When you’re going to have a baby, your major concerns are their health and safety. You get a solid crib, research car seats, walkers, swings, etc. You make sure those products are the best you can get and won’t harm your baby in any way. But here’s another aspect of a baby’s health and safety that many parents don’t think about—the toxicity of the materials in their nursery.
The concerns of potential effects of chemicals on our children has grown among physicians, health professionals, public safety officials, and environmental advocacy groups. Many researchers now suspect that toxic chemicals are playing a significant role in the dramatic increase in childhood disorders, cancer, and infertility.
So, what do you do to ensure your nursery is non-toxic? Here are the basics:
Ensure your baby’s clothes are made with untreated cotton or other natural materials that are free of chemicals and dyes. Cotton is the world's most chemically treated crop. It is heavily sprayed with pesticides. These chemicals are used to get you your products quickly and for less money—but the pesticides used are considered carcinogens by the Environmental Protection Agency. Certified organic products are free of those cotton pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Look for the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification. It’s the strictest certification, and will ensure your baby is cozy and safe in 100% organic cotton clothes.
Choose toys, bottles, and pacifiers that don’t contain harmful plastics like vinyl. Debra Lynn Dadd, the world’s leading expert on toxic-free products, says “Most toys sold in major toy stores are made from plastics. Plastic is a major contributor to indoor air pollution, and a roomful of new toys can easily envelop your child in a toxic cloud. Remember that synthetic fibers are plastics too, so evaluate stuffed animals carefully. While you might not find much that is natural in a toy store, there are many natural cloth and wood toys on the internet. Many are designed to stimulate baby’s imagination and help them learn skills as well as provide amusement.”
The furniture in the baby’s room is another concern. We recommend not using plywood or other types of building materials containing toxic glues. Instead, choose solid wood, natural finishes. While these more natural products will be more expensive, it is an excellent investment in your child’s well being. There are stores that specialize in this kind of product, you can buy unfinished furniture and finish it yourself with non-toxic finishes.
4. Crib Mattress
Your baby will spend 12 to 18 hours a day on it. You don’t want your baby breathing the toxic chemical fumes that will off-gas from most crib mattresses. Naturepedic’s certified organic crib mattresses eliminate hazardous chemicals found in conventional mattresses while still offering a natural and non-toxic alternative for parents. You also don’t have to worry about sacrificing critical features and benefits such as waterproofing and an allergy-friendly design. Ready to purchase but not sure which mattress to pick? Here’s how to pick the best organic crib mattress for your baby.
Repainting a room to turn it into a nursery? Watch out for toxic oil-based or water-based latex paint. Instead, get the low—or no—VOC varieties, now available at almost any store that sells paint. Don’t paint the room yourself if you are pregnant. Scraping or sanding walls may expose you to lead dust and toxic chemicals, which can be very dangerous to your baby. Ask your significant other, family member, or a friend to do the painting. Painting should be done at least a month before the baby arrives in the house; you don’t want to be painting with a newborn in the house. Look for paint companies that GREENGUARD Certified, a certification that helps consumers find materials that have low chemical emissions—improving the overall quality of air.
Most carpeting and carpets are made with synthetic materials and treated with other chemicals. Some new carpeting is toxic. We recommend keeping the existing flooring rather than installing something new that might come along with toxic chemicals. If you have to put down new flooring, Debra Lynn Dadd suggests a hard, natural linoleum. It provides a solid, durable, colorful, and attractive surface that is easy to clean.
7. Cleaning Products
Any cleaning products and deodorizers should also be natural and non-toxic. No synthetic fragrances. If the ingredient label on the bottle lists ‘fragrance,’ it’s synthetic and toxic. Essential oils used as fragrance are your best bet. We’ve listed a few other tips on Natural Ways to Clean Your Nursery.
If there are questions about whether or not a product is safe, Debra Lynn Dadd suggest you use a natural tool – your nose. “If you can smell it, it probably contains something toxic you don’t want your baby to breathe (with the exception, of course, of natural fragrances). So rely on your own senses–if it bothers you, it will bother your baby, so don’t put it in the nursery.”
Your little bundle of joy is the most precious package you will ever hold in your arms. If you protect your baby from harmful chemicals, you’ll be taking great strides towards ensuring your child is healthy, happy, and has a good start in life.
During the month of September, Naturepedic is donating $2 of every crib mattress purchase to the Max Cure Foundation, an organization that funds research for the development of pediatric cancer drug therapies.