Non-Toxic & Conscious Child Spaces. Babies take roughly 57,600 breaths per day! So yeah, their mattress, paint, blankets and anything in their nursery matters! Every piece of furniture, bedding and decor that you place in their space is key to their mental and physical development and will 100% affect them today and as they grow. Because those fragile little bodies and lungs are absorbing everything around them. The average infant sleeps a minimum of 18 hours a day. So they are in their crib and nursery alot! I wrote this article to give you a few tips on how to choose the safest, healthiest and most socially responsible furniture & decor for your babies and small children.
One of my challenges as a cruelty free & wellness interior designer is finding furniture and decor that meets my standards of “cleanliness.” When I say “clean” I am referring to products that are non toxic and non animal based (vegan & cruelty free). Cruelty Free products are generally less soaked in chemicals than animal based decor such as a leather chair, down feather blanket or a wool rug for example. A conscious space is safer for your child, less toxic, healthier, gentler on the senses and positive energy. There is no tragedy or despair attached to any of the decor and we want our children to only be surrounded by love, safety and good energy right? The way to do that is by choosing furniture, bedding and decor that is “clean” so they can grow to be happy, healthy and strong. Below are a few tips to get you started. If you’d like more indepth info on how to create a safe, non toxic & cruelty free nursery and kids space for your children, please check out my online course.
Choose a Soy Fiber Comforter Instead of a Woolen Blanket
Soybean fiber is made from the hulls of soy beans and is often known as “vegan cashmere”. This eco-friendly fabric is free from petrochemicals. It also offers the comfort of cashmere, the softness of silk and the durability of cotton. Other vegan alternatives for wool include bamboo silk, organic cotton, hemp and lyocell fabric, which is made from wood pulp. Petrochemicals are a class of very toxic chemicals made from petroleum. Petroleum based products are cheap to produce. Unfortunately, cheap, many times, equates to poisonous.
Choose Low VOC Paints
Most paints contain VOC’s or Volatile Organic Compounds. They are super dangerous chemicals that are within most paints. They are extremely dangerous for everyone, especially babies and small children. Remember, those little bodies can’t defend themselves as easily as we can. VOC’s are linked to cancers and lung and developmental issues just to name a few. Instead choose acrylics or low voc paints and of course any vegan paint. These are much safer options for your children. Some of these paints also have zero or low emissions and are asthma and allergy friendly. Also, don’t assume that the “eco-friendly” label on the can means that it is cruelty-free or even vegan. Labels are known to be misleading.
Use Kapok Instead of Down Pillows
Kapok is a cotton-like material that is produced by the Kapok tree. Kapok is sometimes referred to as silk cotton on account of its soft and fluffy texture. This is a 100% natural fiber that is non-toxic and chemical-free. So, it’s ideal for your baby’s pillow. Another alternative for down are buckwheat hulls. A baby pillow made from hypoallergenic cotton is also a good option since it is easily available.
Buy Chairs or Rockers Made with Faux Leather
The most commonly used material for synthetic leather is polyurethane which is a plastic-based material. However, this material is not the ideal choice. Hazardous toxins are released during the manufacturing process. Instead, choose from a variety of eco-friendly faux leather options that are made from materials such as cork or kelp. Pinatex has become a popular choice too. It’s a natural leather alternative that is made from the strands of pineapple leaves. Very cool product!
Avoid These 10 Chemicals
Here’s 10 chemicals that are in fabrics, mattresses, paint, rugs and furniture
- PBDE flame retardants. A recent study found these chemicals are the greatest contributor to intellectual disabilities in children.
- PFAS (pee fas) is in almost everything including upholstery where it’s used to protect the fabric. It’s called the forever chemical. A recent study found PFAS was detected in the blood of 97% of americans
- Formaldehyde – Formaldehyde is a colorless chemical with a strong odor that is commonly found in pressed-wood products and furniture, glues, adhesives, plywood, fabrics, and product coatings including wrinkle free sheets.
- Azo dyes. This dye is commonly used in the textile industry. It’s highly toxic and carcinogenic.
- Chlorine -used in the process of cleaning wool.
- Pesticides – used to keep animal derived materials free from insects.
- Phthalates which are a class of chemicals used in nearly every consumer product, from plastics to tablecloths. As for furniture, they can be found in floor tiles, furniture, upholstery and carpet backings. More than 470 million pounds of phthalates are produced or imported in the United States each year,” according to the EPA.
- Arsenic – a deadly chemical found in leather and other products.. Animal skins are transformed into leather hides in tanneries. Tanneries are one of the most toxic industries globally and account for more pollution than automobiles. The average tannery worker in india dies at the age of 55.
- Chromium – a lethal chemical also used in the tanning process of leather.
Do Your Research
A product may appear safe and ethical at first glance. Marketers are slick and greenwashing is everywhere. Greenwashing refers to when a company is presenting themselves to the consumer as being socially responsible. However, they’re not. Also just because a product is a “vegan” leather, doesn’t mean it’s healthier for example. Low-quality man-made materials are made from synthetic materials that contain toxic chemicals. It’s important to research all the materials that you plan to use in your baby’s nursery. There are plenty of non-toxic materials that are safe for indoor use, you just need to look for them. It’s a process, take it slowly. If you want to make sure you’re not surrounding your baby or child with poisons and chemicals, and are still unsure, please consider taking my course on cruelty free & non toxic design for nurseries and kids spaces. It’s an easy format and created for moms, dads, caregivers and anyone who wants to learn the steps I have used as a designer for nearly 20 years, in creating beautiful, ethical and non toxic nurseries and kids rooms. Watch the brief video below about the course or click this link.
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