Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Setting up an eco-friendly nursery

Oh, the hours I spent researching baby gear when I was pregnant!  It was overwhelming, time consuming, and at times I had to just quit and revisit it later.  Who knew, preparing for a wee one could be so...  demanding?  I had no idea until I was deep in the throes.  I mean - order up a swing, buy a pack of blankets and get the best carseat on the market, and you're good to go, right?  But the more I read - sigh, the more I read - the more educated I became on formaldehydes in the crib, PVC in the mattress, dyes in the clothes, etc. etc.  I am a FIRM believer in "ignorance is bliss" - ah, to be ignorant again!  I would find myself curled up in the bathroom, reading yet another book on greening your nursery, hoping to avoid the snarky comment from my husband - "Again?  You're reading another baby book?  You're obsessed!"  And he was right - I had become obsessed.  But, I wanted nothing but the best for my little angel-to-be!  Well, I finally pieced together a nursery I could be proud of ("nursery" is used loosely - it was a corner of our bedroom, as our baby slept in our room until she was 13 months old), so I thought in case someone else was in this same boat, I would share my findings here - take them or leave them!

Let's start with the furniture.  I was convinced I didn't need a changing table - after all, what to do with that piece of useless furniture once outgrown? - so I was looking for a nice dresser that baby could use once grown, and thought I'd outfit the top with a pad for the changing table.  I also wanted solid wood, no particle board or anything to off-gas chemicals into MY baby's room, nuh uh.  And I wanted something from sustainably grown wood.  So, a solid wood crib, that would convert to a toddler bed as baby grew, and a nice solid wood heirloom-style dresser.  I started my search.

Fast-forward weeks later.  All of my searches led to dead-ends.  Solid wood nursery sets were in the four-digits, and I couldn't afford that.  FORGET about sustainably harvested solid wood furniture - THOUSANDS of dollars.  So I started looking for formaldehyde-free pressed wood.  Ha!  Good luck finding that.  I finally resigned myself that this part of my dream just wasn't happening, and instead settled on a bargain - a three piece set, convertible crib, dresser, and changing table (and OH how glad I've been to have that changing table!) for $240.  Baby's Deluxe Nursery 101 by LaJobi.  I've been really happy with it.

Next, the mattress.  After all my research I knew I wanted an organic mattress.  Yes, they are very expensive, but worth it, considering how much time baby sleeps and thus is in contact with it.  So, I plunked down $260 for a Naturepedic No-Compromise Organic Cotton Classic crib mattress.  I could feel okay about the splurge since I'd saved so much on the furniture.  (If you order it via Healthy Child Healthy World they throw in a free crib sheet).  The dimensions are 27.75 x 52 x 6 - it fits the crib I ordered perfectly.  I've been SO happy with this decision.  And since the crib converts as she grows, she can take advantage of this mattress for a long time.  Well worth it.  It is water proof and hypoallergenic.

This mattress doesn't NEED a cover, as it is waterproof, but a company rep upon my questioning said it would be cozier with a cover, so I opted to go with one.  BE CAREFUL here - waterproof mattress covers have nasty stuff in them, negating the benefit of the great mattress!  I ordered the Baby Luxe organic cotton crib mattress pad - it is non-waterproof, but soft and warm for baby.  It is 28x52, and doesn't fit the mattress great - there is quite a bit of extra fabric at the corners - but it does fit and is of good quality.  It was $26, and I've been happy with it.

I wanted to put something green in her nursery, so I checked out NASA's list of houseplants which clean the air, and bought a nice lush green plant to sit on top of her dresser near her bed.  Hey, every little bit helps, right?  It's nice to air out the house frequently when the weather is nice, but when it's not, I hope the plant helps.

I ended up with a Summer Infants Natural Basics organic musical mobile with safari animals for $30.  I suppose it's as decent as any crib mobile.  There's not much to it, but she liked to watch it.

For her changing table, I ordered 3 Summer Infant organic cotton changing pad covers, at 37x16 dimensions for $15.50.  They fit my pad well, though I've had some others not fit well at all, which is frustrating each time I put them on.  Hard to know if they'll fit what you have until you get, unfortunately.

miYim has some great organic cotton stuffed animals - we have the organic lovie blankie monkey, and a pink bunny which stay in her crib as her "lovey".  Love their quality.

I have chosen to cloth diaper my baby, and have been EXTREMELY satisfied with it.  It is easier than I'd have ever expected.  As such, diapers and accessories are a huge part of the nursery set up for me.  I will post a follow-up post just on cloth diapering, my experience, and what I've used.

I bought this adorable bird mobile from Children Inspire Design.  I love her products, and even more I love buying items that give back, as with her "one mother to another" initiative.

I hit the jackpot with this.  One of her first words was "bird", and her favorite thing about her new room, I think, was this mobile!  She LOVES to walk in and point out the birds!

The rest of the gear was mainstream brand, unfortunately, as I couldn't afford the high-end ecofriendly stuff for everything, but after hours of research here's what I ended up with (mostly after comparing reviews):

Sony 900 mhz Nursery Monitor and Receiver - $38

Fisher Price Rainforest Bouncer - $43

InStep Safari Swivel-Wheel Jogging Stroller - $100

Fisher Price Smart Stages 3-in-1 Rocker Swing - My Little Eye Collection - $100

Goldbug 2-in-1 Infant Head Support (to use with swing) - $12

Cozy Cover (to go over car seat in winter) - ??

I was happy with all purchases - many (swing/bouncy seat) have been stored away for baby #2.  The stroller is still in full use.  If you have any questions about the above items, let me know!

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