Setting up a nursery in anticipation of your little one to come home is one of the best parts of pregnancy! Everything from planning out the colors and theme to picking out furniture helps the fact that you're having a baby really sink in. If you are planning to go green with your baby's nursery, there are a few things you'll want to take into consideration when planning.
Many conventional paints have volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, in them. Look for low- or no-VOC paint. They usually don't cost too much more than conventional paints. Unfortunately, even if you go with a no-VOC paint, many tints contain VOCs. Going for a lighter color usually combats this. Also, be sure to let the room air out after painting.
Some furniture materials are more green than others. Bamboo is a nice alternative to conventional woods, and is sustainable. You can also get baby furniture made out of reclaimed wood. Make sure the finish on the crib you get is non-toxic, since pretty soon your baby will be pulling himself up to stand and chewing on the rails! Also, consider getting a lifetime crib. These cribs convert to toddler beds, and some even eventually convert to a full-size bed for when your toddler turns into a big kid.
Bedding and other fabric items
It's getting easier these days to find organic fabrics for a baby's nursery. When my daughter was a baby we got some organic cotton sheets, and they are the softest and most comfortable sheets I've ever felt! Look for organic fabrics and/or fabrics made from easily-renewable resources, like bamboo. You can also find organic curtains and bedding sets.
Rugs or carpeting
I was surprised to learn that some carpets and rugs contain VOCs in them. (That's that "new carpet smell" you experience.) So when choosing a rug or carpet for your baby's room, choose one made out of natural fiber. The biggest downside to these, however, is the big price tag. If you do decide to go with a less-natural rug, be sure to let it "air out" for a few days in a room with open windows.
Before my daughter was born, we installed a light dimmer in place of the light switch in her room. This was useful for two reasons: first, it reduced our use of electricity because we rarely turn the light up all the way, so it's helping us save electricity and money. Second, it's great to be able to turn the light down very low during bedtime, read a story together, and then turn off the lights with the remote control.
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