Are you expecting a baby? Or know someone who is? One of my most frequent questions is how to make a baby nursery safe without going completely nuts in the process. Not easy to do when you start reading and learning about all the toxic chemicals we run into on a day to day basis. Babies are small and developing fast, so they are ultra sensitive to their environment, naturally! Here are my Top 5 things to focus on when putting together your nursery.
1. No VOC Wall Paint – You and your baby will spend a lot of time in your baby nursery and if you plan on painting it before your new arrival, consider the fact that wall paint, traditional paint, emits VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) into the air as the paint dries and after. Other finishes, glues and adhesives, carpeting materials and padding can produce them too and some VOCs are suspected carcinogens. So keeping the air as clear as you can by selecting VOC Free paint is a good step. The only reason I list this over carpeting is that some parents don’t have a choice about flooring. If you can stick to hard woods and a natural rug, great but not everyone has the option. Painting is something a majority of new parents do. So choosing something that won’t affect air quality is ideal. There are many on the market, but you have to be careful because while the base paints may be free of VOCs, the dyes and colorants added to make that perfect shade of pale blue or pink, might. One brand I trust is Mythic Paint who I have inquired with and they assure me that their paints and colorants are all VOC Free.
2. Natural Crib Mattress – Ok I know what you’re going to say. “But they are so expensive!” and yes compared to commercial mattresses in baby stores they do carry a higher price tag. BUT! This is the one thing I think is worth the splurge. If you’re going to do anything to make your nursery a safer environment, this should be it. Your baby will be on it for up to 18 hours a day (babies sleep a lot!) and will continue to spend a huge chunk of each day and night napping on it. Traditional mattresses can contain flame retardant treated foams, phthalates, and vinyl. It’s wise to choose a crib mattress that is made with a more natural approach. My top choice is always Naturepedic Crib Mattresses. Along with the major concerns that also avoid the use of potential allergen materials. I have used a Naturepedic through TWO rough and tumble boys and it still looks brand new. It will go the miles and outperformed my expectations. My youngest still sleeps on it as a toddler mattress. I support this product not because they are one of my sponsors, but because I truly feel this is one of the safest options out there.
3. Furniture – Baby furniture can also be a source of indoor air pollution if it’s made with pressed particle board or MDF which can off gas formaldehyde and other VOCs. Hard wood is the best choice. Used furniture is an option but beware when buying used baby cribs – check to make sure the crib has not been recalled and avoid drop side cribs, which are no longer up to safety standards.
4. Safe Body Care Products – Skin care products are high on my list. Babies have this thin and easily penetrable skin that is so vulnerable to chemical exposure. Why would you slather your perfect newborn with synthetic ingredients, artificial fragrances and potential hormone disruptors? Choosing safe skin care can be hard to do and of course, there is always a cost issue. Brands free of as many parabens, phthalates, petro-chemicals and synthetics are best. My top choices include Earth Mama Angel Baby (I recommend ALL their products for mom and baby) and Dolphin Organics but there are some to choose from on the Skin Care Cheat Sheet that will meet your needs and price range.
5. Diapering - This is a big topic which I will expound on in the very near future. Diapers are on your baby all day every day, so why not have the least toxic thing next to them? I *know* this can be an area of contention with people who must use disposables versus cloth diapering but if you can swing it, there are tons of cloth diapering options that don’t have to be so messy and complicated. I really like the GroVia hybrid system of diapers that allow you to only have to wash part of the diaper. It’s less laundry and more manageable and has a disposable biodegradable option too. You can find the GroVia line on The Glass Baby Bottle. I used and loved them. BUT, there are tons of cloth diapering options, (cloth diaper enthusiasts everywhere can tell you what to get) it’s just a matter of finding the system that works best for you. If you need regular disposables, and believe me, I get it, try to choose some of the more environmental brands just to avoid the fragrances and phthalates alone.
Of course there are tons of things you can do to de-tox your babies environment, but I think the above five are some we can safely manage and invest in for long term. Car seats, home furnishings and air filters are other things you can look into changing
- Choose HEPA filters for your vacuum and home filtering to eliminate toxins and allergens
- Remove your shoes when you come home – babies crawl down there! You have safe flooring and then track in pesticides, bacteria and lead with your shoes.
- Get some plants – Plants are a great way to filter your home air
- Try to avoid furniture stuffed with flame treated foam.
What are your tips for making home safe for you and baby?