There are five fundamental elements to consider when choosing baby and child first furniture. These crucial factors play an essential role, especially if you want a pure, non-toxic area where they can safely sleep and play.
These rudimentary aspects of a completely green, non-toxic nursery environment are:
1. Safe, Clean Air Flow: Includes safe window treatments, window locks, fire safety procedures, safe placement of heating, cooling or air treatment systems and limited off-gassing.
2. Safe, Clear Movement: Includes secure furniture placement, nonslip rugs and carpets, safe placement of lotions, potions and cleaning solutions, locked pharmaceuticals & harmful supplies.
3. Safe & Secure Furniture & Furnishings: Includes off-gassing controls, end panel and corner care, cot safety, safe mattresses, bedding, cushions and pillows, plush toys and games.
4. Safe, Secure Fixtures & Fittings: Includes safe and secure small parts and pieces, door and furniture handles and knobs, fixed shelving and storage.
5. Safe Interior Surfaces: Includes safe, non-toxic wall coverings, ceiling materials, flooring and general surface veneers and paints.
Each of these aspects is as important to consider as the next. Every element has a close link to the safety features of your baby and child's first furniture set.
Let's look at each element, in turn, regarding your baby and child first furniture...
Research still hasn't concluded what causes SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). One potential factor is that the baby is rebreathing carbon dioxide already exhaled when there isn't adequate ventilation.
There are also such factors as off-gassing and hazardous chemicals on and in furniture paint and varnishes.
Unfortunately, if you live in the UK, you are the victim of an archaic fire safety protocol that the British government has not reviewed in many years. Essentially this means that every piece of furniture in the UK has a coating of a chemical fire retardant that off-gasses into your indoor home environment with harmful effects.
Six Toxic Chemicals To Watch Out for in Baby and Child's Furniture
Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) - Concerning your baby and child first furniture, let's take a closer look at HBCD. Simply put, this is a concoction of toxic flame retardants used to minimise the chance of fire spreading should your furniture catch fire. Sadly, it has adverse reproductive, developmental, and neurological effects. The EPA states that it accumulates in the environment, breast milk, and "biomagnifies" in the food chain. It can also be transported long distances and remains persistent in its environment. Not nice at all!
Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) - Here's another nasty chemical that may be in your baby and child first furniture. PBDEs are additional flame retardants classified in a cluster since they contain more than a few chemical combinations. They leach out of foams, plastics, and fabrics and pollute the air while also accumulating in the environment. The primary safety concern with these involves adverse neurobehavioral effects. This aspect is vital to know if you've been experiencing behavioural problems with a child.
Here are a few solutions to consider:
Window treatments, window locks, heating, cooling & air treatment systems aside, how can you solve the problem of hazardous off-gassing?
You can do several things to minimise dangerous chemicals leaching into your nursery environment.
The secure placement of baby and child first furniture is another critical aspect of safe nursery design.
Here are three important things to consider:
Let's take a closer look at your baby and child first furniture set and how you can ensure the safest way to achieve non-toxic nursery furniture in an eco-friendly way.
Buying Cheap Baby Furniture is Not Better
Not only should you consider the health of your growing baby, but when purchasing safe furniture, it is common-place now to consider the environment. Buying cheap nursery furniture might save you pennies short term; however, in the long run, you are compromising your baby's health and the health of others who could purchase that furniture second-hand.
Baby and child first furniture sets create timeless memories for families. As they look back in the years ahead, the furniture is part of the family.
Choosing baby and child first furniture sets that transcend the generations is easy if you incorporate a few basic features:
Design - Use timeless designs with superior craftsmanship, as this is imperative to the longevity of the furniture. Stylish baby cots make the perfect statement piece in any nursery, and choosing to design your first nursery with contemporary baby room furniture is exciting for soon-to-be parents. Choose traditional or classic designs that won't go out of fashion over time. Incorporate classic outlines with a modern twist.
Sustainability - Eco-friendly pieces that use sustainable wood are generally of better quality as they don't rely on plywoods and glue. There are many non-toxic alternatives to look for that will ensure a safe environment for your newborn. Always make sure to look at the ingredient list on any packaging, including furniture packaging, to check for VOCs, SVOCs, PFA and PBDE.
Here are some of the most sustainable and durable woods for making baby and child first furniture:
Seven Sustainable, Durable Kinds of Wood:
Versatility - Like the classic design aspect, the versatility of purpose is an important consideration. In other words, can an item of baby and child first furniture be adapted for the next age group?
Exceptionally well-made nursery furniture like a wardrobe or chest of drawers can be re-purposed in another home area, such as the spare room, hallway or utility room.
Incorporating a well-designed '3-in-1 bed' is increasingly the way to go when starting your baby and child first furniture set. A significant advantage of a cot bed is that it will last considerably longer than a simple cot.
Many new mums and dads overlook the importance of cabinet hardware and furniture accessories. Drawer and cabinet handles will be the first element you will notice. But noticing that they may be sharp or loose is not the only thing that should spring to mind.
Before you start preparing your nursery, think about these potential hazards:
Safe furniture hardware such as non-toxic knobs and handles are vital to your child's well-being. Many cheap knobs and handles are plasticisers and contain phthalates.
"Children are uniquely vulnerable to phthalate exposure given their hand-to-mouth behaviours, floor play and developing nervous and reproductive systems."
Sheela Sathyanarayana (Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington)
Here's a list of the most common phthalates. Keep this list as it may come in very handy when shopping for nursery furniture and checking labels:
The simple way to avoid these entirely is to buy your baby and child first furniture from manufacturers that do not use these materials and components at all.
If time is running away from you and you need a quick 'take-away' from this page, don't worry...
Get a free toxic chemical guide as an ebook download, to read at your convenience. You'll be amazed at toxic chemical No. 3 - it will really make you think twice about your buying habits!
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The interior surfaces of any nursery are often routinely decorated and furnished without a thought for the materials involved in their manufacture. Potentially dangerous interior surfaces include wall coverings, flooring and ceilings, using veneers, paints and varnishes that could contain toxic chemicals.
Note about Pregnant Women
Understandably, there is no scientific study data to show evidence that exposure to paint causes problems. However, all doctors recommend caution, and expectant mothers should avoid inhaling paint fumes of any kind. It's prevalent for expectant mothers to go into 'nesting' mode before the baby comes, and painting and decorating the nursery is at the top of a long to-do list. If pregnant women paint, they should ensure the area has lots of ventilation. It is essential to take frequent breaks away from any fumes. After drying, some paints leach toxic chemicals into the air for months (even years).
There are a few types of paint suitable for indoor use. They all contain colour pigments, and some may have an ingredient to prevent mould.
Note about Lead Paint
At one time, interior paints contained lead and sometimes a lot of it! Lead paint is banned now, but homes built before 1979 may have lead paint on their walls or wood surfaces. Take special precautions when renovating homes with lead-based paint.
1. Two-Tone - More new parents are turning towards sustainable baby and child first furniture with a two-tone design. Brown and white baby furniture sets are very popular!
2. Old & New - Layering antiques with modern furniture creates a stylish look and encompasses the use of heirlooms from previous generations giving any nursery a unique space filled with family sentiment.
3. Traditional & Contemporary - As with antiques, mixing traditional styles with a touch of sophistication and refinement from a more modern style is very popular and makes decorating choices very versatile.
4. Romantic Destinations - Infuse the decor with the flavour and feel of past travels and distant places you had enjoyed as a couple before the baby came along. It adds a real sense of romance and personalisation to any room.
5. Natural Earth - Earthy colours are always popular as they encompass both male and female colour decor options. This trend is prevalent for couples who decorate before knowing the sex of the baby, a concept fast coming back into fashion.
6. Global Inspiration - Nursery decorations and furniture that draw motivation from international travel is popular with couples that have world travel on their bucket list. As with incorporating decor and furniture pieces from your worldly travels, this trend reminds you that your baby will join you on your journey in the future. Your adventures are just beginning!
7. Passion with Plants - Add houseplants in hanging baskets and sturdy pots to add life and nature to the nursery design. Potted plants increase the amount of oxygen in the air, reducing stress levels and boosting mood. Plants also improve concentration levels and productivity goes up by up to 15 per cent.
8. Adaptable Furniture & Décor - Consider how long your baby will be using the room. Wallpaper with baby characters might have to be changed when your child gets older in a few years. Wall stickers are a better alternative as they are removable.
9. Statement Furniture - Select pivotal pieces first and make a statement with them. Select high-end, sustainable furniture pieces before you start decorating. Parents often choose their colours first, but it's easier and more affordable to match statement furniture to your paints, fabrics, and wallpaper.
10. Statement Lighting - Most parents will opt for overhead LED lighting. However, there are much better alternatives with the relatively new invention of OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diodes). These are usually light-emitting panels made from organic (carbon-based) materials that emit light when electricity is applied.
Before you begin, it's necessary to think about what you'll be putting in the nursery. Not just the type of decor, bedding or toys etc., but what these products are made from and if they are safe for your baby and its future environment.
Bottles & Dummies - Choose baby-safe bottles and avoid any plastics in the nursery that contain BPA and PVC. If your baby uses a dummy, don't forget that too. Look for baby dummies that have an orthodontic shaped teat made from 100% pure natural rubber, which is non-toxic and plastic-free. Watch out for those wet wipes and mass-produced nappies.
There are alternatives available that are chlorine-free, helping to keep your baby safe and the environment even more so. Look for fragrance, plastics, and chemical-free wipes that will keep harmful toxins away from your babies skin. If you use any barrier cream, purchase certified organic creams with ingredients free of artificial fragrance, parabens, and phthalates.
Furniture & Furnishings - Preparing for a new arrival is a beautiful time for any new parent, and one of the most exciting parts is, of course, furnishing your nursery. And remember, a stylish, modern nursery is also kind to the environment. If you opt for high-end baby furniture, there's little to go wrong. Going eco-friendly is a common tendency nowadays.
We hope that the information here will have you going green and eco-friendly with your baby and child first furniture in no time.
For soon to be parents, there are two main reasons to go green:
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