To see this feature displayed with photos of the cribs, see How to Choose a Safe, Nontoxic Baby Crib.
Babies sleep. A lot. Maybe not when you want them to, but overall they do spend a tremendous amount of time in bed. Which means making sure they have safe bedding is important. Much has been written by green parents myself included -- on the topic of must-have organic crib mattresses, about using wool puddle pads instead of toxic vinyl to protect mattresses from moisture (pee, puke, faulty bottles), and even organic cotton sheets. But what about the crib itself? Most articles written about cribs discuss crucial safety issues (width of slats, etc.) but totally ignore environmental health issues. The fact is that the majority of cribs on the market are made of unsustainable wood, formaldehyde-filled plywoods, and VOC-heavy finishes. Here are four that arent. You stand warned: the good stuff will cost you.
Q Collection Junior
The ne plus ultra of organic cribs, these modern, gorgeous specimens are as pure as it gets. Extremely well thought out and sourced, Q Collection also offers matching changing tables, toy storage, and (a rarity in organic kiddie furniture land) a truly safe glider. From their site: Everything we do is designed to eliminate anything harmful or toxic in the products themselves, or in the way they're made. It is the reason we exist. Truth is, no furniture company does more to protect our children and their planet than we do. Translation? Their Solare crib, for example, is made of locally sourced ash and bent wood construction, the mattress support is made of formaldehyde-free plywood, the water-based finish is non-toxic, and free of VOC health hazards. They say the cribs are designed for superior indoor air quality; all materials used independently tested for air quality.
And it is the first crib to receive Greenguard's 'Children & Schools' indoor air quality certification. The thoughtfulness goes outside the crib, too Q Collection uses wood scraps as fuel for wood kilns and facility heating needs, and their packaging is renewable/biodegradable instead of plastic wherever possible. The line is pretty widely available, including at Giggle, (a bonus for parents who dont decide to decorate when six months pregnant), which is unusual for healthy cribs. One percent of their annual sales go to Healthy Child Healthy World and the NRDC.
For parents who dont want their kids sleeping in ultra chic digs for aestheic reasons, these sturdy, simple, classic looking cribs are made of Western Maple the company says is actually harvested as a secondary item during softwood harvests....Our hardwood supplier has received a certificate to sell Chain of Custody products under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) rules as administered by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) for their softwood harvests. Although this is not the ultimate answer, it does begin the process by insuring that a percentage of the forests are being managed with an eye to the future. No word on the site about what stains theyre using. So be sure to ask pre order if theyre petrochemical based or not, and sub in your own stains if so. The cribs can morph to become toddler beds, then benches. Further environmental measures from their website: We strive to use every possible board foot of maple, donating the smallest off-fall to local schools and community centers for woodshop projects or low-income families for heat during the winter months. Recycling bins can be found in our offices, lunchroom and shop. Our sawdust is recycled into compost at a local lawn and garden center. We have a strict maintenance schedule for our machinery to minimize replacement needs and often opt to fix a machine rather than replace it. In cases where replacement is necessary, we scour the secondary markets for the perfect gently used tool. The Eugene, Oregon based company has been around since 1981 so thats a lot of scouring.
The attractive modernist cribs from this Montana based company are all made from formaldehyde-free MDF and/or bamboo laminate. They use mortise and tenon joinery, so there is no hardware. To assemble you bang with a (provided, bamboo) mallet. All furniture converts for maximum use the changing table, for example, becomes a bookshelf. Fans are thrilled you can swap out a crib end panels for a chalkboard (it comes with an eraser tray) but this organic mom knows too much about whats in most chalk dust to encourage anyone to put that in proximity to their babys lungs. Questionable at best. Said to be made by local artisans, the only complaint is the cribs arent very easy to find, and its not readily apparent on their website if theyre even producing them anymore. Craigs List, anyone?
Many natural home websites offer cribs they call Amish, like the one pictured here. These can be great, slightly less expensive, green options for an organic baby, but you have to ask the right questions. You want to make sure it is sustainably harvested wood, and hard wood only. If theyre using some sort of particleboard, you need to make sure its formaldehyde-free. Next you need to ask about what theyre finishing the wood with. And you need to figure out a way to make sure you trust them, and trust that theyre giving you honest answers. There are plenty of people who claim to be using FSC certified wood and nontoxic finishes who really arent. This Zen baby version is solid hard wood, constructed by hand, and finished in nontoxic tung oil.
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