Natural Parenting

3 Steps to Safe Baby Decor

blue-eyed baby chewing on crib railNesting? That pastel nursery you eyed in a catalogue might not be so healthy for your baby: A study linked frightening levels of chemical-based indoor air pollution with new baby decor, specifically the furniture, mattress and paint.

In 2012, “Good Morning America” set up a nursery with new furniture, paint and a crib mattress, then tested for contaminants. Shockingly, the air in the nursery with new baby decor contained 300 different chemicals, while the air outside the window showed just two. Why?

One factor was paint: Volatile Organic Compounds—commonly known as “VOCs”—are chemicals that release into the air over time; according to the study, the paint used in the nursery contained VOCs at five times the recommended limit. Another is the crib mattress, which emitted more than 100 different chemicals, including flame retardants. But perhaps the most frightening element was the furniture itself: The rocker alone contained seven times California’s recommended level of formaldehyde.

Why? Most inexpensive furniture is made of pressed wood, which contains high levels of formaldehyde.

Here are simple steps to target the big-ticket items when it comes to choosing safe and healthy baby decor:

Frighteningly high levels of indoor air pollution have been linked to new baby decor. Take these three steps to create the healthiest nursery for your baby. 1. FURNITURE: Look for solid wood furniture that’s unfinished. If that’s not possible to find, try to find solid wood furniture with a water-based, non-toxic, lead-free finish, like this Land of Nod Anderson Crib. (Land of Nod full discloses information on it’s products; here’s a link to more about the crib.) Finally, if pressed wood is the only option, try to find furniture that’s gently used: Most of the formaldehyde will have off-gassed within the first year.

2. PAINT: It’s easy to find no VOC paint in your local hardware store; most major manufacturers now offer at least a limited range of colors that are VOC-free, like this Stark White Paint Remember that although it is VOC-free, most paint is still formulated with chemicals that can compromise air quality; if you’re pregnant, make sure you’re out of the room while it’s being painted and that the paint has been dry for several days and no longer smells at all before you move back in.

3. MATTRESS: As I’ve written about in the past, flame retardants have been linked to neurological problems, autism and cancer and they’re added to foam components of furniture and mattresses. Avoid them by looking for flame-retardant free crib mattresses like Naturepedic’s No Compromise Organic Cotton Classic. In this case, hand-me-down is not the best option as flame retardants are transmitted through dust, which increases as foam breaks down with age. If you can’t afford a full mattress (or mattress overhaul) get a thick Organic Cotton Waterproof Crib Mattress Pad to cover it.