Do you have a new baby, or you are looking at changing the paint color of your baby’s room, there are certain things you must pay attention to. Not all paints are made of the same components; hence you should be worried about your baby’s and the entire family’s health before choosing one. In addition to having varying ingredients, the concentration of some ingredients can be too high for some babies. Pay attention to a baby’s reaction for a few hours after exposure to new paint. Experts even recommend not putting a baby inside a newly-painted room until after 24-48 hours after the paint dries off.
So Which Paint is Safe for Baby’s Skin?
To keep a baby safe, you should choose zero, or low-VOC paint is recommended as the safe paint.
What Ingredients Will You Likely Find In Paints?
Paint often comes in formulas comprising ingredients such as ethylene glycol and ethoxylates. You will also find ingredients like formaldehyde in many paints. Trace elements like metals, Phthalate, silica, and biocides will likely be present in many paints. All the ingredients found in paints can be categorized into four these are;
- The additive ingredients
- The binding ingredients
- The pigment ingredients, and
- The Solvents.
The pigment ingredients will add sheen and color to the paints, while the binding ingredients will ensure the color remains glued to the surface. The solvents will only act as the liquid medium for suspending other ingredients, while the additives in the paint will thicken, preserve, stabilize and remove the foams.
What Are The Likely Health Effects Of Your Baby’s Exposure To Paints?
Most of the paints produced in modern times will likely cause little to no effects on your baby, except you go for specialized paints not designed for homes. Babies and toddlers are likely to react to respiratory issues from exposure to fresh paints. Most of these issues are triggered by fumes and some other chemical ingredients. For this reason, you should take some extra care when buying new paint, and you must avoid exposing your baby to the paint after 1-2 days of painting.
Paint fumes may also cause some health issues in babies and growing children, including dizziness, migraines, irritation of the skin, eye, or nose, and vision issues. You must evacuate the baby from the room immediately you discover any of these symptoms, even if they are not caused by exposure to the paint.
Choosing A Baby-Safe Paint – A Mini Guide
There are a few steps you can take when it comes to choosing a safe paint for your baby, and these include the following;
1. Verify the VOC
VOC means the Volatile Organic Compounds level in a paint. These VOCs are often responsible for the paint’s fumes, and they are characterized by their ability to dry at room temperatures. Once the VOCs dry, they evaporate and make a strong odor noticeable, especially after a room is painted.
Volatile organic compounds can be found in many paint ingredients, including formaldehyde, glycols, and benzenes. The long-term exposure of some babies to VOCs can lead to some forms of cancers and damage to the liver and kidney.
When choosing a paint, consider paints with the lowest or zero VOCs. Keep in mind that some VOC-free paints may still contain some traces of VOCs. The Federal regulatory authorities have limited VOC exposures to 250g/L, especially in the flat matte-finished paints or 350 g/L in the non-flat paint.
2. Take a Look at the Paint’s Brand
In addition to the regulations on the maximum VOC exposure, the paint brand may say a lot about its safety. Pay attention to the Green-guard shied with Gold certification on the labels. The GS11 certification or the performance certification from the Master paint institute certifies that a paint brand has strictly adhered to the zero or low-VOC standards. Be careful in choosing any paint brand that does not have any of these certifications, and better still, avoid such paints.
3. Opt for the Water-based Natural Paints
Instead of solvent or oil-based paints, you should consider water-based paints for your baby’s room. Water-based paints, known as latex or acrylic paints, rely only on the water as the base liquid, and these paints are known to give off minimal chemicals as they dry out on the wall or floor.
It is possible to buy or make some natural paints containing no chemical pigments for yourself. Milk paints, for instance, only have milk protein casein as the main ingredient, and they can contain other natural ingredients like lime, clay, and natural pigments.
4. Stay Away from APE Ingredients and Additives
APE ingredients, also known as Alkylphenol Ethoxylates, are known to exist in some acrylic paints. Some of these ingredients have been detected in human breast milk and have been linked to developing some reproductive problems in some animals and humans. Make sure you do research on any acrylic or non-acrylic paints and avoid any that have these ingredients.
Similarly, additives have been linked to some health issues in humans. Though additives in paints can destroy bacteria and mildew on the walls and floor of the room, they are still unsafe to babies and humans in general. In most cases, additives affect babies that are sensitive to such chemicals. If you are pregnant or a nursing mother, scientists recommend that you avoid or limit exposure to paints containing additives. These paints should be avoided, especially in the first few days of application and drying.
When painting, experts recommend that you do such in a well-ventilated place to allow free circulation. The painting should also be done far from where children are active.
Other Ways To Make Your Baby Safe With Paints
In addition to keeping a baby away from a newly-painted space, you should consider some other tips to keep your baby safe from paints, and these include the following;
1. Keep Lead Paintings Away from Your Baby
Many parents think that babies are only exposed to the dangers of paintings on the walls and floor, but there seems to be a more serious issue- Lead painting. Many toys are covered in lead paintings, and even though the government has banned such, there are still a substantial amount of these lead-painted toys in circulation.
Lead poisoning is one issue associated with lead paints, and since kids love to put toys in their mouths, there is a possibility of swallowing some of the paint. Unfortunately, babies and toddlers don’t show signs of lead poisoning until the levels have reached a significant high. Late symptoms of lead poisoning may include seizures and brain swelling. Early detection of lead paint poisoning is one of the ways of treating the condition and preventing more serious complications. A simple blood test is often used in detecting the problem.
2. Put Baby’s Bed Far from the Wall
To reduce the risk of your baby licking a painted wall and becoming poisoned with paint substances, you may want to place their bed in the center of a room as against the wall. This means the bed must have a barricaded enclosure to ensure the baby doesn’t fall over to the ground. With this arrangement, your baby will be kept at a safe distance from painted surfaces.
3. Repaint the Baby’s Room Few Months Before Their Birth
It can take several years before you need to repaint a room, and this is the reason why you should conduct any repaint before you have a baby. You should paint the room at least 2 months before the arrival of the baby so that it can dry up as soon as possible, and your baby’s exposure to the paint’s ingredients will be greatly reduced.
In case you have had a baby before the repainting of a room is due, then you need to allow the baby to grow over their first year before you paint the room. If possible, you should provide an alternative room for the child until they are ready to move into the newly painted room. Toddlers can be at the same risk as infants when it comes to exposure to paint chemicals. It would be best if you found a way to reduce their contact and exposure to fresh paints.
In selecting the paint that is most safe for the baby’s skin, you need to consider paints that are safe for the baby’s overall health. While some paints may be safe for the baby’s skin, they may pose a serious risk to the respiratory and nervous components of the body. This is the reason why the safety of paints should be handled with a general approach to their effect on health. You can get more information on particular paints from the local health authorities in your region. You can also speak to a health practitioner on the types of paints that are most safe for your child.