Have you wondered if creating a non-toxic environment for your baby is worth the extra money and effort? Is it really necessary to spend the time browsing “GREENGUARD” or “Low-VOC?” Does it really matter if I find a cuter and cheaper crib that happens to be made in Asia?
Yes! It really matters!
I remember with my first baby, checking whether my nursery had products with harmful chemicals wasn’t even on my radar. I had new paint, new carpet, new mattress, adorable bedding, the cutest new crib furniture set…all coming together to produce an extra strength new-furniture/chemical/formaldehyde odor. Though I had good intentions, the amount of toxic chemicals I exposed my baby to was probably off the charts! (Talk about a baby in need of a baby-sized chemical respirator mask!)
Fast-forward to two babies later and a bout with black mold that left our entire family incredibly sick and out of our home for nine months, I understand just how important a greener and cleaner home is to create and maintain. Our sicknesses, caused by the mold, dramatically improved when I did a complete non-toxic reboot to our home and lifestyle. Even now with all of us recovered, it’s impossible for me to ignore the information I’ve learned about the importance in shielding ourselves, especially children, from toxic exposures in the home whenever possible. Thus, by no surprise, when I became pregnant with baby #3, my top priority was creating a non-toxic nursery. Yes, it took additional effort and money, but for me it was worth every late night spent on my computer emailing my questions and concerns to various companies. Honestly, I couldn’t be happier with how it all came together for Ava’s travel-themed nursery. Below are the products that made the final cut…
Crib Furniture: Romina
When deciding on our crib furniture, I wanted to find a set that my baby girl could grow with, (i.e. one that turns into a toddler and full bed). As for my criteria, I wanted Greenguard Gold certified furniture, (as products with this meet the strictest standards for indoor air quality and chemical composition). In addition, I looked for furniture made of solid wood, meaning the furniture does not contain harmful glues, veneers, chemicals, and formaldehyde. Lastly, I only considered furniture made outside of Asia as it’s been heavily reported that furniture in Asia often times contains lead. Clearly, lead and babies do not mix!
I found three companies that fit my above criteria, including Romina (made in Romania), Natart Juvenile (made in Canada), and Green Cradle (made in USA). All three make exceptional cribs, but I felt Romina stood a notch above the rest. I am convinced that no other furniture brand matches Romina in terms of health, safety, and style. With several gorgeous designs to choose from, we went with their Imperio Crib in white, the matching three drawer dresser and nightstand. Yes, these non toxic crib options are pricey, but for me, knowing I’m getting something non-toxic AND bedroom furniture to last my daughter a long time (18 years would be nice) makes it well worth the cost. My favorite features:
• Their finishes have an organic vegetable based coloring agent and are either water-based or oil-based. (Our white paint is a water-based finish with a 10-step multi-layered application process.)
• Their ENTIRE product line, not just cribs but everything, is Greenguard Gold certified.
• Glues are tree sap based organic.
• No VOCs or formaldehyde (nor any toxic fumes).
• 100% solid beechwood. (I discovered some companies that claim to use solid wood may also use wood veneers in their products, which takes some digging to figure out.)
• Most impressive safety features (i.e. baby proof gliding drawers, anti-tilting hardware, plastic safety triggers for removing drawers, etc.).
Romina is truly the best in the biz. Their health standards are as good as gets. They make high-quality products that your child can grow with for many years to come. Their safety features are phenomenal. And their designs are gorgeous! From the country known for Dracula, medieval fortresses, salt mines, and women’s gymnastics, Romania should also be known for making the best crib furniture on the planet.
Glider: Como by Monte Design
When searching for a new glider, other than being non-toxic, my main concern was comfort and smoothness when gliding. My old glider had an annoying clicking sound and a quasi-jerky motion that both of my boys never liked being rocked in as babies. When my research and multiple reviews kept steering me to Monte Design, I decided to go with their Como Glider with a steel base. Words cannot express how happy I am with this gem, as it’s the first time I’ve experienced a baby who loves being rocked. On top of that, it’s sharp! I love their designs and quality materials. Be sure to check out their website as they have some fabulous designs and options. Based in Canada, this amazing company has gliders with the following features:
• Uses only high-density foam, free of chemical flame retardants with CertiPUR-US certification.
• Their Italian-made fabric is untreated and natural. (I chose their natural cotton/linen line.)
• There is no noise associated with the gliding mechanism, (hallelujah!). It moves very smoothly overtop of the stainless steel base and swivels 360 degrees.
• All glues used are water-based, biodegradable, and made in Europe.
Note: These Gliders are LEED, rather than Greenguard certified, as all the wood meets the requirements of the LEED Rating System for wood adhesives (no urea formaldehyde added), and the glue used in the frame construction is the water-based kind mentioned above.
Runner-ups: Dutailier (also made in Canada with similar certifications). I like Babyletto, but since they are made in Asia (Tawian), I shy away from products made there simply based on the known lead levels.
Bassinet: Rockwell by Monte Design
Also from Monte Design, I went with their bassinet after initially learning about it when I was researching gliders. Their Rockwell Bassinet caught my eye immediately as it is a BEAUTY! My baby girl has slept in this for four months now and she truly sleeps like a baby in it…so clearly she loves it too! More over, the sleek, modern/contemporary design is lovely! My favorite features:
• Comes with a waterproof mattress, which passes all US, Canadian, and European Safety standards.
• It’s super quick and easy assembly.
• Foam is free of any flame retardant chemicals and CertiPUR-US certified.
• Fabric (made in Italy) is Oeko-Tex Certified.
• Did I mention it’s absolutely beautiful??
Crib Mattress: Nest Bedding
Considering ALL of our mattresses in our home are from Nest Bedding (the Ribeiro’s are their biggest fans…check out my blog about them here), it’s no surprise that I went with Nest for our crib needs. Hands-down, the best mattresses EVER! Like all of their other mattresses, the crib mattress does not disappoint. My favorite features:
• Made of GOTS Certified 100% Natural Premium Sheep Wool and GOTS certified organic cotton lining.
• Contains natural coconut coir to evenly distribute weight.
• Antibacterial and water resistant.
• Allows natural temperature regulation and cooling.
• Zero pesticides and zero toxins.
In other words, it’s top-notch and one of the best crib mattresses on the market. Compared to other mattresses with similar certifications, it is more affordable at $299. (Naturepedic Quilted Deluxe is $399 and the Soaring Heart Organic Mattress is $418.) And if it’s time for a new mattress in your room, I HIGHLY consider their mattresses for an affordable, non-toxic, and comfortable option! (Note: Their BKB – Big Kid’s Bed is equally amazing and starts at $299 for a twin size. We have these in my boys’ room and LOVE them!)
Paint: Benjamin Moore Natura
Zero-VOC paints can SIGNIFICANTLY reduce toxic exposure to your little ones, often times more than 90% in comparison to low-VOC or regular VOC paints. Since I had painted the kids’ rooms last year with a zero-VOC paint (Benjamin Moore Natura), I decided to leave the light grey color. Other VOC-free paints include: AFM Safecoat, ECOS Paints, Sherwin-Williams Harmony, Lullaby Paints, Earthpaint, Colorhouse, and Valspar Zero VOC.
I’ve been using FLOR carpet tiles for years, as all of our bedrooms and living room have these. For the nursery, I went with the Made You Look in Bone. I am obsessed with them! Since I have littles, I’m constantly finding stains on my rugs. Thankfully, I never have to sweat it since I can easily wash or replace tiles if need be. My favorite aspects of FLOR carpet tile rugs are:
• Sustainable, non-toxic, hypoallergenic and meet or exceed the Carpet & Rug Institute’s Green Label Plus standards for VOC emissions.
• Their commitment to clean manufacturing is commendable.
• Simple installation with non-toxic adhesive dots that stick to the bottom of the carpet squares. (No worries…they do not damage your floors!).
Tip: They usually have good sales throughout the year. If it’s not a rush, wait for the sale! Also, if money is no object, Curran is an amazing option! Their wool Wethersfield rug looks stunning! Their rugs are hand-loomed, 100% untreated wool. It’s safe, natural, and eco-friendly.
Monitor: D-Link HD
Three years ago, I had no idea that EMFs were the reason for my sleeping issues. Once we had our bedroom mitigated of EMFs, I instantly slept like a baby…no joke! Thus, after learning about EMFs, I knew I wanted a low-EMF option for a baby monitor. After all, baby monitors that use DECT or FHSS use the same electromagnetic frequencies that microwaves, Wi-Fi routers, and cordless phones use. All of these contain high levels of radiation (research has shown that digital baby monitors placed one meter away from a baby’s crib emit similar radiation levels of cell phone towers 150 meters away). INSANE! This level of radiation is simply BAD for babies (and adults, it’s just amplified in little ones) as it impacts their brain development, sleep (and Lord knows how much we want and need our babies to sleep!), weakens immune system, and disrupts their reproductive system. Why do they make it so dang hard to keep our little ones, let alone ourselves, healthy???
The monitor we chose is the D-Link HD Wi-Fi Camera with Remote Viewing (DCS-2132L). It’s one of the few you can hook up to an Ethernet hookup (our TVs and computers are hooked up this way in our home) which means no Wi-Fi and no harmful EMF emissions. (Note: You are easily able to disable the Wi-Fi on the device.)
As for all of the travel theme wall decor, I purchased everything on Etsy. My organic bedding and changing pads were ordered on Amazon. And as for an air purifier, I’m using the brand I have in all of my bedrooms, IQAir ProHealth Series, and I made my own plant wall with air-purifying plants.
Overall, it’s clearly more expensive and timely to create a healthy, non-toxic nursery, but the benefits are great and many. These tiny humans need to live a long time and by helping their bodies develop in a healthy way without any negative disruptions from VOCs, chemicals, and other various toxins, they have a better shot at better heath. Even if you can make a few changes to reduce the toxicity levels in your child’s nursery, every little bit makes a difference! Even though our black mold experience was a nightmare, especially considering how sick we all got, I view it as a blessing in disguise as it pushed me to educate myself about this area of our lives that we often overlook. So when you start creating a nursery or even make a few changes to your existing one or your own bedroom, do pay attention to those labels like “Greenguard” or “Solid Wood.” It makes a difference!