When you're pregnant or caring for a newborn, you need all the sleep you can get. Thinking about toxic chemicals in your bed linens won't keep you up nights--if you go organic. To minimize toxins: "Sheets shouldn't be permanent-press or made with nylon or synthetic materials," say Deirdre Dolan and Alexandra Zissu, co-authors of The Complete Organic Pregnancy (HarperCollins). The manufacture of conventional cotton sheets requires large amounts of formaldehyde, bleaches, dyes, synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
Green Launder linens with nontoxic laundry products, such as Seventh Generation Baby Laundry Liquid and Chlorine-Free Bleach (seventhgeneration.com) and Method Baby Detergent and Dryer Sheets (methodhome.com). "Many families use separate laundry soap for their newborn's clothing, but you can use baby-safe laundry soap for the rest of your family's laundry as well," says Kimberly Rider, author of Organic Baby (Chronicle Books). If you buy only one thing for the nursery, make it an organic mattress pad or cover, advises Rider. The certified organic-flannel mattress pads at Lifekind (lifekind.com) are a good example.
Greener Replace worn-out linens with organic-cotton varieties, which are now widely available and more affordable than ever. Cotton grown in the U.S. uses 25 percent of the insecticides in the world, so going organic will lighten the toxic load on your pillow and the planet. Native Organic Cotton (nativeorganic.com) offers certified organic-cotton bed linens in reusable organic-cotton packaging. Target's Tadpoles receiving blankets and baby towels (target.com) also are made with certified organic cotton.
Greenest Reuse and recycle natural-fabric baby linens from friends and family and you will help reduce the huge amounts of water used to manufacture new fabric. "The fabric finishes will have been mostly laundered off, so they are less likely to emit fumes or be laden with toxic coatings," Rider says. When it's time to replace linens, buy from companies with responsible manufacturing practices. For example, the comforters from Abundant Earth (abundantearth.com) are produced from natural, untreated wool sheared from sheep raised respectfully on New Hampshire open-range farms. SDH (sdhonline.com) makes chemical-free baby bedding, available at Dax stores (daxstores.com). SDH is also the maker of Legna (pronounced Lane-ya), an Italian line of linens that look and feel like silk but wash and wear like cotton. The completely biodegradable fiber is harvested from the wood of well-managed forests and is manufactured using recycled, bleach-free solvents.