6 Hidden dangers lurking in your baby's nursery
Through no fault of their own, many parents are allowing their babies to sleep in nurseries that are congested with harmful toxins that could cause health problems both now and in the future. But with a little research and help from the experts at Healthy Child Healthy World, parents can prevent many of these "hidden dangers" from ever entering their homes and remove those that are already present. Find out what the organization says are the six worst offenders and how to fix them:
1. The Crib. The carcinogen fomaldehyde is often used in the construction of pressed and composite wood cribs and can off-gas in your child's room where they will breathe it in every day and night. Either opt for a solid wood crib or purchase a used crib that has already had a chance to off-gas outside of your home.
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2. The crib mattress. Mattresses are treated with flame retardants, antibacterial agents, and waterproofers that contain a slew of potentially harmful chemicals. Since your baby or toddler likely spends most of his day with nothing but a thin sheet separating him from it, you might want to consider an organic or Greenguard certified version. If that's not an option, again I suggest purchasing used from a reliable source or borrowing from a friend.
3. Paint. Of course you have to have the perfect shade of seafoam green for the nursery walls, but make sure you find a version that is free of volatile organic compounds--toxic substances that can off-gas for up to three years. A representative at a major chain hardware store recently informed me that all of the indoor paints they sell are either no- or low-VOC, so you may not even have to look very far.
4. Changing pad. Falling off may not be the only changing table danger. The foam your changing pad is constructed with very likely contains the aforementioned toxic flame retardants. To eliminate the risk of exposure, seek out PVC-free cotton- or wool-filled pads.
5. Babycare products. Most people probably feel confident that well-known makers of babycare products can be trusted to use the safest ingredients, but sadly, that assumption is incorrect. In fact a recent study showed that 67 percent of baby products contained chemicals linked to cancer. Be sure to read labels carefully even if the product is labeled as sensitive, natural, gentle or pure; buy organic when possible; or try making your own.
6. Toys. Recalls in recent years have proven that just because a toy company has been trusted by parents for decades, doesn't necessarily mean it's keeping a close eye on what materials are getting into its products. PVC, which can contain toxic pthalates, lead and cadmium, is still commonly used in toy construction. Be sure to check that toys and/or their packaging are marked PVC-free before purchasing or introducing to your child.
For more information on keeping your home safe for your children, as well as the whole family--incuding tips on making your own cleaning products, buying and preparing organic food and greening your home--visit Healthy Child Healthy World's Website, or purchase the book.