All paint is not created equal. Whether you’re an interior painting project for a newborn baby or simply changing the color of your walls, you might be curious about the components in paint and how they could affect your family’s health.
A different combination of chemicals is present in each can of paint in varying amounts. Knowing what’s in the paint is crucial if you want to choose the most environmentally friendly paint option for your home. Here’s how to find paint that is safe for babies.
What To Look For in a Baby-safe Paint?
Look for VOCs
Paint fumes are caused by volatile organic compounds, also known as VOCs. These are the gasses that are emitted during the drying process of the paint. This is also the smell you notice when you go into a newly painted room. Nowadays, most high-quality interior paints contain minimal levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These compounds dry quickly at room temperature but emit a strong odor due to the rapid drying.
VOCs are found in paints that contain ethylene glycol, Formaldehyde, toluene, and benzene. Health problems like headaches, nausea, and vertigo can be attributed to them. Several VOCs have been linked to liver and kidney damage and some malignancies when inhaled for long periods of time.
When painting a nursery, choose low- or zero-VOC paint to keep the room baby-safe. But be cautious because the label “zero-VOC” does not guarantee that paint is free of volatile organic compounds. Flat (matte-finish) paints are allowed to include up to 250 g/L of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In comparison, non-flat paints are allowed to contain up to 380 g/L of VOCs as per federal regulations.
State laws and regulations vary from state to state. Low-VOC paint in California, for example, has a maximum of 50 g/L, whereas zero-VOC paint has a limit of 5 g/L. Consider the paint’s brand, as well as state requirements. Looking for paint brands with the Green Seal (GS-11) or Master Paint Institute Green Performance certification is a good place to start your search. With this information, you’ll be able to spot products that strictly adhere to low- and no-VOC standards.
Look for paints that are water-based or made from natural materials. Instead of using solvent-based or oil-based paints, water-based paints are preferable. Water-based paints (also known as latex or acrylic paints) employ water as the solution, which results in less chemicals being released as the paint dries.
In addition, you can purchase or even produce “natural” paints, which are made from a range of non-chemical pigments. For instance, milk paints are made from the milk protein casein, which is combined with lime, natural colors, chalk, and clay to form a base.
Be on the lookout for APE components.
Several acrylic paints contain alkylphenol ethoxylate (APE) chemicals and their subtypes, such as the nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE). These chemicals are known to have the potential to manipulate the hormones in the body. Human breast milk has been found to contain these toxins, and animal studies have shown that they have adversely affected rat reproduction and development.
Keep an eye out for additives. Paint additives have the ability to fight mildew and germs, as well as act as pesticides. However, persons who are allergic to these additional chemicals may experience health issues.
Non-toxic Paint for a Baby’s Room
It is critical to choose non-toxic paint to make sure that your baby arrives in a comforting and safe environment when they are born. Babies’ sense of smell is crucial, so in addition to making sure that your paint is non-toxic, it is a good idea to reduce the overall smell of it by using the correct paint.
Our Recommendations for Baby-Safe Paint
Our suggestions will help you pick a non-toxic paint brand, but you’ll still have to choose the color! All of these paints have no VOCs and no APEs. We also included two choices for milk paint, which is created from milk proteins and pigments. Milk paints take a little more work to use, but once you get a hold of them, they’re easy to use, and you can make smooth or classy finishes. You can also use them to paint furniture and other things. No matter what paint brand you choose, you can use it without worry as long as the paint has no lead, APEs, and VOCs
Sherwin Williams Harmony
A paint with zero volatile organic compounds and a colorant paint with zero VOCs that is readily available nationwide. Both the primer and the flat finish do not contain any APE. In addition to that, the paints have been awarded the Greenguard Gold certification. It contains antimicrobial chemicals that prevent the growth of mildew and mold on the paint’s surface.
Real Milk Paint
Casein (milk protein) is the primary ingredient in this natural paint. It comes in the form of a powder that must be dissolved in water before use. Casein (milk protein), natural pigments, calcium lime, and a plant-based filler are the main components of this paint..
AFM Safecoat Zero VOC
This paint was made especially for people who have allergies, asthma, or are sensitive to chemicals. It comes in different finishes such as flat, eggshell, pearl, and semi-glossy. There are no VOCs, VOC colorants, APEs, and fungicides or mildewcides. All of the paint’s components are listed, and it has been certified by SCS for indoor advantage gold.
Suppose you can’t decide what color to paint your room. In that case, this paint comes in various shades that designers have carefully selected. Eggshell and semi gloss paints and the colorants and zero-VOC paints themselves do not contain any APEs. In addition to that, it carries the Greenguard Gold certification. It does feature mildewcide, which prevents mildew from growing and spreading.
Lullaby paints or ECOS paints
ECOS paint, which also produces the Lullaby paint line, is an excellent zero VOC paint that contains no algicides, mildewcides, or rust inhibitors and zero VOC colorants, and APE-free colorants. They have a color catalog and can match any brand name. They have a Declare label and a Health Product Declaration where they list all of the contents of the paint. Declare labels are attached to items and reveal information such as ingredient inventories, sourcing, and disposal choices. The health impact of every product ingredient is included in Health Product Declarations, which are third-party validated.
Benjamin Moore Eco Spec
Benjamin Moore just stopped manufacturing their Natura paint. However, the company’s Eco Spec paint is quite similar and is sold nationwide. This paint is one hundred percent APE-free and zero-VOC. It has been awarded the Green Seal 11 certification. No mold or mildew will grow on the paint coating since it contains isothiazolinone compounds.
How to Paint Your Baby’s Room the Right Way
First, you need to know how to paint and what type of paint you’re going to use. Who paints an interior and how it is painted have a significant impact on your health. You can ask a family member or a friend to do the painting job for you if you are pregnant. You don’t want to be around paint fumes while your baby is still growing.
Ensure that no young children are around during the painting process. Even though it would be cute to have a little helper, your little ones are in a critical stage of development. They are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of gas fumes.
It’s also important to let as much air in as possible while painting. It’s best to open all the doors and windows and turn on a fan. Even a working electric fan in the corner of the room will make a difference. When you aren’t using the paint, either for a short break or for the night, make sure the lid is on tight. This will stop emissions from getting out of the paint when it’s not being used.
Choose the Perfect Color
Make sure you pick a color for your baby’s room that you and the baby both like. You can’t ask your baby directly what color they want their nursery to be, but studies show that babies like bright, saturated, and light pastel colors.
On the other hand, adults have a preference for hues, tones, and shades that are not as bold. Find a paint that will match the room and the room design you choose, even though your color tastes can differ from those of your newborn. As an additional piece of advice, keep in mind that color will also be dependent on other elements, such as the type of paint finish your room comes in.
Keep the Glare Out
This tip for painting a nursery is often overlooked, but every parent should take it very seriously. Newborn babies’ eyes can be irritated by the glare from your walls. Find a paint color with a Light Reflectance Value (LRV) of 60 or less to keep the glare out of the baby’s room. LRV measures how much light a painted surface reflects compared to how much light it takes in. On the label of many brands of paint, there is an LRV number.
Choose the Right Finish
Think about the different types of finishes when selecting the perfect paint for your baby’s room. There are many different kinds of paint finishes, from flat (or matte) to glossy, and each one has a very different effect. You should avoid flat finishes because they are hard to clean and could change the color of your walls if you try to clean them.
Eggshell is one of the best paint finishes in a baby’s room because of its long-term durability and good stain-resistance properties. Eggshell finishes, which are both glossy and simple to clean, are ideal for a nursery room that is likely to become a little messy. A satin or semi-gloss finish is ideal for the trim. Additionally, keep in mind that a glossier finish will result in a darker shade on the wall.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are paint fumes toxic to babies?
If you choose baby-safe paint, fumes shouldn’t cause serious or long-term health problems. But your baby’s lungs aren’t as developed as yours, so they could still get sick if they are in a room where paint is still drying. They might get headaches and feel dizzy, irritation of the eyes and lungs, rashes, or other skin problems.
When is it safe for a baby to be in a room that has been painted?
If you painted the room with modern paint with no VOCs and is baby-safe, the space should be safe for babies within a few hours. But there’s always a possibility that your baby will be more sensitive to some of the effects listed above, so it’s safer to wait 48 hours. This is important, especially if your baby will be sleeping in their crib.
Can a baby sleep in a room that has just been painted?
Even though you can put your baby in a room a few hours after painting it, letting them sleep in that room is a different story. You shouldn’t let your baby sleep in a room that has just been painted for a few days. This is because the effects of paint fumes, such as breathing problems or feeling sick, are hard to notice when a child is asleep.
Can I Paint a Nursery While I’m Pregnant?
While expecting a child, you may not want to paint the nursery or any furnishings by yourself. Exposure to any type of paint should be avoided if possible. For the first several days after application, the paint is drying and releasing gasses, which is the case throughout the process.
Regardless of whether the paints are low or zero VOC, it’s safest to leave the task to a professional. Continue to let the area air out until it is completely dry and all VOCs have been removed.
However, suppose there’s no one available to assist you in your interior painting project or you want to be a hundred percent sure that everything is done properly and safely. In that case, you can hire a professional painting contractor. With the help of professional painters, you have the assurance that you and your baby are safe from any toxins of paint!