Healthy Baby, Healthy World
From food to textiles, organic and eco-friendly products have become a hot issue — particularly when it comes to children's products. Pound for pound, everything that is harmful to us has an even bigger impact on a tiny person with a developing immune system.
But how do you know what to buy? What's worth the extra expense, and which items are just hopping on the bandwagon? Organic standards are always changing, and you're not alone if the whole thing leaves you feeling confused. But in the meantime, here are some things you can do to create a pure, nontoxic environment for your child that will let everyone breathe a little easier.
Sleep better with healthier bedding. Baby blankets and sheets can contain formaldehyde and other harmful chemicals. Look for organic bedding and Oeko-Tex or IVN certified fabrics that are both comfortable and healthy.
Make sure clean is also healthy. Babies can be very sensitive to the ammonia, chemicals, and fragrances found in commercial cleaners. There are many nontoxic (and often biodegradable) cleaners to choose from that are both safe and effective.
Keep personal care pure. Less is more, and sometimes a little warm water and a washcloth will do the trick. For the other times, look for mild soaps, fragrance-free shampoos, hypoallergenic solutions, and ointments with simple ingredients.
Pick the right paint for your nursery. Look for paint with low or no VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and be sure to have the room painted several weeks in advance of baby's arrival so fumes have a chance to dissipate. Also, choose furniture with water-based finishes or low-VOC paints, and avoid materials that off-gas (that is, release toxic fumes).
Stock up on simple toys. Choose simple toys that are PVC-free (meaning no polyvinyl chloride), made of naturally finished wood, or made of washable fabrics.
Let in some fresh air. Make sure your baby's room is well-ventilated, and open the windows to let in fresh air when the weather allows. Be sure to use an air purifier to help minimize dust and other irritants.
Building Your Bedding
Start with your dust-mite encasement, which you put right on the mattress. Next comes the waterproof mattress pad, then the fitted sheet, which should fit snugly and be completely tucked in.
If you've chosen a bumper, there are special considerations to keep in mind for safety's sake. Tuck your bumper between the mattress and the side of the crib so that only two or three inches are sticking out. (In other words, don't gently set the bumper on top of the mattress like you see in most stores and photographs of beautiful cribs.) This not only improves the airflow at baby's level, it also minimizes the likelihood of little hands and feet getting caught between bumper and mattress. And be sure to attach the bumper securely so that it can't come lose.