Dear Future Mama,
Congratulations! You are about to embark on one of life’s greatest adventures.
Before you fill out your registry and plan every detail of your little one’s picture-perfect nursery, you should know about a few toxic imposters lingering inside many products marketed for your precious baby.
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The #1 Non-Toxic Nursery Imposter: VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
VOCs are your non-toxic nursery’s worst enemy. After installing new furniture, carpet, painting, etc. the organic and non-organic chemicals, or VOCs, used in these products begin to evaporate. These toxins are emitted as gasses and are responsible for that “new smell”. This process is often referred to as off-gassing.
Although VOCs and off-gassing are dangerous for anyone, babies and children are at a higher risk. Exposure to VOCs can cause symptoms ranging from eye and respiratory tract irritation, to cancer, and damage to the nervous system (4).
VOCs include a variety of chemicals, such as formaldehyde, PVC, phthalates, and benzene. Due to lack of air flow, VOCs stay trapped inside your home, causing a concentration two to five times higher than in the air outdoors (4). In fact, one study found over 300 toxins harboring in a newly decorated nursery compared to only two outside the window.
Where Do VOCs Hide in Your Nursery?
Unfortunately, everywhere. VOCs are found in thousands of products, including paints, wood finishes, aerosol sprays, cleaners, and disinfectants (7).
Here are just a few examples of specific VOCs and their favorite hiding places:
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Formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, is used in building materials, glues, and adhesives. It can be found lurking in your nursery furniture or in the adhesive backing of carpet and rugs.
Phthalates/PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)
PVC and phthalates, which may cause disruption in reproductive development, hide in curtains, blinds, mattress protectors, mattresses, and plastic toys.
Paint, glue, carpeting, and some plastics harbor benzene which is another known carcinogen.
3 Other Toxins Commonly Found Lurking in Nurseries
If your home was built before 1978, it more than likely contains lead in the water pipes or paint. Lead poisoning can cause severe health issues, including brain and kidney damage.
Flame retardant chemicals contain antimony, phosphorus, and arsenic, and have been linked to cancer and hormone disruption. These chemicals are present in mattresses, bedding, sleepwear, and even soft toys.
EMF Radiation (Electromagnetic Field Radiation)
Radiation, which can cause brain tumors, leukemia and heart problems, comes from wireless baby monitors. Also, bedside lamps and household appliances (like the refrigerator, fuse box, or computer) that may be sharing a wall with your baby’s room can emit EMF radiation.
15 Tips for a Non-Toxic Nursery
I know you don’t want to put your little one to bed with over 300 toxic friends. Instead, follow these tips to create a non-toxic nursery.
Choose Organic, Natural Products
1. Select furniture made from solid wood. Make sure it was finished with a water-based paint or stain. Here is a great guide for buying non-toxic baby furniture.
2. Opt for carpet and rugs made with natural fibers. If you are remodeling, choose any of these organic flooring options.
3. Use Low-VOC or No-VOC paint when decorating your nursery.
4. Choose naturally flame-resistant fabrics such as organic wool, cotton or hemp. Wash and allow fabrics to air out before placing them in your baby’s room.
5. Choose an organic baby mattress with an organic cover. Although organic mattresses are expensive, if you are going to splurge on anything in your child’s nursery, it should be the mattress. Your precious baby will spend over half of his or her first year sleeping, making the mattress the most important part of the nursery. If an organic mattress is out of your budget, air the mattress out before placing it in your child’s room and then wrap it to decrease the risk of SIDS.
6. Avoid fire retardants in bedding, sleepwear, and soft toys.
7. Reduce your child’s exposure to PVC, phthalates, and BPA by avoiding plastics. Opt for glass bottles and wooden toys instead.
Clear the air
8. Add a high-quality air purifier with HEPA and chemical air filtration abilities.
9. Keep the air moving. Increased airflow in the room can reduce SIDS and keep toxins moving out of your baby’s space. Use a fan or open the windows when the weather allows.
10. Add plants to help filter out harmful toxins, like one of these 20 plants that improve air quality.
11. Instead of using air fresheners in your nursery, opt for essential oils or a cup of baking soda.
12. Adopt a gentle green cleaning routine for your baby’s room and clean often, especially if lead may be lurking around.
13. Decorate ahead of time. Try to decorate the nursery at least six months before baby’s arrival so that most of the chemicals will have off-gassed (5).
14. Place the nursery far from household appliances but in a location that you can hear baby without using a monitor.
15. Check for peeling paint. Remove the paint peels and cover the area with Low-VOC or No-VOC paint.
By following the tips above, you are well on your way to giving your precious little one the healthy, non-toxic start he or she deserves. Be sure to take good care of yourself over these next few months and enjoy the adventure!
About the Author
Vanessa is a free-spirited, self-proclaimed modern-day hippy who uses creativity to clean up her lifestyle while saving money at the same time. You can read more about her frugal adventures on her blog, Creative Money Masters. You can also get this free calendar to successfully rid your home of toxins in four weeks or less.