Blog: Greener baby nurseries
Christine Brun, award-winning interior designer, author and syndicated columnist and Approved Contributing Expert for ProudGreenHome:
Baby nurseries get a lot of decorating dollars. But one is as precious as your baby and no bedroom should be more health focused than a nursery. Infants and little children sleep much more than adults do and we reportedly spend nearly a third of our lives sleeping. We need to protect their little bodies from toxins in the air, in fabrics and in furnishings and if it costs a little more to do that, it is a worthwhile investment.
A great place to begin to improve your baby's environment is by using paints with no VOC's. Volatile organic compounds are emitted as gases from some liquids such as paints at room temperature and are harmful to human health. You can also apply a plaster finish to walls made by American Clay, a clay-based plaster made without VOCs containing recycled content from stone quarries. Next consider the crib itself: It is best if it is made of real wood instead of a composite wood material that might contain formaldehyde. Be wary of paints that might contain fungicides or other toxic additives that you definitely don't want baby chewing on.
If you are in doubt — as when someone offers you a second hand crib — refrain from using the crib. This is not a good place to skimp. Know too that regular crib mattresses are made are made from polyurethane foam, nylon, polyester, and vinyl which are all made from derivatives of petroleum. They also are treated with anti-microbial and fire retardant chemicals as well as those that retard wetness, fire and staining. The chemicals can include PBDEs that can accumulate in breast milk and have been shown to inhibit brain development in animals. If your baby is super sensitive it can also cause skin irritations. Instead seek out mattresses made of organic cotton, natural rubber or wool. Then turn your attention to bedding that is made of organic fabrics. Look at these website for cribs and mattresses: heartofvermont.com, erikorganic.com, absolutelyorganicbaby.com, AbundantEarth.com, and naturaleco.com.
Next focus on the floor. Most new parents favor a rug for coziness. Chances are the existing carpet is not free of potential toxins so you might consider removing the carpet in the baby's room. If your floor is a cement slab, clean it and buy an area rug. Some people prefer a small rug that can be washed at home. While this is best in terms of controlling germs, allergens and other pollutants you might want more soft coverage and choose a larger rug. Investigate organic wool to place over a hardwood floor or the cement floor.
My favorite carpet resource is FLOR and while it is true that carpet squares cannot be tossed into the washing machine, the flexibility and ease with which you can compose a whimsical area rug is worth the look. Price point is perfect for young parents and the ability to replace a badly damaged piece makes this build-your-own-rug a winning idea. Know too that cork is another unique natural flooring that costs about the same as hardwood flooring. It comes from the bark of cork trees that are not felled in order to harvest the product. It is naturally hypoallergenic, resilient, and mildew resistant and is warm and soft to the touch.