Receiving the news that you're expecting a beautiful baby has to be best, cup runneth over, blissful, emotionally charged feeling you will ever feel. Setting up a nursery for your new little one will definitely come a close second.
Trawling through Pinterest pinning beautiful nurseries is just the beginning of this journey for you. You're nesting instincts kick in, and you become obsessed with colour schemes, selecting the right cot and change table, perhaps a rocking chair to soothe your bub back to sleep. Your new room may also include baby's new wardrobe, their toys, and many beautiful accessories to make the space truly yours and your baby's.
It is known fact that the air quality inside our homes is often much more contaminated than the air outside, with products such as lounge suites, MDF and particleboard in kitchen cupboards, carpets, mattress, cosmetics etc. often 'off-gassing' for long periods of time after being purchased and moved into the home.
Often the manufacturing process of new products includes the use of many highly toxic chemicals which accumulate and our new baby can be particularly sensitive to these chemicals when found in its environment.
Of course, gorgeous naturally derived items are a much better option for you and your little one, over highly manufactured, chemical laden products. So, when we are setting up a nursery, how do we make it as non-toxic for baby and environmentally friendly as possible?
We have pulled together a guide to usher you through this exciting and important task. Let's get cracking and start with the basics - the floor and the four walls
Many commonly used flooring options, such as carpet, are reasonably toxic and are best avoided in the nursery. Carpets, mats and rugs are comfortable, I know, but are a significant source of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs - see note below), including formaldehyde, Xylene, Toluene and other solvents. They also allow a build-up of dirt, dust mites, animal and human skin cells and hair.
The best choice of flooring is hardwood sourced from sustainable forests. This product is fantastic at providing texture and looks great and can be installed raw if that is the look you are after or the floorboards can be painted with non-toxic paint sourced from manufacturers such as eColour or a sealant from Livos.
Another excellent flooring choice, depending on how the concrete in your house has been manufactured, can be polished concrete (check whether diesel was used in the manufacturing process). If your house is built on a concrete slab creating a polished concrete floor is relatively easy. Once polished by a polishing machine it can be left in its raw state needing no resin to seal it, but if you would prefer a shiny finish, select a non-toxic option, e.g. Livos.
Bamboo, cork, slate, natural linoleum, marble and ceramic tile are other awesome alternatives for eco-friendly, non-toxic easy to clean flooring.
If you do like the feel of a warm rug underfoot, source one made from natural fibres, such as cotton or wool, organic where possible. Blessed Earth has a great range of these.
2. Painting of the Walls
Most commercial paints and finishes are complex chemical compounds and by default contain VOCs and produce toxic fumes, especially early in their life span. Natural or bio-paints made from naturally occurring ingredients are becoming more prevalent in the marketplace and provide beautiful alternatives for your space. Ecolour is a great place to start.
3. Nursery Furniture - Cot/Bassinet/Change Table
Finding a cot that suits your look and is sustainable and non-toxic is the key. Tasman Eco pride themselves on providing nursery furniture made from sustainable sources and uses 100% non-toxic finishes.
Another option is a beautifully handcrafted bassinet or cot made from rattan, such as these exquisite options available from Sacred Bundle. Rattan is a naturally sourced product, and respectable manufacturers will not use chemicals or toxic resins in the manufacturing process.
Using a second-hand cot can be an awesome option too - just be aware that lead paint may have been used in the past and always use a face mask when removing paint from your furniture, especially while pregnant.
4. Mattress and Change Table Inserts
Flame retardants, formaldehyde and benzene, are commonly found in commercially made mattresses. These chemicals are linked to health concerns such as cancer, infertility, developmental issues, migraines and asthma. If your new cot mattress is off-gassing harmful chemicals, your little one is breathing them in every time they use their cot for a nap. Excellent alternatives can be found in the marketplace at Organature, Nature Baby, and Blessed Earth make some fantastic organic cotton and wool alternatives.
5. Organic Non-Toxic Care Products
One of the easiest ways to protect baby's delicate skin biome is to use organic or natural products, free from harmful chemicals, toxins and nasties. Stock up on amazingly luxurious skin care for your little one and have it on hand when you need it most, after a nappy change, warm bath or relaxing massage. Check out some amazing natural skin care products available in store now.
Choose cot linen and towels for bath time made from natural fibres such as organic cotton, linen, hemp, bamboo or silk. Your baby’s skin comes in direct contact with these on a regular basis, so always check the dyes used in the making of the products you buy. Select all-natural vegetable-based dyes to reduce the chemical load surrounding your little one. Nature Baby have beautiful contemporary styles available.
Toys will be a massive part of any child's life making it essential to choose products that have outstanding green credentials. Manufacturers should be sourcing their raw products from sustainable and ethical sources, and because the finished product will spend much time in your baby’s hands and mouth, should be free of VOCs and toxic chemicals. In store at The Natural Newborn we have some wonderful toys available - check out our treasure trove of FSC wooden and organically produced toys here. Happy Planet Toys is another intelligent and innovative manufacturer making plastic toys from recycled milk bottles.
8. Window Dressings
Have you considered paper blinds? Ezy Blinds unique block out paper blinds are perfect for your baby's day sleeps in the nursery. The paper used comes from the Forest Stewardship Council and contains at least 10% post-consumer waste. Plus, the blinds are also entirely recyclable!
If you prefer the softening effect of drapes, select fabrics made from beautiful natural fibres including organic cotton, hemp, bamboo and linen.
9. Decor Items
Etsy is ah-mazing for bespoke, natural handmade décor items and accessories to personalise your nursery space. Perhaps also consider something similar to Mark Tuckey's eggcup side table. Stylish and robust, they're a perfect spot for baby's night light.
With a little effort and some knowhow, creating a toxic free nursery for your new baby can be as easy as 1,2,3. I hope the list of non-toxic nursery items we have curated helps guide you through your decorating project. We would LOVE to hear how you have pulled together your stylish eco-friendly and non-toxic nursery, so please share your pics below - we'd love to see it!!
NB: VOCs are chemicals emitted as gases from certain manufactured products. Choosing a flooring option that will not only look great but will not contribute to low air quality is a must. Car
Main pic credit: @hannahquinones
Reference:Bijlsma, N, Building Biology, Australian College of Environmental Studies, Melbourne, 2016