Podcast # 6 - How to Make My Baby’s Room Healthy
In this episode, Stephen gets on his hands and knees and crawls around your baby’s new room looking at everything in detail. From womb to room, we’ll look at how to create a healthy space for your newest addition!
Here are the show notes:
Stephen: Welcome to your healthy house. I’m Stephen Collette
Stephen: In this podcast I explore your indoor environmental quality concerns and opportunities. We look at the facts and debunk the fiction. We will discuss examples you can relate to and the doable actions you can take in your own home or apartment. We will also look at the history of how our homes are the way they are and the future of healthy housing for everyone. I promise to make this fun and interesting for both of us.
Stephen: Episode number six how to make your baby’s room healthy. So over the years I’ve done a lot of prenatal fairs. I get the chance to hang out with excited keen interesting parents to be, and they have a lot of questions and I usually set up in between the empathy belly that dads have to wear to experience how heavy being pregnant actually feels like and the breastfeeding information booth with uncomfortable husbands looking over and seeing a man and definitely wanting to come talk to me instead of that booth. That’s all fine. What I do and what I talk to them about is is really thinking about the whole process. The room’s important but the prenatal component before your before the baby’s even born is also really important. Why is that? Well that’s because mom is the perfect home. She is always the perfect temperature. Food and drink are merely plugged right in. There’s shock absorbing systems in there to keep me nice and cozy. And if you got a great mom she’s going to sing to you periodically. It’s a perfect home. Now the challenge is in the 21st century there’s some things the homes wasn’t built for. Now the placenta which protects the unborn child is designed to stop biologicals because for a billion years that’s all we’ve ever been exposed to. And the placenta took care of those external exposures and things in illness that mom might’ve had and reduced that potential illness within the fetus but also built up a strength in immunity towards some of those things. But in the 21st century we have chemicals now when the placenta wasn’t designed to stop that. And so we’re seeing in modern research that chemicals are passing through the mother and getting into the fetus. And that’s a really big concern because some of these chemicals are estrogen mimickers hormone disruptors and endocrine disruptors as well. And these are really serious issues. And part of the reason is when we look at development of the fetus we have things like hormone drops and when the hormones drop from the mom that’s when the eyes develop or that’s when the heart develops or and when the ears develop if we have extra hormones doing things in there that aren’t supposed to be that’s definitely not great for the baby. So the very first thing before we even talk about the baby’s room is to make sure moms is actually super healthy. So eating the healthy food obviously making sure we are reducing the chemical exposure immediately during pregnancy. And that’s really really important. So please keep that in mind.
Stephen: Now during pregnancy the nesting instinct is gonna kick in. That happened with both of our girls and my wife was like today we’re working on the baby’s room. Now if you have the opportunity to have a new room for the baby that’s great. If you don’t we’ll come to that is down the road. But that nesting instinct that desire to create the space for the baby this is kind of our reptilian brain kicking in and taking care of what we need to do for biological survival. Great stuff. And we can pick pretty pink colors with our reptile brain. So let’s move ahead.
Speaker 3: The first thing to think about is the baby’s immune system is not fully developed until you’re actually about 12 years old. Now this is research I had the opportunity to work with a Canadian partnership for children’s health and the environment and they’re based out of Toronto and they have some great resources for public health inspectors but they also have great resources for homeowners as well. And I took some of their training years ago and actually helped do some instruction with them years ago. So they are showing that with the immune system not fully developed. What this means is the exposures for children when they’re less than 12 is greater than when we are young adults and adults. Now we kind of inherently understand that when we see kids little kids eat that banana like a wood chipper or we say they breathe more they drink more they eat more per kilogram than we do as adults. And that’s because the growth is so exponential at that age. So we want to think about all the exposures within the baby’s room as a good place to start because these are amplified because of their immune systems are not fully developed.
Stephen: Well we want to start off as just thinking about the floor first off. So assuming you own the house great opportunity. Carpet is one of the things we usually think about. Wow we should put a carpet. The baby doesn’t fall and hurt their heads and hit themselves which is true. Of course we do need to be concerned about falls and serious physical injuries. But carpets are really really a concern when we come to chemicals. And because they’re made with plastics with polyesters with Teflon in them stain guards stuff like that. They also have a lot of particulate in them and dust. How much? Canada Mortgage and Housing research done a couple of decades ago showed that you should vacuum your carpet 10 minutes per square meter or about a minute per square foot. Now in a typical baby’s bedroom maybe eight by 10 year looking at a good solid what? 40 50 minutes of vacuming just to clean the room. That’s insane. Okay. Now the breathing zone for the kids is much lower than ours because they’re crawling on the floor. We’re not on the floor very often they are. And so that dust level at the carpet surface at the soft of flooring surface is a concern for the respiratory tract. So ideally we don’t actually have wall-to-wall carpets within a baby’s room. We would ideally recommend solid surface. So if you can do hardwood and afford it awesome. Make sure the finishes are low Voc volatile organic compounds that’s the chemicals in it. We want low voc in the finishes. We want low voc in the materials used. If you’re using a composite like bamboo or something really great we want to if we can’t afford a hardwood then maybe we’re going to use some laminates or linoleum or vinyls. Now the difference between those is a laminate is basically glued sawdust with a color photocopied paper on top covered in vinyl. That’s pretty much what it is. When you break it down and look at it not the most healthiest there’s a lot of glues and solvents in there a lot of chemicals if that’s all you can afford I’ll take it over a new carpet for sure. Vinyl is made from polyvinyl chloride and again there’s chemicals in that and it off gasses with age at it a as it ages it hardens and more and more chemicals come off. And that’s why your old vinyl flooring curls around the bathtub or something like that because it’s actually offgassing faster with time. I really like linoleum. It’s actually made from linseed oil flax and jute. So that’s something you can install instead. if you want solid surface corks another great one that really like Cork you can throw the kids they bounced farther. I’m kidding, please don’t do that at home. But I really like cork cause there’s got some soft squishy squish to it. there’s definitely a warmth to it. It’s very insulative. and it doesn’t suck up spills right? It doesn’t suck up my wine. So corks are really great option in a kid’s room if you need the soft spot within a space go with an area rug area rugs we can take outside and beat them. It’s cheaper than therapy but we can do that and that really helps. keep the house cleaner and it allows that warm cute little dragon elephant zoo carpet or whatever you’ve picked up somewhere that you can have that little area rug within the space and still keep the rest of the space healthy.
Stephen: Okay. If you’re renting and have carpet already in the place and can’t do anything about it go out and buy yourself a really decent vacuum. Like I mean a really decent vacuum. Something with a HEPA filter high efficiency particulate arrester that and some time and clean the supreme out of that carpet. All right. Now I’ve received phone calls from panic parents to be they’ve just refinished the floor hardwood floors or redone the floors in their baby’s room and the chemicals are off the charts. They can smell it. It stinks. They’re getting headaches and they’re really really freaked out. Rightfully so of course. So we want to make sure that we’re planning things about flooring because it’s usually a large expense and we want to make sure we’re doing it right the first time. Okay.
Stephen: Now we’re going to talk about paints. Paint something everybody can do no matter you’re renting or whether you own and it’s easy to do. We can have all the myriad of colors under the rainbow but what kind of paint should we be picking? Well we want to pick paint that as Zero VOC that’s volatile organic compounds. That’s the unstable stuff in the paint that makes the stink but also makes it dry and cure hard. Now there are other things we can have in the paint that are lower voc replacing those with healthier options. So you want to get a paint that has zero VOC both in the paint and in the tint. So the paint is the base. That’s the white thing they open up before they put all the squirts in and the tint is the colorant. So we want to make sure that both of those are zero voc and not all paints are. So you have to ask the question you have to do the homework and that way you’re going to ensure that it actually is healthy and you should be able to replace paint for paint at the same price point with zero vocs. And it is doable. There are some large manufacturers out there that have it. I happen to like Benjamin Moore’s Natura paint. I don’t get any kickbacks from them so I don’t care who you use. If you want to step it up a little bit. There are such things as clay paints. Now these are much healthier paints. Typically they’re clays different colored clays and then titanium dioxide. And that’s about it. You can pretty much eat it if you have to. Going even healthier you can get milk paints and other more natural finishes as well. Linseed oil paints really really healthy. So there’s some great options out there. And depending on your budget and how far down the rabbit hole you want to go you can get really really healthy stuff.
Stephen: After the paints we want to talk about furniture because you don’t have this furniture in your house you don’t have the crib you don’t have the change table. All that stuff’s gonna be new to you folks. So we need to think about what we’re choosing. Again particle board is going to have a lot of chemicals in it a lot of formaldehyde in it. And if you’re going to a big box discount department store it’s going to have a lot of chemistry. Solid wood will be healthier but solid woods going to be more expensive. So maybe this is where we hit the grandparents up for their really nice furniture cause it’s going to last. Maybe can get those transformer furnitures you know where it goes from our crib to a day bed to a cot to you know turns into a truck when they turn 16. So something like that might be a good idea to think about. you can do older stuff off of Kijiji or craigslist. You wanna make sure it’s not too old like older than 1980 if it’s got paint on it because it may contain lead. You want to be really cautious about that if you’re going to be refinishing it. Do you want to again think about the fact that it may contain lead. So you want to be choosing the right materials. Now if you know what you’re doing and it’s in your competence I endorsed certified depending on where you live and your regional jurisdiction requirements. you can get some old stuff. The other thing with the older cribs is the spacing between the bars. There are strict rules now that we want to make sure. there’s a a a maxim space between the bars. So if you’re buying an older piece of furniture a crib specifically and it has some wider space and you want to make sure it’s actually safe for your kid cause we don’t want any accidents for sure.
Stephen: Fresh air. This is really important. So I get the ones who come up to me or call me and they’re like we just did our baby’s room. The baby’s due in a month. Oh my goodness we’ve done everything wrong. Okay. Taking a big breath let out a big breath. We’ll get through it. Open up a window put a fan in the window put a fan in the window exhausting out so you’re not blowing the chemicals deeper into your house so you can all suck them up. But a fan in the window exhausting out. The next step is to clean clean clean and clean. And that’s because construction creates a lot of dust. The deeper you get into the cleaning getting into the nooks and crannies around the base boards stuff like that you’re going to see more dust than you thought possible. Get that particulate out. It’s going to be higher concentrations wiping surfaces walls ceilings floors closets all of that stuff to get the dust out to reduce the chemistry and to start cleaning with a healthy cleaning products are really going to make a difference. So start there but fresh air for sure. Is your hands down. Bee’s knees slam dunk thinking you gotta be doing.
Stephen: Baby monitors and I get this one. You know what? you don’t really need a baby monitor. I know to the 21st century and everyone wants to stalk their kids and watch them as they’re sleeping and everything like that. And you can sit on your phone surfing. Netflix Stop. Okay. You don’t need them. All right. Okay. We want to keep the electronics to a real minimum inside the baby’s room. Remember this is the baby with the tiny immune system. So seriously please think about whether you really actually need a baby monitor in them. This is a Wifi based which operates on a microwave frequency broadcasting from the room. It’s not really that necessary. If you live in a 16000 square foot house and you just happened to put the baby’s room at the opposite end from your own room then maybe you shouldn’t have kids like seriously that’s messed up. So think about whether you actually really need it and you most likely don’t. Millennia have children have oddly enough surprise survive the fact that they weren’t monitored digitally 24 seven. Your kids will be fine if you absolutely has to for some insane reason. Put it as far away from the baby as possible. All right? Think about keeping the electronics to a minimum thinking about keeping the wired devices out of the room to a bare minim so we’re not getting electromagnetic exposures. Trying to keep that really really bare minimum scaled back and simple okay.
Stephen: When we think about toys we want to think about more natural based toys. Wood toys okay. Instead of the plastics I get a lot of families and maybe my parents when our kids came along and going to the dollar store like look what I got for 20 bucks. And I’m like wow that’s amazing. It’s a bag full of poison for my kids. Now their hearts are in the right place of course but it’s a lot of chemicals and absolutely unregulated chemistry in the kids’ toys and dollar stores years after years and some others stores department stores as well have come up showing that there’s really harmful harmful chemicals that are slipping under the radar and getting into kids’ toys. You don’t need it. The kids need less toys not more toys. So think about quality over quantity. Find your local independent toy stores selling quality stuff. Yeah that your kids are going to have plastic they’re all going to have plastic. My kids had plastic. We’re not Luddites or anything but think about the quality. Reduce the junk keep it simple and your kids will end up much healthier.
Stephen: The last thing I want to stress because this is a lot and people are freaking especially with first baby don’t sweat it. The steps that we can take all make a difference. Every little step that we can do will make a difference in your baby’s life. So picking a better paint spending the little extra money just on the paint and nothing else is going to make that room a little healthier and you’ve made a difference right? Getting down and cleaning that carpet like with a whole alb of tunes playing in the background so that you’re just deep cleaning it. You made a difference. So don’t sweat it. So keep that in mind. Every step counts towards creating your own healthy house. Thanks for listening the transcripts on my website. Leave a review subscribe and tell your friends I’m grateful. Have a great day. Cheers.
Stephen: If you enjoy this show please leave a review and subscribe to the podcast and you will be doing your part to help others create their own healthy homes. If you’d like to learn more about me Steven Collette and what I do please check out my website at your healthy house dot. C a music for the podcast is by Brian Pickett of Voodoo Highway Music. Audio technical support is by Mike Pickett. Editorial support is by Eric Rosen. I am your host Stephen Collette. Thanks for listening and enjoy your day. Cheers.