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Posted on by Amber Merton
Leading an eco-friendly lifestyle is something that used to be somewhat of a challenge. However, with so much of an emphasis on being more environmentally aware nowadays, being green in the nursery is far easier than you might have thought.
If you’re looking for some natural and chemical-free ways of decorating your little one’s nursery, there are so many ways you can make their room both appealing and safe. Take a look at these awesome ideas to get you started.
Eco-Friendly Paint and Wallpaper
You might not have realized this, but if you live in an older home, it is likely that the walls will contain lead paint. Sometimes this can be buried below many layers of new paint, so it’s important to use caution when you’re scraping off any old or chipping paint.
If you do find the old paint you want to remove is chipping, first sand over it, and then paint it. If you are pregnant, ask someone else to do this, so you protect your unborn baby from the harmful chemicals released in the process.
Always use zero-VOC or low VOC paints to ensure baby’s walls are the healthiest they can be, and remember to always have the nursery painted at least a month before baby is due to arrive.
Nowadays, it is possible to buy eco-friendly wall coatings, free from harmful chemicals, and vinyl coatings. Look for wallpapers made from natural-fibers.
Bonus tip: Get creative and paint a pretty mural on the nursery wall. This not only looks good, but it’s something that everyone can get involved with – especially older siblings who will feel more of a part of everything as a result.
Choose Sustainable Furniture
There are tons of eco-friendly companies catering to parents who’re worried about their kids potentially coming into contact with or ingesting damaging chemicals. You will want to look for the following –
- No-VOC or low-VOC paint
- FSC-certified wood
- Food-grade or 100 percent non-toxic materials/finishes
Also, you don’t need to buy new. Consider the furniture you already own, and figure out how you could repurpose it in the nursery.
Be careful when using or shopping for vintage cribs, however, as they may not be nearly as safe as their modern, and stringently tested, counterparts. If in doubt, check with the manufacturer.
Arguably the most important piece of furniture in your nursery will be the mattress. If at all possible, buy one that is completely chemical-free, as regular traditional mattresses are filled with chemicals, and fire retardants.
Bonus tip: If you can’t avoid buying regular baby furniture – set it up well in advance to give it time for off-gassing to occur. It’s best to do this either in a garage or outdoors as it will take seven days, at least, to get rid of any chemical smells.
Use Natural Organic Fibers
Do your best to use natural-fibers in the nursery. Nothing feels nicer for your baby than organic cotton sheets to snuggle into. You might want to consider an organic cotton mattress protector for the crib as well.
Also, as your new arrival will be spending lots of daylight hours sleeping, consider buying some wooden shutter blinds to keep their room nice and dark.
Take a look at online craft-selling sites to find natural toys, and decor. Plastics are renowned for contributing to indoor air pollution, and a simple search for terms such as “organic baby”, or such, will turn up lots of interesting results.
Although well-meaning relatives will often gift your little one brightly colored plastic toys, it’s important to limit their exposure to these things as they often contain dangerous materials like –
- Phthalates – to keep the plastic flexible
- PVC, and more
Bonus tip: Don’t go crazy buying lots of toys, and “things” for your baby. You only need the basics for now, as over the years ahead, your little one will accumulate piles of possessions.
Now, this is one area of being eco-friendly that many people struggle with. Surely using cloth diapers is so much hassle? Let’s think about the benefits –
- You will save a lot of money using cloth diapers over buying disposable ones.
- You won’t be exposing your little one to lots of chemicals.
- You will be keeping your contribution to local landfill down.
- You can use them again for your next new arrival.
- Rather than needing to use dangerous pins like our mothers, and grandmothers, modern diapers close with Velcro tabs, or snaps.
- Cleaning them isn’t as difficult as you might think. Years ago, it was necessary to flush, rinse, or soak diapers. However, nowadays, you just shake any solids down into the toilet, put the diaper into a pail, and simply tip the diapers into the washer when your pail is full.
Bonus tip: If you really don’t like the idea of home laundering your baby’s diapers, eco-friendly diaper cleaning services are available in many areas. If you have the extra money available, often using a service like this can be a good choice.
If you can avoid it, steer clear of using carpeting in the nursery. The whole process of making carpets involves using chemicals that are no good for the air quality of your home. If you have good floorboards, consider getting rid of any carpeting altogether if you have it.
Another reason to ditch the carpets is that they tend to be less hygienic than bare floorboards. Think about it, wall-to-wall carpets will trap more allergens, and dirt, and are a whole lot more difficult to clean than bare wood.
If you have your heart set on carpeting the nursery, only choose carpets made from completely natural fibers, and that have been colored with vegetable dyes, as well as having latex backing.
Remember that whatever flooring you install, unless it’s natural carpeting, you will need to give the room time to off-gas, to allow the chemicals to dissipate.
Bonus tip: Using bare wood floors, with some beautiful soft natural-fiber rugs, is a perfect choice for baby!
Organic Natural Cleaners
So, now you’ve got all the eco-friendliness down to a T, you don’t want to ruin this all by using chemical-laden cleaners in your nursery. Also, it can be very confusing trying to figure out what products will be best when you know your little one will soon be crawling around, and getting into all sorts of places they really shouldn’t.
With this in mind, there are some important rules to follow when you’re choosing eco-friendly products for the nursery –
- Buy only “green” cleaners that are endorsed by a group such as Green Seal. This is important as Green Seal-certified cleaners cannot ever contain anything know to cause skin sensitivity, or cancer, as well as containing no harmful phthalates.
- Check out the Green Seal site to find out how your favorite cleaning products compare.
- Have a go at making your own cleaning products. The internet is filled with lots of tried and tested recipes for everything from cleaning blinds, to getting the stains out of diapers.
Bonus tip: Making up eco-friendly cleaner recipes is something you can get older kids to help with, so all the family is involved in helping take care of your new arrival. Not to mention that concocting mixtures is a lot of fun!
Wherever possible, air freshening sprays should never be used in the nursery. If you feel you really need to add some fragrance to the room, a little essential oil placed well out of the way of little hands is the best solution.
The best room to use for a nursery is one that has a lot of good ventilation, and that’s bright, and airy, without being drafty. Remember too that natural sunlight is always best for your little one, rather than relying on electricity.
Bonus tip: It’s a good idea to purchase an air purifier for the nursery, even if you have lots of good ventilation. An air purifier will help reduce any irritants that could be present in the room, such as pet dander, mold spores, and dust mites.
Other Things to Remember
As well as the tips above, it’s important to keep a few other aspects in mind when creating an eco-friendly nursery –
- Repurpose wherever possible
- A thrift store dresser can double up as a changing table
- Add a daybed to the room for tired parents who need to rest
- Resist the urge to decorate the room in crazy colors. Muted ones will “grow” with your child.
It’s important to remember that it might not always be possible to know every single material and chemical used in the manufacture of all nursery products. A good rule of thumb to take heed of is that if the smell of a product bothers you, it will upset your baby too, and will likely be filled with chemicals, so don’t use it, or put it near your child.
Planning, creating and decorating your nursery is one of the most exciting parts of looking forward to meeting your new arrival. Knowing you’re creating their space with the safest and least toxic materials will give you and your family peace of mind, as well as giving your baby the best start possible in life.
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