By Caelus Green Room

Making sure your nursery is a nontoxic environment is especially important because newborns spend most of their life in the nursery—an average of 16 to 17 hours a day.

The following in an excerpt from the book The Ultimate Guide to Greening Your Home.

By following the tips below, you can help ensure a safe, eco-friendly environment for your nursery.

1. Paint with low- or no-VOC latex paint.

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Painting with low- or no-VOC paint may cost more than conventional paint, but it will release fewer or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into your home.

VOCs are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids including paints. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to 10 times higher) than outdoors.

As with other pollutants, the extent and nature of the health effect from VOCs depend on many factors including level of exposure and length of time exposed. These may be more severe in infants.

2. Opt for hard flooring or natural fiber carpets and rugs.

Synthetic carpeting is treated with a variety of environmentally threatening chemicals that emit VOCs.  By using carpets and rugs made from natural fibers such as sisal, jute, wool, coir, or organic cotton, these dangerous VOCs can be avoided.  Although, for carpeting, make sure no VOC-containing adhesives, backing, or underlay pads are used during installation.

Hard flooring can also be an eco-friendly option for nurseries.  Hard flooring will not trap as much dirt, dust, and allergens as rugs and carpets can. There are many varieties of hard flooring available, such as bamboo, rubber, stone, tile, cork, natural linoleum, and wood.

3. Furnish your nursery with eco-friendly baby furniture.

Wooden furniture, such as cribs, high chairs, toy chests, rocking chairs, and changing tables, are often made from mahogany and other tropical hardwoods, which are harvested by clear-cutting environmentally sensitive areas. The deforestation this causes leads to erosion, run-off pollution in waterways and global warming.

Furniture made from wood that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council comes from sustainably managed forests or made from rapidly renewable resources such as bamboo are green options. Additionally, buying secondhand furniture does not contribute to further deforestation.

4. Use organic, nontoxic cleaners and laundry detergents.

Conventional household cleaners often contain toxic chemical cleaning agents which can irritate infants” eyes and skin. Laundry detergents and fabric softeners also contain chemicals and fragrances which can cause irritation.

5. Additional tips.

Also consider some of the following tips:

  • If you are pregnant, do not do any painting yourself.
  • Any painting should be done at least a month before the baby is due.
  • Your baby will spend many hours sleeping and at times will need the room to be dark and peaceful during the day. Consider wooden shutters (with a nontoxic paint or finish) or aluminum mini-blinds that will allow you to adjust the light as needed.
  • Your crib needs to be as pure as possible in every way. Choose real wood, natural finishes, and untreated pure fabrics such as cotton and wool, preferably organically grown.
  • Most toys sold in major toy stores are made from plastics. Plastic is a major contributor to indoor air pollution. Try to find natural cloth and wood toys instead.
  • Be sure the nursery is well ventilated but not drafty.  A well ventilated nursery will not only give your baby fresh air, but it will also reduce the need for air fresheners.
  • Only use natural, chemical-free air fresheners.

This article was originally published in Caelus Green Room. Photo by Debbie Cerone/Flickr.

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