My Favorite Non-Toxic Nursery Essentials
If you’ve read my post about chemicals to avoid in a nursery, you have a good idea of what not to buy if your goal is to put together a non-toxic nursery for your babe. Now it’s time to highlight some of the brands that are doing all the right things—no lead, no phthalates, nothing harmful.
When I was pregnant with Lennox Mae, I obsessively researched to find the very best toxin-free nursery gear and let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. Greener, healthier brands were few and far between. I was so happy to see that just a few short years later, there were many more options available when I was expecting Dries. (Three cheers for progress!)
These are the items I’ve used for my children, along with other recommendations based on extensive research.
Choose water-based paint that isn’t just low-VOC, but zero VOC. Today’s non-toxic nursery paint options perform just as well as conventional paint, without the noxious fumes.
This is a brand I love, because it’s zero VOC, has no odor, and is non-toxic, but the icing on the cake is that it’s super durable and can be washed—which is always essential in kids’ rooms!
A solid wood crib is best, but they can be pricey. If you’re looking at pressed wood options, make sure it’s free of formaldehyde. IKEA is a great choice for affordable furniture because they manufacture their products to stricter European safety standards.
The Kalani 4-in-1 crib from DaVinci is an incredible value at only $199. It comes in a variety of finishes, it’s GREENGUARD Gold Certified, and made from solid wood. When your little one outgrows the crib, it can be converted into a toddler bed, then a daybed, and even a full-size bed.
Newborns spend most of their days sleeping, so if there’s one item you buy organic, make it their mattress. (Or add it to your baby registry—it’s a perfect gift for grandparents or for a few guests to chip in on.) Choose one that is organic and made with absolutely no flame retardants. It’s an investment that will last you a long time because a crib mattress can be transitioned to a toddler bed. If you already have a mattress and can’t replace it, a Coyuchi Crib Mattress Pad can minimize flame retardant exposure.
I have always bought Naturepedic because it’s a family-owned business and their mattresses are safe, GREENGUARD- and GOTS-certified. The classic 2-stage mattress is designed to be firm for a baby on one side and softer for a toddler on the other.
Fitted Crib Sheets
If you’ve invested in an organic crib mattress, don’t negate it by covering it up with conventional bedding. Not only are organic fitted crib sheets healthier, they also have a softer feel that’s gentler on babies’ delicate skin.
These sheets have a luxe feel and sophisticated colors, and GOTS-certified means both the fibers and the dyes are non-toxic.
Changing Table Pad
Your baby’s changing table pad is another nursery item that is inexplicably treated with flame retardants. Choose one that is made with organic cotton or wool, which are naturally resistant to flames, and pair it with an organic cover.
This is the changing table pad I bought for my daughter and I still love it. The waterproof covering (because you know you need a waterproof covering on a changing pad!) is made from non-GMO sugarcane.
We’re a co-sleeping family, but not all co-sleeping bassinets, pillows, and loungers are green and non-toxic—especially some of the inexpensive knock-off brands you find online.
This mom-owned company is the OG of infant loungers and I love being able to support her small biz by buying these for literally every baby shower I attend—it’s become my go-to gift. I also had one for each of my children because we liked being able to have the baby in bed with us, but protected and hugged by the pillow.
Gym and Play Mat
Not only are most baby gyms and playmats made with plastic and PVC, they’re also tacky and obnoxious, with flashing lights, sounds, and a whole lot of over-stimulating features. Keep it simple and toxin-free with a wooden gym and mat made with natural fibers.
A lot of baby gyms have a short window of use, but this one can be changed as your little one grows, eventually turning into a fun tent they can hide in. Even better, all of the toys it includes are baby-powered—no batteries needed.
While more furniture makers are ditching toxic flame retardants, they’re still present in many upholstered items like chairs and couches. When choosing a non-toxic nursery glider, look for an option that’s GreenGuard-certified.
I’ve used this glider for both of my babies and it still looks brand new—and it’s so well-made that I know we’ll be keeping it in our home forever because it doesn’t look like a baby nursery chair. This is the only glider that uses natural GOLS-certified latex as a filling instead of polyurethane foam; it’s also made with OEKO-TEX microfibers and threads and has no toxic chemicals.
Swaddles, Blankets, and Sleep Sacks
If you’re a first-time mama and no one has told you this yet, I’ll be the one: don’t buy swaddles. Because everyone will buy you swaddles. Pick one or two tasteful swaddle blankets on your registry and you’ll still end up with 35 of them in every imaginable color and pattern.
Babies should never be left to sleep with a blanket, but some (like my son) refuse to be swaddled. These organic sleep sacks are the ideal solution—and they’re much easier to use for the swaddle-challenged.
Nursing pillows are essential for first-time breastfeeding moms, but just like with the crib mattress, your infant will spend a lot of time on here, so it’s good to invest in an organic pillow if possible. Want a fun color and pattern like the non-organic nursing pillows sold in stores? You can find countless options in organic fabrics on Etsy.
I recommend getting both of these nursing pillows and using them for different stages. I started with the Holy Lamb Organics pillow when my babies were small, then transitioned to the Nook when they got bigger. The Nook is big and plush, making it perfect for helping little ones who are learning to sit too.
A traditional plastic diaper pail isn’t just unattractive (and not at all green), it’s also terrible at its most basic purpose of keeping the funk inside the pail. It’s worth spending a little more for a diaper pail that actually does the job.
This steel diaper pail is the best there is—and it doesn’t need any special bags like its competitors.
Pack and Play
Cheap travel cribs are made with PVC and other plastics, then the mattresses are treated with flame retardants. Even if you don’t plan on traveling much with your baby, you’ll likely use your pack and play in your living room for quick naps or at grandma’s house when you need to run some errands sans-baby, so it’s worth choosing a non-toxic option.
The BABYBJÖRN travel crib is made with OEKO-TEX materials, although the mattress contains polyurethane foam—I switched our mattress out with one custom made from organic materials.
Like play gyms, baby bouncers are best when they’re baby-powered—and baby-powered play gyms are more likely to be made without flame-retardants, PVC, and plastics. Parents love plug-in bouncers and swings because they can walk away (which, by the way, you should never do!) and get things done, but the constant motion can be overstimulating for babies.
When I bought this for Lennox Mae, there was an option with organic fabric, but sadly that’s no longer the case. Still, I highly recommend this baby bouncer because it lets your baby control the bouncing by pounding their arms and legs—it’s responsive to their motions, which makes it more fun and teaches them cause-and-effect.
Storage furniture is often made with particleboard, which off-gases formaldehyde and makes the air in your baby’s nursery unhealthy to breathe. If you can’t find good wood shelves, choose metal instead because it’s not made with formaldehyde.
With three tiers and two dividers in each of them, this storage system will keep your nursery seriously organized. Oeuf furniture is made with Baltic birch plywood, eco-MDF, and non-toxic, zero-VOC finishes.
Carpet is full of toxic chemicals, it harbors allergens, it’s impossible to really get clean, so if you’re lucky enough to have a nursery with natural hardwood floors, don’t go and ruin it by adding an area rug made with PFAS and flame retardants! Instead, opt for natural fibers, which are better for the air your baby breathes.
Non-Toxic Nursery Decor Inspiration
Now that you have all the non-toxic nursery essentials taken care of, it’s time to get to the fun part: decorating! Instead of decorating with plastic toys and knick-knacks, add personality and liven up the room with eco-felt, warm natural woods, wool toys, and family photos.
The process of putting together a non-toxic nursery can feel daunting—believe me, I’ve been there! I hope these recommendations make the experience less stressful and allow you to find more time to enjoy your pregnancy and get the rest and relaxation you need before you welcome your baby to the world.