Go green! Cre­ate a green nurs­ery

Pink or blue? – pah! Green is the new­est dé­cor trend for baby nurs­eries, says Camilla Rankin

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

GO­ING GREEN IS not a nod to gen­der-neu­tral wall colours, or sooth­ing colour ther­apy (although those are good enough rea­sons to go green too). No, go­ing “green” is all about mak­ing sure that your baby’s first bed­room is tox­in­free, sus­tain­able and doesn’t harm ei­ther your baby or the en­vi­ron­ment.

The only prob­lem is that just about any­thing marked “nat­u­ral”, “or­ganic” or “eco-friendly” can be pricey and is likely to throw the money man­ager in the house into a guilty sulk. So here are six ways to make the big­gest im­pact, with­out break­ing the bank.



With so many great, eco-friendly fur­ni­ture op­tions avail­able you will cer­tainly be tempted to spend a lot of green­backs on new nurs­ery fur­ni­ture, but go­ing green is as much about min­i­mal­ism as it is about re­duc­ing ex­po­sure to chem­i­cals and tox­ins. So, rather opt to re­pur­pose or up­cy­cle fur­ni­ture you al­ready have, spruc­ing up a hand-me-down and not cram­ming your baby’s room with un­nec­es­sary fur­ni­ture and dé­cor.

Do you have a chest of draw­ers that can be used as a change ta­ble? Or a set of book­shelves that can work as a toy and cloth­ing stor­age space?

In keep­ing with the “less is more” phi­los­o­phy, many par­ents skip a cot altogether and have their new­born sleep in a Moses bas­ket, mov­ing them di­rectly onto a mat­tress placed on the floor when they are big­ger. This not only saves on buy­ing a cot and a tod­dler bed, but, ac­cord­ing to fol­low­ers of Montes­sori par­ent­ing prin­ci­ples, also pro­motes in­de­pen­dence and free­dom of move­ment.

If you do buy new, look for prod­ucts made from sus­tain­able solid wood or bam­boo that use a non-toxic fin­ish, and that can be used for more than one child, such as Clever Lit­tle Mon­key’s The Bambu Con­vert­ible Cot, which con­verts into your child’s first bed, which makes it much more sus­tain­able.



There is one area of the nurs­ery where spend­ing that lit­tle ex­tra for the eco-friendly ver­sion re­ally does makes sense: your baby’s mat­tress and bed­ding. Con­ven­tional mat­tresses are made of highly flammable and toxic ma­te­ri­als which con­tinue to re­lease fumes long af­ter man­u­fac­ture, so choos­ing an or­ganic mat­tress is highly rec­om­mended. Es­pe­cially when you con­sid­er­ing the amount of time your baby will spend asleep (eight to 16 hours a day), it is es­sen­tial to make sure that it is as safe as pos­si­ble.

Mat­tresses are also one area where get­ting a sec­ond-hand or hand-me-down ver­sion is not rec­om­mended – un­less it is from your own older child so you know ex­actly how well it was looked af­ter and cleaned.

While prices for mat­tresses made us­ing eco-friendly ma­te­ri­als and pro­cesses vary, a good place to start look­ing is on­line re­tailer Faith­ful to Na­ture, as they stock prod­ucts from a range of com­pa­nies com­mit­ted to sus­tain­able, or­ganic prod­ucts. 3 PICK PURE PAINT Lead-free paint is now stan­dard in most paint prod­ucts, but what many of us aren’t aware of is the num­ber of other chem­i­cals that lurk within those colours. So, if you do plan to paint the nurs­ery or add a lick of paint to spruce up old fur­ni­ture, opt for zero or lowVOC (volatile or­ganic com­pounds) paints, such as An­nie Sloan chalk paints. “An­nie Sloan paints and wax sealants are non-toxic and safe, but they are so quick and easy to use, which is such a bonus when you are try­ing to do a DIY project while preg­nant or with a tod­dler in tow – no sand­ing or scrap­ing old paint off be­fore you paint,” says Mary Glais­ter, a Bal­lito-based mom and An­nie Sloan dis­trib­u­tor, whose pas­sion is to re­pur­pose and up­scale fur­ni­ture. “You can lit­er­ally just wash with warm, soapy wa­ter, dry and paint, and trans­form tatty old fur­ni­ture into trendy retro-look items eas­ily (and safely).”

Re­gard­less of the paint you use, it is also es­sen­tial to paint the nurs­ery well in ad­vance of baby’s ar­rival, keep­ing doors and win­dows open for as long as pos­si­ble to al­low enough time to let all the fumes es­cape. “This is true for just about any sealants you use to fin­ish fur­ni­ture too – even An­nie Sloan’s,” says Mary. “You will need at least 28 days for the sealant to cure be­fore ex­pos­ing your baby to the room or fur­ni­ture.”



Although it seems like an odd area to fo­cus on, like your baby’s bed, the floor is an­other place where your child will spend a huge amount of time: play­time, tummy time or just crawl­ing about. For many of us there is not a lot that can be done about the ac­tual floor, but if you have been hit with the “I am preg­nant, let’s ren­o­vate” hor­mone, then con­sider re­plac­ing wall-to-wall car­pet­ing (which is a dust and al­ler­gen trap) with nat­u­ral wood, cork or bam­boo floor­ing, and steer clear of lam­i­nates or com­pressed fi­bre­boards, as these can leach fumes.

For a more af­ford­able change, choos­ing a nat­u­ral fi­bre rug – wool, pure cot­ton or hemp – for your baby’s nurs­ery is a small change that can have a large eco-friendly im­pact, es­pe­cially if the rug is made with nat­u­ral dyes. Look for a ma­chine-wash­able rug for easy clean­ing to help keep the al­ler­gens at bay.


CLEAN GREEN Just type “home­made clean­ing prod­ucts” into Pin­ter­est and you will be bom­barded with ef­fec­tive, eco-friendly clean­ing prod­ucts us­ing in­gre­di­ents such as vine­gar, lemon, bi­car­bon­ate of soda and tea tree oil. But for those of us who are not as in­dus­tri­ous, many of the ma­jor South African re­tail­ers have in­tro­duced eco-friendly clean­ing prod­ucts to their shelves, such as Pnp’s Green or Wool­worths’ Earth-friendly range of clean­ing prod­ucts and toi­letries.

The same goes for clean­ing up and car­ing for your baby’s skin – you can make your own mois­turis­ers with olive or co­conut oils, and use wash­cloths and wa­ter instead of cot­ton wool balls (which are bleached with chlo­rine and fill up land­fills) to pam­per dirty bot­toms.


TOYS AND CLOTHES One of the eas­i­est ways of be­ing en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly in your baby’s nurs­ery is with all those toys and clothes. When buy­ing new, look for prod­ucts made from wool, 100% cot­ton, hemp, linen and wood (for toys), as they are not only made from non-toxic, sus­tain­able ma­te­ri­als, but they will also likely last longer.

While stock­ing up on clothes and toys made from pure or­ganic cot­ton or bam­boo is a fan­tas­tic idea for the en­vi­ron­ment, re­mem­ber that cre­at­ing an eco-friendly nurs­ery in­volves more than just us­ing safe ma­te­ri­als. Try re­pur­pos­ing and buy­ing less, and ac­cept hand-medowns from friends.

Go­ing green in your baby’s nurs­ery does not need to be an ex­pen­sive over­haul. YB

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