Baby Sleep: Green Your Nursery

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  • April 02, 2013
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baby sleep organic nurseryIt’s chic to be green these days, and if you’re considering a green nursery (where you baby sleeps), you aren’t alone. Did you know that a standard crib mattress might contain some pretty harsh chemicals and materials? These include antibacterials, commercial waterproofers, nanoparticles used as waterproofing or antibacterial agents, polyurethane, synthetic latex, vinyl, and antimony, phosphate and nitrogen compounds (flame retardants).

That list is not something that most parents want, or expect, to expose their brand new baby to. So what can you do avoid chemicals and potentially harmful materials in your baby’s nursery?

Do your research

First and foremost, look into your options when it comes to your baby’s room. Maybe it makes more sense for you to purchase a standard (or non-organic) crib, and spring for a really great mattress. I would encourage you to read The Mattress Matters, a report published by Clean and Healthy New York all about the issues and concerns surrounding the manufacture of crib mattress. The report is very comprehensive, and even includes a very helpful chart with the most popular companies and the materials they use (it’s even color coded!).

Decide on your décor

Are you going to paint the walls? Install new floors? Try to aim for healthy alternatives, such as low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint, organic materials, and low-allergen options, such as cotton or bamboo. If you have hard floors, consider some PVC-free interlocking play tiles to encourage comfortable tummy time (just make sure that they don’t contain formamide), or even a cotton floor mat.

Also take a look at the other furniture that will reside in your baby’s room. What about the glider, bookshelves, and changing table? Try to look for pieces of furniture finished with water-based, non-toxic stains or paints. Remember, many children do chew on the furniture at some point (much to mom’s chagrin). If you’ve already purchased the furniture, don’t fret. You can assemble it outside the home (perhaps in your garage) and allow it to air out away from your nursery before baby arrives.

Consider an air purifier

Speaking of airing things out, did you know that indoor air is potentially more polluted than what you breathe outside? When you consider all of the cleaning products, paint, building materials, even nail polish that gets used, it’s not surprising. Rather than having free-flowing air, those chemicals are trapped circling your house. You can help to mitigate potential issues by placing an air purifier in the nursery. Not only will an air purifier help to keep chemicals at bay, one with a HEPA filter will also help stave off allergens, such as mold, mildew, and dust as well. This can be especially helpful if you live in a climate where allergens are common or you are prone to allergies yourself.

Consider cloth and glass

That’s right: take some time and think about using cloth diapers and/or glass bottles. At the very least explore your options. Cloth diapers and glass bottles don’t contain the chemicals of their mainstream counterparts, and (the bottles, at least), require little additional work. Yes, with diapers you’ll have to wash them, but they do have diaper services still if you’d rather avoid the laundry. Did you know that the average baby uses more than 6,000 disposable diapers before they are potty trained? That’s a lot of diapers!

When you’re setting up your baby’s nursery, it’s important to do the best you can. Aim to implement as many of these ideas as are practically possible for your individual situation. Maybe you’ve already purchased the entire nursery, or you’re just getting started. Whatever stage you are at, you can still make small changes, such as organic sheets, allowing the furniture to ‘gas off’ outside of the nursery, and choosing better paint. Small steps can make a big difference.

What did you do to ‘green’ your baby’s nursery?

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photo credit: ooh_food via photopin cc

Kim West
Kim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 24 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. She is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight, its companion Workbook and 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies. Click here to read more about her.

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