Natural Savvy: Create a Green Nursery for Baby
Sunday, September 12, 2010

By Lisa Tsakos
Tribune Media Services

As Kermit the Frog admits, "It's not easy being green," but creating a healthy space for your infant is easier today than ever before. Here are  recommendations from

PAINT: Paint the walls of your nursery and furniture with VOC-free paint. Paints can produce significant off-gassing in your home. Most VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are released while the paint is drying (about three days if the temperature and humidity is moderate). Naturally-derived paints, like milk paints and whitewashes are eco-friendly and the safest option but they aren't very durable.

LINENS: Crib sheets, mattress covers, bassinette covers, and changing pad covers made from organic fibers are now available almost everywhere. Purchase plain linens that aren't made with chemical dyes or other chemicals.

MATTRESS: A regular crib mattress will off-gas. An organic mattress costs at least $75 more than a conventional mattress (some brands are much more expensive), but an organic mattress cover is even more important than the mattress itself (and is less costly).

Whichever type of mattress you opt for, air it out by an open window or fan for several weeks before it's used by baby. An organic mattress is typically made of rubber on the inside with organic wool as a fiber barrier, and is covered in organic cotton.

SLING: Look for a baby sling made from organic cotton. Try it on for size (with baby in tow) before you buy, and give your baby at least a week to get used to it.

TOYS, TEETHERS, PACIFIERS: Look for BPA-free products. Teethers and stuffed animals made from organic materials are available at most stores.

BODY CARE: A wide range of safe and natural products are available for infants. Purchase petroleum- and paraben-free body wash, shampoo, and diaper cream.

CLEANING PRODUCTS: Cleaning products are among the most toxic substances that can be found in the average home. Toxic chemicals used in cleaning agents have been implicated in the rising incidence of asthma, autism, childhood cancer, and leukemia.

Select products made with biodegradable and natural ingredients, or clean the nursery and furniture with gentler products such as baking soda, vinegar, and liquid soap. Wash baby's clothes with a mild, natural cleanser, like Seventh Generation or Ecover and skip the chemical dryer sheets.

FEEDING SUPPLIES: Opt for stainless steel or glass bottles and sippy cups, and steer clear of plastic. Avoiding BPA may not be enough. Phthalates and other dangers also lurk in plastics.

DIAPER AND WIPES: Diapers made with organic cotton are available everywhere; but take it one step further and purchase compostable diapers. American manufacturers haven't quite caught up to Europe when it comes to making a "green" diaper.

Look for stores that import eco-friendly brands like Delora, or order them on line. Conventional diaper wipes are full of chemicals that are unsafe for the baby's skin. Wipes made with natural ingredients are widely available and only slightly more expensive.

Lisa Tsakos is a Registered Nutritionist and a regular contributor to, a website that educates people on the benefits of living a natural, organic and green lifestyle. For more information and to sign up for their newsletter, visit


This column was originally printed in the September 12, 2010 - September 25, 2010 edition.


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