How to make your nursery non-toxic

Consumer Reports News: February 28, 2008 09:08 AM

1. Don’t put off painting. Allow time for fumes from new paint, wallpaper, drapes, and carpeting to subside before baby comes home for the first time. Paint the nursery well in advance of your baby’s arrival and ventilate the room. A pregnant woman should not do the painting herself. Use a paint that has low volatile organic compounds or VOCs (less than 50 grams/liter VOCs); higher VOC levels may be irritating to your baby (and to some adults) and could theoretically affect the developing nervous system. To reduce fumes from other chemicals such as formaldehyde or phthalates, air out new carpet, furniture and anything made of soft plastic or wood.

2. Buy silicone pacifiers only. Babies can develop an allergy or sensitivity to latex.

3. Take extra care with new clothes and bedding. Launder all new baby clothes and bedding in a fragrance-free detergent once or twice to remove chemicals. Don’t use liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets; the fragrance may irritate baby’s skin and respiratory system. Liquid softener may also reduce the absorbency of cloth diapers. Likewise, air out any dry-cleaned clothes (but you'll likely have few of these!) before your baby wears them.

4. Buy a changing table with a drawer. It offers an advantage over open shelving because it can hide diaper-rash ointment and other supplies, which look like a treasure trove to the curious toddler your baby will become before you know it. However, it's important that a drawer be positioned high enough so that your baby doesn't use it to climb up onto the changing table once she's mobile. Also make sure the changing table has barriers or guide rails on all sides. If only two or three sides are protected instead of four, don't buy it.

5. Don’t use heirloom furniture, such as cribs and chests. They may have been coated with lead-containing paints, lacquers, or varnishes. All new cribs have very low and, therefore, safe, levels. You can check antique finishes with a lead-testing kit. If you detect lead in a piece of furniture, put it in storage until your baby gets older.

For more information, see our "Nursery decorating dos and don'ts" and "Clearing the air."


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