Baby Rooms Often Sickest Rooms

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Baby's RoomWhen a new baby is on the way, many parents go into a shopping binge buying their new little bundle the nicest, prettiest items to decorate the nusery with. Most parents do not do their research into what kind of materials the items are made of and many times the chemicals emitted by products can cause harm to your baby’s health. “Typically,” says Bernadette Upton of EcoDecor in North Palm Beach, FL, “we bring baby home to the sickest room in the house.”

Everything in the baby’s room – from the mattress to the paint on the walls – can emit harmful volatile organic chemicals (VOC) that can cause breathing problems. Lung disease and breathing problems are the No. 1 cause of death in infants less than 1 year old, according to the American Lung Association.

Here are her recommedations when shopping:

Here are some of her health and safety tips:

– Use only eco-friendly paints such as Benjamin Moore’s Eco Spec, Sherwin Williams’ HealthSpec or ICI Dulux Paints Lifemaster 2000.
– Avoid vinyl wallpaper, which can trap moisture and help mold grow. The plasticizers in the vinyl emit VOCs. Her choice of paper for the nursery was Venetian Carnival, a handprinted wallpaper from Scalamandre featuring a playful motif of monkeys, goats and masked men and women.

– Furnish the room with recycled solid wood furniture and repaint it. Avoid the “disposable” stuff made with particleboard, which emits VOCs. Cornices also should be made of solid wood.
– Be careful when selecting a mattress. Some may contain vinyl. She recommends a mattress from E.J. Schrader Mattress Co. that is lined with rubber foam and insulated with naturally flame-retardant wool.
– Use natural fabrics. She covered the loveseat in 100 percent cotton and says it’s a good idea to use washable, removable slipcovers.
– Look for sofas and loveseats that are eight-way hand-tied. This ensures quality construction and means the frame is wood. Particleboard cannot support the weight of eight-way-hand-tied construction.
– Replace closet doors with louvered versions that allow air to circulate and prevent moisture and mold from accumulating.
– Wood floors are best. If you use area rugs, make sure they are 100 percent cotton with no synthetic dyes.
– Do not use an air machine with an ionizer or ozone. Upton recommends the IQAir machine with HEPA filter.
– Put nothing above the crib that could fall into it. No shelves. No pieces of art.
– Do not place the crib near a window. The baby could stand up and fall out.
– Look for cordless blinds such as Hunter Douglas’ LiteRise.

Here are some sources for more information about creating an eco-safe environment for baby:
– A Baby’s Breath, a free booklet from the Florida American Lung Association; call (561) 659-7644 or download a copy at
– “The Safe Baby: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety” (Sentient Publications, 200 pages, $14.95) by Debra Smiley Holtzman is a comprehensive guide for creating baby-safe living spaces. It includes a special section on chemicals in the nursery
– E.J. Schrader Mattress Co., manufacturers of eco-safe mattresses in West Palm Beach, Fla., has a Web site,

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Mail or VisitE J Schrader Co Inc
6601 Norton Avenue
West Palm Beach FL 33405


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