A safer base
– a guide to a healthier children’s room
Children use far more time in their rooms than adults do in any other room of the house. This is why it is even more important to make sure that it is not unhealthy for them to play and sleep in their rooms. Some things you will have to consider before you furnish. Other things need to be considered when choosing or buying items and toys. And then there are things you will need to do every day. There can be consequences by not doing anything, but luckily doing small things make a big difference as long as you know where to make an effort. In this guide, we focus on some of the things you should remember when you shop for, furnish, decorate and maintain a healthy children’s room.
Sources: The Ecological Council and other
BEFORE ANYONE MOVES IN – PREPERATION WILL GET YOU FAR
When choosing paint, you should buy water-based paint, preferably with ecolabels such as the Nordic Ecolabel or the EU Ecolabel. These are better for the indoor climate and for nature than other types of paints. You also need to ventilate the room for at least a week before anyone moves in because the paint gives off more substances to the air while hardening.
Decorating and furnishing
Again, look for the Nordic or EU Ecolabels because they ensure that you buy furniture with a minimum of harmful chemicals, but also because you get more secure and durable furniture. Consider whether you need carpets and curtains because they generally give off more dust. Alternatively use blinds or look for allergy friendly carpets.
Remember to always consider safety when furnishing, and generally only buy EU-safety approved furniture. Also, furniture that can fall over should be fastened to the walls with fittings. Shelf brackets should be of the sturdy kind that can handle both the weight of boxes full of toys as well as detouring child mountaineers.
FILLING THE BOXES AND DRAWERS – STORAGE AND DECORATION
Dust in the room
As you know, textiles give off dust. The more blankets, curtains, clothing and bedding you have laying around, the more dust you will have. Toys and items also easily collect dust. You should therefore consider reducing the number of items you have lying about e.g. by using closed storage for everything that can collect or give off dust. That way you have made cleaning easier as well.
You can also choose to use textiles labelled Oeko-Tex® which is the most widespread health label concerning textiles in the world.
You should be concerned and aware whether your child’s toys contain phthalates. Long term exposure to phthalates is known for hormone disruption. This can also happen through toys containing PVC which among others is typically found in soft plastic products. Hormone disruption can lead to fertility problems, obesity, diabetes 2, behavioral problems and an increased risk of hormone related forms of cancer among others. Also try to avoid especially phosphor based and brominated flame retardants that can typically be found in foam products and electronics. These substances can have the same hormone disrupting effects.
Plants are generally great at purifying both CO2 and particles from the air. Dirt, children and small grabby hands is not a great combo though. Therefore, choose plants that can hang outside of your child’s reach. Ferns and Aloe Vera are particularly good but air plants are great as well because they need minimal care.
EVERYDAY LIFE – THE SMALL THINGS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Something in the air…
When you breathe, you exhale CO2. A high concentration of CO2 in a room during the night can result in an unrestful sleep, low power of concentration the next day and trouble learning. Luckily, it can be helped by three daily ventilations of the room – the most important time being right before going to sleep.
The above-mentioned ventilation is an easy way to rid yourselves of a damp indoor climate as well. Too much moisture in the air can result in mold which is why you should keep the doors closed to damp rooms such as the bathroom and basement.
The effects on the indoor climate do not only come from the room itself. Cooking and smoke from candles give off particles that are considered as potentially harmful as the particles from car exhaust. Use a powerful cooker hood during cooking and replace candles with LED-alternatives. A ventilation system helps but cannot replace manual ventilation completely.
The good ol’ solution
Thorough cleaning definitely helps as well. Dusting and vacuuming helps to get rid of particles and chemicals that bind themselves to dust. You should also be mindful of which cleaning agents you use in the house. Products with the Nordic Ecolabel or the EU Ecolabel are generally better for everyone’s health.