Creating A Cleaner, Healthier Environment for Baby
From the day you find out you are pregnant, your world changes. From that moment on, it’s not just you, or the two of you; you’re bringing a whole new life into the world. There is nothing like a baby on the way to make us reexamine, well, everything in our lives!
This period of pause and reflection is normal, and we think, healthy. From what you put into your body, to what kinds of products you use around the house, it’s a good time to make some healthy changes for you, your baby and for the planet.
Make Changes As You Can
While it’s tempting to go all in on purging all the things in your life that could be harmful to your health and your baby, human nature is what it is, and we know that smaller changes are usually easier for us to adapt to and stick with. Think in terms of making healthy choices that will be with you for a lifetime rather than just things you do when you are pregnant.
Simple changes in your cleaning items, self-care items, and household items can be done in stages to not break the bank and allow you time to research and try out different items to see how they work for you.
Improve Your Air Quality at Home For BabyBabies in utero and in the first few years of life are particularly sensitive to airborne toxins because of their tiny sized bodies. Improving the air quality in your home is something you can start with, as your baby will spend a lot of time at home in their first few years of life.
Air FiltersFiltering the air in your home can make a big improvement on the level of airborne particulates; you may even find yourself breathing much easier with a few changes! Air filters help remove odors, dust, dander, mold and bacteria depending on the model.
Make sure to read the manufacturer’s suggestion on how big of a room it can clean, and how often you need to change the filters. HEPA filter models often are a bit more costly, but are more efficient at removing pollen, mold and other things that make you sneezy, so they can be worth the investment.
If you have pets, air purifiers can help remove their dander and keep the area smelling fresh. Pair this with frequent vacuuming to keep the hair at a minimum.
Poor Outdoor Air QualityIf you live in an area where the pollution levels can be unhealthy, install an app on your phone to warn you when air conditions will be poor so you can make adjustments to limit your outdoor exposure for you and the baby. Wearing a mask outdoors if you do have to go outside can help cut down on the particulates you inhale.
Carbon Monoxide DetectorsCarbon monoxide gas is colorless, odorless, and a tasteless gas that is poisonous to humans. Called the “silent killer” because we cannot detect it, it’s very important to make sure you have CO detectors in your home.
Have a CO detector on every level of your home, as well as in every bedroom. Test them monthly, and replace batteries every 6 months. Replace the entire CO unit when their lifetime is over, generally about 5-7 years (see the manufacturer’s recommendation on when to replace).
Radon DetectorsIf you own a home, chances are you had radon testing when you purchased, as 37 states require it as a disclosure when purchasing real estate. If you are unsure or rent, you can obtain a radon test from a professional or purchase a kit to test levels and mail it in for results.
Though rare, radon is another “silent killer” being colorless, odorless, and tasteless, and it can cause lung cancers and other respiratory diseases, so it’s important to test for it. Radon is most often found in basements, crawl spaces, or other out-of-the-way places in homes and buildings.
Smoking and VapingSmoking or vaping should never be done around babies or in the home. If you are smoking when you become pregnant, talk to your practitioner about helping you to quit. Once baby arrives, make sure everyone understands that you do not allow smoking or vaping in your home under any circumstances.
Air Fresheners and Fabric ProtectorsPass on the artificial air sprays, fresheners, plug-ins, and anything else that claims to “mask odors.” There are many ways to freshen your air at home with natural cleaners, essential oils, or by simply opening the windows. Don’t use powders or sprays to clean your carpets or upholstery, as these often irritate the respiratory system.
Improve What Goes in Your Body Before Baby ArrivesWhat we put into our bodies matters, and we need to examine the source and where it comes from. A great resource for this is the Environmental Working Group. From resources on skincare, what foods are most important to eat that are organically grown, they have a ton of great information for you.
Where Does Your Food Grow?From what you put on your lawn to what you eat from your garden, make sure that as few chemicals as possible are used. Avoid the use of weed killers, bug killers, or anything caustic, (especially Roundup) on your lawn. There are many non-toxic ways to battle nature and weeds!
Eat organic food grown in untreated soil, and when possible, choose sustainable, grass-fed, free-range animal proteins. While they are more pricey, they are better for you because they don’t use hormones or artificial colors and flavors. Utilize organic grocery deliveries, farmer’s markets, or any food-based sustainable business in your area that is dedicated to doing less harm.
If you are unsure about the soil in your yard, it’s a good idea to have it tested for lead, and be sure to wash your hands and your baby’s hands whenever you come in contact with soil in your yard.
Drink the Cleanest Water You CanCarbon filter systems for your home and refrigerator (such as a Britta) are inexpensive, easy to use, and can last for years. Avoid plastic bottles (even BPA-free; there are no completely “safe” plastic bottles), and don’t purchase single-use water bottles.
Invest in some good quality stainless bottles, and they will not only keep your beverages nice and cold, but they will also last for years!
Choose Your Home Cleaning Products WiselyWith so many options out there for cleaner, greener cleaning solutions, there’s no reason to use disinfectants that are caustic and emit those nasty VOCs we want to avoid. You can use vinegar-based cleaning products, and there’s even plenty of recipes to be found online if you want to make your own.
Only use bleach (Clorox or the like) if you must disinfect after a serious illness or you have contamination that can only be killed by bleach. Do not inhale the fumes (a mask is a good idea) and keep the area as ventilated as possible until the smell is gone.
If you have cats, it’s best to let someone else clean the litter when you are pregnant, as cat litter can contain a parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis. If you do have to clean it yourself, wear gloves, clean in a well-ventilated area, and wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
Research What You Put on Your SkinSkin is the largest organ on the body, and babies’ skin is especially sensitive. Everything you put on your skin is absorbed to some extent, so become a passionate label-reader for everything from shampoo to toothpaste.
So many of the everyday things we use, like lotion, deodorant, and makeup, have organic and cruelty-free options. Again, the Environmental Working Group is a great resource for this information, including handy printables, so you have the information at your fingertips.
Little Ones Help Remind Us What’s Important!Having a new life to look after sure does remind us that doing our best for ourselves and the environment is important to live a long and healthy life. As your new baby grows inside you, take this time to think about the changes you could make from this list that could impact your health and happiness.
And remember, it’s all about progress, not perfection. Sometimes it’s the little things that teach us so much!