Nurseries are the sweetest rooms I ever did see! And for me, it was important that this sweet space where my baby plays, eventually sleeps and learns is as safe and non-toxic as possible. Surprisingly, one of the hardest non-toxic items to find was a crib. Trust me, I tried!
Many cribs are “GREENGUARD Gold Certified” which according to the certification means, “Simply put, GREENGUARD Certification ensures that a product has met some of the world’s most rigorous and comprehensive standards for low emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into indoor air.”
Unfortunately, as it turns out, the world’s most rigorous standards are not very high and when I started asking questions about cribs that were “green,” what I discovered was pretty shocking. If you want to limit crib chemical exposure, it’s important to dive beyond any certification and ask more questions. Here’s what to look for when it comes to a clean crib:
1. Solid hardwood
You want solid hardwood such as 100% solid Oak, Brown Maple, Hard Maple, Walnut or Cherry hardwoods – more as to why in #2.
2. Avoid plywood, particle board, MDF, flakeboard, veneers, composite, engineered woods or other composite woods
The chemicals used in engineered woods are in fact, extremely TOXIC, containing VOCs that are known carcinogens, allergens and developmental/reproductive toxins according to both state and federal law, including per the CERCLA ACT, the National Toxicology Program and California Proposition 65 Law. These chemicals turn into invisible vapors that we unknowingly breath in as we sit, sleep or play in our homes.
3. Assembled as much as possible—if not entirely—by nails, no glue
Glues are composed of harsh chemicals and the amount needed to hold a crib together can be dangerous.
4. Avoid chemical finishes, toxic paints including water based, varnishes, polyurethanes, or stains
Varnishes, polyurethane finishes, paints (which still often contain carcinogens and VOCs even when labeled VOC FREE, and contain both carcinogens and other toxins when labeled LOW VOC), sealants (even so-called water-based ones), and stains (also including water-based stains) are ALL comprised of chemicals that are indeed classified as toxic under the Superfund Act, California Proposition 65, and numerous other state and federal laws. So-called water-based finishes, for example, contain chemicals such as N-Methylpyrrolidone, a carcinogen and mutagen, Benzene, a notorious carcinogen; and water-based stains meant to simulate the look of Walnut, for another example, contain Carbon Black, a pigment found to cause lung tumors when inhaled.
5. 100% VOC (volatile organic compounds) free finish
Look for a crib finished with Linseed Oil, otherwise known as flaxseed oil, which is extracted without the use of any chemical solvents or heavy metal driers, and is petroleum-free, chemical-free, and has Zero VOC.
And then of course, it’s important to finish the crib off with a non-toxic mattress (I like Naturpedic), arguably more important since their little heads are on them, and organic sheets.