When you’re expecting a new baby, designing and creating the perfect nursery is on the top of your to-do list. There are lots of decisions to make and the biggest factor to keep in mind is safety. Eco-conscious parents can start protecting their new bundle of joy before he or she is born by selecting products that are healthy and green.
To guide expecting moms and dads in the right direction, the co-authors of The Peaceful Nursery – Healthy Home and Lifestyle experts Laura Forbes Carlin and Alison Forbes (http://www.inspiredeverydayliving.com) – offer the following seven suggestions for making your nursery healthy and eco-friendly:
- Clean With All Natural Cleaning Products: A study by the Environmental Protection Agency found that pollution inside a home could be two to five times higher than outside the home, even in large, industrialized cities. Household cleaning products are one of the causes of indoor air pollution. Many household cleaning products contain chemicals such as ammonia and phenol, which can irritate your skin and lungs, and can cause headaches. All-natural cleaning products are widely available in stores these days, but you can also make your own using ingredients such as white vinegar and baking powder.
- Buy Organic or Untreated Fabrics: Organic cotton is grown without the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, soil fumigants, and fertilizers. Fabrics made from organic cotton are not treated with chemicals during the manufacturing process, either. Look for clothes and sheets made from natural materials like linen, wool, hemp, bamboo, silk, and organic cotton. If organic products are too pricey, look for untreated fabrics, since twentieth century inventions like “permanent press,” “wrinkle free,” “stain resistant,” and “flame resistant” all rely on fabrics that have been heavily treated with chemicals. Organic and untreated are better choices for the planet and, of course, your baby.
- Decorate With Eco-Friendly Materials: Paints can give off toxic fumes known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These chemicals can remain in the air even after the paint is dry. Non-VOC paints are a healthier, more eco-friendly alternative. No matter what, paint your nursery at least a month in advance of your baby’s arrival and keep the windows open, so that the majority of any VOCs and other solvents will have time to dissipate. You can also use natural paints, such as milk paint or natural lime paint. Look for furniture made with organic or untreated fabrics and PBDE-free foam. You may also choose to buy furniture made from FSC certified wood, which guarantees the wood is from a responsibly harvested forest.
- Buy Second-Hand Furniture or Borrow From A Friend: Check in with friends who may be ready to unload some of their baby furniture, since a lot of it is only useful for a short period of time. Used furniture more than five years old has most likely off-gassed the majority of toxins in finishes, paint or construction, which makes buying or borrowing used furniture an excellent way to be health conscious, stay within a budget, and practice recycling. However, be aware that hand-me-down cribs may not meet current safety standards and older furniture made before 1978 might contain lead paint. Check to make sure your hand-me-down crib is up to current standards with the Juvenile Products Manufacturer Association at http://www.jpma.org/.
- Keep It Simple and Don’t Get Caught Up in the Hype: When shopping for your baby, keep in mind you may not need everything that’s recommended. For example, if you have a dresser that’s an appropriate height for changing the baby, you can just buy a changing station “top” for the dresser. Or you can change your baby on the floor or on your bed… it’s up to you. Perhaps you will decide to simply use bio-bags to dispose of diapers rather than buy a fancy diaper pail. It’s easy to over-buy in anticipation of your baby, especially if you never been a parent before and aren’t sure what you’ll want or need. We suggest visiting a friend who parents in a way you relate to, and asking her advice.
- Keep A Shoeless Home: Shoes track in dirt and pesticides from outside onto our floors where babies spend a great deal of time. Remove your shoes before entering your home and avoid using pesticides and insecticides in your yard.
The Peaceful Nursery features a quick and easy shopping checklist of all the right items to buy for the nursery, along with tips about what to avoid, and an explanation of what chemicals are often found in each product. A paint guide, tips on everything from helping baby sleep to uses of color, and a section on how to arrange your nursery are also included, along with video insights from the app’s co-authors. You can find additional information at http://www.inspiredeverydayliving.com/inspired-living-apps/
The Peaceful Nursery ($1.99) has versions compatible with iPhone 3 and iPhone 4, as well as iPod Touch. The app for iPhone is available from Apple’s App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at www.itunes.com/appstore.