Planning an organic newborn nursery can be simple and beautiful. To create the organic nursery of your dreams simply follow these 10 easy steps!
I still remember how excited I was to begin planning the nursery for my first baby (how he is 9 years old already is still a mystery to me)! I had the perfect vision in my head. I dreamed of an all non-toxic, organic and eco-friendly nursery. Basically a natural wood nursery with pops of color from cute organic stuffed animals and watercolor baby prints. Unfortunately, I had a really hard time finding the things that I needed and wanted, so I wound up having to settle for a not so healthy nursery…which was a real bummer for me. Fortunately, there are so many more organic and non-toxic items available now then there were 9 years ago. Every nursery I have created since then has been perfectly organic!
Why Should I Plan and Create an Organic Nursery for my Newborn?
Infants are really sensitive to their environments. Due to their immature immune systems, newborns are not able to filter and remove toxic chemicals as quickly and effectively as an adult, who has a fully functioning immune system. Because of this, anything that they are exposed to has a much bigger impact on their tiny bodies . This can cause unnecessary stress on their developing brains, organs and immune system leading to possible health problems later in life. This is why it is so important to choose products that are non-toxic, eco-friendly and GOTS certified organic.
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What Chemicals should I avoid in my Newborn’s Nursery?
As much as we may try, it is impossible to completely avoid all toxic chemical exposure. I try to live my life following an 80/20 rule of sorts. For my family I try my best to avoid as much as possible. But you can make yourself really crazy and stressed out trying to avoid everything. And let’s face it that’s not healthy either! However, there are some chemicals that are non-negotiable for me.
- Flame Retardants: Flame retardants are present in furniture, mattresses, vehicles, electronics and many of the products that our babies are using on a day to day basis. While infant mattresses and car seats are the obvious sources, they are also present in things such as infant sleepers (tip: check for the big yellow tag that states the pajamas are not flame resistant otherwise assume that it is treated or buy organic), bouncy chairs, swings, playmats, toys, and blankets. They are carcinogenic and have a negative effect on just about every system in the body. And here is the really scary part… flame retardants accumulate over time in our bodies and studies show that children have a much higher concentration of these chemicals than adults.
- PVCs (polyvinyl chloride): PVC is an extremely toxic plastic. It contains more toxic chemicals than you can imagine…things such as: phthalates, lead, cadmium, mercury and vinyl chloride-to name a few. PVC is an ingredient in things like school supplies, toys, flooring, and kitchen gadgets. It has been linked to diseases such as asthma, cancer and learning disabilities.
- VOCs (volatile organic compounds): VOCs are chemicals that off-gas from products like paint, pesticides, cleaners and adhesives/glues. They are present in the air that we are breathing in and can be 5 times higher inside than they are outside. So be sure to choose products that have low or no VOCs.
It is also important to note that pregnant women should avoid these chemicals as well. They can get into the bloodstream and affect your unborn baby, while in your womb. Also very important is that if these toxic chemicals get into your bloodstream after having your baby they can enter your milk supply as well.
10 Steps for Planning a Beautiful Organic Baby Nursery
Here are the simple steps to create a non-toxic newborn nursery:
Step 1: Crib Mattress
This is probably the best place to start. An organic crib mattress should be non-negotiable for everyone with a baby. Babies spend most of their time sleeping in their cribs. Your baby’s mattress should be free from flame retardants and PVC. Most mattresses are made polyurethane foam which is very very toxic and almost always has been treated with flame retardants due to the fact that it is highly flammable. I prefer my babies to sleep on as natural materials as possible. Which is why I always choose organic mattresses. I am currently working on a post about the best organic crib mattresses but for now, you can’t go wrong with Naturepedic.
Step 2: Crib
Finding a non-toxic crib is no easy feat. When in doubt go with wood, if possible wood that has no finish…you can always paint it-but more on that later. You want to confirm that your crib is actual wood and not some type of engineered wood, fiberboard, or particleboard type product which can outgas formaldehyde. Just as a side note: if all or part of your crib is fiberboard-esque (that’s probably not a word but you know what I mean) you can apply a coat of AFM Safecoat which will reduce the toxic off-gassing. The crib that I have used for all my newborns is the Singular from Ikea. All of the parts are solid beach and the part that the mattress sits on is nylon-which is a non-toxic plastic. The crib is also easy to convert to a toddler bed when the time comes and costs well under $100! Places like Pottery Barn Kids and Crate and Barrel Kids also have some safe options as well.
Step 3: Crib Sheets
Now that you have your organic crib mattress and non-toxic crib, you will want certified organic sheets for your baby to sleep on. There are so many options here. Some of the brands that I use regularly are Burts Bees Baby, Under the Nile and for the winter Coyuchi’s Flannel sheets. If you are having a newborn in the winter or are looking for tips to keep your baby warm and cozy this winter you can read my best organic winter products for newborns post!
Step 4: Organic Changing Pad
Conventional changing pads are made from polyurethane foam which will come treated with flame retardants. They usually contain PVC as well to give them a waterproof coating. While a changing pad is not absolutely necessary (you can always change them in their crib or on your bed or a couch or something), but for sanitary purposes, you may want one. I have this one from Naturepedic. Coyuchi makes an organic changing pad as well.
Of course to go with your organic changing pad you are going to want an organic changing pad cover. These are really common and made by a few different organic brands. I have some from Burts Bees Baby– they are affordable and high quality. You are definitely going to want at least 2 possibly more (accidents happen more than you think 😉 ).
I choose not to use a changing table in my nursery (I couldn’t find one that met my non-toxic needs) and since you can only use them for the first 6 months or so it wasn’t worth the cost or effort for me. You can always put your changing pad on top of the baby’s dresser if you want. But I just use my changing pad wherever I am going to be changing my baby.
Step 5: VOC-Free Paint
As I mentioned before volatile organic compounds are pretty nasty chemicals that we want to keep our babies (as well as Mommy and Daddy and big brothers and sisters too) from breathing in. Did you know that traditional paints can continue to release VOCs into the air for years after the initial application? I used to love mythic paints but it appears they are no longer made so for my last few nurseries we used milk paint. It comes as a powder and you mix it with as much water as you need to get your desired thickness. Per their website, “Why “Real” milk paint? Our milk paint is a 100% organic, environmentally friendly, non-toxic, no VOC, child-friendly paint and is ideal for antique furniture, decks, floors, and walls.” If you don’t dream of a “natural wood nursery” the way that I did, that’s ok, this paint is just what you need to customize all of your baby’s nursery furniture.
Step 6: Organic Rug
All of the floors in my house are hardwood floors. But in the baby’s room specifically, I wanted a rug to throw on the floor just to give it a warmer cozy feel and to give an extra pop of color. The only rugs I can find made from 100% organic cotton in different color combinations come from Under the Nile. They are made from fabric scraps, so they are very eco-friendly and completely machine washable which is a huge added bonus!
Step 7: Non-toxic or Organic Play Mats
The typical cushiony play mats that you find in those big box baby stores are made purely from polyurethane foam. So they may look inviting in those bright colors, but please don’t sit on them. While I don’t own either, yet, I plan on purchasing mine from one of these two companies. Both Toki Mats and CorkiMats make completely safe non-toxic mats for babies and toddlers. Both companies are small family-owned companies and make high-quality products. I feel completely comfortable using and recommending both of them.
Step 8: Low EMF Baby Monitor
I only use my baby monitor at night and have it turned off and unplugged for the rest of the day. I use the Patrull from Ikea. It is labeled as being low-EMF and is only audio. I am most certainly not an expert on EMFs but my advice is to get the simplest model possible. I know there are so many that are video and WiFi-enabled etc, etc. The more of those features the more EMFs it will give off. If you are looking to read more about EMFs in baby monitors, this is a really good article.
Step 9: Wood and Organic Toys:
I love using toys as decorations in a newborn nursery. I use simple unfinished wood toys and organic stuffed animals, (these are some of my favorites) in my nursery. They go perfectly with the natural wood theme that I use. I wrote about some of my favorite non-toxic toy brands in this post.
Step 10: Non-toxic Baby Chair:
Let’s face it, infants don’t want to spend all of their time laying in a crib. They love to sit up and look around too. Most baby swings and chairs have polyurethane foam, flame retardants and possibly PVC. I use the organic Baby Bjorn bouncing chair for my littles. Another suggestion is the stunning wood rocking chair from Finn and Emma. They also have a beautiful macrame swing that I plan on getting very, very soon!