Many cribs are made of fiberboard, particleboard, plywood or laminated wood, all of which usually contain formaldehyde, a carcinogen.

“Formaldehyde can be emitted from some new pressed products, such as plywood, particleboard and medium-density fiberboard because of the glue or adhesive,” says Debra Holtzman, a child safety and health expert and author of “The Safe Baby.” She recommends looking for cribs made of solid wood with a water-based finish.

Ferndale’s Our Modern Natural Baby carries two brands of solid wood, eco-friendly cribs, Stokke and Oeuf. But eco-friendly, solid wood cribs can be hard to find and expensive.

If you don’t know about your crib’s finish or wood, air it out in a well-ventilated space for at least two weeks before you use it, says Holtzman. That allows problematic chemicals in the crib to off-gas before you bring it into the nursery.


Most crib mattresses are either foam or innerspring, according to Consumers Reports. It’s often what’s inside those mattresses, flame retardants, that concern environmentalists.

Many manufacturers insist the mattresses are safe because the flame retardants are sealed in an impermeable covering, but green advocates believe chemicals still can be absorbed through baby’s skin or inhaled.

Emily Murray, who owns Modern Natural Baby in Ferndale, says a big seller is the Naturepedic crib mattress, which “is totally organic.”

She also carries Nook Sleep Systems’ Pebble Pure, which has an organic coconut coir and natural latex core, and Pebble Lite, which has a nontoxic foam core. Babies R Us, meanwhile, sells Simmons Kids Beautyrest Beginnings Restored Comfort Infant and Toddler mattress ($199), which has an organic cotton blend cover and is GreenGuard certified.

Bedding and blankets

Cotton is one of the dirtiest crops in the world, so look for bedding made from organic cotton, says Katie Reiter of Our Greentopia in Berkley.

That means it is grown without pesticides. Reiter sells crib sheets, swaddle sacks and stroller blankets. The Bamboosa stroller blanket is made of bamboo and is incredibly soft. And remember, less is more, says Holtzman.

“The safest crib is a bare crib with a crib sheet that fits securely,” she says.


Avoid carpeting if you can, says Debra Holtzman, the child safety and health expert. Synthetic carpeting can emit formaldehyde gas for years, according to

If you do buy new carpeting, air the room out before baby arrives, the website says. For wood floors, look for Forest Stewardship Certified wood floors, meaning they’ve come from forests where trees are responsibly harvested. Area rugs also are a great choice because they can be vacuumed or washed frequently.

Look for rugs made of organic wool, organic cotton or hemp with a natural latex backing.


Natural is best. Modern Natural Baby in Ferndale and Our Greentopia both sell a range of natural wood toys, chewable teething necklaces, organic cotton plush toys and other toys.

And both stores sell toys made from recycled milk jugs. “That’s what people want,” says owner Emily Murray, who says their toy selection goes up to age 5.

The recycled milk jugs save the planet and they’re completely safe, says Katie Reiter at Our Greentopia. “Anything a baby plays with goes in their mouth so you really want to be careful.”


Studies show that indoor air may be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. One of the leading causes are paints and finishes, which release toxins into the air.

That’s why its best to paint a nursery with zero VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paint. Sherwin-Williams recommends its enhanced Harmony Paint, which has zero VOCs and also helps reduce the levels of volatile organic compounds from other potential sources such as insulation, carpet, furniture and fabrics. Behr, available at Home Depot and Lowe’s, also makes zero VOC paint.


From The Detroit News