You can create a safe, healthy, non-toxic haven for your baby starting with decorating the new nursery. After all, nothing brightens a room more than a fresh lick of paint. But not all paints are environmentally friendly — in fact, some contain dangerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs are emitted by a plethora of chemicals that can worsen asthma symptoms, cause headaches, convulsions and respiratory problems, according to Good Environmental Choice Australia Ltd, the group that administers the Australian Environmental Certification Program. When choosing paints for your baby’s nursery, opt for those that are low-VOC or no-VOC — most paint suppliers will have these on their shelves.
Consider removing carpeting in baby’s nursery. Carpets can trap mould, dustmites and other known allergens. Choose timber flooring made from sustainably managed forests and finish it with a natural sealant. Soften timber floors by adding a natural rug made from wool, organic fibres or hemp.
Source furniture made from natural products for your baby’s nursery. If you can, avoid furniture made with plywood and particle board because they often contain formaldehyde in their glues.
Timber cots and other furniture are both timeless and durable. The chest of drawers you buy for your baby’s clothing will still be OK to use as your child grows into their teens. When buying timber furniture, buy eco-smart. Timber sourced by ravaging native rainforests or old-growth forests is not a good choice. According to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, it’s estimated that $400 million (9 per cent) of timber products imported into Australia are suspected of being illegally sourced.
So how do you know what you’re buying? Ask the retailer where it came from and then check that it has a green tick of approval. There are two green certified logos. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a worldwide group promoting sustainable forestry practices, and the Australian Forestry Standard (AFC) is a not-for-profit company promoting sustainable management of Australian forests and timber products. If the retailer is uncertain, or can’t verify the product’s authenticity, look for a similar product that is certified.
Instead of strapping baby into the car to run errands nearby, go for a spin in the pram. Not only will you and bub get some fresh air, you’ll be exercising and you’ll both be helping the planet. According to Origin Australia, there’s good reason to leave the car at home when you can. Average cars produce over 2.5 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year.
You could also consider getting a group of mums together to exercise outdoors. It’s great for both mothers ands bubs, according to Tennille Jones who runs Healthy Mums Happy Bubs, a mother and child fitness-based group. The group exercises in a park with their babies in prams, and the bubs can also get involved when they are old enough. “It’s a wonderful bonding thing for mums and their bubs to share,” says Tennille. “It’s also a very healthy environment and kids see at an early age that exercise can be a way of life,” she says.