How to Build a Nursery

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8 tips for creating a safe, healthy space for your new addition. 

Of all the things soon-to-be-parents need to worry about, building a nursery is among the biggest to-do projects. But isn’t a nursery just another name for a bedroom? Not at all. Babies take in more air than adults, sometimes twice as much when resting, and that means air quality is crucial for a nursery. Yet, thanks to all the new furniture and accessories, the nursery can have some of the poorest air quality in the house. A Good Morning America investigative report, found over 300 different chemicals in a standard nursery set-up (new crib, changing table, rocker, decorations).

It’s important to create a safe, healthy space for your baby, and thanks to new products and materials, it’s easier than ever to make sure your bundle of joy gets off to a great start. Here are eight tips for building the perfect nursery.

  1. Think Inside the Walls

Before you start picking color schemes and giraffe artwork, consider what’s inside the walls. If you’re adding a room to your home, or renovating an existing one, always keep insulation in mind.

“As a dad to 4 little ones, I know how overwhelming all of the information and advice can get, especially when all you want as a parent is what’s best for your baby” says Ted Winslow, Manager, Building Science for CertainTeed Insulation, “My advice, focus on a solid foundation that will give the baby a healthy place to grow, the rest of the decisions will fall into place.

When it comes to the walls, Winslow suggests selecting an insulation that helps prevent mold. “This will help protect you and your family from poor air quality,” he says. Adding insulation will also help block sound, allowing your baby to get the rest he or she needs. A win –win for both parents and baby.

A great option to try is CertainTeed’s SmartBattTM Insulation. Not only is it GreenGuard® Gold Certified for indoor air quality, SmartBatt features innovative MoistureSense™ Technology to better manage moisture and help prevent mold.

This revealing video shows how MoistureSense Technology (also used in MemBrainTM) inhibits mold growth better than traditional materials.

  1. Turn Your Walls into Formaldehyde-Fighting Warriors

A brand new room often brings with it brand new chemicals. Items like furniture, carpeting and paint can release formaldehyde into a room. It’s important to air out the furniture for a few days before placing it in the nursery; this includes not only the dresser, drawers and crib, but the crib mattress. 

For longer-lasting protection, new drywall materials are wonderful tools in the fight against dangerous chemicals. CertainTeed AirRenew® drywall has a special core that captures formaldehyde from the air and safely converts it into an inert compound. In this video, you can see how AirRenew works to keep the air inside your home clean.

  1. Create an optimum sleeping environment

Not only can new walls fight back against chemical pollution, they can fight back against noise pollution too. Start by filling the wall cavity with a noise blocking insulation then install a sound proofing drywall such as SilentFX® QuickCut over it. This drywall-insulation combination will drastically reduce the amount of unwanted noise creeping into the room. For more on soundproofing a room, visit our guide.

  1. When it Comes to Baby Furniture, Basic is Better

Walking through the furniture store, you may be tempted to buy it all.  However, the nursery works best when you use a minimalist approach. “Don’t over crowd the room,” said Jenn Zschunke, Community Relations Manager at Moss Building & Design. “Pretty soon babies will crawl and grab and pull. And some space to move is a good thing.”

Choose furniture made of solid wood. Not only does solid wood furniture contain fewer chemicals than particle board furniture, it will hold up better. “Solid wood is the best,” said Zschunke. “It’s longer lasting, especially if more than one child will be using the nursery.”

  1. Anchor Away

All furniture should be anchored to the wall to prevent accidents. Anchor systems are easy to install – in most systems, a bracket is fastened to a wall stud and a strap holding the furniture connects to the bracket. You can install these anchor systems yourself, but make sure to read and follow the directions. 

Anchor systems should be used throughout the house, wherever a bookshelf or television has the potential to fall.

  1. Pick Your Paint Carefully

While there are thousands and thousands of paint options available, start your search by looking for paint with zero volatile organic compounds (VOC).  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, VOCs may cause eye, throat and nose irritation and headaches.  Using paint with zero VOCs will help avoid any harmful side-effects for you and your baby.

It’s best to let the paint dry completely and for the room to air out well before your little one arrives. At the minimum, allow the paint to dry 48 hours before moving in. 

  1. Use Hardwood Flooring (If You Can)

Stick with hardwood flooring, if possible. Carpets often contain fire-retardant chemicals and attract dust mites and dirt. Hardwood is easier to maintain and clean. To give baby a place for tummy and play time, consider adding an area rug rather than wall-to-wall carpet. Look for a rug with a Carpet and Rug Institute Green label, these have been tested for VOCs and other emissions. Finally make sure to use a rug pad to limit injuries due to slips and trips.

  1. Do your homework

When considering insulation, drywall, rugs and other materials you may need to look beyond box store shelves to get the protection you want. These stores often only have room to carry standard or mass produced materials. To get specialty products with advanced technologies or fewer chemicals, you may have to do a little digging. CertainTeed specialty products, for example, can be found at various lumber yards and distribution centers across the U.S. and Canada - find the one closest to you or check on Amazon. It’s amazing what you can find there (Hint: CertainTeed’s MemBrainTM is now on Amazon!).

Your new bundle of joy is on the way, and with a little preparation, you can make a wonderful, safe space for you and your baby.