When shopping our baby last year we found a lot of guides for eco friendly baby gear at outrageously high prices ($1000+ cribs, etc). But we don’t think you need to spend lavishly to ensure your baby skips offgassing furniture, toxic paints, etc.
As a general rule we’ll favor solid wood over particleboard (due to VOCs), unfinished or non-toxic finishes, avoiding polyurethane foam (also due to VOCs, phthalates), avoiding chemical flame retardants, and favoring polyethylene over vinyl for waterproofing.
Considering how much time a baby spends sleeping the crib, the safety of the crib, mattress, and other nursery materials is really important.
Budget Pick: Ikea Sniglar
It doesn’t get any simpler than this, an unfinished solid beechwood crib for $80.
Upgrade Pick: Babyletto Hudson
The Babyletto Hudson brings more style than the Ikea crib, 3-in-one functionality (becoming a toddler/daybed later), greenguard gold certification, and is made of sustainably harvested pine wood. At $380 its not the bargain like Ikea’s but not terribly expensive compared to other cribs at most stores.
Mattresses proved to be one of the hardest items to pick due to the incredible variety of materials and styles (soy foam, spring, natural laytex, coconut coir, polyester fill, etc).
Budget pick: Brentwood Home Poppy
For a budget pick its hard to avoid foam, but at least this uses CertiPUR-US foam and is lead and phthalate free. The waterproofing is PVC free and the fire retardant is hydrated silica. Not bad for $120 at Costco.
Midprice pick: Babyletto Pure Core Dry Organic
This checks all the boxes for foam free, no chemical flame retardants, no vinyl, etc. The mattress is made of mostly cotton, polyester, and a polyethylene cover for waterproofing. At $199 with an organic cotton cover its not cheap, but a pretty good value.
Budget Pick: Ikea Vadra
The Ikea Vadra is basically just polyester and polyethylene, no polyurethane foam or vinyl cover. Again, not the greenest thing ever but a safer pick for just $15.
Upgrade Pick: Oeuf Pure and Simple
Oeuf is made from plant based certified eco-foam, food grade polyurethane, and is PBDE free. Retail is $58.
Note changing pads all aren’t standard sizes. Make sure you pick one that fits your changing table.
Budget Pick: Babyletto Bento Glider
While not super green it is formaldehyde and PBDE(s) free and just $299.
Upgrade Pick: Pottery Barn Gliders
Pottery Barn gliders are now Greenguard Gold certified, uses recycled materials, certified sustainable hardwood, and made in America. But expect to spend a lot more green (around $1000).
Studio Wall Art
A few wall decals are a great way to spiff up a nursery – but most are made of vinyl. Studio wall art uses non toxic fabric and look great.
Diapers are also a huge environmental impact. Disposables use a lot of resources to make, can contains undesirable chemicals, and fill landfills. Diaper services are expensive and still use plenty of gas for deliveries, laundry chemicals, etc. Compostables seem ideal but we found many commercial compost services won’t take them.
Budget Pick: Earth’s Best
For all the faults of disposables, when you’re exhausted and on a budget, you can’t beat them. Earth’s best doesn’t use chlorine, uses renewable materials, and is free of latex, dyes, and perfumes. They’re excellent at leak prevention and poop containment, which means fewer clothes to wash too. With Amazon’s Subscribe and Save you can get size twos for just 23¢ each, pretty on-par with pricing for the non-green brands.
Maybe Upgrade Pick: Bambo Nature
Bambo is the gold standard for green diapers – Nordic Swan Eco-Label, Danish Asthma & Allergy Association Label, Forest Stewardship Council Label, etc. While they are probably the most absorbent disposable diaper available, we found they also didn’t contain big poops nearly as well as the Earth’s Best Diaper.
The Greener Option: Flip Hybrid
Flip makes a hybrid system with both washable inserts and disposable inserts. Its a bargain which will probably only cost around $300 for diapering your baby, but you’ll need to do a lot more laundry.
The Wipe: Babyganics
Our first month we went through over 1200 wipes, so price and safety really matters. We found the babyganics wipes to have a great balance of safety (EWG score of 1), cleaning power, durability, and low cost (about 2¢/wipe on subscribe and save).
This is stuff that doesn’t really fit the “green” bill but was still hard to pick.
You’d think picking a baby monitor would be easy – but most get mixed reviews for battery life, range, and features. One of the most important features for me was voice activation, so it wouldn’t transmit background noise or minor sounds, but just crying.
Video Pick: VTech VM343
The VM343 has tons of features like voice activation and temperature monitoring, DECT encryption, fantastic range (I can go to the mailbox), additional camera options, and all day battery life. You’ll generally find it for $150.