Preparing for a new baby is one of the most exciting challenges we’ll ever face. It’s also one of the most daunting. For most of us, this is the biggest responsibility we’ve ever shouldered, and just the mere notion of getting some aspect of it wrong makes us sick with worry. One area that seems particularly difficult is designing the nursery, especially now that there is such great focus on going green. The good news, however, is building a green nursery that is comfortable, functional, practical and, most importantly, safe, is a lot easier than you likely imagine. Let’s examine the core steps.
Here’s what we know: indoor air contains higher concentrations of hazardous pollutants than outdoor air unless you have adequate filtration. Unchecked airborne pollutants can interfere with breathing in babies and even cause them to develop asthma and allergies. Using a HEPA air purifier is a perfect way to make your nursery healthy, safe and green. Also, it is vital to keep the area well ventilated and to replace the HEPA filter based on the manufacturer’s recommendation.
Avoid paints and sealers that consist of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and harsh chemicals. Many people assume that any paint is safe once it dries, but this is not the case. Fumes take much longer to dissipate than you’d expect, and you’ll stop smelling them long before they’re gone. Whatever paint you do use, paint several months in advance of the baby’s arrival. The other issue is that paints with VOCs will continue to emit those VOCs into the air for many years to come, which is why we want to avoid them.
Preferably, use a hardwood floor or tile surface in your nursery. It promotes cleanliness and healthiness because it is easy to clean and because it does not release VOCs, the way synthetic carpet fibers can. If you currently have carpet, rip it up, and then hire contractors to finish the floor. Make sure they use materials that do not include VOCs and other harmful substances. If installing hardwood, make sure that you are using FSC-certified wood. Hire a separate specialist service to clean up after the contractors complete the work.
All furniture in the nursery, including changing tables, cribs, dressers, gliders, rockers and so forth, should use reclaimed materials or certified sustainable wood. They should also employ water-based, VOC-free, non-toxic finishes. Avoid plastic and other synthetic products because they are difficult to recycle properly, and they pose significant toxicity issues.
Spare no expense when it comes to purchasing your baby’s bedding. Choose bedding made with natural organic fibers. Otherwise, pesticides and chemicals can irritate the baby’s skin. Blankets and the like should consist of 100-percent certified organic cotton batting and fabric that the manufacturer has never treated with bleach, chlorine or formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is very common, and the USDOH recently placed it in their Report on Carcinogens as a reasonably anticipated carcinogen.
Use natural, non-toxic, VOC-free cleaning agents that do not contain ammonia, chemicals or fragrances. These irritants can interfere with the development of your baby’s immune system. Instead, use organic alternatives. Microfiber mops and cloths can remove 98% of all contaminants with just water, so you can augment that with inexpensive eco-friendly baby-friendly natural cleaners, such as vinegar and baking soda.
Healthy Laundry Cleaning
Buying the right clothes and bedding for your child doesn’t mean a thing if you contaminate them when washing them. Even if you mean to do well, the laundry room is one of the most toxic areas in the home, and it is very easy to contaminate a baby’s bedding or clothes accidentally. For this reason, you should use only non-toxic, biodegradable, hypoallergenic detergent that uses plant-based ingredients for everyone in the house.
The biggest mistake people make is that they go through all of these steps, and then they introduce a problem toy. This happens a lot when a family member or friend gives a gift, and then the parents feel guilty not to use it. However, this is too important to worry about hurt feelings. Make sure all toys for the nursery are washable fabrics or naturally-finished wood as well as PVC and BPA-free. PVC and BPA are very common yet babies are particularly susceptible to the hormone disruption that they can cause.
HEPA Air Purifiers
The most important step you’ll make at the nursery stage toward securing your baby’s future is proper filtration. Use a HEPA air purifier to eliminates 99.97% of all harmful pathogens down to 0.3 microns in size. Combine the HEPA filtration with an activated carbon filter and remove all allergens and asthma inducers, such as dust particles, pet dander, mold spores, pollen, chemicals, odors and biological contaminants. Ensure that your baby breathes the best air possible.
Clean Air Plus is a veteran and family owned small business. We represent the leading manufacturers in HEPA filtration including Austin Air, IQAir, Amaircare, Oransi and Airpura. Shop online or call one of our friendly experts. We'll be happy to help.