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Help, Please: Jill Fehrenbacher of Inhabitots

Chief correspondent and new mom SuChin Pak finds out how other moms parent

I’ve always prided myself on making eco-conscious decisions when it comes to what I buy, eat, and wear. It turns out, when you become a parent, you spend twice the time considering those things — for you and your little.

Which is why I was grateful to discover Jill Fehrenbacher and Inhabitots. She launched the site, which is dedicated to sustainable modern design for kids, right before having her first child (now she has two). We asked for her expert advice. — SuChin Pak

Why did you launch Inhabitots?
I was about to have a baby, and I was obsessed with planning for the baby’s arrival. I had previously covered green baby topics on Inhabitat, but it was getting a little out of hand. Our younger Inhabitat readers were like, “What gives with all the baby articles? Enough already!” Inhabitots was born August 7, 2008 — the day before I went into labor with my oldest son, Petey.

What are the biggest myths about raising green kids?
That it is somehow more expensive and time consuming and involves lots of fancy “stuff” you have to buy. Kids really don’t need that much “stuff,” especially toys. In fact, now that I have two (and much less space in my apartment), I’m getting rid of all the stuff I accumulated with the first one.

jill fehrenbacher!

What was your most recent parenting reality check?
The things I say in front of my 4-year-old sponge are getting regurgitated back at me at the most inappropriate moments. The latest? Since I’m nursing a newborn there are many conversations that take place involving the word “boobs.” I don’t want my son to think that breastfeeding is something shameful that needs to be hidden. However, I overheard him casually tell my girlfriend, “You have really big boobs.”

Thank-you notes: right away or sometime soon?
The latter. It’s awful. When I get thoughtful thank-you notes from baby mamas, I am so impressed, since I don’t understand how moms find time to write them.

What’s the best thing about being a parent?
The incredible connection to all of life that you feel. Being a parent also helps make you a better person. I think my patience and negotiation, creativity, and diplomacy skills have sharpened considerably since my son was born. Also hearing things like “Is a Petey-atrician a doctor just for Petey?”

jill fehrenbacher!

And the worst?
Sleep deprivation.

What’s the best parenting advice you’ve received?
Your child is going to be (fill in the age) only once, so enjoy it while you can.

Sleep guru: Ferber, Weissbluth, or Sears?
I use a modified version of Sears. I’m generally an advocate of attachment parenting and co-sleeping, but it comes with its own set of challenges — such as how to get your 3-year-old out of your bed when you’re ready to be done with co-sleeping — which Sears fails to address in any of his books. I’m also a big fan of The No-Cry Sleep Solution, by Elizabeth Pantley, for practical, gentle solutions. She encourages self-soothing without crying, for both babies and toddlers.

Mealtime essential?
Lansinoh’s Momma boob-like baby bottle.

Disposable or cloth?
I use the gDiapers flushable and cloth diapering system.

What’s the one non-ecofriendly habit you can’t break?
Long, hot showers. Someday I’m going to set up a rainwater catchment system on my roof with a solar water heater simply so I can feel better about them.

jill fehrenbacher!

Know a parent we should feature in Help, Please? Give us a tweet @dailycandykids and @suchinpak.

Photos: Niki Dankner & Stephania Stanley / DailyCandy