Written by Cassandra Rosas, originally posted at Porch.com
Giving our family a safe environment to grow in is always a worry for every parent. However, unfortunately, there are many things in the market today still made with toxic materials that can be harmful to the health of babies. Luckily for us, some people have been concerned about this issue and have started to offer safer options. Nowadays, we can find many organic and naturally made products available that are also eco-friendly and sustainable alternatives to care for the environment at the same time.
Anyone not knowledgeable on the topic may wonder how you can recognize toxic materials or if an item is eco-friendly and sustainable. Keep reading to discover how to choose your baby’s products, furniture, decor, and more in a safe, non-toxic and sustainable way.
Having a baby is a big responsibility, and giving them a comfortable nursery is just one way to show them how much you care. If you’re looking for ways to live an eco-friendlier lifestyle, there are many plastic-free eco swaps available, and a bunch of sustainable options you can choose to provide them with a safe, eco-friendly, and non-toxic nursery.
To promote a cleaner environment for your baby and the world, there are several important things to know regarding what to avoid and what to choose when designing a child’s bedroom and some natural and organic essentials you will need. Read on to learn more about how you can design a wonderful, eco-friendly baby nursery for your little one to keep them safe and protect our environment.
Toxic materials to avoid
When setting up a non-toxic nursery, there are several toxic materials you should avoid, including:
- VOCs: VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, are emitted into the air and can cause harm when breathed in. Many common household materials contain VOCs, including some paint, carpeting, and certain types of flooring. To avoid VOCs, choose paint and other materials labeled as low-VOC or VOC-free.
- Formaldehyde: This naturally occurring organic compound is all around us, but it can be mitigated when you know what to do. Wash any new items you receive for your nursery and ensure that the room has proper ventilation until it subsides. Thankfully, more and more products are available today that are entirely formaldehyde-free, so read product labels carefully.
- PFAS chemicals: These chemicals are found in various products, particularly plastic items, cooking pans, and plastic packaging. Discard or recycle all plastic packaging. Keep plastic toys and other items to a minimum in your nursery, and stick to items made of organic, natural materials instead to help limit exposure.
- Flame retardants: This chemical is added to various items like area rugs, carpets, and curtains, but they can cause long-term health effects. Choose bedding and flooring that does not contain these chemicals whenever possible to keep your nursery as non-toxic as possible.
- PVC: You may find PVC in a variety of plastic toys. Used to make plastic softer, PVC contains a range of potentially dangerous chemicals. Choose PVC-free toys and avoid anything made of vinyl to help reduce the amount of exposure of this material to babies and young children.
- Harmful phthalates: These chemicals have been shown to cause harm in babies and children, even in the womb. Make sure you choose as many phthalate-free products as possible when designing your nursery to limit or eliminate exposure altogether.
- Lead and other heavy metals: Avoid buying toys and décor that contain lead, as this heavy metal can be extremely toxic to babies and children. Lead and other heavy metals have been found in plastic, on toys painting, and on other baby products, if you are unsure if an item contains lead you can check the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), they issue recalls of current products that could potentially expose children to lead.
Non-Toxic materials to choose
Now that you know more about which items are toxic, let’s take a look at some items to choose for your non-toxic baby nursery:
- Organic fibers: Choose bedding, curtains, clothing, and rugs made of safe, organic fibers like organic cotton, bamboo, and hemp. These safe fibers are made from plants grown organically, which means that no dangerous chemicals were used to grow or harvest them before making fabrics and textiles.
- Plant-based materials: Pick out items for your nursery made of plant-based and vegan materials. A latex crib mattress is a good choice since it’s made from a plant and will provide a comfortable and safe sleeping surface without harsh chemicals.
- Bamboo: This incredibly sustainable material is beautiful and durable. Choose things like bamboo flooring and furniture to ensure that your nursery is as eco-friendly as possible. You can also find items made of bamboo fabric too, bamboo living is a great and sustainable option.
- Solid wood: Not only is solid wood eco-friendly, but it’s also extremely high-quality, durable, and there is no formaldehyde in solid wood – mostly found in plywood. But be careful as not all wood is sustainable, particularly not many hardwoods, look for options approved by the Forest Stewardship Council, known as the FSC, this is an international nonprofit organization that is dedicated to responsibility in forest management, the FSC is the industry standard for sustainability. Also, try to find repurposed wood furniture and choose items like a repurposed solid wood rocking chair, crib, and dresser to create a beautiful, eco-friendly and safe nursery for your baby.
Eco-friendly crib and bedding items
Here are some examples of eco-friendly items you can choose for your baby’s crib and bedding:
- Sustainable furniture: Choose sustainable baby furniture whenever possible. This furniture is manufactured using safe and sustainable materials like bamboo. Choose a hardwood crib finished with safe materials like linseed oil or soy and avoid anything made of MDF or compressed wood.
- Organic fibers: Look for soft bedding made of organic fibers like organic cotton or bamboo sheets and blankets. Stay away from materials like polyester or nylon if you can.
- Mattresses: An organic breathable crib mattress made of latex is soft and hypoallergenic as well as eco-friendly.
- Covers: Pick out organic mattress pads and covers crafted of soft and breathable materials like bamboo or cotton. Labels should indicate that the products are certified organic to give you peace of mind.
- Pillows and blankets: Aside from the mattress and cover, choose baby pillows and blankets made of natural, organic fabrics and produced without the use of chemicals.
- Swaddles and sheets: An organic sheet set and an organic baby swaddle are other items to include in your eco-friendly baby nursery.
Non-Toxic feeding supplies
What you use to feed your baby is also important, so here are some suggestions for safe, non-toxic feeding supplies.
- Bottles: Don’t use plastic bottles that contain PVC or BPA. While most new products are BPA-free, read labels carefully and choose bottles made of glass or stainless steel that are more durable and eco-friendly instead of plastic.
- Organic bamboo feeding set: An adorable feeding set made of bamboo is a safe, eco-friendly way to feed your baby. These sets include things like plates, bowls, cups, and spoons that are made of sustainable bamboo.
Eco-friendly clothes and diapers
Check out these suggestions to provide your baby with eco-friendly clothes and diapers:
- Diapers: Use cloth diapers instead of disposable ones to reduce waste. You can also find compostable diapers made of soft bamboo. Anything compostable and chemical-free is a good choice.
- Wet wipes: Look for wet wipes that are fragrance-free, alcohol-free, home-compostable, plastic-free, and made without chemicals or synthetic preservatives, preferably certified organic to keep your baby safe and clean, since baby wipes that contain plastic have a bigger carbon footprint than plastic-free, and compostable wipes.
- Organic fabrics: Dress your baby in clothing and pajamas made of organic fabrics like organic cotton, hemp, or bamboo. This will help prevent allergic reactions and skin irritation, and they’re also a much more durable and eco-friendly choice than traditional baby clothes.
- Changing pad: Baby changing pads made of materials like natural wool, recycled fabrics, organic cotton, and bamboo are excellent options for an eco-friendly baby nursery.
- Organic diaper cream: Avoid using diaper cream that contains artificial fragrances or colors. Pick out organic diaper cream made of natural oils and shea butter or coconut oil to keep the baby’s skin clean and soft.
Eco-friendly traveling gear
Try these eco-friendly alternatives for baby traveling gear.
- Strollers, car seats, and carriers: Choose a stroller made using non-toxic materials and free of flame retardants and chemical-based sealants. Strollers made of recycled material and safe, plant-based sealants are a good choice. Make sure your stroller is free of PFAS and that the company uses sustainable manufacturing practices, and choose car seats and carriers with removable organic covers for easy care.
Organic bathing supplies
Keep these tips in mind when choosing organic baby supplies for bath time:
- Organic shampoo and soap: Pick out an organic plant-based baby shampoo free of artificial fragrances and dyes. Read product labels carefully and look for the certified organic symbol to ensure you’re choosing safe, organic shampoo products for your baby. The same thing applies to soap for your baby. Avoid soaps and shampoos that contain preservatives like parabens, emulsifiers like propylene glycol, surfactants like sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), synthetic colors, and fragrances. Look for products made of safe, non-toxic, and organic ingredients as much as possible. Castille soap is a good choice, as are any soaps made with shea butter or natural oils.
- Baby lotions: Buy gentle, hypoallergenic baby lotions that moisturize little ones without harsh chemicals. Organic baby lotion should contain ingredients and be free of things like sulfates, parabens, and phthalates.
- Organic bamboo towels: Organic fabric is not only soft but also extremely absorbent. Dry off your baby with organic bamboo towels to keep them safe and healthy.
Safe toys and activities
Playtime is always better when it’s safe, so keep these tips in mind for toys and more:
- Natural organic toys: We all know that there is a stage in every kid’s life where they put everything in their mouth, which makes it even more important to give your baby or toddler fun toys made of safe non-toxic materials like wood, metal, and soft organic fabrics, there are lots of interesting toys/kitchen things made of metal that are fascinating to babies. Avoid plastic toys as much as possible unless they’re clearly labeled as safe, eco-friendly, and chemical-free.
- Organic cotton play mats and playards: Choose your play mat, playard and pack and play set made of recycled and sustainable materials, and make sure the covers are made of soft, organic cotton to give your baby a comfortable place to play. Ensure they are free of PFAS and clearly labeled as made of certified organic cotton or other organic materials like bamboo or hemp fabric.
The décor you choose for the nursery is important, so keep these tips in mind when choosing items for your non-toxic baby nursery:
- Eco-friendly and non-toxic walls: Always choose paints and wallpapers made without VOCs or that are at least low-VOC. Many new paints are available that don’t contain harsh chemicals. The paint should be labeled either “No-VOC/Zero-VOC” or “Low-VOC,” having less than 50 grams per liter. You can also find vegan paint which is much better for the environment than regular wall paints. Choose wallpaper printed with organic or vegan inks that applies to the walls without chemical-laden adhesives.
- Rugs: A cute, soft area rug made of organic fabric is the best choice for your non-toxic nursery. Avoid rugs that are made of synthetic materials like polypropylene or that contain flame retardants or formaldehyde.
- Flooring: Bamboo is an excellent, eco-friendly flooring material for your nursery. Other options include cork, linoleum (not vinyl), or carpeting made of soft, organic materials that have not been chemically treated.
- Lighting: For eco-friendly nursery lighting, choose fixtures that use LED light bulbs over traditional bulbs. Not only will this save you money on energy costs, but it’s also better for the environment too.
Organic natural cleaners
Here are some suggestions for organic, natural cleaning products to keep your new nursery spotless:
- Non-toxic cleaning supplies: Always choose safe, non-toxic supplies to clean floors, windows, walls, and surfaces. A simple bamboo cloth can remove dust from shelving and furniture without the need for toxic sprays. You can also make your own cleaning supplies by mixing a bit of baking soda and vinegar with water, then spraying it onto surfaces before wiping them down.
- Laundry: Wash your baby’s clothes and bedding using non-toxic, eco-friendly detergents and fabric softeners. Wool dryer balls are an excellent substitute for traditional fabric softener sheets.
You can design a beautiful eco-friendly baby nursery with the right décor, materials, and accessories. Choose products made from sustainable, organic, vegan and cruelty-free materials as well as natural ingredients whenever possible to keep your home and your baby safe. When you design a non-toxic baby nursery, you’re giving your little one a healthy environment while giving yourself peace of mind.
If you enjoyed Cassandra’s guide, she has lots of other content posted on her profile at Porch.com.