Eco-novice's Top Five Tips for a Healthy Nursery



Here are some simple suggestions for keeping your baby's nursery healthy and toxin-free.

Use less. I have three children. My youngest is one year old. The more babies I've had, the less baby stuff I've wanted. Even without switching to greener products, you can expose your baby to fewer toxins just by buying and using less. Buy less furniture and decor, use less baby gear, slather the baby with fewer bath and body products.

Borrow or buy used. Many products off-gas most when brand new. So using second-hand products is a great way to reduce your exposure to harmful VOCs. It's also so much less painful when your baby hates the baby gear you got for her if you only borrowed it or paid less than half price for a used version. One exception to this rule is polyurethane foam, which breaks down and sheds tiny particles (which usually contain flame retardants) more as a product ages. I don't recommend buying or borrowing foam products that are more than a couple of years old.

Sleep naturally. Babies spend a lot of time sleeping. Because of this, one of my top priorities when I started to try to live greener was to green the bed. My third baby sleeps on a mattress made of organic cotton and natural latex without any chemical flame retardant treatment, but it took me until baby #3 to get to this point. We use a wool puddle pad for leaks. Whether your baby sleeps in your bed on a king-size mattress or on a crib mattress, I would strive for natural materials without any toxic chemicals (such as brominated and chlorinated flame retardants, or antibacterial and waterproofing agents) if possible, although it's true that such mattresses tend to be much more expensive than the cheapest conventional ones. If you don't want or can't afford an all-natural mattress, look for a mattress with the Greenguard seal which insures that the mattress is not off-gassing harmful chemicals. Strive also for a solid wood (not manufactured wood) crib or bed frame to limit exposure to formaldehyde. Hopefully by purchasing less and borrowing from friends, you will be able to afford the healthy toxin-free bed you want for your little one.

Consider cloth. The first six months are the best time to try cloth diapers. Cloth diapers are far superior at preventing newborn pooplosions (runny poop up the back). Breastmilk poop doesn't stink and can go straight in the wash (it's water soluble and rinses right out). Cloth wipes work so much better than disposable ones. You'll save a bundle of money, since newborns go through a lot of diapers. And you'll keep your baby's very sensitive skin away from synthetic substances during this particularly vulnerable period of life. If you're dead set against cloth, consider using one of the greener brands of disposables (such as Seventh Generation) that discloses all ingredients used, is unbleached, and contains no fragrance.

Lower your expectations. When I try to accomplish too much, I feel stressed. And I've noticed that my baby often seems more fussy and agitated when I am stressed. My sister always likes to say that you shouldn't expect to accomplish anything for the first 6 months of your baby's life (some of my friends like to say the first year). Stress is toxic for you and for your baby. So slow down, take it easy, and just enjoy being with your baby.


7 comments:

  1. Looking back I wish I had purchased natural bedding for my babies. A family member bought our crib for us - we told the, we didn't want a crib but they went ahead and bought what they wanted. As we planned on cosleeping it didn't seem to matter too much at the time. Now my third baby actually spends time in the crib and I don't like that she is sleeping on who knows what. Since we plan on moving to a mattress on the floor soon I try to put it out of my mind for now.

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    1. It's tough when other people gift you something that wasn't quite what you had in mind. I don't have that excuse, but it still took me until baby 3 to have my nearly ideal baby bed.

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  2. I laughed at your comment on the more babies you have the less baby stuff you want. We're expecting our third, and its so true! Guess we have a better idea of what baby stuff our family actually uses. I love cloth diapers, but this will be the first baby to use cloth wipes. Thanks for posting this!

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    1. I'm always shocked to learn that people are using disposable wipes with cloth diapers. Cloth wipes are the BOMB.

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  3. We've been extremely lucky in that, in our circle of friends, many are either just about to have a baby or had one in the last year. So we're all exchanging baby gear.

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    1. That is a great situation to be in. I have many friends in the baby years too, and it's nice to be able to borrow a swing or whatever for a few months instead of buying it. Most baby gear has such a limited window of usefulness.

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  4. Great tips. I am all about the organic mattress and sheets! They might cost more but I think it is so worth it.

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