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Health & Baby

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Building an Earth-Friendly Baby Nursery

Decorating Baby's Nursery continued...

Since your baby will sleep in their crib for many hours each day, consider an organic fiber mattress. Look for materials like coconut fibers, wool, or organic cotton, says Helmer. If you don't want to pay the higher cost of an organic fiber mattress and you decide to go with a non-organic, standard style mattress, make sure to put the new mattress in a well-ventilated area for a few days to let any gasses that may be in it to escape, suggests Catherine Zandonella, author of Green Guide Families. Then cover it with a non-polyvinyl chloride (non-PVC) mattress cover.

Skip the bassinet – baby really doesn't need it, they can sleep in the crib right away. If you want your baby to sleep in your room for a few months, try a Moses basket – its plant fiber construction is more environment-friendly than a plastic bassinet and it's transportable, so you can use it for travel and to move your sleeping baby around the house.

Since crawling babies spend lots of time on the floor, avoid wall-to-wall carpeting, if possible. "Any chemicals that you've brought into your home can get trapped in carpeting and released over time," says Zandonella. Instead, choose hardwood, or another sustainable wood like bamboo or cork on the floor. If you want something soft for the baby to crawl on, opt for a throw rug made with wool, cotton, or another natural material.

Children's Clothing

Whenever possible, choose children's clothing made from organic cotton, which is grown without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides and dyed with processes using berries, flowers, barks, and other plant materials. Another option: Buy used at garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops, where clothes have likely been washed enough to reduce any chemical residues.

For infant sleepwear, choose snug-fitting garments made of natural fabrics. Skip the fluffy frilly matching sheets, blankets, quilt, and bumper. Not only do they raise your baby's risk of SIDS, they're unnecessary and wasteful.

In Baby's Room

Instead of baby wipes, which are often made with cotton or wood pulp that's been bleached with chlorine and will clog up landfills, keep plenty of freshly laundered washcloths and a squirt bottle filled with water near your baby's diaper changing area.

Look for children's toys made from wood with nontoxic paint. Instead of using harsh cleaners, Helmer suggests this to freshen and deodorize: 2 cups water, 3 tablespoons liquid soap, 20-30 drops tea tree oil or lemon juice; Mix well, store in a spray bottle and squirt to your heart's content.

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Reviewed on February 14, 2011

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