How to Create a Non-Toxic Nursery

Planning a nursery was one of the most fun parts of being pregnant for me. Browsing the endless stream of nursery decor pins on Pinterest, I clearly am not the only one who enjoys creating an adorable space for my lil’ babe. While I admittedly spent way too much time debating over accent shelves, I equally dedicated as much time to make sure the nursery was filled with safe, non-toxic furniture and items.

Considering your baby is going to spend 12+ hours a day snoozing in their nursery, I highly recommend thinking about what they will be exposed to and be inhaling. Furniture, paint, and mattresses can all “off-gas” unwanted chemicals.

Here are some ideas of what to look for and what we used:

Paint: Look for Zero-VOC or Low-VOC. VOC = volatile organic compound, aka toxic chemicals. They are released into the air when you paint. Many VOCs are known carcinogens. A typical bucket of paint contains chemicals such as benzene, methylene chloride and others that have been linked to cancer. Additionally they can cause asthma and allergies.

We used BEHR Zero-VOC and Sherwin Williams Harmony. If I needed to paint anything going forward I’d try Ecos paint.

Crib and Furniture: Look for untreated or safely treated solid wood (solid wood is the key word here) and Greenguard certifications.

We went with Babyletto crib, dresser and bookcase. Babyletto has high standards and their furniture is not only non-toxic but also eco-friendly. Their furniture is GREENGUARD Gold Certified (screened for 360 VOCs and over 10,000 chemicals), lead and phthalate safe and the paint is non-toxic.

Other good brands: Ouef($)Stokke($)Green Cradle($)Room & Board($)Ikea (Sniglar Crib)($)

Gliders & Rocking Chairs: Look for solid wood, low VOC finishes, and flame retardant-free foam(for gliders). This is the one area where due to our budget we got a recliner from Costco and I regret it. One; because it isn’t the safest option and two; because it isn’t comfortable. 

If I could do it over, here is what I would get: BabylettoMilo Glider or Joya Rocking Chair. All of Pottery Barns gliders are now GreenGuard gold certified.

Mattress: Besides furniture, I suggest making the mattress the top priority. Avoid mattresses manufactured with industrial flame retardant chemicals. These chemicals off-gas and they are persistent, toxic, and accumulate in our bodies. A study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that 97% of Americans had flame retardants in their blood. (what! yuck!). The ironic part is flame retardants have been proven to not work.

We went with: Lullaby Earth

Other great options: Any mattress made by Naturpedic, Avocado, Savvy

Mattress Pad: Mattress pads are recommend to help keep your mattress in good condition. Many are waterproof which is a great idea, unless your baby has potty trained himself.

Brands I like: Naturpedic Organic Mattress Pad or Baby and Brooke

Sheets: Choose organic. It’s better for you, farmers, and for the environment. Organic means crops aren’t treated with pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and GMO. Every major store now carries organic sheets and they are very affordable. We got ours from Pottery Barn. Organic baby sheets are widely available from Target, Buy Buy Baby,

Real talk: Good quality means more expensive. Most people have some sort of budget and many of my friends have scored great quality brands on Craiglists, Facebook Mom groups in your area and selling apps like 5 Mile or Letgo! The cool thing about nursery furniture is people only use it for a few years then sell it.Also, don’t be afraid to add these big ticket items to your registry.

Other ways to help keep a nursery toxin free:

Keep it minimal: Less furniture and things = less dust and less off-gassing.

Add plants:  Adding plants to each room can help cleanse the air. Many plants improve air quality but certain plans are exceptionally effective at removing specific chemicals. Spider plants, chinese evergreen, boston ferns, weeping fig tree, Warneck Dracaena have all been shown to remove formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene. All of these are VOC’s, all potential carcinogens that can be off-gassed from materials used in constructing homes and buildings.

Air Purifier: Open the windows daily and run an air purifier. We have a fun different ones. We have an Air Doctor, a Frida 3-in 1, and a Germ Guardian. True HEPA Filter captures 99.97% of dust and allergens such as household dust, pet dander, mold spores and plant pollens. Charcoal filter reduces common odors from pets, smoking and cooking. It also kills airborne bacteria, viruses, germs and mold spores.

Room Harmonizer: To help remediate EMF’s from wifi, home devices and even local cell towers, I think getting a room harmonizer is a great idea.

Did you think about making sure your nursery is non-toxic? What are your favorite non-toxic nursery brands?

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