Claire Moshenberg

    A Green Makeover for Your Nursery

    Posted April 10th, 2012 by

    Getting ready to set up a nursery? Make it as safe and nontoxic as possible with a few important green swaps when it comes to decor, furniture, bedding, and toys!

    Photo credit: Photo by Flickr user courosa

    Paint: Avoid VOCs (volatile organic compounds) by using low or no VOC paints. After the room is painted, give it adequate time to offgas. Keep the windows open and use fans if possible to push air out of the room. This is especially important if you’re pregnant. Healthy Child, Healthy World has additional tips on choosing safe paints for your nursery (or for any room in your home). For more information on paints, finishes, and adhesives, check out this comprehensive guide from the Sustainable Building Sourcebook.

    Baby Bedding: Conventional bedding can be home to pesticides, chemicals, allergens, and more. Your best bet when it comes to fabric is organic cotton, which is easily accessible, soft and hypoallergenic. You can also try textiles made from hemp or bamboo. Re-Nest offers a detailed breakdown of different, nontoxic materials to look for as you select sheets, pillows, and more.

    Here are a few key words to avoid as you pick out bedding:

    • Permanent press
    • No-iron
    • Crease-resistant
    • Shrink-proof
    • Stretch-proof
    • Water repellent or water-proofed
    • California TB 117

    Changing Pads and Pillows: Prevent allergic or asthmatic reactions by avoiding down feathers in your baby bedding. To avoid flame retardants in changing pads and pillows, which often contain foam, the Green Science Policy Institute recommends choosing pillows made from polyester, down, wool (also a naturally flame retardant fabric), or cotton.

    Furniture: Choose solid hardwood if possible and avoid particle board. Choose a nontoxic finish by looking for the following words:

    • Low-VOC  stains and sealants
    • Water based stains and sealants
    • Finished with tung oil and beeswax

    If you’re going to choose one piece of nontoxic furniture, the crib is the way to go: Newborns sleep an average of 16 to 17 hours a day. For all other nursery furniture, Healthy Child, Healthy World has a great nontoxic furniture buying guide, and The Smart Mama offers tips on what you can do to keep your nursery safe if/when you use particle board or off-gassing furniture. Check crib safety ratings by visiting Consumer Reports’ cribs page.

    Toys: We know toxic chemicals like PVC don’t belong in kids toys. Unfortunately, toy manufacturers aren’t always on the same page. Look up toys on and choose toys from their “No detected chemicals of concern” list and “Low detected chemicals of concern” list  when possible. As you browse the HealthyStuff site, you can start to organize a list of toys that interest you with their product list tool. You can also find product ratings and suggestions for toys and other baby products on the Good Guide.

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    Posted Under: H: Environmental Health


    June 9, 2013 at 10:08 am by Denny

    These are all important tips. But in addition parents need to understand that baby monitors give off radiation. There is a simple solution by increasing the distance between the monitor and the baby.


    April 13, 2012 at 3:11 pm by Julie Twichell

    Thanks for these great tips. If you live in a pre-1978 it is very likely to have lead-based paint. Make sure the paint in your home is intact and be extra careful when doing any painting prep work that disturbs painted surfaces. Lead dust can be very toxic and hard to clean up. Learn about how to work lead-safe or hire a contractor who is Lead RRP certified. For more information contact your local lead program, or go to


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