Give Your Baby the Best Start
Even if you use low-odor paints, you should still wear a mask when painting,
open windows, use fans, and allow some time for the room to air out and the
fumes to "off gas." Pregnant women should avoid painting.
5. Choose bedding and baby products wisely. Your baby's mattress may
seem like a safe, comfortable surface. But researchers are concerned about two
types of chemicals that may show up in the mattress.
Mattresses are typically treated with PBDEs -- a concern, researchers say,
since a baby spends a lot of time on the mattress. And because they're usually
encased in vinyl or plastic, new mattresses also emit VOCs.
One option is to choose a wool mattress. "Wool is naturally fire
resistant," Lunder says, "although even a wool mattress might be
treated with fire-retardants. At least it will have a lot fewer chemicals on
it." If you're using a synthetic mattress, let it off-gas the plastic fumes
in the garage for a few days. "That's what we did with my son's
mattress," Lunder says. Then cover it with a wool mattress pad (preferably
organic), to provide a barrier between baby and a synthetic mattress.
- Allergens (like dust mites) tend to accumulate in baby's bedding,
potentially triggering an asthma attack. An allergy-proof mattress casing will
help solve that problem -- as will washing your baby's bedding every
- Make sure your baby's personal products are the mildest possible. For the
first few months, baby's skin doesn't need lotion or cream. When you do use
soap, choose the mildest soap possible -- without fragrance or antibacterial
chemicals. Opt for biodegradable, hypoallergenic laundry detergent.
6. Tackle the diaper dilemma. Cloth or disposable?Most U.S.
families use disposable diapers, but many parents believe that cloth diapers
are better for the environment. Research shows that both have some negative
effects on the environment.
Disposable diapers require more materials to manufacture -- and produce more
solid waste in landfills. Cloth diapers are often suggested as an alternative.
But they require greater electricity and water for cleaning.
- The flushable hybrid diaper, which involves reusable cloth pants with
disposable liners. When the liner is soiled, it is flushed down the toilet into
the sewage system instead of going to the landfill.
- Chlorine-free disposable diapers and baby wipes.
- Organic cotton diapers (no pesticides are used on the cotton during
Some parents may find that using both cloth and disposable diapers works
best for them (for example, many day care centers require disposable diapers).
Whether you use cloth or disposable, be sure to change diapers frequently.
Minimizing the time a baby spends with a wet or soiled diaper helps prevent
7. Play it safe with toys. Lead in toys and jewelry is a serious
issue that continues to pose a threat to kids. About 30% of childhood lead
poisoning cases tracked by the CDC are not believed to be caused by wall paint,
but by lead in toys and jewelry. In 2006-2007, the Consumer Product Safety
Commission recalled more than 31 million toys; of those, the cause was
excessive lead in 4 million toys.