing use of cloth nappies could have a serious impact in reducing the demand and use of disposable nappies which end up in landfill”.
This workshop also included a hands-on demonstration of a range of baby slings and wraps – items that more and more local parents can be seen using. Baby wearing is a practice that has been used by many different cultures for generations and enables parents to be hands free to get on with some of those essential jobs that need doing. Furthermore a number of studies have shown that baby wearing can be extremely comforting for unsettled babies and can also be positive for bonding & attachment. Following on from this workshop, Zero Waste North West are now considering setting up a Sling Library in Derry.
There was a great turn out last week for the workshop on Infant Feeding which also included practical one to one support for many of the mums who attended which was provided by Helen Hancock, a local glass artist who is also an advanced breastfeeding counsellor with Cuidui. Maria Herron explains: “Most people are aware that breastfeeding is the optimal food for babies – it has amazing health benefits including reduction in cancer, diabetes and obesity risks for babies and mothers. However, not many people are aware that infant feeding decisions can also have a huge environmental impact.
For example, breastfeeding is zero waste, and has a negligible carbon and water footprint” Maria continued “We want to share evidence based information and resources such as that which is available from First Steps Nutrition Trust to help new parents to make informed choices about how they feed their babies.” Maria added, “Breastfeeding can be tough for some mums especially in the first couple of weeks, so we also want to let parents know that there are lots of great local and online sources of support if they need help with breastfeeding.”
The next workshop will focus on Baby Led Weaning & Batch cooking (Sat 30 April 2022) – this will be a useful workshop for any parents who want to learn more about introducing solids into a baby’s diet from 6 months as recommended by the health services. Baby Led Weaning is an alternative approach to puree only type weaning, as it encourages babies to feed themselves with a range of soft foods. Baby Led Weaning is also considered to be helpful for the developmental stage of the baby, and can provide a positive, fun introduction to foods, tastes and textures. Information will also be shared about batch cooking and how to save money by not buying ready-made baby foods which are often high in sugar and salt, as well as being ultra-processed.
A workshop on Self Care & Positive Pelvic Health (Sat 7 May 2022) will be of particular interest to mums in relation to preventing incontinence following childbirth, as this is an issue that potentially can affect 1 in 3 new mums. A step by step guide on recommended exercises will be available and parents will be encouraged to ask questions on how to maintain positive pelvic health. This session will also include some tips about taking care of yourself when you are pregnant or a new parent.
On Saturday 14 May 2022, there will be a workshop about Walking & Outdoor activities. Given the many great outdoor spaces in and around Derry, this will be an inspirational session for families with young children who will also be encouraged to share stories of their favourite out and about places. We are fortunate to be joined in this session by a facilitator from WHSCT who will discuss the ins and outs of walking for well-being. Information will also be available on finding new walks to try out.
A treat is in store with the workshop on Eco-cleaning which takes place on Sat 21 May 2022. We may be inadvertently introducing toxic chemicals into our home with the standard products we buy to clean our houses – this session explores a more environmentally friendly approach to cleaning including some tips and home-made solutions!
The final session of the Zero Waste Parenting Programme will feature an introduction to the new Toy Library which is being established by a local mum on the suggestion of her 5 year old son! This workshop will explore the topics of toys and play, and will conclude with a celebratory picnic in St. Columb’s Park for all involved in the programme.