Nesting: Green Nursery Ideas

by Nicole

Nicole lives near the beach in Southern California with her husband and three young kiddos. She writes a a lifestyle blog about creativity, family life, community, and all sorts of other fun stuff, and also keeps a homeschool journal called The Bennettar Academy. Her most recent (free!) ebook is about why and how to make more time for reading.

As a network, one of the things we are talking about this month is nesting. For me, this comes at the perfect time, as I have slid into my third trimester and the instincts are starting to get stronger and stronger to organize and craft my home into the place I want it to be before the little baby arrives.

Nesting is a commonly used term within the context of pregnancy. In my mind I always thought it simply referred to the concept of prepping the baby’s room and the rest of the house, in a sort of urgent fashion coupled with a somewhat extra-domestic attitude.

When I found the definition that Urban Dictionary offers though, I realized there is another, often-subconscious element, something that even the least green-minded mama-to-be often finds within herself:

Nesting is a ritual performed by pregnant women in ridding the house, the “nest”, from anything potentially harmful to the soon to be born child.

Covering up the electrical outlets and locking the cupboards are only scratching the surface of preparing the house to offer as little harm as possible to baby. The nursery itself can even harbor some dangerous, yet often overlooked issues, specifically VOCs, BPA, and other environmental toxins and unwanted acronyms.

Let’s look at a few ways we can “green up” the nest for baby.

Photo by Shutterstock

Furniture & Decor

In my opinion, the best way to avoid the off-gassing of unpleasant toxins is to go with something handed-down, used or vintage. The great thing about handed-down furniture is the history that you acquire with the piece.

If you’re worried about crib safety, though, and want to go with something new, just look for solid wood (as opposed to something synthetic) and give the furniture some time to off-gas out of any packaging before the baby comes along.

As for mattresses, I would splurge here for something natural, and organic if possible, since that tiny little bundle will be laying her face so close to it for so many hours (hopefully!).

When looking at changing tables, be sure to think outside the box. Any piece of furniture with the right amount of surface area will work great with simply adding a pad adhered or set on a non-slip grip of some kind to the top.

One of the most important things to consider with decor or revamping furniture is paint. Paint is a common place to find dangerous volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, a harmful form of air pollution and related to a variety of health issues, even cancer. To reduce exposure to these, look for low- or no-VOC paint, which is becoming easier to find even at mainstream home improvement stores.


Most of us can’t afford the luxury of all organic baby clothing. Maybe a blanket here or an outfit there will fit the bill of being truly eco-friendly, but the unfortunate truth is that there is a huge cost for those options.

Again, hand-me-downs, or second-hand clothes are really the most affordable green option. Most baby and young children’s clothes get outgrown before they get worn out.

Ask around to friends and families members– often moms are just looking for someone to whom they can pawn off their outgrown children’s clothes. Organize a clothing swap for baby clothes with your friends. Otherwise, hit the thrift stores or children’s resale shops where you’ll be sure to find some adorable items to fill your baby’s closet.

For some clothes, like fleece pajamas, second-hand items might be less toxic, just due to time and washing. Even cotton fabric is often treated with chemicals, as my mom tells me from experience. She works in a quilt store and can feel the chemicals on her skin after a day of handling the fabric.

So be sure to wash new items before dressing baby in them. Instead of the overly-fragranced conventional laundry detergent touted as being especially for babies, stick to a natural detergent, a homemade soap or even soapnuts.

Photo by simplyla


Before we go any further here, let me just say that with babies, less is more. The million dollar baby industry would have you believe that there are endless items that your baby needs. As Tsh has taught us in many areas of life over at Simple Mom, the essentials for a newborn make up a surprisingly simple list.

After looking at her list, and talking to other moms, you should be able to figure out what your own short list of baby necessities includes.

For the greenest and most cost-efficient diapering method, you’ll want to consider cloth diapering.  If you’ve already got little ones in diapers, maybe now’s the time to make the switch. I didn’t start till my first baby was nine months old, but still found it worthwhile in the long run.

It’s much easier than it appears at first glance and we’ve got some great resources to get you going.

Great resources for more information (if I’ve mentioned these books several times before it’s because I’ve found them to be that helpful!):

What are some other ways you or friends you know have made green nesting choices for a baby nursery? What are/were you most concerned with as far as toxins exposed to your new baby?

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  1. This post is perfect timing for me, Nicole, as I’m starting to feel my own nesting instincts kick in :-)

    Thanks for the inspiration and for the very helpful round up of resources, too. And, I definitely agree with you: less is more!

    Best Wishes!

  2. Thrift stores, eBay and Craigslist are all wonderful places to find organic items for less. I am not rich by any means, but my daughter wears all organic and I didn’t go broke doing so. We limited how much we truly need and then searched around for great deals on organic clothing. I recently went to the thrift store on half off clothing day and purchases every baby and girls clothing item I could find in organic. I spent $40 and anything she doesn’t fit in I can use as fabric to make other creations. I often see people on Craigslist listing organic bedding or bassinets. And I got a lot of my organic clothing from eBay relatively cheap. Like you said, less is more. You can even find second hand cloth diapers and save a bundle! :) Thanks for sharing!

    • Great resources, Ashely. How lucky that you’ve been able to find such great deals on organic options. I haven’t quite had the same experience, but still look often!
      Buying cloth diapers used is a great point, too! We have a shop locally that does a big yard sale where people can bring their old diapers to sell. I hope I can make it to the next one!

  3. Great post, Nicole! And yes, yes, YES to “less is more.” I did a much better job with the second newborn; I guess perspective helps you realize you don’t really NEED all the things you thought you did the first time around :)

  4. Wow! What a lovely furniture it is.. I really like it, the combination of it with the wall is awesome.. I was also looking for such design and it is great to see on your post.. And all the best wishes for your future..

  5. Very inspiring stories of that yours Nicole. There will be lots of mothers who will be glad of those tips you have shared. Probably it will be a lot of help for me also on how to handle the house as well as my family.

  6. avatar
    Stephanie P says:

    Thanks so much for this post! We’re not expecting but I like to be informed and well-read before jumping into things :-)

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