Are you expecting? Helping a friend prepare for a new baby? Have a little one on the way in your family? Chances are you’ll be doing at least a little work to prepare the baby’s nursery. Beyond what cute patterns you can find for bedding and the adorable clothing, there are some not so obvious things to think about when preparing for baby.
1. Watch those hand me downs!
It’s great to reuse items whenever possible but depending on the items it might not be safe. Previously loved cribs might have unsafe slat sizes or lead paint. Used car seats might not be up to current safety standards. So take that gently used onesie, but avoid taking furniture and safety items unless you’ve checked first with the Consumer Safety Product Commission.
2. Use low VOC paints.
Most new nurseries include a new coat of paint, but paint is full of potentially harmful chemicals. You’ll all breathe better if you spend a little more and purchase paint low in volatile organic compounds.
3. Leave the shoes at the door.
Did you know you can cut down on the amount of chemicals in your home just by taking off your shoes? We walk through chemicals and pesticides every day. Taking them off before you step inside can help keep these chemicals from entering your home. This is especially important when you’re thinking about a new baby who will spend a lot of time on the floor.
4. Less is more in bedding.
Everyone loves to pick out cute bedding and bumpers and things for the crib-but is it all safe? Crib bumpers aren’t necessary, and can actually be dangerous if a child’s face gets too close. (Bumpers serve no practical purpose on safety approved cribs, as the slat sizes prevent children from becoming trapped.) According to the American Academy of Pediatrics the safest bed for your child contains a firm padded mattress with a simple sheet as the only bedding. Consider using wearable blankets such as the Halo Sleep Sack in place of blankets or sheets which could cover the baby’s face in their sleep.
5. Check from below.
It seems silly, but it works. Get down on your hands and knees and crawl around. Look at what might be attractive to a baby. Is it safe? Is it dangerous? Can it be adapted? Of course it will be months before the baby can crawl around and get into the trouble you’re looking for now, but it’s so much easier to prepare before the baby arrives then to do so after the baby is here.
6. How’s the air?
Does your home have issues with mold? Air quality is important to everyone, but especially to a newborn with developing airways. Cigarette smoke is another concern for little lungs. Even before baby arrives make sure no one is smoking indoors and try to get rid of any issues with mold or allergens in the home. Depending on the severity of the issues, professional assistance might be needed.
7. Set your priorities.
Are you going to cloth diaper? Use organic clothing? Set goals ahead of time, but be forgiving of yourself if you’re not able to perfectly meet each goal. Remember, when it comes to living a more sustainable and safer lifestyle it’s not what you don’t do-it’s what you do!
8. Make time to play-safely.
Make sure the toys you are selecting for baby are safe and non-toxic. There are plenty of natural toys available that are safe for babies. Remember baby toys will be going in baby’s mouth, so infant toys, especially should be selected thoughtfully.
9. Green your cleaning.
Speaking of babies putting everything in their mouths, what you are using to clean your home is as important as keeping it clean in the first place. Anything you are cleaning with will eventually go in your baby’s mouth, so choose wisely.
10. Find help online!
There are lots of great resources online to help you with your journey to a safe and healthy home. Search for blogs and websites that appeal to you and your priorities, subscribe to their newsletters and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. They’ll serve as a great way to keep you up to date on the latest news and support you along the way.
I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Seventh Generation blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here.