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Is your baby’s cot looking worse for wear, perhaps you want to give it a breath of fresh air for your next baby. Perhaps you’ve got a plain white cot and want to add some colour to make match the rest of the nursery decor. Whatever it is, this article will help you make sure to use the safest paints that won’t harm your baby.
Is paint harmful to babies when used on cots?
In short, yes. Paints when swallowed can be harmful to babies and cause distress and vomiting and perhaps more serious depending if there’s a lot. You should never leave paint where children, especially babies, can find them. Mishaps can and will happen through carelessness.
Wood paints, which you would use to colour a baby cot is no different.
Harmful chemicals in paint, which include VOCs (volatile organic compound(S)) and PGEs (propylene glycol ethers) but not limited to, toluene, xylene, acetone, acrylic, white lead (older paints), latex, solvents (very harmful) and tempera. These words probably mean nothing to you but they are all nasty to the skin and airways.
Wet paint on skin can cause irritation on the skin and eyes, another reason to keep it away. It is also hard to get off the skin which is likely to hurt them further.
Dried paint is the same paint, but without the water which is the only non-toxic ingredient in most brands. This is unlikely to be ingested but can easily come off and rub on your baby’s skin in the cot. This is why choosing the right paint when colouring the cot is super important.
Even with a baby monitor in the room you can never be sure how much is coming off.
The VOCs we named earlier can be released into the air from the paint when it is applied, when breathed in they can cause skin irritations and breathing problems. Short term exposure to adults is fine but long term exposure can cause some problems including vomiting and dizziness. In babies it can be much worse – this needs to be considered when painting the babies cot as the fumes can stick around for a while afterwards unless you have an air purifier.
Ideally, you’d paint the cot outside (if you use paints with VOCs) and leave it there overnight. Otherwise, it’s bed sharing time.
So, what paint IS safe to use on baby cots?
Paints which are considered best on babies should contain no VOCs – meaning none get released in the air and none are present when it’s dry. Only use paints with full ingredient disclosure on the tin.
These type of nursery friendly paints should:
- Be metal free and confirm with EN71.395 (common with children’s wooden toys)
- Contain no PGEs
- Solvent free
Be careful when seeing paints which are called ‘eco friendly’ or ‘family friendly’ – this doesn’t automatically mean they are free of the above hazardous ingredients. This is why full ingredient disclosure is the minimum standard for which paint to use on a cot.
Don’t be put off painting your baby’s cot with these facts, there are plenty of brands out there who offer these genuinely safe paints.