1. Safe painting.
It's fun to paint your nursery with a cute color, but you need to choose the paints carefully to minimize your baby's exposure to toxic chemicals, as she will spend the majority of her day indoors. Use low- or zero-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds, which are harmful for both humans and the planet) paints, and paint the room at least one month before the baby is due. Expecting moms should stay away from the painting job and have it done by another family member or a professional. If you live in a house or apartment built prior to 1978, you also want to make sure that lead paint has been properly treated or removed.
2. Eco-friendly baby furniture
It's not really a good idea to stuff your baby nursery with lots of fancy, expensive furniture. The basics--crib, changing table, dresser--are all that you need to make your newborn and yourself comfortable. Choose real wood furniture with natural finish or non-toxic paints to keep your newborn away from toxic chemicals in cheap baby furniture made from synthetic materials. If you're on a tight budget, spend your money wisely on high quality baby safe furniture instead of splurging on items of no practical use.
3. Safe crib
Besides its material and paint, you also need to pay attention to the safety features of your new baby's crib. Look for the certification seal on the crib showing that it meets national safety standards. There have been quite a few instances of crib recalls and baby injuries and deaths due to design flaws in cribs. You may want to subscribe to the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) mailing list to stay on top of baby product recalls. You should also keep the crib clear of small objects that may cause suffocation or choking.
4. Safe bedding
Newborns will spend hours sleeping in bed. It's therefore important to choose bedding products that are both comfortable and non-toxic. Buy a mattress made from all natural material or a regular mattress well ahead of the baby's arrival to allow it to offgas. Firm mattresses are better for babies' growth and safety than soft ones. For mattress cover, sheets and blankets, give preference to those made from organic cotton or wool if your budget allows. Refrain from using crib bumpers as they can pose a safety hazard to your baby.
5. Green baby clothes
It's nice to dress up your newborn in organic baby clothes with adorable designs, but it's not always an affordable option for parents on a limited budget. Hand-me-downs from friends or older children in your family is in fact a great green option. Babies outgrow their their clothes very quickly. It would be a huge waste to buy a lot of new clothes in the same size. Used baby clothes are actually more gentle on a baby's sensitive skin. If you do prefer brand new clothes for your newborn, remember to rinse them off before putting them on.
6. Eco-friendly diapers
One thing that new babies will consume a lot is diapers. Choosing natural and biodegradable diapers are good for both your baby and our planet. Seventh Generation, the nation’s leading brand of eco-friendly products, has introduced their new Free & Clear diapers, which are free of chlorine, latex, fragrances and petroleum-based lotions and come in a range of sizes from newborn to stage 6. In addition, the new line includes soft, cloth-like Free & Clear Baby Wipes, which are free of alcohol, synthetic dyes and fragrances and whitened without chemicals containing chlorine. You may also consider cloth diapering if you don't mind the extra work of cleaning.
7. All-natural baby care
Babies' gentle skin needs extra care. Look for all-natural ingredients when purchasing baby care products like shampoo, body wash, moisturize and bottom balm. Avoid petroleum-based lotions and products that contain artificial colors and fragrances or other harmful chemicals.
8. Safe toys
There's hardly any nursery without toys. Plastic toys are found to be a major contributor to indoor air pollution. Avoid plastic baby toys that are not BPA-free and switch to natural cloth or wooden toys that are no less fun to play with. You can even make your own baby toys with organic fabrics and natural wood if you love crafts. There are plenty of neat toy-making ideas you may find over the Internet and in magazines.
9. Green cleaning
The arrival of a new baby involves new cleaning routines. When cleaning your baby's clothes, bedding, furniture, and toys, choose green cleaning products that are free of harsh chemicals to help keep your nursery safe and clean. Seventh Generation's new Free & Clear line includes baby liquid laundry detergent that are formulated with plant-derived cleaning agents and free of fragrances, dyes, and optical brighteners. The brand also offers a nice selection of eco-friendly household cleaning products to help you live in a greener home.
10. Green nursing/feeding
There are more and more eco-friendly nursing gear on the market to help breastfeeding moms go green. From nursing wear and nursing pads to nipple cream and stretch mark cream, you can choose green options made from organically grown material and all natural ingredients. When you need to feed your baby with a bottle, be sure to choose BPA-free bottles or glass bottles that are safe for babies.
If you're a new parent, I hope you'll find these tips helpful. Please feel free to chime in if you have great tips to add to the list. Visit SocialMoms and read more helpful advice from expecting moms who are welcoming their newborns with a safe and eco-friendly nursery.
Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Seventh Generation blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here.