As a new parent, you want to create a safe and healthy nursery room environment for your baby, after all, they may spend 12-18 hours a day in their room while sleeping and little bodies can’t handle toxic loads the way adults can. But, you also want to be mindful of your impact on the environment. Fortunately, creating a green nursery doesn’t have to be expensive. keep reading for 8 eco-friendly nursery ideas that are good for your baby, the planet, and your wallet.
This post contains information that is meant to be educational and helpful, it is not medical advice and does not replace the aid of a medical professional. Navigating Parenthood uses affiliate links in posts which allows us to make a small commission (at no cost to you) if you decide to purchase via any of our links. This helps support the costs of running this website —thank you!
1. Clean the air
If safe to do so (no one is smoking outside and there isn’t construction or heavy freeway traffic nearby), open your windows daily to allow fresh air into the bedroom. Studies have shown that indoor air is actually more toxic than the air outside and that things take longer to break down indoors, meaning harmful toxins linger longer. Add an air purifier like Air Doctor to the baby’s nursery room and other rooms in your home to reduce allergens, bacteria, and VOCs (volatile organic compounds). The addition of safe air-purifying plants is also really beneficial for further detoxifying the air in your home.
2. Take off your shoes
According to the EPA, studies have shown that taking off your shoes reduces the amount of lead dust in your home by 60 percent! Not only that but think of all the herbicides and everything else on our shoes. People often think that if they don’t see mud or dirt on the bottom of a shoe then their shoe must be clean, but one study found that the outside of a shoe carries an average of 421,000 units of bacteria — bleh! Be safe and start a new home policy of taking your shoes off outside or at the front door to create a safer, greener home.
3. Sunbathe items
Like shoes, things like furniture, toys, bouncers, and swings can introduce some new hazards to the home — whether second-hand or new. Have the items spend some time outside in direct sunlight to off-gas. What’s off-gassing? It’s that smell when you remove the plastic wrap from a new product and it’s full of dangerous toxins you don’t want your baby to breathe in. New items from your baby registry can give off this odor for a few days before toning down.
Second-hand items may also have bacteria or other toxins from their previous home that you’ll want to kill off in the sun and with a pet-safe and baby-safe cleaner like Force of Nature. Unlike most cleaners, Force of Nature can be used to clean virtually anything in your home and can also be used to sanitize or disinfect items safely without having to worry about dangerous chemicals! Depending on the severity of the dirt or grime on the used nursery room toys or furniture, you may need to clean the items with Force of Nature first before disinfecting the items by spraying Force of Nature again and letting its’ Hypochlorous Acid and Sodium Hydroxide solution sit for 10 minutes before wiping your items clean. Even if your nursery room items are brand new, cleaning them with Force of Nature will help remove any excess wood pulp, allergens, and potential mold spores that may be on the items from handling, storage, and shipment. This is a crucial cleaning step that a lot of people skip because they think new is the same as clean when in reality new store items can have all kinds of gross stuff on them. Think about it — you wash your clothes before wearing them and need to sanitize any baby bottles before using them, right? The same goes for all of the baby gear! Use Force of Nature in the rest of your home to keep the whole house safe, too.
4. Switch to organic bedding
When it comes to creating an eco-friendly nursery, choosing organic and natural mattresses & bedding, like Naturepedic, is a must. Traditional mattresses & bedding can be made with harmful chemicals and synthetic materials that can off-gas and contribute to poor indoor air quality. Look for bedding made from organic cotton, coconut, bamboo, or other natural materials that are free from harmful chemicals and dyes. Not only is this better for the environment, but it’s also better for your baby’s health and well-being.
Some brand-new organic and natural mattress & bedding options are just as affordable as traditional, but if you find a great deal on options via second-hand sales, that can also help bring down costs. Watch for the sale of these more natural brands on marketplaces and in natural parenting groups. You could also opt to buy an organic topper to create a barrier rather than buying a whole new mattress for your bed and baby’s crib (if you use one) — it’s less expensive and a great way to reduce the toxins they breathe while sleeping.
Need help finding eco-friendly baby items for your registry? Our friends at BabyList have a few products picked out for you, here.
5. Be picky
Be picky when selecting clothing, toys, furniture, or any materials for your baby’s nursery, opt for non-toxic and sustainable options. Look for products made from organic cotton, natural woods, or other sustainable materials that are verified organic or at least OKEO-TEX. Avoid products made with harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, phthalates, and flame retardants. Check the label of your baby’s pajamas and look for a tag that says, “For child’s safety, garment should fit snugly” It’s likely that these PJs haven’t been sprayed with flame retardants. This includes items like paint! Make sure furniture is made with VOC-free paint and only use VOC-free paint, like Ecos, when painting the nursery and other rooms in your home while prepping for your baby’s birth (look for VOC-free in the base and color of the paint).
This can be deceiving on shopping websites like Amazon where a product might look natural but have an unsafe paint or other materials in it, so opt for well-known sellers/brands when shopping (the extra cost now is well worth it for better health and less medical appointments in the future). You can also repurpose items you already have or shop secondhand to reduce waste and save money.
6. Consider cloth diapering
Disposable diapers are a major contributor to landfill waste, taking hundreds of years to decompose. Switching to reusable cloth diapers can significantly reduce your environmental impact and save you money in the long run. While the upfront cost may be higher, cloth diapers can be reused for multiple children or sold to another family when you no longer need them! Using cloth diapers even part of the time can save you thousands of dollars over the course of your child’s diaper-wearing years. You don’t have to use cloth diapers all of the time, so don’t let that stop you from trying. Opt for eco-friendly cloth diapers made from organic cotton (Amazon affiliate) or bamboo (after all, these items are against your baby’s most sensitive skin & parts so you want to avoid chemicals and microplastics here).
7. Re-think your clean routine
According to the EWG, studies have shown that many of these harmful substances end up in dust and break down at a slower rate indoors. It’s best to dust often and clean up these substances with a microfiber cloth and a safe cleaner like Force of Nature. A HEPA vacuum is most efficient at removing dust particles and other contaminants that settle on your floor and an air purifier like the AirDoctor can pick them up out of the air before you breathe them. Consider steam cleaning tile at least once a month then having a non-toxic cleaning company help with steaming carpets and rugs at least once a year.
Use energy-efficient lighting
Lighting is an important aspect of any nursery, but it can also be a source of unnecessary energy consumption. To create an eco-friendly nursery, opt for energy-efficient lighting options like natural light from outside and LED bulbs. These bulbs use less energy and last longer than traditional incandescent bulbs, which can save you money on your energy bill in the long run. Using sheer curtains or cord-free shades that still let in a bit of light can help with interior lighting (and ensuring baby gets ample daylight during the day can help with regulating their circadian rhythm if paired with dim lighting and blackout curtains at night).
Roberts, J.W. & Ott, W.R. (2007). Exposure to Pollutants from House Dust. In Ott, W.R., Steinemann, A.C. & Wallace, L.A. (Eds.) Exposure Analysis, 319-345. New York: Taylor & Francis and EWG. Wellness Mama “Why to Have a No Shoe Rule in the House.” Study Reveals High Bacteria Levels on Footwear. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ciriscience.org/ieq-measurement/study-reveals-high-bacteria-levels-on-footwear/, Better Homes & Gardens article “What Are Zero-VOC Paints, and Which Paint Brands Sell Them?”