One of the most exciting parts to becoming a parent is getting your space ready for the newest member of your family--however, we know nesting can quickly get overwhelming. Every parent wants to create the perfect nursery for their little one, but between choosing the right color scheme, furniture, and accessories, many parents forget one of the most important details--how healthy the nursery is for their baby.What exactly do we mean by “healthy”? It’s less ambiguous than it sounds–there’s actually something very specific that you can focus on to make sure your new baby’s nursery is safe and healthy for their development, and this something is surrounding you right now: your air!
Many of us take for granted that the air we’re breathing is healthy and safe since it’s not something we can typically see–but this isn’t the case, especially for air that’s indoors. In fact, indoor air can be 5x more polluted than outdoors, which can affect allergies, asthma, our ability to concentrate, the quality of our sleep, and more. Particularly “unhealthy” or “bad” air can even cause a variety of health problems for your baby, including dry skin and eyes, coughing and sneezing, headaches, hives, nausea, and developmental issues.
So how do you make sure your baby’s nursery has healthy air? It’s much easier than you think! The key to having healthy air is to look out for the factors that affect your indoor air quality: specifically, your air’s levels of chemicals, dust, humidity, carbon dioxide, and temperature. To help you get started, we’ve created a list of the top things to look out for in your nursery, along with a few tips on how to help keep your baby safe and healthy.
If you're planning to paint the walls in your nursery or paint a few pieces of furniture, you could be doing more damage than good to your baby's room. Paint contains a variety of toxic chemicals, including VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which evaporate at room temperature. After a room is freshly painted, VOCs will leak off the walls (a process known as “off-gassing”) for months, even after the “new paint smell” is long gone. Being exposed to VOCs can wear away at immune systems and cause a variety of side effects, including headaches, nausea, coughing and sneezing, and hives
Luckily, VOC-free and toxin-free paint is available–and they’ll probably have the color you’re looking for.
Like paint, new furniture--especially wood-pressed and plastic furniture--contains a variety of VOCs, including formaldehyde. VOCs can be compounding, and too much exposure to VOCs over time can lead to severe side effects, from itchy eyes, nose, throat, and skin, to cancer.
When you're shopping for your baby's crib, changing table, and dresser, try to look for those with a Greenguard certification. If this isn't an option, let your baby's furniture air out for as long as possible before bringing it directly into the nursery.
You’ll want to keep the amount of carpet in your nursery at a minimum if you’re concerned about the quality of your air. This is because carpet is a perfect trap for a variety of air pollutants–especially dust. Too much dust in the air can cause itchiness, asthma, eczema, and hay fever for your baby. Exposure to dust mites has also been linked to conjunctivitis, hypersensitive pneumonia, and both allergic and migraine headaches.
If removing the carpet from your nursery isn't an option, try to keep it as clean as possible--but you'll have to be careful about how you clean, becasue vacuuming can create even more dust in your air.
Thick drapes are essential in the nursery for a good night's sleep and naptime, but like carpet, they can be a magnet for dust. Look for drapes that are easy to wash--if you can clean them often on high heat, you'll have a better chance at keeping dust mites at bay.
5. Nursery Gifts
Keeping you air quality healthy can sometimes come down to the details. One of the most common mistakes new parents can make is getting too excited about registry gifts and accidentally open them directly in the nursery--and unwrapping presents and opening product packaging will cause both dust and chemicals to spread into the nursery's air.
If you're concerned with the amount of chemicals in your baby's air, there are plenty of quick fixes, including buying plants like the Snake plant, which help by absorbing VOCs.
Create a Healthier Space
Creating the safest possible nursery for your little one doesn't have to be a challenge. One of the best ways to always make sure your baby's air is safe is by understanding what’s in your air with an indoor air quality monitor, like Awair. Awair tracks toxins and chemicals in your air and provides you with personalized recommendations to help you stay safe and healthy.