One of the more exciting aspects of getting ready for a new baby is decorating her nursery. There are so many options to choose from: a theme, color, furniture style and bedding and decorating choices, to name but a few. And while readying your little one’s room is filled with so many decisions, one important consideration is how environmentally friendly and safe the room can be. There are decorating choices you can make which can be healthier both for your baby and for the environment.
An inexpensive and relatively easy decorating touch for your nursery is painting the walls. Many paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and they can produce potentially harmful fumes. But now even most retailers carry low or no-VOC paint options and in as many color choices as traditional paints.
When considering flooring, although plush can be soft and snuggly, going carpet-free is best for baby. Like paint, new carpet and padding can emit toxic fumes into your nursery. Additionally, carpet is very difficult to clean thoroughly, and can harbor dust, mold and mildew that can be potentially harmful for your baby.
Instead of carpet, opt for a sustainable wood floor with throw rugs. Wood floors are much easier to thoroughly clean, and rugs can be removed to be washed. Be sure to research your flooring choices carefully, though, and look for woods that are renewable, recycled and that have low emissions from VOCs and formaldehyde.
Choosing furniture can also have an impact on both the environment and your baby’s health. Opt for solid wood furniture when possible as composite woods can emit fumes from formaldehyde. And new furniture is not always best for the environment; this is a great time to consider second-hand furniture or to recycle pieces from other rooms in your house. But proceed with caution: make sure any baby furniture placed into use is safe by researching the Consumer Product Safety Commission for recalls and alerts. And, if the furniture is antique and painted, be sure to test the paint for lead; do not use any product with lead paint, as this can be very harmful if ingested.
Avoid using second-hand cribs and when you buy new, make sure the crib bars are sturdy and have the optimal spacing to prevent injury to your baby. If your crib contains turned wood, check the spacing at the most narrow and widest parts to make sure the crib meets all current safety specifications.
Your baby’s bed is one the best and easiest places to go green. When choosing sheets, blankets and mattresses look for natural materials grown organically: cotton, silk, bamboo and hemp, to name a few. Not only will baby be comfy and cozy in bed, you can rest well knowing you are helping the environment.
While creating a “green” nursery may feel overwhelming at first, a few simple considerations can make a world of difference for both the health of your baby and the earth. And you’ll be glad to learn that most of the major retailers are now offering “green” options in almost all nursery furnishings. Enjoy the journey!