It is heartbreaking for me to see well-meaning and excited new parents decorating their new baby's nursery by painting it, installing new carpeting, and buying a crib with a brand-new foam or synthetic mattress. I did some of these things when I was pregnant; I knew better, but I wanted to be "normal" (and not chemically sensitive) and provide standard things for my baby like everybody else did. I bought a new foam crib mattress, discarding it when my daughter spent her first night there after sleeping in a bassinet for a few months. That first night in her new crib, she tossed and turned all night long, exposed to the neurotoxic fumes outgassing from the foam. Fortunately for her, I knew the symptoms of central nervous system agitation, and I removed the offending fumes from her life the next day. Often, a mother-to-be paints the nursery, first exposing her baby to the fumes in utero and then from the outgassing paint when the baby sleeps in the room after birth. The nesting impulse is powerful before the birth of a baby, and I am not advocating that parents squelch this natural desire. Instead, they should be aware of chemical exposure and put their decorating efforts into nontoxic approaches (for example, non-VOC paint, natural carpet, and organic bed linens), which won't increase their baby's burden of chemical exposure. Mothers & Others for a Livable Planet: Guide to Natural Baby Care by Mindy Pennybacker and Aisha Ikramuddin is a good book on the subject and is full of ideas and resources.
Paint and Carpeting
Want to take the first step in ensuring a healthy nursery? Find out whether there is lead paint on the walls! Lead paint was not sold after 1978, but the walls of any home built prior to 1978 could be problematic.
As cozy as carpeting may appear to be for a nursery, it can be a reservoir of dust mites, mold, mildew, and VOCs. If there is old carpeting in the nursery, pull it up and replace it with untreated hardwood floors or floors treated with a water-based, low-VOC finish. If carpet is a must for the nursery, choose completely untreated carpeting with natural latex or jute backing.
Much of today's furniture is made of pressed wood, something to avoid because of the formaldehyde in the glues that will continually outgas for the entire life of the piece. Choose real wooden furniture instead. Yard sales offer abundant supplies of simple furniture for very little cost. And what about a changing table? If it is going to be covered with any kind of plastic, the older the better, and the more used the better, as long as it is still safe and sturdy. You want the plastic to be completely outgassed before putting it in the nursery.
Toxic Crib Mattresses
In a study of six brands of crib-size waterproof mattress covers conducted by Anderson Laboratories, all were found to emit toxic fumes in various degrees, and some caused acute toxicity to the respiratory tract of male mice. Five of the mattress covers were made of polyvinyl chloride covered with cotton or polyester layers. The remaining cover was made of polyolefin. Chemical emissions included suspected carcinogens.
Crib and bassinet mattresses made of organic, natural materials are now widely available online, through catalogs, or in natural product stores. For the largest selection, go to your favorite online search engine and type "organic baby." Retailers who are likely to sell organic bedding for babies are also likely to offer safe accessories, including nontoxic toys.
If buying an organic mattress isn't feasible, enclose a standard crib mattress with a cotton barrier cloth. Avoid plastic or polyurethane encasements. To prevent moisture from seeping onto the mattress from leaking diapers, invest in an absorbent "wool puddle pad," designed to insert between the sheet and mattress. Avoid pillows until the baby is at least 1 year old, and after that, invest in a natural fiber, organic pillow.
The excerpt above is from the book
Home Enlightenment Practical, Earth-Friendly Advice for Creating a Nurturing, Healthy, and Toxin-Free Home and Lifestyle
by Annie B. Bond
Published by Rodale; October 2005; 1-57954-811-3
Copyright © 2005 Annie B. Bond
Annie B. Bond is considered an authoritative voice on the natural lifestyle. In her work and her books, she offers advice for creating a home that is in harmony with the earth. Her insight and wisdom are a result of her struggles with the aftereffects of two chemical poisoning accidents that left her unable to function in the world as she knew it. Annie's experience with chemical sensitivity has been a catalyst for change on two fronts -- in her own life as she learned to create a healthy home without toxins and in the lives of those whom she inspires to eliminate synthetic chemicals, off-gassing products, and indoor air pollution in their homes.
Her journey toward health led to her first bestseller, Clean & Green, and then to The Green Kitchen Handbook and Better Basics for the Home. Annie is also an intuitive energy healer and dowser. She is the executive producer of Care2.com's Healthy Living channel, editing six free e-newsletters that are sent to 1.8 million subscribers; and she hosts Annie's Healthy Living Network in Care2Connect, where she also posts a blog. Annie is also a columnist for Body+Soul magazine. Visit her Web site at www.homeenlightenment.com.
"Home Enlightenment has the power to change the way we live and breathe. You will feel healed -- and whole -- just by reading this book: It's a beautiful thing. Annie B. Bond, mistress of the green household and expert on chemical poisoning, gives us remedies for the toxins that ail us. She spells out the ingredients for the good life and the illuminating benefits of sun and candlelight, and she identifies the quiet needs of the everyday. Stockpile copies of Home Enlightenment and give them to everyone you care about."
--Amy Goldman, advocate for agricultural biodiversity and author of two books on heirloom vegetables: The Complete Squash and Melons for the Passionate Grower
"Change is all about knowing what to change. We as a culture have much to change, and it's always a question how we should make those changes. In a style 'only Annie,' Annie opens the door to your home, reveals the invisible, and helps you weave necessary change into everyday life. I have followed Annie's sound advice for years."
--Jeffrey Hollender, president of Seventh Generation, Inc.
"Leave it to Annie B. Bond to create the ultimate healthy-home, living-well guide with all the right ingredients -- soothing solutions, sensuality, and a whole lot of good sense."
--Wendy Gordon, executive director of the Green Guide Institute and publisher of The Green Guide
"This book is healing. It does the work of illustrating -- through our own homes and our own backyards -- that nothing is separate from anything else and that everything is interrelated and interdependent. Remembering this would keep us all -- and our world -- a lot healthier."
--Frank Lipman, MD, author of Total Renewal: 7 Key Steps to Resilience, Vitality, and Long-Term Health
"Well, if God is in the details, the gods must be applauding this immensely practical and inspirational guidebook for house and home. >From neurotoxins to nail polish, off-gassing to the case for organics, Annie brings science down to earth, showing ways to create personal as well as planetary health. Give a copy of this indispensable encyclopedia to everyone you know, and they'll bless you forever!"
--Jude Asphar, executive director of the Resurgence Association and former editor of (Hearst's) Healthy Living magazine
"Annie Bond's Home Enlightenment is a marvelous manual of simple steps to lead us to walk in beauty and be in harmony with all beings. It's a must-read for anyone seeking to live a conscious life. My copy will be well dog-eared."
--Reverend Betsy Stang, executive director of the Wittenberg Center for Alternative Resources
"This is an essential encyclopedia of natural living from the best expert of all, one who learned from experience. Annie Bond offers practical and fun suggestions to a very important subject of creating a healthier environment for the generations to come. I can already see changes I will make in my life!"
--Christine Page, MD, author of Spiritual Alchemy: How to Transform Your Life and lecturer in holistic health
"In Home Enlightenment, Annie gives us exactly what we need -- practical and eminently useful information for bringing earth harmony into our busy, everyday lives. She helps us see how our choices not only support our personal health and well-being but also make a positive difference in life on this sweet earth for all our relations."
--Brooke Medicine Eagle, earthkeeper, sacred ecologist, and author of Buffalo Woman Comes Singing and The Last Ghost Dance
Reprinted from: Home Enlightenment: Practical, Earth-Friendly
Advice for Creating a Nurturing, Healthy, and Toxin-Free Home and
Lifestyle by Annie B. Bond © 2005 Annie B. Bond. Permission
granted by Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098. Available wherever books are
sold or directly from the publisher by calling (800) 848-4735 or visit
their website at www.rodalestore.com.