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The (Primarily Non-Toxic) Nursery Guide

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Becoming a first-time parent is equal parts terrifying and thrilling. You want to do everything you can to protect and keep your baby safe, which, compounded with new mom hormones, can get a little crazy-making. It doesn’t help that there seem to be a million decisions to make (some with health consequences)–after all, there is no way around a steep learning curve to prepare you for a newborn (though it’s a fast one).

We’ve tried to take some of the guesswork out of it–and have called on renowned pediatrician, Dr. Harvey Karp, the creator of the bow-at-its-feet brilliant Happiest Baby on the Block empire to help us navigate some of these waters–as a huge and early days supporter of the Environmental Working Group, he’s well aware of what little ones face in terms of the toxins around, but he’s also highly reasonable, too. We asked him a bunch of questions about breastfeeding while we had him on the line. And then we turned to Christopher Gavigan, co-founder of The Honest Company, to take us through the intricacies of diapering and other non-toxic choices for little ones.

There aren’t health consequences to every decision, so we’ve marked those that require special care with a critical decal–the rest of the picks are predicated on what we’ve found to be the most effective (and stylish) way to take care of a baby (and in many cases, the most minimal). Herewith, goop’s ultimate nursery guide.



Diapering is a bummer all around–they’re not particularly fun to change, and they’re generally terrible for the earth (no disposable receives enough sunlight to biodegrade, while cloth diapers require a ton of water). These companies are making the whole process as palatable as possible.



Wipes can be loaded with chemicals (alternately, those that claim to be preservative-free are bunk, too, as preservatives are legally required when a product lists water as an ingredient). These are effective and clean.


Keep it simple: Besides a fitted crib sheet, your baby should be put down with nothing else, including blankets, baby pillows, and stuffed animals. (Here’s a good trick, though: You can prop a mattress up ever so slightly by putting folded towels or swaddles underneath, which works particularly well with a bassinet.)

Organic Mattress


An organic mattress isn’t cheap, but if you’re going to splurge on one thing for your baby, make it this: Free of flame retardants and other harmful VOCs, you can rest easy knowing your baby is sleeping on something that’s super safe.

Travel Crib

At less than 12 pounds, this stylish travel crib can double as an old-fashioned pack ‘n play (i.e., set it up for an impromptu play pen anywhere), but it’s far easier to drag across the country.

Mattress Pad

It’s easy to go totally nuts on crib sheeting–but in all honesty, you really need only two, max three, sets. (It’s good to have a spare in case of a late-night full crib change.)


Organic cotton is great when it’s available, though don’t stress: While it’s a wonderful precedent and kinder to the earth, there’s no issue with putting traditional cotton on your child.



According to Dr. Karp, it’s best to avoid giving a newborn a pacifier until nursing is going well–and then they might become clutch. (See the Five S’s, under Happiest Baby on the Block.) “The shape doesn’t really matter,” he explains. For more on pacifiers from Dr. Karp, click here.

Lullaby Music

This series is totally awesome. Biased, but the Coldplay ones are the best.

Happiest Baby On the Block

Dr. Karp’s Happiest Baby on the Block DVD is must-watch TV. His brilliant theory is that, thanks to their large brain size, babies are born prematurely, and should experience what is essentially a fourth trimester. Whatever you can do to recreate the womb in real life (tight, loud, always in motion), will help your baby adjust, which revolves around the Five S’s: Swaddling, Sucking, Shushing, Side, and Swinging.

Men, in particular, seem to excel at this art. As Dr. Karp explains, “Men are terrible at breastfeeding, but they’re far better than women at baby soothing.” In terms of that loud noise, he also has a low, white noise CD to run all night while your baby is sleeping (and a sleep book). (For more from Dr. Karp, click here.)


There’s nothing more terrifying than giving a newborn a bath–but the good news is that you really don’t have to do it frequently (and you can just use water for a long time).

Getting Around

Gear can pretty much act like Gremlins in your entryway–carrying the baby on your body is pretty awesome and streamlined, though a low-profile stroller is helpful, too.


Go for as little bulk and heft as you think you can get away with…particularly if you’re putting it in and out of the trunk of a car.

Infant Car Seat

You can hypothetically get one car seat that adjusts throughout childhood, but infant car seats are actually kind of essential, particularly if you drive–more often than not, your baby will knock off in the car, and then you can simply carry them into the house without disrupting their nap.


Dr. Karp has a lot of advice on this matter.


Other Essentials Nobody
Tells you about

You can thank us later. Lay in stores of the following (and steal some supplies from the hospital). Buy nipple balm in bulk and bring it to the hospital. (The first week or so is the toughest, at which point breastfeeding generally gets infinitely easier and less painful.)



Interestingly enough, if you have a preemie who is primarily bottle fed, you want to use (BPA-free) plastic bottles: “The white blood cells in the colostrum cling to glass,” explains Dr. Karp. “If your baby is not premature and you’re breastfeeding, wait to introduce a bottle until two to three weeks so breastfeeding is established–don’t wait any longer, as a baby might reject a bottle after a certain point, and it’s great for other caregivers to be able to nurture the baby, too.” (For more on breastfeeding from Dr. Karp, click here.) “Choose glass, silicone (which is very stable), or if plastic, make sure they’re BPA-free.”


While we’d be inclined to go straight for the newer all-organic brands, Dr. Karp actually advocates going with Enfamil or Similac. “They have a track record of safety that goes back 30 or 40 years–I just wouldn’t take the risk with a lesser known brand.” (For more thoughts from him on this, click here.)


Babies don’t need (or do) much at the beginning, but tummy time is key.


Within a week or two, you’ll be putting your little one down for tummy time–and they like lying on their backs and looking up at things (that they can’t really actually see). There are pre-assembled sets that make this easy (SkipHop), or you can make your own version.

Baby Blankets

You’ll receive a lot of baby blankets as gifts, which all seem to serve a different purpose. Here, one that’s extra-washable, and another that’s incredibly comforting.

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