It’s important that your baby’s nursery be a healthful place; a “green” oasis from the rest of the environment. After all, your infant spends about 60% of his day in the nursery sleeping, being bathed, getting diaper changes or simply enjoying his day. There are a number of great ways to create and maintain a healthful green nursery. Several proven ideas are given below.
Painting the Nursery
How old is your home? If it was built in the 1970s or before, there could be a lead paint problem. This is not generally a serious problem for adults, but can be deadly for infants and small children. Children tend to chew of everything they can get their little hands on. Window sills are always a convenient temptation. Ingesting lead paint can cause headaches, dizziness, pulmonary problems, and damage to the liver and kidneys.
If you’re concerned about lead paint, find a certified inspector who can test for lead paint throughout your home. If a simple Internet search doesn’t help you, check with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They maintain a listing of professionals located around the country. When you repaint any area in your home, especially the nursery, be sure to use paint that is clearly identified as being “Zero-VOC” meaning that it contains no volatile organic compounds.
When initially decorating the nursery, make sure to use water-based finishes for all wall painting and floor finishes. Select carpets made from organic cotton or wool. Add accessory pieces that are made from natural products. Avoid plastics and composite materials.
Furniture that’s Green and Safe
When selecting furniture for the nursery, look for furniture that is made from real wood, not from pressed board or wood-looking laminates. If you find that new real wood furniture is too expensive, consider older second-hand furniture. Older furniture was generally manufactured before wood composites and pressboard was even available, and the old wood has had time for any natural toxins to leach out, making the wood both green and safe for the child. Make sure that second-hand pieces are structurally sound, and refinish them with child-safe paints or varnishes. In many cases you’ll have created a new family heirloom.
The Crib Exception
When you select a crib, consider the material standards discussed above, but you should be wary of buying second-hand. Older cribs most likely do not meet the latest government safety standards with regard to the spacing of vertical slats and use of drop sides. It may cost a few dollars more to buy new, but your child will be safer for your prudence. An organic fiber mattress would be the best choice, but is more costly than the non-organic mattresses that are offered at most stores. If you decide to go with a non-organic mattress, let it air out for several days before using it in the crib.
Child Transportation Items
Even best car seats like Britax Roundabout Car Seat and best strollers are impossible as “green” as wooden furniture. Their design and safety features were developed around the use of various plastics and composite materials. Many of these material use toxic chemicals in their manufacture. Most of these toxins will leach out of the items over time, but unfortunately, they are usually boxed up for shipping as soon as they leave the assembly line in the factory. Try to plan your purchase of these necessary items as early as possible before the child will be using them. Remove them from the shipping carton and let them air out for as long as possible to leach out any toxic gases that may remain.
Window treatments are easy to create using green materials. There is an abundance of choices for curtains and shades made from natural cotton, bamboo, and wood. If you’re a prudent shopper, you’ll never need to put plastic of composite materials in your nursery windows. Babies need lots of sunlight and fresh air. Don’t block your windows’ usefulness with too much decoration. And for the child’s safety, make sure that all windows have secure screens and safety locks.
When trying to maintain a green nursery, toys will be your biggest challenge. It’s difficult to find a toy in a modern store that is not made of plastic, and most wooden toys found at craft shops have pieces that can be removed and swallowed by infants. When the child is very small, soft toys made from organic fabrics are your best bet. As the child gets older, carefully selected wooden toys with non-toxic finishes may suffice. Some plastic toys, however, may be inevitable.
Take the Challenge
Creating and maintaining a safe and green environment for your child will be a formidable task, because most of the modern world is wed to plastics and other composite materials that emit toxins when new. The best you can do is to be selective and prudent when you purchase items for you home and specifically for your child. Although you can’t control the world’s environment, you can control the environment of your child’s nursery. It’s worth the effort for your child’s well being and for your peace of mind.
Amy Brown, a stay-at-home mom, gave up her own career to take care of her two babies and her husband. Now she is an editor of Livesnet, writing baby gear reviews and parenting tips. She’s surely willing to share her own experience and tips. Please visit Livesnet and read her recent article on First Years Wave Stroller.