All About Babies

Is Your Nursery Making Your Baby Sick?

baby on new carpet
When most of us were setting up baby's nursery, there were certain things we knew to avoid: loose bedding, lots of toys in the crib, anything with sharp edges. But a new study has found one more potential no-no for baby's room, at least during the first year of life: new carpet, rugs, or laminate.

According to an article in The Telegraph, researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Germany have discovered that the chemicals in the glue used to install brand-new flooring can be toxic for babies and make it difficult for them to breathe. Their study involved 465 moms and babies living in Leipzig, Germany, two-thirds of whom made some kind of renovation to their home and a sixth of whom replaced their flooring. During the home improvements, the scientists regularly assessed the babies' breathing and monitored the air quality in their homes. The findings were published in the journal Environment International.

Though not all flooring requires glue -- area rugs are a classic example -- researchers still warn parents to hold off on laying down the new stuff in the nursery. "Although the concentrations of these volatile chemicals are lower if no adhesive is used when installing the flooring, even then the concentrations are still high enough to significantly increase the risk of infants suffering from respiratory complaints in their first few months," said the study's lead author, Dr. Ulrich Franck.

Pregnant women aren't off the hook, either. UFZ researchers believe the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in new flooring and adhesives can affect developing babies in utero and even boost their chances of developing allergies, especially if you or your partner already suffer from conditions like hay fever or asthma.

One of the biggest takeaways from the study is to hold off on installing your new flooring until after baby's first birthday. That's because the study found that home improvements (and all the airborne chemicals associated with them) that occured after baby was born didn't impact baby's respiratory functions as much as ones that took place during pregnancy. "According to our results, exposure to these volatile chemical compounds seems to be more critical in pregnancy than in the first year of a child's life," says Dr. Irina Lehmann of he UFZ.

Tell us: How was your experience setting up baby's nursery?

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Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on TwitterPinterest, and Google+

Image of baby on a carpet courtesy of Shutterstock