by Lempi Koivisto
Are you eager to get started on the baby's room and get it all put together? You can shut your eyes and see the lovely, decorated room with a glider in one corner and that oak crib you've been drooling over against the wall.
Of course, you want to make a beautiful and safe nursery for your baby or babies. As you're planning, consider one additional step -- using environmentally-friendly products.
Have you chosen blue or pink for the nursery? The new trend is "green" with more parents-to-be designing eco-friendly havens for their wee ones.
Concerns over toxins in products ranging from crib mattresses and changing tables to teething rings and onesies have sparked the popularity of green nurseries.
Common toxins found in these products include formaldehyde, phthalates and BPA. Their health effects range from birth defects and ADHD to Type II diabetes and early onset puberty.
A few simple steps cut down on toxins and create a green nursery for your baby.
Paint with low- or no-VOCs (volatile organic compounds) will protect your baby from breathing harmful chemicals that are found in regular paint. Paint companies sell low- or no-VOC paints that cost only a bit more than less eco-friendly paints.
Furniture made from particleboard or laminated wood can contain high levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. This chemical has been linked to headaches, asthma and skin irritation.
While solid wood or formaldehyde-free furniture cost more, your baby will be safer and the furniture hold up to a child's demands. You might be buying heirlooms, not just a trendy piece for one child.
Conventional crib mattresses are manufactured with toxic fire retardant chemicals like polybrominated diphenyl ethers. Eco-friendly crib mattresses are filled with wool, which is a natural fire retardant.
If you aren't able to have an entirely green nursery, a crib mattress should top your essential item list. Your baby spends a lot of time sleeping so it makes sense to avoid this high toxin load.
Plastic products often contain BPA, a substance used to make it clear and shatterproof. BPA has been linked to a host of health issues, including birth defects, obesity and breast cancer. As you shop, look for products that no harmful chemicals. BPA-free plastics are on the market and most of them are clearly labeled.
Wall-to-wall carpeting has chemical adhesives that bind carpets often contain volatile organic compounds. The carpet fibers themselves can trap lead, pesticides, and other toxins that you bring in on your shoes. Carpet can become a breeding ground for mold, dust mites, and other allergens.
Hardwood flooring offers one green solution. If you have to lay your own, use non-toxic sealers.
Cork tiles and bamboo floors are also green and sustainable options for your nursery. Cork has a natural softness so it's easier on your crawling baby as well as mom and dad's knees.
Create a soft place for baby to play and a splash of color with area rugs in natural fibers or natural fiber carpet squares.
When designing your nursery, the best thing for the planet and your baby is to think twice before adding stuff to your shopping cart or your registry. Deciding which products to buy and which to skip can outfit your eco-friendly nursery in a budget-friendly way.
A NASA study that found common house plants could be used to clean pollutants in space stations. If plants would purify the air and reduce VOCs in space, why not add a one in your nursery? Plants that do a good job at air purification include English ivy, Chinese evergreen, weeping figs, bamboo palm, peace lilies and spider plants.
Will your baby's nursery be green? Which items do you think are most important in green nurseries? Are you worried about certain products? Sound off!