by Trish Adkins
I remember when my daughter was a newborn, it seemed like danger lurked around every corner. Electrical outlets, heavy furniture, household cleaners—everything seemed like it had potentially deadly consequences!
In the “old days,” baby proofing simply meant strapping furniture to the wall, adding child locks to cabinets and plugging up electrical outlets. Now, we all know how important it is to also limit your baby’s exposure to toxins. It’s impossible to control the toxins in the outside world. But we can do our part as parents to limit our child’s exposure in our homes and then, in turn, impact our small corner of the world.
And when we tell our parent friends about our efforts, they might be inspired to help too! Here are some of my tips for greening your home in preparation for your new bundle of joy.
Green your cleaning
Did you know that household cleaning products can contain ingredients that become airborne toxics? Since cleaning your home should actually leave your home clean, consider making a switch to homemade cleaners. The best part about making your own cleaning supplies is that they cost next to nothing! You can save that extra cash for a babysitter and a night out!
Pantry items such as white vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice can all be applied to cleaning endeavors. For example, mix one part white vinegar to one part water in a spray bottle for a simple disinfectant. Use this mixture for tile floors, bathroom tiles, most synthetic or tiled countertops (but not natural stone like granite or quartz) and windows. Baking soda mixed with water to form a paste is a great cleaner for ceramic sinks, ovens and stainless steel surfaces. If you have hardwood floors or natural stone counter tops, use castile soap – a natural vegetable-based soap made with olive oil – to clean them. Add a couple squirts of the soap to a bucket of water and mop away!
If making homemade cleaners is not your thing, our friends at the Environmental Working Group have a great guide to healthy cleaning products.
Bonus tip: if you have the luxury of a cleaning service for your home, ask them to use your preferred cleaners!
Lighten your laundry impact
Babies come with lots of joy and lots (and lots and lots, did I mention lots?) of laundry! From pre-washing their newborn wardrobe to keeping up with frequent outfit changes (for everyone!), your laundry load is about to grow exponentially! When choosing a laundry product, the easiest way to reduce your potential exposure to toxins is to go fragrance-free. To avoid laundry detergents that may contain chemicals that could irritate your baby’s skin and pollute the environment, consult the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning: Laundry.
To get out spit-up and other organic stains, try a natural enzyme cleaner. Pro tip: these can often be found in the pet aisle! Enzyme cleaners work like magic on stains that laundry soap cannot get out. Vinegar is also a great fabric softener – just add a tablespoon to your laundry load. Dryer balls are a great reusable way to avoid static cling!
Paint a green space
Whether you paint the nursery or any part of your house, try to pick a low- or no-VOC paint. VOC stands for volatile organic compounds, which are additives that can have adverse health effects. Paint manufacturers have begun responding to market pressure for safer paints, so you should be able to find several VOC free paint types at your local hardware store in any color you can dream of.
VOCs are also found in flooring, carpeting, and other interior and exterior decorating products and furniture. New furniture gives off the most VOC fumes, so choose second-hand furniture when safe and appropriate.
Beautify your beauty
Beauty products should make you and the world more beautiful. As you prep for baby and look for natural, chemical-free lotions and soaps, update your beauty routine as well! Coconut oil is a great all-natural option for make-up removal. Use olive oil and white sugar to make a sugar scrub for the shower. Castile soap is gentle enough for your own skin.
If homemade products are not your thing, you can use the helpful databases published by the Beauty Counter and the Environmental Working Group to assess how clean your current beauty products are. If you decide to switch it up, most natural and organic retailers should have a natural and organic beauty product section where you can shop for cleaner alternatives to your daily routine.
Trish Adkins is a writer and the mom to three very busy kids—ages 5-12. In addition to turning old oatmeal containers into drums, her family loves getting outside, cooking, traveling, hosting lemonade stands and bird watching! Trish is also the Happy Family Happy Mama (Brand Ambassador) in the Philadelphia region. All opinions are her own and she has not been paid to publish specific content.