Whether your little one is getting their own room or just a corner of your bedroom, setting up a safe and comfortable space is crucially important as both you and the baby will be spending most of your time there. And while most of the nursery brag-posts leave you feeling like a personalized print and a faux elk head on the wall are the 2 most important elements of any modern nursery, the reality is a little different. Here is a list of a few issues to consider, some obvious, some commonly overlooked, but all important for your baby’s comfort and wellbeing.
Choose the right furniture. While there is quite a bit of info regarding the important issue of proper slat spacing and mattress fit for the crib, very few sources mention the materials that are ideal to use for nursery furniture. Since your baby will be sleeping and napping in that room for hours, you want to avoid any off-gassing if at all possible. That means steering clear of plastic or engineered wood and choosing solid wood and/or metal as a furniture material instead. Keep in mind any paint that is used for the furniture also, and try to go with low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) options. You can look for GREENGUARD Gold certification in the labeling of furniture to help you find the right pieces. Pay special attention to gliders and other soft furniture, as engineered wood parts may not be easily visible in them.
Pay attention to paint. It’s very likely you will want to freshen up the room by applying a fresh coat of paint on the walls. This is a great idea style-wise, but again, make sure you pick the paint with the lowest VOC-emission available to you. It’s also a good idea for someone other than the baby’s birthmother to do the painting. You will want to try to get done with the painting as early as possible in order to have plenty of time to air out the room and have most of the VOC gone by the time your little one arrives.
Keep air circulation in mind. As we mentioned airing out the room above, it is important to note that any nursery should ideally have a window. The best case scenario would be a large window facing away from any busy streets, so that you can have the baby sleep with an open window, weather permitting.
Limit the tech. You will probably want to have a baby monitor in your nursery as it is a great device to help keep your little one safe and your anxiety at bay. However, EMF radiation exposure is a significant drawback of these devices. Safer options include choosing low emission baby monitors, or opting for a surveillance camera mounted away from the crib under the ceiling. It’s also a good idea to limit the use of wireless sound systems, wifi outlets and lightbulbs in the nursery.
Remember what’s outside. As you consider how to avoid EMF radiation exposure for your baby, note where the wifi router, electrical switchboard, smart meters and other similar devices are in your house. Even as you take care to choose low emission baby monitors or hardwire the cameras inside your nursery, having these emitting devices on the other side of the wall from your crib could still cause baby’s EMF exposure to be quite high. Take into account the layout of your whole house when planning the nursery furniture set up to avoid these radiation concerns.
Opt for safer textiles. Your newborn will be sleeping up to 20 hours a day, likely laying in his crib or bassinet, or doing tummy time on a swaddling blanket inbetween naps. You probably know by now, that any pillows or fluffy blankets are a big no for the baby’s crib. But it’s also important to make sure the sheets, swaddling blankets, and burp cloths used for the baby are made of natural and, preferably, organic materials. This will help the baby avoid exposure to chemicals which may be irritating for their tender skin and toxic to their small body. Avoiding soft toys and fluffy stuffed animals in the room may also be a good idea, at least initially, as the fibers of the soft fabric may harbor high amounts of allergens, potentially contributing to development of respiratory allergies for the baby.
Go with an organic mattress. As with furniture and paint, off-gassing is also a problem with a lot of crib mattresses on the market these days. One of the big contributors for mattress off-gassing is the use of flame retardants, some of which are recognized carcinogens. But even if flame retardants are not used in a crib mattress, the foam itself may be emitting VOC. If possible, pick a mattress that is made from natural materials, such as organic cotton, wool and/or latex. Natural wool and latex are also naturally flame resistant without the use of potentially harmful flame retardants. It goes without saying that the mattress should also be firm and correctly sized for your crib.