Before You Shop
Like many women, I discovered unknown maternal instincts when I stared for the first time at the ultrasound screen and the blurry shape of the tiny stowaway I was harboring suddenly swam into view. Those instincts inspired me to eat healthy food, take up yoga, avoid smoky rooms, and best of all—shop! Brand-new baby products called to me from catalogues and showrooms: cribs with colorful ruffled linens, charming tot-size furniture, and perfectly-proportioned bookshelves.
What many mothers don't realize, though, is that while most baby products are perfectly safe, some aren't. Permanent-press sheets are treated with formaldehyde—a known carcinogenic—and plywood furnishings can release potentially harmful petrochemical volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air.
Because babies are small and their immune, hormonal, and nervous systems are still developing, environmental pollutants affect them more than they might an adult. And if you're pregnant, it's wise to avoid sanding, painting, and applying finishes, because exposures to chemicals can harm your baby. Here are some guidelines for purchasing kinder, gentler products for your baby's first bedroom. (Links and contact numbers for many of the products mentioned appear at the end of this article).