5 Tips for Creating a Toxic-Free Nursery or Bedroom

Planning on renovating a baby or kid’s room? See our non-toxic renovation guide for tips on creating a safe and beautiful space for your child.

Pregnant woman renovating baby room using non toxic products

Putting together your baby’s nursery or upgrading your toddler to a big kid room is one of the most exciting parts of being a parent. Getting to give them their own space where they can find a sense of self is such a special gift.

While we may naturally remember to choose organic baby care products or find non-toxic cups, teethers, and toys for our kids, it’s easy to forget that our furniture, flooring, decor and other parts of the home can also expose them to harmful toxins.

In this article, we’ll go over:

  • Materials to avoid in baby/kids furniture, bedding & decor
  • Tips for creating a toxic-free nursery or bedroom
  • Our non-toxic nursery/kids furniture, bedding & decor product picks

Scroll down to learn more!

 

Materials to avoid in baby/kids furniture, bedding & decor

It’s one thing to say you’re safe and quite another to actually be safe. At The Tot, we dive deep into third-party testing, certifications and composition to make sure that anything we use or recommend passes The Tot Safety Test.

When it comes to baby & kids furniture, we are extra careful because this is where our children spend a huge portion of their time. When in bed, they are incredibly close to every single material, which means we need to be mindful of what they’re breathing in. Since babies and toddlers spend time on the floor playing, it’s also wise to ensure that whatever flooring you have isn’t potentially off-gassing. Below is a list of materials we avoid in baby/kids furniture and why.

 

VOCs

Volatile Organic Compounds are suspected human carcinogens that can “off gas” into your environment, essentially polluting the air in your home. Exposure can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, shortness of breath, headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness and skin problems. Higher concentrations may cause damage to the liver, kidney, or central nervous system.

 

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and very low levels can irritate and burn the eyes, nose, throat, and skin. Those with asthma may have exacerbation of symptoms when exposed to formaldehyde.

 

PFAS chemicals

PFAS (poly-fluoroalkyl substances) are a large family of different chemicals that have been shown to cause developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals.

 

Flame Retardants

Flame retardant chemicals have been linked to endocrine and thyroid disruption, impacts to the immune system, reproductive toxicity, cancer and adverse effects on fetal and child development.

 

PVC

PVC, also known as polyvinyl chloride, or vinyl, is an incredibly toxic chemical that is harmful to our bodies and to the environment right from the production phase through to disposal. It contains additives like phthalates, lead, cadmium, organotin that are quite toxic and have been linked to asthma, allergies, reproductive problems and cancer.

 

Harmful phthalates

Many phthalates are known endocrine disruptors associated with asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, breast cancer, obesity, type II diabetes, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioral issues, autism spectrum disorders, altered reproductive development and male fertility issues.

 

Lead and other heavy metals

Exposure to heavy metals can cause nerve damage, learning and behavioral problems, reproductive damage and irreversible brain damage.

 

Click here to view the full list of ingredients that The Tot avoids.

 

 

Tips for creating a toxic-free nursery or bedroom

Indoor air quality can be worse than outdoor pollution depending on what toxins you’re exposed to inside your home.

The most common objects in a home, such as flooring and furniture, can emit harmful chemicals that have been linked to health problems. The best way to keep your child’s room clean and safe is to do your research on elements you bring into the room and find non-toxic alternatives to elements like furniture, paint and flooring. Here are five tips to help you get started!

 

#1 Choose Low-VOC or VOC-Free Paints

 

Decorating the walls is one of the best parts of designing a nursery or bedroom for your child, and the excitement begins with finding the perfect paint shade. However, not all paints are made equally, so there’s more beyond hue to consider when making a selection. VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are chemicals that easily enter the bloodstream and affect normal functioning of the central nervous system. Plywood, particleboard and glues are some major culprits of VOCs, but they’re found in high concentrations in standard interior paint formulas.

There are brands making eco-friendly paints that are a lot less toxic than conventional paints, and some make their paints VOC-free. Look for VOC-free or at least low-VOC paint when designing the room’s walls. Be sure to let the paint dry and air out for several days before your child sleeps in the room.

Behr Premium Plus, which is Home Depot’s brand of paint, is a line of VOC-free paint that has probably the widest selections of hues and finishes. Milk Paint and YOLO Colorhouse are some other brands making VOC-free paint. Harmony from Sherwin-Williams and Natura from Benjamin Moor are organic lines of VOC-free paint hues made VOC-free.

 

#2 Select Safer Floors

 

Choosing the best flooring option for your child’s room may take some research, but it’s worth it. Many hardwood floors have varnishes you can smell for months after they’re put in. What you’re smelling is VOCs, so opt for a polyurethane-free varnish for hardwood floors if you’re having them put in.

Bamboo is an eco-friendly alternative to wood, and it’s actually a lot more durable, scratch-resistant and water-resistant compared to wood flooring. Another alternative gaining popularity is cork flooring made from the bark of the cork oak tree. It’s not quite as hard as bamboo, but it’s stronger than you might think, and is totally safe for your baby or toddler to crawl around on.

If you’re having carpet put in, or if you’re placing rugs down, find carpeting or rugs that are made with naturally sourced materials instead of synthetic fibers. Synthetic fibers like nylon and polyester contain VOCs and other toxins, as well as toxic adhesives keeping them in place. Organic natural fibers sourced from wool, cotton, sisal or jute are much better for your child’s room because they’re free of VOCs and other harmful chemicals.

Find out more about the health risks of carpet and how to choose safer options.  

 

#3 Set Up Soft, Diffused Lighting

 

Newborn babies are brand new to light, so nursery lighting should be very soft and dim.

Blue light, which is emitted by sunlight, digital screens and LED light bulbs, should be avoided in nurseries, as well as in children’s rooms.

Overexposure to blue light puts children of all ages at a higher risk for developing eyesight issues, as their eyes absorb more blue light than adult eyes. Make sure all light bulbs are covered and diffused by a lampshade. Select “soft white” light bulbs instead of LED light bulbs, which emit more blue light. (Read more about how to avoid blue light wavelengths here.)

Installing a dimmer switch is a great way to help your child wind down for bedtime in the evening. It can also prevent too much brightness from flooding a nursery, especially if your lampshades are thin or you have a ceiling light your baby looks upward at. Dimmer switches come in handy for middle-of-the-night diaper changes and feedings, when you only want just enough light to see what you’re doing. Also, opt for table lamps and ceiling lights instead of floor lamps, which can lead to dangerous accidents for crawling babies and waddling toddlers.

 

#4 Choose Non-Toxic Furniture Pieces

 

When furnishing your child’s room, look into the materials each furniture piece is made with before committing to it.

First, make sure a piece of furniture passes all legal safety requirements. Second, see if it’s made with flame retardants—it may say “fire-resistant.” If it does have flame retardants, you can be sure it’s toxic.

Old vintage pieces of furniture are typically made with old paint that contains lead, and many wood furniture pieces are made with harmful chemical varnishes. 

Look for children’s furniture made with sustainable materials, such as bamboo or wood. Bamboo is a non-toxic, very hard material that is also non-chaffing, and doesn’t require varnish. If you choose wood furniture, opt for pieces made with sustainable wood and built out of solid wood pieces instead of wood that’s been made into a pulp and mixed with VOC-containing glues and formaldehyde, which is a respiratory irritant linked to cancer. You also want wood furniture to be finished with a non-toxic varnish. 

Your best bet is to find a brand you trust that makes non-toxic children’s furniture, and buy furniture sets from them. The best brands to buy from are the ones that are honest about the materials going into their products or who hold  UL Greenguard Gold Certification.

 

#5 Improve Ventilation in the Room

 

The smallest bedrooms are typically given to the smallest family members, and these rooms don’t always have the best ventilation. Adequate air circulation is required to push out old air and supply the room with clean air and fresh oxygen—a big need for the developing brain. There are a few things you can do to improve airflow in your child’s bedroom:

  • Get mechanical ventilation, whereby the outside air is filtered before being blown into your home. This gives you fresh air from the outdoors that has been filtered so that it’s even cleaner than outside air.
  • Get an air purifier, which cleans the air of airborne allergens, pathogens and pollutants. Find one that operates quietly and doesn’t require frequent filter changes.
  • Get a ceiling fan put in the room if you don’t already have one, because it’s great for pushing stagnant air out of an enclosed space, and works a lot better than just opening the window.

 

 

Non-toxic nursery/kids furniture, bedding & decor product picks

As brands become increasingly eco-conscious, health-friendly alternatives are popping up on the market. Scroll down to see our Tot Tested & Approved picks!

 

Oeuf Sparrow Crib

 

A styled nursery featuring a crib, dresser, rug and decor

 

Made of solid birch and and Baltic birch plywood, the Sparrow crib’s finishes are non-toxic, water-based and free of VOC health hazards.

With its wide range of finishes, this stylish and versatile crib will co-ordinate with any nursery decor. Slim side rails and spindles give this crib a light, airy feel and make it a favorite of interior designers. Its high quality and sturdy construction means it will last for generations. You can also get this handy toddler bed conversion kit!

Oeuf Sparrow Crib 

Oeuf Sparrow Crib

 

$820

Available in more colors

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Pehr Happy Days Crib Sheet

 

Petit Pehr Happy Days Crib Sheet

 

Made of 100% organic cotton, Pehr’s playful and buttery soft Happy Days crib sheets are free of harmful chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides and formaldehyde.

Looking for something more traditional? Check out the brand’s classic and cute Noah’s Ark print!

 

Petit Pehr Happy Days Crib Sheet

 

Pehr Happy Days Organic Crib Sheet

 

$36

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Pehr Noah's Ark Organic Crib Sheet

 

Pehr Noah’s Ark Organic Crib Sheet

 

$36

BUY NOW

 

 

Oeuf Sparrow Dresser

 

A baby nursery with the Oeuf Sparrow Dresser and XL Changing Station

 

Made of Baltic birch plywood and eco-MDF and non-toxic, water-based finishes, the Sparrow’s 6 deep drawers provide plenty of storage room, which means it can easily go from nursery to college.

You can also save room by using it as a change table when paired with the Oeuf XL Changing Station.

 

Oeuf Sparrow 6 drawer dresser 

Oeuf Sparrow Six Drawer Dresser

 

$1390

Available in more colors

BUY NOW

 

Oeuf XL Changing Station

 

Oeuf XL Changing Station

 

$300

BUY NOW

 

 

Monte Como Glider

 

Monte Design Rocking Chair

 

Soft, sumptuous and free of flame retardants, the Monte Como Glider is one you’ll sink right into for rest and relaxation.

It includes a calming and soothing glide, extra soft seat and back cushion, and beautifully tailored sides. You can also get the matching ottoman to put your feet up!

 

Monte Glider in Oatmeal

 

Monte Como Glider

 

$1495

Available in more colors

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Monte Como Glider Ottoman

Monte Como Glider Ottoman

 

$585

Available in more colors

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Lorena Canals Washable Kim Rug

 

A nursery highlighting the lorena canals kim rug

 

Made of eco-friendly 100% cotton and non-toxic dyes, the Lorena Canals machine washable Kim rug adds style, comfort and functionality to any room.

Super plush, your baby/toddler will adore getting down for tummy time, story time or play time!

 

Lorena Canals machine washable rug - kim 

Lorena Canals Kim Rug

 

$299

BUY NOW

 

 

Nice & Yeye Play & Craft Tables

 

Nico & Yeye Peewee Table - Maple White

 

Kids doing craft at a Nico & yeye wood table

 

If you’re after a play or craft table, you HAVE to check out Nico & Yeye.

Available in maple or walnut, their pieces come in a ton of different colors and are all UL Greenguard Gold Certified. This means they’ve been screened for over 10,000 chemicals and VOCs known to pollute indoor air.

Nico & Yeye Peewee Table - Maple White

 

Nico & Yeye Peewee Table – Maple 

 

$164

Available in more colors

BUY NOW

 

 

Nico & Yeye Kitty Kids Chair Set of 2 - Maple Mint

 

Nico & Yeye Kitty Kids Chair (Set of 2) – Maple

 

$235

Available in more colors

BUY NOW

 

 

Nico & yeye kids craft table

Nico & Yeye Kids Craft Table – Walnut

 

$438

Available in more colors

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Nico & Yeye Acrylic Back Chair

Nico & Yeye Acrylic Back Chair (Set of 2) – Walnut

 

$329

Available in more colors

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Gathre Mini+ USA Map

 

Gathre Mini+ Mat World Map

 

The GATHRE Mini+ USA Map Mat is free of toxins, PVC, phthalates, and lead and can be used as wall decor, a floor covering or a portable playmat.

 

Gathre USA Map 

Gathre Mini+ USA Map

 

$86

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Babyletto Spruce Tree Bookcase

 

Babyletto Tree Bookcase

 

Made with the safest, most renewable materials available including sustainable New Zealand Pine, lead and phthalate free finishes, CARB II compliant MDF, the Spruce Tree Bookcase adds playful joy to any room.

With exceptional functionality, it holds roughly 12-15 children’s books on each branch, with enough space in between branches to store some of your other favorite items.

 

Babyletto Spruce Bookcase 

Babyletto Spruce Tree Bookcase

 

$179

Available in more colors

BUY NOW

 

 

Anewall Wallpaper

 

Anewall Luna Wallpaper

 

Free of formaldehyde, harmful phthalates, PVC, Anewall Wallpaper is the low-voc option you’ve been searching for!

 

Anewall Elsi Rainbow Wallpaper

 

Anewall Elsi Rainbow Wallpaper

 

$439

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Anewall Bird Paradise Mural Wallpaper

 

Anewall Bird Paradise Mural Wallpaper

 

$419

BUY NOW

 

 

 

Anewall Jolie Mural Wallpaper

 

Anewall Jolie Mural Wallpaper

 

$489

BUY NOW

 

 

 

Anewall Desert Cactus Wallpaper

 

Anewall Desert Cactus Wallpaper

 

$419

BUY NOW

 

 

Shop the entire Anewall Wallpaper range here!

 

 

Continue exploring

  • Preparing for a new baby? Here are 9 simple non-toxic living tips to help you make a safe and welcoming environment free of nasties for your newborn.
  • Your child will spend almost 4000 hours on their mattress each and every year until they graduate high school. See how you can ensure their bed won’t expose them to harmful chemicals each night in our guide to choosing a non-toxic mattress.