As you prepare to welcome a new baby, decorating and outfitting the nursery can be an all-consuming task. However, think carefully about the materials you want around your child before you start buying. Today's green nursery options are safer, healthier, and more environmentally friendly than any baby gear of the past. If you're considering going green with a new baby, here are five must-have items to start your eco-friendly nursery.

Organic crib mattress and bedding

According to the Environmental Justice Foundation, cotton has the highest pesticide load of any crop. To limit your child's exposure to these potentially harmful chemicals, consider investing in an organic crib mattress and organic crib bedding.

Wooden and fabric toys

Phthalates and BPA are substances commonly found in plastics, and they have been linked to some cancers and other developmental and hormone disorders. While these substances have been banned from containers designed to hold food, the Children's Environmental Health Network reports that both phthalates and bpa can be found in many plastic children's toys. Lower your child's exposure to these chemicals by opting for toys made of wood or fabric.

Cloth diapers

Cloth diaper technology has evolved considerably in the past five years, and today's cloth diapers are easy to use and clean. Switching from disposable to cloth diapers will decrease your household waste, save over one thousand dollars per child, and eliminate your baby's exposure to the chemicals found in disposable diapers.

No or low VOC paint

Before you start decorating the nursery, take a trip to your local paint store and check out the no and low voc paint options. VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, have been linked to cancer in humans and internal organ damage, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. You can drastically improve your indoor air quality and keep your entire family safe by buying no or low VOC paint.

A baby carrier

Whether you choose a wrap, front carrier, or sling, baby wearing has been shown to positively influence development. Also, baby carriers use fabric instead of the plastics commonly used to make strollers, bouncers, and infant seats. Above all, baby wearing is a great way to bond with your new little one.

Choosing green products is a great way to start your baby out right in the world. Going "green" in the nursery sets a precedent of eco-awareness and health-consciousness that will create lifelong habits. As you start shopping, don't feel overwhelmed by all the green options and claims made by natural companies vying for your dollar. Make a green wish list, and narrow down the products you feel are most important to buy green. This will help you stretch your budget further when buying green products, which are often slightly more expensive than their traditional counterparts. Whatever your choice, you can feel good knowing that you are shopping informed and trying to make the best choices for your child.

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