Checklist for a Greener Nursery

For a lot of new parents (myself included!) decorating the nursery is one of the most fun baby prep activities – – Mobiles! Color schemes! Shopping! It can also be one of those activities that causes you a lot of anxiety when you’re also trying to incorporate non-toxic and eco-friendly choices in your plan – – Organic? Toxins? Where are the toxins coming from? To help alleviate some of that stress, I’ve put together my “top 5” checklist for achieving a greener nursery.


# 1. No-VOC Paint – VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, are gases that are emitted by products like paint, glues, lacquers, and furnishings into the air. Pregnant women and children should limit their exposure to these toxins by using only No-VOC paint when painting, especially in the nursery.

We used Sherwin-Williams Harmony paint in Rock Candy for our nursery, and recently did some more painting in the house with Dunn Edwards Enso paint – – two relatively inexpensive No-VOC paint lines that I really like.


# 2. Natural fiber carpet or floor tiles – If you plan to replace carpets in your nursery, it is important to go with natural fibers, such as 100% wool, cotton, bamboo, hemp, or jute to eliminate the off-gassing from new synthetic materials (those VOCs again!). And remember to use these same natural fibers for the carpet underlays, as well.

Another great solution for nursery carpet is using FLOR tiles. The tiles can be used wall-to-wall or as an area rug. They are non-toxic and can be replaced/cleaned individually if a spill happens. And when you’re done with your tiles, FLOR will take them back from you and use the materials to make new carpet in their zero-waste facility.



# 3. Crib/Mattress/Sheets – Babies spend a lot of time in their cribs…and that’s why I think this is the best place to invest in organic, non-toxic materials.

If you have to choose, skip the organic towels, and blankets and cute room decor and invest in a sustainably-made crib, an organic mattress, and organic sheets.

(For more detailed information and my top picks, see my post on Green Cribs & Bedding).


# 4. Thoughtfully use vintage – Giving older furniture a new life in your nursery can be a great money-saving and eco-friendly option. Check out your local antique stores, flea markets, and garage sales and keep an eye out for sturdy, solid wood pieces that are in need of a little TLC

You can repaint an old dresser (with no-VOC paint!) and plop a changing pad on top to use it as a changing table, like this cute little number from the blog, domestic adventure.

…Or reupholster a foot stool with cute organic fabric that complements your decor.

…Or tip a refinished bookcase on its side to make a reading bench with storage cubbies underneath!

A Note About New Furniture:

Be aware that the stains, glues, and fabrics in new furniture can also be off-gassing culprits in your home. To improve your indoor air quality, consider purchasing:

  • floor models that have been allowed to off-gas in the store
  • solid wood items with low emitting finishes
  • sustainably-made new products that contain low or no VOCs


5. Room decor that your little one can grow into – Part of eliminating some stress of becoming a new (or new again) parent is having the things you need in the places you need them in order to help make your life a little easier. You’re going to have to buy stuff, and some of that stuff will be used to death for only a very short period of time.

So choosing room decor that can grow with your child and using furniture that can adapt as your child’s needs change are two ways you can help reduce your family’s “consumption footprint,” animportant step in helping to preserve our planet’s resources for our children!

Here are some of the ways we incorporated this concept into our nursery:

  • used a dresser as a changing table, which converted back to a dresser that we can easily send to college in the very distant future (eek!)
  • bought a crib that converts to a toddler bed, and a crib mattress that also will hold up for those toddler years
  • used a Pack-n-Play with the infant cot insert as our newborn bassinet – now we use the Pack-n-Play as a travel bed, and didn’t have to buy a piece of furniture that would only be used for 2 or 3 months
  • chose a gender-neutral color scheme, which will work for future kiddos no matter the gender. (you can check out our color inspiration room here)

Green nursery…Check!


Green Cribs & Bedding…zzzzzzzzzz

New parents may claim this fact is a myth, but babies spend 14-18 hours a day in their cribs sleeping…and that’s why this is the best place to invest in organic, non-toxic materials.  If you have to choose, skip the organic towels and blankets and (gasp!) cute room decor and invest in a sustainably-made crib, a non-toxic mattress, and organic sheets for your little one.


Loom CribNurseryworks Loom Crib for our nursery. It is made in the USA, non-toxic, and converts to a toddler bed for bonus use. I was lucky to find one gently-used on Craigslist – it retails new for around $600.

I also like the Oeuf Robin Crib and the Spot On Square Eicho Crib, which both retail around $550.


Naturepedic organic crib mattressNew mattresses are treated with flame-retardants and contain foam cushioning that off-gas VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, into the air. Children and babies (and mamas and daddies) should limit their exposure to these toxins — and choosing an organic or natural material mattress is a healthy choice for your nursery.

I have been really happy with our NaturePedic NO-COMPROMISE™ Organic Cotton Classic crib mattress.  I chose the 2-stage dual firmness option, which allows you to flip the mattress over and have slightly more cushion when you transition your crib to a toddler bed.  Cost: $259 for the basic model, $299 for the dual firmness option.


A quick Google or Amazon search will present you with a vast array of organic crib bedding options at a variety of price points. I like Tadpoles Organic Flannel Sheets. They’ve held up great through 9 months 2 years of weekly (sometimes more!) washing – and at $29 for a set of two, they’re a  budget-friendly option after splurging on the organic mattress.  I’m also fond of the sassy orange stripes on the Giggle Better Basics Fitted Organic Sheet.  At $40, they’re pricey, but amazingly soft, durable, and stylish!