“Going green” has become a buzz phrase of the millennium and the trend has extended to the nursery. Going green is a movement toward a more natural, eco-friendly lifestyle that uses sustainable products and leaves a smaller carbon footprint. In terms of a nursery, going green means surrounding your little one with natural, organic products not so much as to reduce a carbon footprint as it is to protect the health of your newborn.
Babies spend the first six months of their lives, eating and sleeping. Although parents are sleep deprived, babies are not. They spend the majority of their time in a crib, sleeping on a mattress that can be toxic. Breathing the fumes can cause health problems.
Traditional mattresses are filled with latex or polyurethane foam which are both highly flammable. In 2007, the Consumer Products Safety Commission passed laws requiring flame-retardant materials in all mattresses including crib mattresses. This resulted in fewer mattress fires, but an unexpected side affect called off-gassing. Off-gassing is the release of toxic fumes from the mattress as chemicals used to make the fire retardant fabric or sprays leach into the air. These fumes have been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SID), allergies, and asthma. Non-organic mattresses often contain pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides in trace amounts which don’t cause many problems for adults, but can compromise the delicate immune system of an infant. Their smaller size allows for higher chemical concentrations than in adults.
If you’ve already purchased a traditional mattress, non-toxic mattress wraps can be purchased and will reduce the amount of off-gassing that comes in contact with your baby. Topping the mattress with organic wool or natural rubber will reduce the amount of off-gassing as well. Since no medical research exists that confirms how long a mattress will emit fumes, it’s important to keep the mattress wrapped or covered until the child outgrows the crib.
If you’re still in the market for a crib mattress look for organic ones made with cotton or wool that has used no dyes, harmful chemical or synthetic pesticides during the growing of the materials or the manufacturing process.
Another way of going green in the nursery is to use a low volatile organic compound (VOC) paint. This kind of paint reduces the smell and the side effects of paint fumes. No more headaches, nausea or dizziness with these. Even with low VOC paints, open the windows, air out the room, and keep the mommy-to-be away from the fumes until the air has cleared.
Fill the nursery with organic cotton diapers, sleepers, onesies, blankets, and anything else that the baby will have regular contact with. Once the baby arrives use only green cleaners and detergents to keep the room and the baby fresh and clean.