Fortunately, with a little creativity, perseverance and time, you can give your bundle of joy safe, eco-friendly accommodations without spending a fortune and I’m going to tell you everything you need to know to get started!
1. Don’t be afraid to buy pre-owned items
I know with my firstborn, the idea of putting her in or on anything that wasn’t brand new was completely horrifying to me. What I didn’t know then that I know now is that new stuff off-gasses all kinds of chemicals into the air and guess what? Your baby is breathing them in. Getting something used (from friends, consignment stores or even Craigslist) means it’s probably already outgassed those chemicals and also, buying used means you’re helping to conserve resources. You can’t get much greener than that. Ideal items to buy used are cribs (check models for recalls and other safety issues), dressers, gliders/rockers and changing tables. As these are also big ticket items, you’ll be saving loads of money right off the bat. Just make sure to clean everything really well with a non-toxic cleaner.
2. Don’t skimp on baby’s bedding
Shop around online for good deals on organic bedding (sheets, crib bumpers etc) and most importantly, an organic crib mattress. There are several varieties — the key is to find one that contains no chemical flame retardants (wool is good natural choice of flame retardant) and contains no chemicals or non-organic materials. This is important because your baby will breathe in anything that is outgassing from the mattress. There has also been some speculation that the chemicals used in conventional mattresses are a possible cause of SIDS.
3. If you have hardwood or tile floors, leave them alone
Do NOT carpet the room. Carpet is the source of much indoor pollution and outgassing. You can pick up organic or natural area rugs for far less than re-carpeting a whole room — or consider FLOR. FLOR is eco-friendly, recyclable carpet that comes in self-stick squares so you can mix, match and make your own patterns while staying green. If you already have carpet and it’s not completely gross, leave it and hire a green carpet cleaning service rather than installing new carpeting.
4. Choose No-VOC paint
Painting is almost always part of setting up a new baby’s room and the new, green No-VOC paints are the paints you want to use. No-VOC means “no volatile organic compounds” which really just means it contains none of the toxic stuff that contributes to indoor air pollution and that you don’t want your baby (or you!) inhaling. No-VOC paint is more expensive than regular latex interior paint but for a bedroom, one gallon may be enough and trust me, it’s money well spent. No-VOC paint is available at most stores such as Home Depot. Just make sure it’s No-VOC or Zero-VOC instead of Low-VOC.
5. Be picky about clothing
Since clothing touches your baby nearly 24 hours a days, organic cotton or bamboo is the best choice for your baby’s layette. Regular cotton is grown with insane amounts of pesticides and if you can avoid it, you don’t want that touching your baby’s sensitive skin. Scour eBay for deals on organic clothing. Try to approximate what season it will be when your baby is a certain size and get off-season stuff for far less. Also, there are tons of stores on the web that sell incredibly cute organic baby clothing—check their sale and clearance pages to score bargains. If you choose to cloth diaper, obviously organic cotton cloth diapers are ideal. If you want to use disposable diapers that aren’t made with chlorine bleach and other chemicals, try G-Diapers. They’re amazingly biodegradable, flushable and compostable.
6. Things to NOT buy for your nursery
Skip on the stuffed animals unless they’re made of materials like organic cotton, hemp, bamboo etc. and keep them to a minimum since stuffed animals are a haven for dust mites anyway. Also pass on the vinyl wall decorations since vinyl outgasses nasty toxins you’d never want your baby inhaling and just say no to unnaturally-scented anything…that includes toiletries like shampoo, baby wash, powder and lotions and other things like scented detergents, air fresheners and scented trash bags or Diaper Genie refills. Scented things are usually made to smell that way with synthetic, petroleum-based chemicals and some components of these chemical cocktails are even known neurotoxins. A hint on whether something is naturally scented or not is to look at the ingredient list. If it lists “perfume,” “parfum” or “fragrance,” you should definitely forgo that item as those words are code for synthetic, toxic junk you don’t want anywhere near your baby.
I know it may seem daunting but I promise following these guidelines will help you to give your baby the safe, eco-friendly space you want them to have. Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments :)
*And if you find yourself in need of a baby shower gift for a pregnant friends or loved one, remembering #2, #5 and #6 can help you to choose the perfect green baby gift!