If you have a baby on the way or your little bundle is already here then no doubt you want to ensure you have a green friendly and non-toxic nursery—read on! In these days of eco consciousness, for us to keep our children’s world as safe as we can, we need to start in our home and what better place than your baby’s first environment (after the womb of course)? Perhaps you don’t have a separate nursery because you co-sleep. That great! We just need to make sure all of baby’s hangouts are safe as possible. Experts abound to tell you all about making sure you have outlet covers and no stuffed animals in the crib. Few tell you about the potential toxins that could be lurking in the paint you used on the walls or the new mattress you bought for their crib or bassinet. Even fewer will tell you that you don’t need a fraction of the baby stuff being marketed to new moms.
This is serious business but it is actually getting very easy to outfit a nursery or sleep/play space with safe and green materials. When you also acknowledge that babies actually NEED very little by way of stuff then your job is even easier. You don’t have to go broke buying all the stuff in a baby catalog. Be honest…that stuff is more for you than for baby. They don’t care if their nursery is the perfect color combination of celery and aquamarine. All they care about is the touch, smell, and sound of their mom and dad. They are probably never going to care about how cute you decorated that nursery so your energy AND money is better spent elsewhere. Here are…
10 Tips For a Safe and Minimalist Nursery
1. If you are painting for baby use zero VOC paints or natural paints such as milk paints. Your color options may be slightly reduced but wall color is not as important as the potential for you and your baby to be breathing in noxious chemicals.
2. Avoid new carpeting. Carpet harbors all sorts of nasties like, mold, mildew, dust, dirt, and allergens. If at all possible go with hard wood flooring and wool rugs.
3. Use natural baby care products and avoid the conventional top sellers. You actually don’t need all the baby powder, baby oil, and lotion that the magazines and TV ads tell you that you do. If you must purchase some of these items stick with natural brands such as Earth Mama Angel Baby but in all honesty you can usually eschew most of these products.
4. Choose to use cloth diapers. They really aren’t that much more work (just a few loads of laundry) and they are way cuter than throwaway diapers. They are better for your baby’s skin/health and they are the planet friendly option as well.
5. Select an organic and/or natural mattress wherever your baby will be sleeping. Conventional mattresses are doused with nasty chemicals and flame retardants. Baby mattresses are often covered in plastic which tends to off-gas for a long time. Organic cotton or wool mattresses for cribs and bassinets are available.
6. Spring for organic sheets too. Your little one will be in close contact with all the chemical nasties in conventional options, as will you, for many hours each night. In the beginning they also spend a great deal of time napping. Their sleep environment should be as safe as possible.
7. Everyone’s clothing should be washed in safe, natural detergents but especially that of babies. Soap nuts are a good option…they are fruit with natural soap in them and they can be used repeatedly in the wash to clean clothing naturally.
8. Buy essentials ONLY. Wear your baby and you don’t need a pack-n-play. Change your baby on the bed and you don’t need a changing table. Grab a reusable tote when you leave the house (the kind you use for groceries) and you don’t need a diaper bag. Ask yourself how much you REALLY need for your new baby. The answer is…not much.
9. Use an air purifier in the baby’s room to clean the indoor air and remove allergens and other air born contaminants that are lurking there. Living plants are another great choice.
10. Buy a baby sling or wrap. Bouncy seats, baby walkers, strollers…you don’t really need them. Just get a nice quality, organic baby wrap and you and your partner can wear your baby. Both of you will relish the close contact.
When tackling the nursery and getting ready for your new baby just remember that the more “stuff” you buy or bring into the house the more you have to worry about potentially as far as chemical nasties and pollutants are concerned. It is best to go minimal and be on the safe side and to be more conscious about the few things that you do buy. The best part is that you can afford to be choosier because you aren’t throwing money after useless stuff that baby doesn’t need. Everyone wins.
What conventional and popular baby items have YOU found to be a waste of time and money?
Although many women now choose to birth in a hospital, for centuries, birth took place in a woman’s home. She was attended to and surrounded by the women in her community. The word doula is a Greek word meaning a woman who serves and serving is exactly what a doula does.
Most birth doulas start attending to families during the prenatal period. They provide emotional and informational support and may offer some form of childbirth education in group or private class settings. They may accompany a mother or a couple to prenatal visits with their care provider, recommend books to read, introduce siblings to the idea of birth and a new baby, help prepare a birth plan, assist in planning a shower or blessingway or arrange a meal train for the first weeks after the baby is born.
The majority of couples hire doulas for additional labor support. Doulas accompany the couple to their birth location and stay with them during labor and the delivery of their child. They provide emotional support, informational support, assistance with relaxation and comfort measures, try to guard the birthing space and maintain a calming atmosphere, engage the woman’s partner in the birth process as much or as little as the partner would like, and assists the couple in advocating for their birth plan and personal wishes for their birth. Doulas also help couples sort through options if a crisis emerges, providing them with evidence based information to better aid them in making an informed decision.
Doulas usually also assist in supporting breastfeeding, helping with the first few hours of life, ensuring a good latch and good positioning to encourage a good start to the breastfeeding relationship. Most doulas also visit the family in the first week or two postpartum to assist with difficulties that may crop up while breastfeeding, provide some postpartum education, and provide reassurance and emotional support. Some doulas may provide additional services in the postpartum period and often are very knowledgeable about community resources that could be helpful to the family in the postpartum period.
Doulas are a valuable resource if woman want someone who is knowledgeable about labor, birth and breastfeeding to accompany them during their pregnancy, labor and the birth of their baby.
Did YOU have a Doula or do you plan to use one?
Are you going to be welcoming a new baby soon or know someone that will be? Well, having a baby shower is one of the most fun things about being pregnant, at least it was for me. I generally didn’t enjoy being pregnant but I certainly loved the anticipation and getting to share my excitement with those closest to me. Baby showers are just a wee bit magical don’t you think?
The folks at Once Upon a Treehouse have shared some baby shower tips with me and I am passing them along to you…along with the opportunity to win one of their fabulous handmade dolls. Can you believe that my little girl never much cared for dolls? I played with them until I was 14ish years old so that was a tough pill for me to swallow. In fact I still get a warm gooey feeling when I look at dolls and I especially love handmade dolls.
Baby Shower Tips
Comments in italics are mine…
* Select the theme and color scheme based around the nursery decor – If you are unsure of the nursery decor, I suggest a “natural” color scheme and theme such as outdoors, forest, jungle, etc. It works for both sexes.
*Ask guests to bring along a copy of their favorite childhood book, and they can even inscribe a special message for baby to be – For me that would have to be The Pokey Little Puppy!
* For a shower activity do a group craft and have the guests create something for the new nursery walls or decorate onesies and burp cloths – Cloth diapers on a line would be adorable too
* Have a station with an iPad/phone to take a short video of each guest and their special message for the new parents and baby
* Display seasonal planted flowers or herbs in spray-painted pots for centerpieces that double as the party favors – You might even have your guests do the planting as a fun activity if the weather permits
* Have a few quick and easy games like, have each guest cut a piece of ribbon the length they think will best fit around the honoree’s belly, and the closest one without going over wins
* Instead of spending time on watching the honoree open gifts, ask guests to bring the gifts unwrapped or in a gift bag and have a large table or area where they can be displayed - Love the idea of no gift wrapping!
* A small box filled with a few miniature cupcakes of different flavors is a favor everyone will love! – A waste free favor/gift idea as well :)
Ready to win an adorable handmade doll? The cutie pictured above is what the winner will receive. Her name is Daisy and she is a dollhouse doll made of cotton, wool, and wood. The face is hand painted and she is made in Europe. Ages 3+. Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter, a winner will be chosen on 4/17. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The bundle for the week is all about pregnancy and baby care and they are the perfect book choices for more natural and conscious mothers and mamas-to-be. In this bundle of five you get…
Healthy Pregnancy Super Foods – We all know how important it is to eat right for your own health but also the health of your unborn baby and your nursling. This book addresses certain nutritional powerhouse foods that you can eat to help you get maximum nutrition.
Fearless Birth – Many times pregnancy and birth can be a source of great fear and anxiety. This book has tips and tricks to helps you let go of all that an approach your delivery with confidence and peace.
Unbound Birth – I especially love the concept of this book! It is all about having a natural birth in a hospital setting. For some women (I was one of them), a hospital is preferred and yet they still want to keep some measure of control and deliver naturally. It can be done with the proper preparation, planning, and support.
The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year – Another awesome subject for a book. There is no reason why we have to buy the latest and greatest gadgets or go into debt buying stuff for a baby. They actually need very little and this book discusses avoiding the trap of too much baby stuff, and slowing down to enjoy the early months with your new baby.
Breast to Bib - This one offers advice on how to transition your child from breast to REAL food.
Discovering that you are about to have a baby is often one of the most joyous times of a woman’s life. It can also be the most nerve racking. You are now responsible for the healthy development of another human life and everything you eat, breathe, and come into contact with for the next nine months can impact that growth and development. Being pregnant is weighty enough as it is without scaring moms to be and throwing a bunch of rules around. Yet the high incidences of autism, asthma, allergies, ADHD, cancer, and so many other childhood illnesses and issues require us to give some thought to raising our children green and healthy, even before they are born. They get their start in our bellies. Are we giving them the best possible start we can? It is something we all need to think about because our choices impact them greatly and also the planet. Here are a few ways to keep it green during pregnancy:
Prenatal Vitamins – In my earlier post on the dangers of synthetic vitamins I highlight all the reasons why you want to stick to vitamins that are made from whole foods and not those that are created in a lab. Synthetic vitamins offer you much less than you think are receiving and now is not the time to skimp. There are a few whole foods prenatal vitamins on the market. Try Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal Multivitamins and/or Rainbow Light Just Once Prenatal One Multivitamins.
Organic Foods – Eating organic can be more expensive but there are numerous tips and tricks out there to keep it affordable. Avoiding pesticides is just too important when you are pregnant. With some menu planning, buying in bulk, and perhaps cutting back on other purchases you can find a way to opt for that USDA organic sticker in stores. At the very least you can avoid the foods that have the highest pesticides residues when grown conventionally, also called the Dirty Dozen.
Farm Fresh & Nutrient Dense Foods – When preggo is it also important to make sure your meat is raised as healthfully and ethically as possible. We don’t want to expose our unborn children to all the growth hormones and antibiotics found in conventionally raised animals products. Go with grassfed meats, free range eggs, and pastured dairy. It is best, and usually cheaper too, if you go direct to the source…aka the farmer. Look for more nutrient dense options as well such as organ meats (liver, heart) and eggs other than chicken (like duck). For seafood you will need to look for wild caught instead of farmed and avoid canned foods as much as possible because the cans are lined with BPA. When cooking make sure you are using healthy pots and pans that are free of dangers like chemical ridden non-stick surfaces and aluminum.
Clean Water – We need to hydrate quite often when pregnant because we have to filter out impurities and toxins for two. We are re-hydrating and replenishing all that amniotic fluid all the time so it is so important to drink lots of water. Also since our unborn is essentially swimming in it all day and night we want to make sure all chemical nasties are filtered out. Use a water filter in your home for drinking and cooking water. A nice affordable option is the Zuvo system, which I have. The filter catches stuff like chlorine and lead, the UV light kills water-borne bacteria and microbes, and the puration process oxygenates the water. Also consider the harmful effects of bathing and showering in chlorinated water and get filters for those areas too. For planetary reasons and because drinking out of plastic is unhealthy for us, ditch the plastic bottles and go with a stainless reusable bottle when you need to carry drinking water with you.
Maternity Clothing & Baby Clothing – I think that our consumer society goes a bit too far with all the all the pregnancy and baby stuff it tells us we must have. When I was expecting I simply bought clothing a size bigger until I was forced to buy a couple maternity items. Once I bought them I kept them for all three of my pregnancies and if I needed to buy anything else I went the second hand route. I managed to look nice without spending money on clothing off the rack that no doubt had lots of chemicals in it. Clothing in general has a BIG environmental impact and since we wear it all day long every day it can greatly impact our health. Second hand clothing has been worn and washed enough to negate the health impacts and buying used is better for the planet than buying new.
Natural Cleaners - Wash all your clothing (and baby’s future clothing) in an eco friendly and healthy detergent. There are some really horrible ingredients in conventional detergents and green moms want nothing to do with them. Now might be the perfect time to try soap nuts, which are berries that naturally contain soap and can be used (and reused) to clean your clothes. I love them! For house cleaning go with natural ingredients such as vinegar, essential oils, baking soda, and castile soap.
Healthy Nesting – Nesting is the urge to make your home ready for the new baby. Just like mama birds we want to get our nests in order before our little one arrives. Often time this means getting a nursery ready, doing some renovations, and buying items we think we will need for our little bundle, such as nursery furniture. Buy second hand when you can to avoid the offgassing associated with brand new products. This means it may be better to get a second hand crib rather than a brand new one. Just be sure to do your homework and make sure what you buy hasn’t been recalled or painted with lead based paint because it is so old. New items might be best put outside to “air out” for a couple weeks if possible and when painting use zero VOC paints.
Clean Indoor Air – You are eating for two and breathing for two so making sure your air is clean and free and of harmful pollutants is important. This is no time to be breathing in mold, mildew, fumes from paint, or other chemicals that cause allergies and asthma. One cheap and green solution is to get some houseplants that clean and filter the air such as spider plants, English ivy, Boston fern, and rubber plants. Open windows and let fresh air inside the house as much as possible. Takes daily walks outside in the fresh air (and get some sun while you are at it). You can also run an air purifier to be on the safe side. I have Permatech Air Cleaners in my home and as an added bonus they are also ionizers so they give me a mood boost when I run them.
Healthy Body Care – Dangerous chemicals are abundant in personal care products and now is not the time to put your faith and trust in big corporations that make the lotions and potions you see in conventional stores. These products are not well regulated and legislation does not consider the cumulative impact of all these products. Sure the deodorant might be safe in their minds but what about when you use it along with lipstick, blush, lotion, shampoo, hairspray, and toothpaste? That is a lot of chemicals (phthalates, parabens, formaldehyde, sodium lauryl sulfate) you are rubbing all over your body! Many of those components will pass through your skin into the body that is currently nourishing your unborn baby. I recommend more natural products such as Earth Mama Angel Baby, making your owns products using natural ingredients, and perhaps avoiding some entirely. Why not try going no poo?
Pregnancy is a special, magical time and I hate to give moms more stuff to be anxious over but this topic is just to important not to share. Do you have any tips and ideas to share for a greener, more natural pregnancy?