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Your child will spend the majority of their time sleeping as an infant and will most likely be in direct contact with bedroom furniture more than any other in your home. The crib, changing table, bassinet, rocker, and glider are common new additions to the expectant mother’s home. These items are generally a combination of solid wood, press board, vinyl, plastics, and metal — all of which can bring high levels of formaldehyde and other chemicals into your home.

Don’t forget that during pregnancy, your current bed is sleeping for “two” as well. Some good rules of thumb when shopping for new furniture for the nursery and the mother’s bedroom are as follows:

Avoid Particle and Fiberboard Furniture
New furniture is commonly constructed with the use of veneers. This is a process by which a faux natural wood outer “shell” is glued to a core of particle board or plywood through the use adhesives. These adhesives often contain urea-formaldehyde (listed by the EPA as a possible carcinogen) and other adhesives that can off-gas for many years. Bringing new wood furniture that has been “engineered” or glued together such as particle and fiber boards should be avoided. If veneered or particle board furniture is all that will fit in your budget, consider using a low VOC vapor barrier sealant.

Avoid Metal in Furniture
Avoid products made completely of metal or with a significant amount of metal components. This includes the mattress frame, slats, and even connections (nails, screws, etc.). Metal components have an antenna effect and unseen man-made radio waves (RF) will be more disruptive to peaceful sleep.

Choose Unfinished Hardwood Furniture
Look for natural, handmade, unfinished, hardwood furniture. Common hardwoods are maple, oak, ash, poplar, cherry, mahogany, hickory, and walnut. Hardwood furniture will be on the upper end of the cost spectrum. but you will investing in heirloom quality items that will last several generations.

If hardwoods fall outside of your budget, then the next best thing are natural, unfinished, handmade, soft woods such as pine, fir, and spruce. Soft woods omit odors from naturally occurring terpene in the wood fibers. The odor w will decrease over time. Softwoods, such as redwood and cedar, are often a good alternative to the common pines and firs. Softwood is more susceptible to shrinking and swelling due to changes in moisture levels and is also easier to scratch and dent.

Minimize Painted or Stained Wood Furniture
Some finishes that are better than others include low VOC water based natural oils and waxes such as beeswax. Avoid furniture made in China due to the possibility of lead paint. If you wish to have a stained look, consider buying the furniture and applying a healthier, low VOC, stain yourself.

Consider Heirloom Furniture
You may also have heirloom furniture (or gently used) being passed down from friends or family. This is an excellent way to save money and help the environment in addition to being a healthy option for your child. Older solid wood furniture is often “healthier” than new furniture due to the simple fact that the natural resins and terpene found in the wood have off-gassed over time and the wood is in a stable state. However, caution should be taken when taking on older painted furniture as it may contain harmful chemicals such as lead. This furniture should be tested before use. Whether the furniture is new or old, it will inevitably need to be cleaned and polished on a regular basis. Choose cleaners and polishes that do not contain unnecessary fragrances, chemicals, and aerosols.

 

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