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10 Ways to Green Your Nursery


In a toxic world, it's best to keep your sensitive, growing baby's "toxic load" as light as possible. Sure, using an organic cotton sheet might not be a huge deal, but when you add that to cutting out fake scents, not using furniture with formaldehyde, and dropping chemical-y plastics, it could make all the difference for you and your babe—even just cracking open a window can help get you started. So here's our guide to creating a green, not crazy-expensive nursery.

  1. Get an Organic Mattress
  2. Little baby feet in bed on white sheet

    Your little one is on her mattress more than any piece of furniture—more than half of her time. Do what you can to make it free of chemicals. Search for "eco crib mattresses" and look around. It might be pricier, but if you can splurge on anything, let that be it. And don't go second-hand—studies show used mattresses can increase the risk of SIDS.

  3. Cut the Electro Smog
  4. galvanometer in lab illuminated with neon light

    Things like wireless baby monitors, wifi routers, and even alarm clocks all give off Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs)—basically excess electric energy that's thrown off into the atmosphere. Studies show that EMFs can affect mood, development, health, and overall well-being. Some experts suggest using only monitors that plug in and keeping them at least three feet from the crib. Others also advise limiting devices to the essentials; the less electronic "smog" in your nursery, the better.

  5. Use a Solid Wood Crib
  6. baby sleeping in a wooden crib

    Of course you can spend major money on a fabulous crib that's totally free from toxic glues, paints, and binders. Or you can look for one that causes the least harm and still go easy on your wallet. Companies like Ikea and DaVinci offer solid wood (no pressboard) cribs with either no paint or non-toxic paints that won't off-gas nasties while baby sleeps. (Also, of course check that your crib model is compliant with all the latest safety regulations).

  7. Green from the Ground Up
  8. Knitted fabric wool texture close up as a background

    If something reeks out of the box, chances are you don't want it living in your nursery. Many acrylic rugs have this off-gassing problem, as do some natural fiber rugs with plastic backing. See about getting a natural fiber rug sans plastic. Think: those round or oval cotton woven rugs, a flat cotton weave, or an all-wool version. (Pictured rugs are from Garnet Hill).

  9. Ditch the Scent
  10. Package Cosmetic

    Any product's fragrance that doesn't come from natural essential oils is synthetic. We don't fully know what these do, so why have baby breathing in fake chemical smells if it's not necessary? Use lotions, wipes, and dipes that are unscented, or scented naturally, either with essential oils or just natural goodness like pure coconut oil.

  11. Put in a HEPA Air Filter
  12. Humidifier spreading steam

    If you live in a polluted urban area, chances are your air is less than pristine, with many micro particles that can contribute to asthma and other problems. It can't hurt to pop an air filter in baby's room to filter this out. As a bonus it can also act as a white noise machine and a fan, which have been shown to reduce the chances of SIDS. We like the Whispure from Whirlpool, but many options exist. If you can, HEPA filter is best, though you'll need to change it out periodically.

  13. Use No-VOC Paint
  14. Can of white paint with brush

    It's gotten so accessible and affordable to use no-VOC paint that there is really no reason not to. VOCs are Volatile Organic Compounds that may contribute to myriad health issues and may continue to off-gas for some time after the paint dries. Home Depot's Behr makes a no-VOC line, as does Benjamin Moore.

    Bonus: You'll also avoid the stink yourself while you paint.

  15. Go Phthalate-free
  16. Bisphenol A Free badge

    Do your best to make sure the toys in your baby's nursery don't have phthalates (BPA, bisphenol-A is one of them). Health problems may abound from this series of chemicals in plastics like vinyl; soft plastic containers; and flexible toys. Though some laws are now in place to protect against these chemicals going in baby products, they're by no means obsolete. Especially since baby will spend many months popping every toy in her mouth, read labels—look for "phthalate-free." And if a well-meaning relative gives you a plastic toy that smells to high heaven, you can be sure that's a phthalate-laden plastic at work. Maybe it will get "lost" the next time you tidy up.

  17. Open a Window (Safely)
  18. Secure anti-theft burglars-proof window locking mechanism

    Some studies show that indoor air pollution is 100 times higher than outdoor! This means that unless you live next to a transfer station, highway, or other debris-generator, open those windows once in a while! Of course you want to be sure they have child safety guards on them or are otherwise protected. A little fresh air can also just brighten everybody's mood.

  19. Use Organic Cotton Bedding
  20. Top view of an unmade bed with crumpled bed sheet

    Conventional cotton crops use a whole lot of pesticides. This is why the organic cotton trend has gotten so strong in the world of baby products. Not only are you protecting baby's delicate skin when you buy organic cotton, you're making the world a cleaner place for farm workers and others exposed to pesticide-laden cotton fields and run-off. We like the affordable crib sheets from American Baby.

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