Creating the nursery should be exciting and fun for expectant mothers. But it can be daunting as well. Everyone from store employees to well-intentioned friends has an opinion on what you should and shouldn’t use. A lot of things have changed over the decades and we’re now more aware of the health issues that could potentially affect babies.
Luckily for new parents, that awareness has led to a plethora of healthy or green options for setting up your baby’s nursery. From safe paint to furniture made from certified wood products, you have the tools to create a healthy and safe space for your child.
Painting the nursery
Even if we didn’t know it when we were kids, most paints have volatile organic compounds (commonly called VOCs) that evaporate slowly into the air. Remember the smell of a freshly painted room? Part of it is due to the VOCs in the air. The worst part is that the process continues long after the smell is gone.
That’s why most experts recommend new mothers shouldn’t paint the walls and not even enter the nursery until a few days afterward. You are also supposed to open the windows and air out the room before entering. But what if it’s winter and you can’t leave the windows open? Or if you couldn’t get around to painting the walls until the baby’s almost here?
In such situations, you and your child could be inhaling dangerous fumes that you can’t really see or smell. Thankfully, technology has provided a solution in the form of baby safe paints. These are specially formulated to emit no or very little VOCs into the air. So you can safely enter the room and set it up!
It’s not very hard to find low VOC paint either. Nowadays you’ll find a good selection in almost every hardware store.
Choosing the furniture
Unfortunately, the story of toxins and chemicals doesn’t end there. Once you’ve painted the walls, you want to buy furniture like a crib and a dresser. But many manufacturers still use toxic paints to finish baby furniture. Even the adhesives used to glue joints together may contain harmful chemicals.
What’s the solution here? You should look for certified products that meet safety and health standards. Greenguard certification is one such standard that can help identify products that are safe for the nursery. To be certified, products have to meet stringent emissions and related standards through a strict process. It’s not just a one-time thing either, products can lose their certification if they change their production process.
It’s hard to resist buying toys for babies and small kids. They’re so cute and adorable! But you don’t always know if the materials used to make them are safe or not. In spite of strict standards, some companies continue to use harmful plastics or other materials in their toys.
Be vigilant when it comes to toys like stuffed animals, puppets, dolls etc. Considering that most babies put toys in their mouths, you should be even more careful.
But how do you know which materials are dangerous and which aren’t? It might take some time but you should keep up with official product safety reports in your country. The United States has the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC) while Canada has the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA). Other countries will have their own regulatory bodies who can provide you with the necessary information.
Maintain Carpets and Rugs
Carpets and rugs are a breeding ground for dust mites, bacteria, viruses, and other microbes. While the best surface for baby in terms of health is a bare floor, it’s not always possible to avoid carpet. A rug can soften unexpected falls or cushion tiny feet from the cold floor in winter. So what’s the alternative?
One thing you can do is avoid wearing shoes around the house. Get some flip flops or socks to use indoors for the entire family. You can even keep a few extras on hand for when guests visit. Next, buy a good vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter and use it often. Get the professionals in at least 4 – 5 times a year. More often if you have pets.
What’s all the fuss about organic materials anyway? The truth of the matter is that organically grown crops are much better for both your baby’s health and the environment. There’s less chance of harmful chemicals making their way into your house. While buying all organic clothes may not be feasible, at least try to get organic cotton pajamas and everyday wear that your baby will spend the most time in.
There’s no way you can protect your baby from every harmful thing out there. But following simple guidelines when setting up the nursery can save you from regular doctor visits in the future!