We are so bombarded by chemicals in our everyday lives, that it’s good to know there are choices we can make that minimize our exposure. Painting the nursery with chemical-free paints is one of those choices.
Paints to avoid when pregnant or nursing
Finishing furniture with oil-based stains or paints is never a good idea for pregnant or nursing women, because of the strong fumes. But even latex (water-based) paints that are labeled as zero-VOC can emit chemical fumes.
So although zero-VOC paint is a better choice for the nursery than regular latex paint, it is not the absolute best choice and it’s best if pregnant and nursing moms let someone else do the painting.
Also, certain paint features such as “antibacterial”, “antimicrobial” and “mildew resistant” sound appealing at first glance. But turn the label around to read the ingredients and you’ll notice that it takes harmful chemicals to achieve these “beneficial” characteristics.
Natural paint alternatives
Natural paints made entirely from plants, minerals, milk protein or clay are the best choice for painting the nursery. They are safe for pregnant and nursing women, and do not produce harmful fumes.
But don’t just check the paint’s label — also check the colors that will be added to them. Like the paint itself, you’ll want to look for pigments that come from plants, clay or minerals to ensure your final paint product is chemical free.
Note this exception
There are a few all-natural mineral pigments that are considered unsafe. For example, avoid cadmium (yellow, orange, red) and chromium (dark green), whenever possible. Choose these colors when they are made from plants and earth clays instead.
Also, lime and chalk are a safer way to achieve a bright white than titanium dioxide. Titanium dioxide is perfectly safe to touch in solid form such as in sunscreen, but it is not to safe to inhale as a vapor.
Good to know
- Natural paints are more expensive than latex, but if you’re only painting a room or two, the overall cost difference is small.
- Pregnant and nursing women should avoid rooms freshly painted with latex or oil for several days. However, they do not need to avoid rooms painted with all-natural paints.