The first decision is to decide the theme of your baby's room and if there are any major renovations that need to be done, like moving a wall or taking out a door. Maybe you have decided to take out the carpet first. You need to get these out of the way and then the fun starts. When looking at replacing carpets or changing over to a wood floor, think about buying carpet and flooring that are either recycled or from a renewable source like the new bamboo flooring. It is strong and durable and can stand years of hard playing on. Lots of companies are using recycled plastics to make their carpets and even throw rugs so look for ones made this way. It helps to save the planet and sends a message to manufacturers that you, the consumer, want more recycled products.
Now it comes down to what paint is the safest. Paint the nursery at least two months before your due date. That allows time for fumes to subside before your baby comes home. Use a paint that's labeled low-VOC or zero VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which are solvents that are released into the air as the paint dries and may be irritating to a baby, and some adults.
Your best bet is to buy real wood furniture, not furniture that is made from pressed wooded or laminates. Go for second-hand furniture if that is what your budget will allow because most of the toxins have leached out of the wood as they age. Natural wood highchairs are beautiful and can be re-finished to become family heirlooms. With car seats, always buy new as there can be hidden damage from a car accident. Always get your car seat out of the box and let it sit outside or in a garage for a couple of days before using. This should allow it to air out and release some of the toxic gases before you put your brand-new baby in it. Strollers also should be allowed to off-gas before their initial use. If you buy new furniture, purchase high quality, durable pieces made of sustainable, low-toxicity materials. As a green solution to a regular baby bed, try using an organic cotton baby hammock.
As for the windows, try to find curtains made from all natural cotton, hemp or bamboo, or go with natural wood shutters. Babies need lots of fresh air and sunshine so make sure, especially if the nursery will be on a second floor, to use or have made safety devices and that all windows have locks and screens.
I hope that this gives you some ideas for a green and healthy nursery.
By Debra Frick