As parents, we spend a lot of time worrying about ensuring our babies are as healthy as they can be by limiting our diets and theirs to ensure that they are getting the best nutrients for their growing bodies. Few of us though take the time to consider the impacts that the built environment, your home, can have on our health.
Health and sustainability go hand in hand. What is better for the environment tends to be better for us as well. I have listed below 5 great ways to make sure your new nursery is as healthy for your baby as it is for the environment.
1. Improve air quality
New parents spend a lot of time indoors with their babies so the indoor air quality should be as clean as possible to avoid potential health impacts.
Standard paints release chemicals call VOCs. VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. These chemicals are released by paints, and other products, long after any smell has left and continue to do so for several years. VOCs can cause breathing problems, watery & itchy eyes, headaches and nausea.
Low-VOC paints release a lower concentration of these chemicals into the room – look for low-VOC paints, sealers, primers and flooring products.
2. Get just the right amount of sun
Spend some time in your new nursery at different times of the day and consider the way the sun enters the room. Understanding the sun’s movements in the room will help you plan where to place different furniture items.
The cot or bassinet should be placed in a part of the room that avoids the direct sunlight. This will prevent any sleep disturbance caused by the sunlight and/or the heat from the sun.
Sunlight is a great germ killer so placing the change table somewhere that gets direct sun is a great idea.
If your nursery faces West you may find that it gets hot and stuffy in the afternoons, especially in summer. You can reduce the impact of the western sun by either installing an external screen or applying a window film internally. Both of these activities can be completed DIY style in a weekend and will have a noticeable impact on the comfort levels in the room.
3. Restoration makeovers
Okay, now we’re getting to the fun part! Once you have the walls, floors and windows ready it is time to start thinking about filling your nursery with furniture and decorations.
When choosing items to include in a nursery it is great to start with a plan. Figure out what furniture pieces you want to fit in the room and the best places to put them. Start with the larger items and then move onto the smaller more decorative pieces.
Consider choosing second-hand furniture that can be restored, or already has been restored by someone else. It is often a more affordable option, but it also has the benefit of reducing landfill. Timber furniture is easy to sand back to bare and then styled to suit your own tastes. Just remember to choose the low-VOC products or lacquers when restoring your furniture.
4. Go green
Indoor plants are a fantastic way to improve the air quality inside your home. Plants are natural air purifiers that pull carbon from the air and turn it into oxygen. As an added bonus, plants are a great way to decorate! Plants add colour, texture and life to a room.
Avoid placing plants on the ground in pots and instead place them on top of shelves or cabinets away from curious tots. Another option is to use hanging plants.
If you have a window that looks out to a yard or alfresco area have a think about the view and whether plants outside can provide a benefit to your nursery as well.
You can use plants outside to create an interesting or calming view from the nursery. You could also use the vegetation outside to provide additional shade or privacy.
When choosing your décor consider buying from local suppliers and small businesses. Choosing local suppliers reduces the environmental impacts associated with shipping and transport. You also get a chance to speak with the suppliers and businesses to find out about the materials used.
If cost is an issue get creative and either DIY your décor or search for unique pieces in op shops and markets that can be mixed in with a few more expensive newer pieces.
The most important thing to remember when decorating your nursery is to have fun and create a space that you feel comfortable in. If you feel comfortable then your baby will feel comfortable as well.
About the author
Laura Robinson is a mum of 2 and the Sustainable Design Manager for Superdraft. Laura has spent the past 10 years working as a building designer with a real passion for sustainability. She now heads a national team that aims to change the way we think about our homes. You can contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org