Paint: Choose a non toxic paint. There are now zero VOC water-based paints available in most stores. As extra precaution, pregnant women should not be painting at all. Leave it to a friend to help for a lovely meal in exchange. Stay away till the paint cures for at lest 48 hours. Make sure the room has adequate ventialtion while it is being painted. Paint the room at least one month before the baby is due.
Stay away from wallpapers. They may contain vinyl and glues that can off-gas for a long time.
Beware if your home was built before 1980. It most likely contains lead paint. Hire a contractor certified in lead abatement. A list of certified contractors are available in your area. Consult the web or yellow pages to chose a qualified professional.
Flooring: Solid flooring surfaces are the best choice. Natural linoleum, natural cork, or bamboo with zero VOC stains are ideal flooring. If you must have a rug, make it of natural cotton and wash frequently.
Avoid any other type of carpeting.
Furniture: Solid natural wood is the best choice for your baby's crib. Look for one with non-toxic glues and finishes. Choose furniture with zero-VOC stains or paints. I love Ikea furniture because they do not contain toxins.
Believe or not hand me downs or second-hand furniture are a great choice. They have a lot of character and probably are better quality than the new counterparts. They have already off-gassed all toxins. Clean them thoroughly, cover with a fresh coat of non-toxic paint to give them new life before bringing them indoors.
Choose organic cotton or wool with natural dyes for bedding. Choose wool, cotton or Natural latex mattress.
Toys and accessories: Plastic is a by-product of the petroleum industry and contributes to indoor air pollution. Avoid plastic toys and furnishings in the room and near your baby.
Cleaning products: The nursery should be more frequently dusted and cleaned preferably when the baby is not in the room. Avoid spraying any cleaners in the air. Instead spray the cleaning towels before entering the room. Use natural cleaners around your home and in the nursery. Simple home-made solutions are best cleaners.
Ventilation, heating: Be sure you have adequate ventilation in the room. Natural fresh air ventilation is the best unless you have poor outdoor air quality. In that case be sure that you have good mechanical ventilation. During cold months, check the windows periodically to make sure there is no excess precipitation that can result in mold growth. If that happens be sure to consult a professional for cleanup.
Upgrade heater, air conditioner/ventilation filters and change the air filters as recomended.
Window Coverings: Choose natural, organic fibers for curtains that can easily be removed and cleaned.
If you are choosing wood shutters, make sure they are treated with zero-VOC paint or stain. Aluminum blinds are also a good option. Stay away from vinyl (PVC) blinds.
Noise pollution: Choose an area of your home for nursery that is free of "noise pollution".
Clutter-free: Clutter and dust go hand in hand. Avoid having non-essestial items. Keep purely decorative objects to a minimum.
Live happy and healthy.