By: Michelle Horton
If you’re committed to a green lifestyle (or if you want to start being more eco-conscious), it’s only natural to take this approach with your baby, too. But it can feel like an overwhelming goal when there’s so much stuff to buy — so much furniture and clothes and short-lived baby gear that only lasts a few months before heading to storage. And what’s eco-friendly about that?
On the other hand, you might be looking into natural baby products for the health and safety of your baby, first and foremost.
Either way, here are 8 tips on making your baby nursery a chemical-free, eco-friendly haven:
1. Use VOC-free or low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint in a well-ventilated roomAnd paint weeks before your due date so that any lingering fumes will be gone by the time your baby arrives.
2. Upcycle used furniture and decorAlthough experts warn that it’s best to buy a new crib that meets the recently revised safety regulations (namely banning drop-side cribs), reusing an old dresser, glider, wall art, etc. is the more eco-friendly approach. (See which other baby products are best to buy new.)
3. Choose quality woodIf you do buy new furniture — such as the baby’s crib — look for furniture that uses real, solid wood with water-based finishes (preferably with an eco-friendly certification like Greenguard and/or wood that’s been sustainably produced). These kinds of cribs are pricier, yet, but their heirloom quality can be passed down to future babies. Examples: Oeuf, Arlington, Nurseryworks, Kalon Studios, and many, many more. "Green" companies will highlight their features on their websites.
4. Choose wood floors over carpetBut if carpet is a must, have it delivered well ahead of time so that it can be unrolled and aired out (preferably not in your baby’s room) before installing it.
5. Use organic, naturally dyed crib beddingIf you’re looking to be as chemical-free as possible, don’t forget about the sheets and blankets (which can contain nasty things like formaldehyde). It’s always good to look for an Oeko-Tex certification.
6. Don’t forget about the mattress!It’s common to hem and haw over the perfect baby crib and then impulsively buy whichever crib mattress is on sale without the kind of extensive research that a car seat — or even a baby bouncer! — might get. But the safety of common crib mattress materials was called into question a few years back, resulting in a 2009 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act that banned several types of phthalates from crib mattresses. The common offender of crib mattresses is typically the waterproof vinyl coverings, which has encouraged companies to find more natural, eco-friendly substitutions that still keep mattresses safe and dry. So in short: Don’t use a questionable hand-me-down crib mattress — especially one that was made before 2009 — and search through this Babble.com guide for a safer alternative.
7. Register for (and buy) eco-friendly baby productsYou might drive yourself crazy sifting through the eco-friendly products at your local Baby Superstore — combing through reviews and labels — which is why I recommend registering through an eco-friendly store like Ecomom or Abe’s Market. Abe’s Market has the biggest natural baby registry, offering thousands of products plus valuable tips and advice. And Ecomom (which also offers a gift registry) does all of the research that you don’t have time to do — conveniently labeling every product with symbols like "organic," "fair-trade production," "recyclable," and "vegan".
See some of my favorite eco-friendly baby gear here and here.
8. Use an air purifier/fresh air ventilationIf you’re not sure which room to use as the baby’s nursery, choose whichever room has the most windows for fresh air and natural sunlight. It’s also a good idea to use an air purifier to reduce common irritants like dust mites, mold spores, and pet dander.
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