Best Ideas for Creating a "Green" Nursery

Most parents-to-be derive great pleasure from painting and decorating the room for their coming baby or already-born baby. If the baby has not yet been born, then the decorating phase is often a time for dreaming about the coming baby, and if the baby has already arrived, painting and decorating the nursery can take on an even more special significance. Choosing paint and wallpaper is generally the first step in pulling together a total look for the baby's room. Most people today are aware that certain paint and wallpaper fumes can be toxic, and want to ensure that the new baby, with its tiny, developing system is not exposed to any level of toxins. Parents don't want to expose their vulnerable newborn to absolutely any level of environmentally unsafe paint or wallpaper vapors, therefore are looking at "green" alternatives.

Choosing Environmentally Friendly Paint

You may have decided to paint, to wallpaper, or perhaps a mixture of both. Paint is generally less expensive than wallpaper, and the newer paints offer a wide variety of green options. The number one task in choosing an environmentally friendly paint for your baby's new room is to make sure there are no volatile organic compounds in the paint at all. VOC's are chemical toxins which create fumes, and can contribute to severe headaches and respiratory problems in some people. Water-based paints are generally a better choice for a green nursery; you should look for labels with the words "VOC-free," or "phosphate-free," when choosing. These environmentally friendly paints will likely cost a bit more, however the "up" side is that they usually have much richer pigmentation, meaning it may only take one coat to fully cover. If you choose paint over wallpaper, don't feel that your choices are now limited. You can find stencils in a wide variety of shapes and sizes at most craft stores, and can make beautiful borders or be creative and design your own look. Murals are also an option if you are particularly artistic, and can really add to the new baby's room.  Also check out great suggestions for eco-friendly baby bath wash and other great baby products.

Eco-Friendly Wallpaper

If you've decided to apply wallpaper in the baby's room, more and more companies are offering eco-friendly choices. Wallpaper can be considerably faster than painting, as well as less messy, however it does require a bit of patience and dexterity. Look for 100% paper with no vinyl when shopping for green wallpaper, or consider alternative wall coverings such as papyrus or rice paper. You can also use fabric, mixing and matching creatively to create a total wall cover. Some people have tacked squares of fabric, overlapping one another, or you can cover an entire wall with one large piece of fabric. (Make sure the tacks are well out of baby's reach!) If applying wallpaper using a typical wallpaper adhesive, look for one that is VOC-free, or try making your own by simply mixing flour and water.

When to Paint

If at all possible, make sure to paint the nursery at least two months prior to your baby's arrival-this will allow time for any possible fumes to evaporate before you bring the baby home. Low VOC or no-VOC paints will not have the typical solvents which are released into the air as the paint dries. Eco-friendly paints have lots of benefits, including easier clean-up with no more than warm water and soap, no odor when applying paint, less time between painting and being able to occupy the room, and significantly simpler cleanup and disposal-non-VOC paints are not considered a hazardous material like regular paints.

Actually Painting the Room Green

Aside from painting "green," you might actually want to consider the color green due to its gender neutrality. One particularly beautiful look, for either a boy or a girl, is mixing the green with lots of white, then combining it with other pastel hues. Darker shades of green will combine well with earth tones such as natural hardwoods, gray-blues or deep yellows. Try to choose a shade of green which can grow with your child-it must be appropriate for both a baby and a toddler.