If you are like most expectant mothers you want to create, design, and decorate a special place for your new baby, a place that speaks from your heart, is safe, and comfortable.
However, your good intentions could be endangering your new born.
What most new mom’s don’t know is that redecorating means exposing your unborn child to toxic chemicals through; brand new paint, new carpet, washable vinyl, wallpaper, new crib with synthetic mattress, new no iron sheets, new easy care synthetic clothing, disinfectants, scented baby lotions, powders, synthetic fiber stuffed animals, plastic rattles all of which are made with toxic chemicals and are potential health risks to your new baby’s health.
Children and babies are more susceptible than adults to the adverse health affects of toxins because pound for pound since they are growing their little bodies are metabolizing faster than adults, they breath faster, their blood brain barrier that protects adults from toxins, is not yet fully developed, their detox system, the liver and kidneys are still developing which means that their bodies have a difficult time eliminating toxins so the toxins are stored in their fatty tissue.
Furthermore, babies and small children play and crawl on the floor and ground where many toxins are found. They put their hands and toys into their mouths which increases their exposure to toxic elements in the home. They don’t know what is toxic and what is safe.
Think about it. At no other time in history have there been more toxic chemicals in our environment. The most toxic environments are indoors where humans spend 65% of their time. New mom’s and babies are at greater risk of long term exposure to toxic chemicals in the home because they spend 95% of their time in the home. That is why it is important to start now protecting yourself and your newborn baby.
The best place to start is in the nursery.
I’m going to start with the crib because in the beginning your baby spends 90% of the time in the crib thus being exposed to toxic chemicals for prolonged periods. Some chemicals used to make synthetic mattresses are phthalates and PBDE – flame retardants, polyurethane, foam, polyester, plastic, formaldehyde. They all emit dangerous toxins that your baby breathes in or absorbs through the skin when in the crib.
Some examples of the dangerous chemicals mentioned above and the adverse health risks:
* Phthalates. Studies show they have been linked to damage of the liver, kidney and lungs, harmful to the reproductive system, and developing testicles. They are absorbed through the skin and by inhalation. Phthalates are found in plastics, flooring, cosmetics, nail polish, perfume, hair spray, to name a few.
* PBDE, fire retardant, has been linked to brain development and thyroid problems in lab rats. PBDE is found in most furniture fabrics and woods, cabinets, beds and in children’s pajamas.
* According to the EPA the health effects of formaldehyde include eye, nose, and throat irritation; wheezing and coughing, fatigue, skin rash, severe allergic reactions and may cause cancer. In asthma suffers formaldehyde has been known to cause asthma attacks. Formaldehyde is used in many stains and other synthetic materials.
However, don’t worry there are many solutions for a safe crib. Look for mattresses made of natural cotton or wool. Find blankets, sheets, clothing, and toys that are made of natural or organic cottons and wools. When buying natural buy organic, when possible.
If you can’t find a natural mattress for baby then use a piece of thick cotton material to put over the synthetic mattress and under the fitted sheet. Thus, the fitted sheet for baby’s mattress will go over the thick cotton fabric and the mattress. If possible use organic cotton. If you can’t find organic cotton wash the thick cotton cloth several times so that you can wash out any toxins and pesticides.
Furthermore, when buying the crib be sure to buy something with a safe non-toxic finish. Maple is said to be the least toxic wood. See if you can find a crib made of maple with a non-toxic finish.
Do not ever paint the room yourself. Breathing in the toxic fumes from the paint can harm your unborn child even if the paint is no or low VOC (volatile organic compounds).
Sanding and scraping the walls while your pregnant may expose you to lead dust which can be extremely dangerous to your unborn child since their brains and central nervous system aren’t yet fully developed. In addition, your unborn child may store the lead in their fatty tissue because their liver and kidney’s aren’t yet fully developed and able to eliminate it. Even children under the age of 6 are vulnerable to lead poisoning because their organs aren’t yet fully developed.
Exposure to low levels of lead have produced adverse health affects like low IQ, learning disabilities, behavioral problems, stunted growth, attention deficit disorder (ADD), impaired hearing, and kidney damage. High levels of lead exposure have contributed to mental retardation, a coma and even death.
Get someone else to paint and sand the room for you. Make sure they use water based, low or no VOC (volatile organic compound) paint. Similarly, due to increased environmental regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency paint and stain companies have been forced to reduce the VOC’s in their products. However, the VOC levels are still dangerous in conventional paints so make sure that you ask for low or no VOC paint or stain. Most paint companies now have a line of no or low VOC paints.
What are VOC’s? For years conventional paints needed VOC’s to perform. These VOC’s are toxic and have contributed to indoor air pollution. Paints with high VOC’s emit low levels of VOC’s into the air for many years to come. Moreover, VOC’s have been linked to nausea, cancer, damage to liver and kidney, headaches, nose and throat irritation to name a few. For more information go to the Environmental Protection Agency, at www.epa.gov.
Be sure that you finish painting at least one month before baby is born. To dry paint use a room space heater. By drying the paint you will help the paint to harden so it doesn’t release toxins into the air.
Absolutely stay away from new carpet and flooring, keep what is already in your home.
New carpet is among the most toxic material in your home, it is treated with many different chemicals. If you absolutely have to put down new flooring use pre-finished hardwood, re-claimed wood, natural linoleum, bamboo all with water based non-toxic finishes. The best finish is water based as it is less toxic than oil based finishes. When you are shopping ask the manufacture if the finish is water or oil based.
Toys are difficult because you want to give your child everything. However, most toys are made with plastics which can be toxic. The best bet is to do what Toucan Sam says, “Follow your nose.” If the toy smells weird or toxic don’t buy it. The best toys are wood or made of natural fibers like cotton or wool.
Diapers. Beware of disposable diapers.
They are made of plastics and synthetic fibers. Some companies add unknown deodorizing chemicals that can be irritating to your baby’s skin.
Common health problems linked to disposable diapers are diaper rash; chemical burns, noxious chemical and insecticide odors, and babies pull diapers apart and put them into their mouths and noses. The synthetic, plastic materials don’t allow babies skin to breath and thus contribute to diaper rash. Because disposable diapers feel dryer than cloth to parents, many parents postpone changing the diaper longer which means the bacteria from the urine remains in contact with baby’s delicate skin longer. This also contributes to increased cases of diaper rash.
Since disposable diapers don’t breathe and provide proper circulation of air to baby’s skin, ammonia from the bacterial breakdown of urine is unable to escape causing further irritation to your baby’s delicate skin. In addition, disposable diapers that have been bleached are known to have dioxins. Studies show that dioxins can cause cancer, birth defects, liver damage, and immune system suppression. Moreover, once dioxins enter the body they are stored in the fatty tissue where they stay, because they aren’t able to breakdown and dissolve in fats, they are a “rock solid” stable chemical according to the World Health Organization.
On the other hand diapers made from natural materials breathe and give proper circulation to baby’s skin and parents change them more often so they contribute to your baby’s health and comfort. Furthermore, the natural fabric is soft and comfortable against baby’s fragile skin.
Avoid toxic nail polish, perfumes, hair spray and deodorant while pregnant.
I would avoid them altogether even after your pregnant, but particularly while you are pregnant. Conventional nail polishes and perfumes contain phthalates that can be absorbed by inhaling, through the skin, and ingested when they contaminate food. Phthalates are banned from nail polish in Europe. Phthalates have been linked to liver and kidney damage, damage of the lungs and the reproductive system, especially the developing testes.
Stay away from conventional hair sprays, hair gels and deodorants they contain toxic chemicals that can harm your baby.
A rule of thumb I follow is if it smells toxic it probably is. Avoid it.
Steer clear of conventional cleaning and laundry products all have toxic chemicals. The most toxic conventional household cleaning products are: air fresheners, stain removers for clothing, anything that says anti bacterial, as it contains pesticides which are intended to be toxic and kill, chlorine bleach, ammonia and anything that smells toxic and strong. Again “follow your nose” and if it smells toxic, it probably is.
Instead of air freshener open a window or find where the odor is coming from and eliminate the source. Put a few drops (about 5 to 10) of pure, organic essential oil in a spray bottle of distilled water and use it as air freshener. Another trick for freshening air is put a few drops of essential oil on a light bulb that is going to be turned on.
For stains on clothing, use clear liquid non-toxic soap on the stain as soon as you notice it. Simply poor the soap right on the stain, rub it in and put it into the laundry basket until laundry time. Most times the stain comes right out when you wash it. Stains become stains when they stay on the fabric untreated not because you aren’t using toxic stain remover.
To rid your home of bacteria and viruses use simple warm water and soap, if it is good enough for hospitals to kill germs it is good enough for your home. Instead of chlorine bleach try non-chlorine bleach it works great without the toxic odor.
Many people say to me, ya, ya but families have been using toxic chemicals in their homes to clean for generations and they are fine. I say to them that it might seem like they are fine, but that doesn’t explain why asthma in children has increased 40% since the 80’s and it is being linked to environmental toxins and dioxins. There has been a rise in non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (a type of cancer that is unpredictable), and it can be linked to toxins in the environment.
Moreover, there has been a measured increase in the presence of pesticides in human blood. Remember this is dangerous because pesticides are created to kill anything living which includes plants, animals and humans. Every 2 to 5 years levels of PBDE’s, fire retardants in humans have been doubling. In North America the levels are 40 times higher than on other continents. As mentioned above PBDE’s are linked to brain and thyroid problems in lab rats and are stored in fatty tissue. Furthermore, babies are being born with toxins already in their bodies and each generation is more toxic than the previous generation.
It isn’t necessary to use toxic chemicals in your home when there are healthy safe alternatives, especially in a home with a baby and children. Your health is all you have and protecting yourself and your new born from toxic chemicals in your home is an added layer of health insurance as well as added peace of mind.
“Think and go green,”