No parent would willingly bring their newborn into a place full of toxic chemicals. Yet, many common items we use to design and clean our nurseries contain ingredients that are bad for our babies and our environment. Learning how to set up an eco-friendly nursery will create a safe space for your babies to come home to.
Be Wary of Chemicals
As we said, no one would knowingly bring their baby into an area with chemicals. The key word is knowingly. There are a number of chemicals that may slip into cleaning products or be part of the manufacturing process of common nursery features. A few common chemicals to be on the lookout for include:
- Formaldehyde is a skin irritant and carcinogen common in furniture constructed from pressboard. MDF is another unwanted material that may contain some formaldehyde.
- Mercury is a neurotoxin that will impair your child’s development, and it’s a component of glass thermometers.
- Lead is poison to the human body. Homes built before 1978 may contain harmful lead paint, so take care if you are repainting old nurseries or stripping old paint.
- Flame retardants are supposed to protect us, but they can do irreversible harm to developing children. Retardants exist in furniture, pillows, mattresses, and carpet padding. Using a HEPA filter will get rid of these dangerous chemicals.
- Volatile Organic Compounds exist in cleaning materials and paints and can exacerbate allergies or cause breathing issues in young children. When you’re choosing paints for your crib or nursery, opt for non-toxic, VOC-free paint.
Carpets are also a common source of chemicals such as VOCs, and the risks only increase as they get older. Even if you get an eco-friendlier carpet, they are still a haven for dust mites and bacteria that can wreak havoc on your child’s immune system. Instead of carpeting, cork and bamboo are two eco-friendly options. Bamboo, in particular, is an attractive choice since it’s resistant to insects.
Use Natural Cleaners
Your flooring isn’t the only thing that may send VOCs into the air. Cleaners often contain ingredients like ammonia and bleach. Along with their toxic fumes that are bad for your baby, these chemicals can run into waterways and contaminate them. Instead of bleach, try a natural alternative, such as diluted essential oils or vinegar, when you’re cleaning and setting up your eco-friendly nursery.
Pro tip: Some cleaners available for purchase labeled “all-natural.” However, that doesn’t mean they are free of allergens and toxins. Be sure you read the ingredient label before you make a purchase.