When your nesting instinct kicks in during pregnancy and you have an itch to overhaul your pad, give special thought to how you'll decorate the nursery. With all the new paint, carpeting and furniture you have on your shopping list, you may be bringing in something you didn't bargain for – an upwards of 300 toxic chemicals. Here's how to minimize your toxic load and set up a safe and healthy space for your son or daughter.
Where these toxins come from
Any time you bring brand new furniture or carpeting into your home, your new piece has the potential to off-gas harmful chemicals. Off-gassing refers to the release of a chemical gas that was absorbed in your furniture during the production process.
How to minimize your risk
No one wants to willingly unleash hundreds of gasses into their baby's room. Luckily, there are simple, affordable steps to take to ensure your little one's nursery is the safest it can be.
- Buy used: When possible, choose gently used items over new. They're more affordable, environmentally conscious and have already had the chance to off-gas their chemical load.
- Air it out: Set up the baby's nursery well in advance of his or her arrival. Open a window or set an item or two outside in fresh air. Taking these steps may help to freshen the air for your little one.
- Use non-toxic paint: Traditional paint contains volatile organic compounds which can produce toxic gas for up to three years. But never fear, there are several healthier and more natural options on the market. Look for zero-VOC paints at your hardware store to ensure your baby can breathe easy.
- Go organic: Conventional crib mattresses are often treated with flame retardants and waterproofing materials – both of which may be hazardous to your little one's health. If you can, purchase an organic mattress that's free from these harmful chemicals.
- Check for lead: If you have a home that was built before 1978, there's a good chance you're living with lead. Purchase a cheap lead test kit at your hardware store – and, in the meantime, don't scrape, sand or drill into any surfaces. The dust from lead paint can be dangerous to growing babies.
- Choose wooden toys: When it comes to filling the toy box, pass on the plastic when you can in favor of wooden or cloth toys. Even BPA-free plastics have been shown to contain potentially carcinogenic chemicals.
Are you setting up your nursery yet? Tell us how you're keeping it safe for baby in the comments below!