Green Your Baby's Nursery

By Mary Jane Horton

In the last few years we’ve all become aware of the “green” movement. We know that if we don’t change some of our wasteful and polluting habits, the earth—and our children—will suffer. You probably do your bit; most likely you recycle, keep your thermostat at 68 degrees F in the summer (a little warmer in the winter) and maybe you even drive a hybrid car. But now that you’re expecting a baby, you might wonder if that is enough. The answer is simply no.

The impact of the environment, including carcinogens, on babies is 10 times more severe than on adults, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Having a green, or environmentally friendly, nursery, as well as habits that spill over to the rest of your house, can not only protect your brand new bundle from toxins, but can also help protect the environment that she will inherit.

Going green is not just about using non-toxic items in your home (those with low or no VOCs, PVC, phalates—more about those later), but also about “sustainability,” a term that means whatever products and chemicals we’re using now should not compromise the earth for future generations.

Other aspects of a green nursery include using local products, reusing products and using items that have recycled content. Once you start becoming aware of using sustainable and nontoxic products, you pass that enlightened attitude on to your child by modeling. There has never been a time as ripe for this earth-friendly attitude as right now.

With more and more environmentally conscious products available on the market daily, green choices have become much more accessible. “This movement is accelerating rapidly,” says Alan Greene, M.D., a pediatrician, spokesman for the green movement and author of Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Babycare (John Wiley & Sons, 2007).

“We have entered a great place where modern science and ancient wisdom are combining to make the world a safer place for our babies.” A baby is extra vulnerable during her first year, so it’s a great time to reduce the amount of toxins and threats in her environment, says Christopher Gavigan, CEO and Executive Director of Healthy Child Healthy Worlds (formerly CHEC), the Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting children’s environmental health. “There are so many unseen dangers, such as inhalants. And in this year—which is essentially the fourth trimester—babies’ immune systems are still developing. Their environment should be like a womb: as safe and healthy as possible.”

Go to the next page for tips on how to “green” your nursery…