The Soupy Nursery

There is something going on in nurseries around this country of which unsuspecting new moms and dads are unaware. Furniture, wall paint, fabric finishes like stain repellants and flame-retardants, and cleaning products all have the potential to send harmful chemicals into the nursery air, slowing turning it into a chemical soup environment. It sounds scary, but it doesn’t have to be.


Babies sleep on average anywhere from fourteen to eighteen hours a day, much of that time spent breathing in the nursery’s air. Many scientists are coming to believe that children are more vulnerable in the face of environmental toxins and other hazards than adults. This is because pound for pound infants and young children consume more food and water, and breathe more air than we do as adults. Their air intake, on a body-weight basis, is twice that of adults. And before they turn six months old babies will drink, pound for pound, seven times as much water and, by the time they’re five years, eat four times as much food. Their skin is more permeable and their still developing internal organs and systems are less adapted to and able to eliminate certain chemicals.

What all this boils down to is that you need to pay particularly close attention to the food babies eat, the water they drink, and the air they breathe. I know, it sounds a little scary and truthfully it is. But there is a lot that you can do to make it better.

Certainly picking the right materials and design elements is crucial, but so is the timing of it all. To allow proper off-gassing time, do all major remodeling months in advance.

Pregnant women and small children shouldn’t be near the work. If you do have to buy conventional furniture items, simply allow them ample time (a few months is best) to off-gas either off site or in a well-ventilated room long before you bring baby home.

Even blankets, diapers, and baby clothes should be washed ahead of time to remove any chemical residues from the manufacturing process. Be sure to wash these in a non-toxic detergent that is, at very least, free of synthetic fragrances.

Taken from “Sara Snow’s Fresh Living by Sara Snow

Published on: May 07, 2009
About the Author
Photo of Sara Snow

Sara Snow has been called "green living’s real deal" and it’s easy to see why. Daughter of an organic foods pioneer, Tim Redmond, Sara grew up surrounded by organic gardens, compost piles and a family with a passion for green living.

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