Once you've got an idea of theme and color for your nursery, the next step seems simple- go buy the paint! But paint can continue to give off harmful fumes even after it dries, it can harbor bacteria and be a pain to clean. So what paint is healthiest, greenest, most durable, most affordable? Well, you have lots of options:
Ceramic Paint- Low VOC, high durability and in some cases of this product comes with antimicrobial protection. Round ceramic beads in the paint pack closer together, and create a strong finish that is not very permeable- to dirt, bacteria, etc. Hence why the pain is able to withstand scrubbing while also preventing mold, mildew and bacteria from growing. Try: Ceramic Coat by O'Leary Paint, or Green Planet Paints Interior Clay paint.
Soy Based Paint & Finishes- To avoid using a petroleum base some companies are using soy and coming out with some great low VOC products. For interior painting try DuraSoy One paint, easy to clean, no need for primer and meets Green Building LEED requirements. If you are looking to seal natural wood (for a crib, rocker, changing table, deck, swing set...) use SoyGuard- non-toxic, low VOC, mildew resistant sealer. It lacks harmful chemicals such as biocides, pesticides, fungicides, or mildewcides that are often found in other wood treatments. Plus it's made in the US with American grown soybeans.
Milk Paint- Milk paint, also known as casein paint, is derived from milk and is a fast-drying, water-soluble paint has been in use for hundreds of years. Try the Real Milk Paint Company who uses all organic materials- powdered purified casein, lime and pigments. Milk paint is a little tricky though, you should use it right away once it is mixed and it does best on raw wood or unsealed walls or wall board. If you want to paint over an already painted room you will need to add UltraBond and clean and scuff the surface before applying the paint. Anna Sova also has a great pallet of casein based paints.
Others- BioSheild Paints is a great company that has a wide range of safe paints from clay and milk based to solvent-free paint and KinderPaint- a zero VOC, solvent free paint.
American Pride- Green Seal Certified and Green Building LEED compliant. This paint runs with the best of them, easy clean up, fast drying and they claim virtually unlimited color match capability with any major paint manufacturer palette.
A last note: according to Scientific American Magazine a crawling baby inhales the equivalent of four cigarettes a day as a result of out-gassing fumes. But with the above mentioned paints you can avoid all of that. So pick a color and paint without worry!