The excitement of preparing your baby’s nursery can be one of the most memorable times during pregnancy. You will most likely spend countless hours in the nursery you’ve designed, bonding and creating memories with your little one. For me, my babies’ rooms quickly became one of the most treasured spaces in my house.
But nurseries and baby products in general can introduce your newborn to many toxins and chemicals. Babies are born to us with sensitive skin, lungs that are still growing and skulls that are still forming to protect their brain. They need our protection from a world of chemicals and toxins in order to flourish and grow. Your newborn will most likely spend the majority of their time over their first year in their nursery and crib. Creating a non-toxic environment for them to spend their time will create a happier, healthier baby.
Your baby will be surrounded by the walls of their crib as they snooze. Whatever VOCs are dispersed into the air are directly surrounding your baby as they breathe all night. Finding a crib that is free from toxins and VOCs is extremely important to their lungs, immune system and nervous system. Many cribs are made with pressed woods that emit the VOC, Formaldehyde, which has proven to be a dangerous carcinogen. Another scary toxin in your crib may be lead. While most of think lead is no longer used in paints and finishes, the truth is it is. If it is free of lead, double check to make sure the manufacturer hasn’t replaced lead with Cadmium, which is an equally dangerous heavy metal.
What to look for instead:
GreenGuard Cribs from Amazon
GreenGuard Cribs from Target
You want your baby to get a good night’s sleep, and a mattress can influence just that. But a mattress that your baby lays on throughout the day and night can also release toxins as their bodies heat it up and introduce moisture to the mattress. Beware of mattresses with chemical flame retardants, vinyl covers made with PVC, memory foam and polyurethane foam containing petroleum. Also be sure to avoid mattresses made of bamboo, which has chemicals added to it in order to make bamboo a soft material.
What to look for instead:
GreenGuard Certified Crib Mattresses
Most of us have a love/hate relationship with the baby monitor. What a convenience to be able to see our precious little one as they sleep. However, I myself have even cursed the baby monitor when I hear it notifying me at 3 AM that my two year old is having a conversation with her lovey. While baby monitors are helpful and a great tool, they also produce electromagnetic fields (EMF) throughout your baby’s room. EMFs produced by electronics are becoming a highly studied phenomenon. Researchers have recently found that the EMFs produced by a digital baby monitor can interfere with a baby’s sleep patterns and create behavioral disorders as they get older. It’s also been found that babies at are affected much more severely when compared to adults as their skulls are not completely developed.
How to use a baby monitor safely:
Analog Baby Monitors
Rugs, carpet padding and carpets made of synthetic fibers are full of chemicals that off-gas toxins into the room. If someone is thinking about getting new carpet for the nursery, I often advise against it. That new carpet smell? That would be chemicals off-gassing into the room. Natural wood flooring is a much better option in this situation. The benefits of a natural fiber rug go a long way, including the fact that you can air them outside, and disinfect them with some natural and free sunshine. Synthetic carpet on the other hand off-gasses more VOCs the older it gets and holds on to dust and moisture (creating a home for dustmites and mold).
Safe Flooring Options:
Affordable Natural Fiber Rugs
Most, if not all of us have painted our kids rooms in anticipation of their arrival. It’s one of the best ways to create a space that is tailored to your baby and their personality. But adding paint to a room can also add toxic VOCs and other chemicals that increase the risk for asthma and allergies. VOCs in paint have also been known to cause nervous system damage. It’s important to know that not all solvents added to paints are regulated as VOCs. Some water based paints use mercury as a fungicide. Lead and Cadmium are heavy metals that can be added to paint as well. All of these additives are unsafe and create a toxic environment.
Baby-Safe Paint to Purchase:
VOC Free Paint for Nurseries
Keeping baby’s room free of toxins and added chemicals will keep the indoor environment healthy and safe. A healthy nursery = a healthy baby.
I am a Certified Professional Home Inspector and Certified Building Biologist through the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors and International Institute for Building Biology. I have trained with Internachi as well as the Water Quality Standards Academy and the EPA.