Elements of a Green Baby Nursery

September 4, 2009 By Debra Lynn Dadd

The most important aspect of green design for a newborn’s environment is to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals as much as possible. A nontoxic nursery is especially important because newborns spend most of their life in the nursery—an average of 16 to 17 hours a day.

  1. If you are pregnant, do not paint the room yourself. Have someone else—family member, friend, or hired hand—paint with one of the new water-based low-VOC paints.

  2. Painting should be done at least a month before the baby is due, and it can be cured by using a room space heater.

  3. Stay away from new carpeting. Better to just leave whatever flooring is already there and clean it well. If you have to put down new flooring, consider natural linoleum.

  4. Your baby will spend many hours sleeping, and at times will need the room to be dark and peaceful during the day. Consider wooden shutters (with a nontoxic paint or finish) or aluminum mini-blinds that will allow you to adjust the light as needed.

  5. The crib is your baby’s “home” and needs to be as pure as possible in every way. Choose real wood, natural finishes, and untreated pure cotton and wool, preferably organically grown.

  6. Most toys sold in major toy stores are made from plastics. Plastic is a major contributor to indoor air pollution. There are many natural cloth and wood toys available on the Internet.

  7. Be sure to provide good ventilation in the nursery, and at the same time watch out for drafts. Newborns need to be kept warm, but they also need fresh air.

  8. Once you have a nontoxic nursery, keep it safe by using only natural and nontoxic cleaning products and pest controls. See The Green Guide's Buying Guides for product recommendations.

It may not always be possible to determine what materials are used in nursery products, or how safe those materials are, but there is one tool you can rely on to evaluate any product—your nose. If the smell bothers you, it will bother your baby, so don’t put it in the nursery.

Tagged In: home air quality, linoleum, low voc paint, organic fabric